I had finished a busy afternoon´s work in the health centre and walked the short ten minutes down the road to the house where my girls were being looked after. As I walked past the house next door, three fearsome looking dogs rushed out at me, chasing me into the middle of the busy main road. I didn´t know whether to be more frightened of being bitten by one of the dogs, or run over by a car. I screamed for help, and the owners ambled out to their gateway and threw stones at the dogs to make them run back into their garden. I felt shaken, trembling and furious. Why didn´t the owners keep the dogs under control? I had the right to be able to walk down the road without being attacked by dogs. This was the second time these dogs had menanced me in this way. "If the owners aren´t going to tie them up, then they shouldn´t have dogs," I muttered to myself.
The very next day I was walking home with the girls to our farm, when we passed the neighbour´s house. Two big brown dogs ran out at us, barking fiercely. The girls turned heel and ran for their lives, the dogs in hot pursuit. I grabbed a handful of stones and threw them haphazardly in my panic towards the dogs, which slunk off back home. The owners were nowhere to be seen.
"They shouldn´t be allowed to own dogs," I raged later to my Ecuadorean husband. "The girls were terrified. It is a public road. We have the right to be able to walk along it in peace."
"No, you didn´t handle it right," he replied. "Whenever you´re walking along these country roads you should carry some stones in your hands. You must teach the girls never to run away. When you see a dog coming, just throw a stone in their direction and they won´t harm you. People don´t keep these animals as pets. They don´t have them in their homes or take them for walks. They are guard dogs. They need them to bark and make a noise when someone approaches so that they can defend themselves against intruders. People have a right to protect themselves."
So I try to grit my teeth and "do as the Ecuadoreans do" and carry stones with me when I walk down the road. I feed my own, rather soppy Cocker Spaniels soup, as is the custom around here, and smile when people tell me I have "luxury dogs", because they are blatantly not guard dogs. I do understand people´s fear of theft and how having three of four fierce dogs around their house makes them feel safer. But I fear I will never lose my feeling of indignation when I am attacked by a dog.
|Pinky, the soppy Spaniel|