I believe I went to condition red on my walk this morning...
I was walking my dog, Tangle this morning (so named because when I first got her she kept her leash or herself tangled up in my feet, so...). We were at my usual place in a subdivision near my house. My wife didn’t join us this time so it was just Tangle and I. I have a 5-minute loop on a steep hill and I walk it 4 – 5 times. I’m basically going up or down hill the entire walk.
Anyway, on our first loop, down the hill, I hear somebody in the wooded lot we are about to go by. Some folks recently moved in with three BIG Rotweilers. As we walked by a wide woodsy path, I saw the owner and the three Rotweilers - they were loose. And worse, they see us! I am instant orange – specific threat identified. One dog trots menacingly toward us with the owner commanding him back. Now the other two come – follow the lead dog I guess. The dog refuses to comply with the owner’s commands and is now getting close and looking really serious. This dog may weigh 140 –150 pounds; Tangle weighs 21 pounds – snack size. The owner is making his way to the road, still trying to voice control the dogs but they aren’t having anything to do with it.
I hadn’t met the new occupants and had no contacts with the dogs until now. When the lead dog came within five feet, I realized my hand was already on my gun, but the gun was never disclosed to the owner. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I as I understand it that qualifies as condition red. Some say red is the fight; I say it is the fight is imminent and could begin at any moment. Anyway, the owner seemed calm, but I couldn’t read the dog(s) at all. I decided if a dog gets snarly, my gun is coming out. If he bites Tangle or me, he gets shot until he quits. I heard the owner say he won’t do anything; I’ve heard that before. But the dog does seem calm so I move my hand away from my gun. Thankfully, it ended in a friendly meeting all the way around. The owner gained control of his three dogs and we talked about his dogs a bit, and Tangle and me continued walking.
I must have “debriefed” myself for the entire walk making sure I did the right thing. I think I did. These huge dogs were strangers to me; I had no way of knowing what they would do, and I think I was right in preparing for the worst, and again, I am thankful it ended peaceably.
This experience answered another issue that has been nagging me for a long time. I had a similar experience in Knoxville once. This time a huge dog broke through the front door of a house and ran across his front yard charging Tangle and me. When the dog burst through the door, I moved Tangle and me as far into the street as we could get in the very short time it took the dog to reach us. When the dog broke the plane of the road, I drew my Glock 23. Same mental trigger again, he bites, I shoot. Then I here a lady’s voice yelling he won’t bite; have I mentioned that I’ve heard that before? It too, turned out to be a friendly meeting. I got to my mother-in-law’s house as fast as I could walk; I could feel the adrenaline rush. As soon as I got there I called the Knoxville Police and reported the incident. Told them about drawing my gun and the whole story. They asked if I needed an officer to come out and talk to the dog owner. I told them I think they’ve learned the lesson and they said let them know if anything else happened.
Since that incident, I often wondered if I could really bring myself to shoot a dog and if maybe I had over-reacted. This morning’s incident answer that nagging question, because my mind was clear, if the dog(s) started to bite me or my dog I knew in my mind I could shoot. Further, I don’t think I over-reacted either time. If dogs as large as these did attack it would be an extremely dangerous situation.
United States Dog Bite Statistics
From the Center for Disease Control
Dogs Most Likely To Bite
The Top 10 offenders in order of most likely to bite.