Broder & the Black Dog

Broder, my visiting hound mix, and I were on a walk over by the river, just minding our own business and enjoying the crisp autumn air, when we passed a house with two barking corgis and a lab/chow mix.  The medium-sized black dog was clearly more agitated than her two shorter companions that some interlopers had dared walk on the dike 30 yards from her fence line.  In one deft movement, she launched herself off some furniture and sailed over the wooden fence, in a bee-line straight for us.  It was apparent by her eyes that she was more interested in Broder than me.  I could tell by her facial tension, ear set, body orientation and tail-carriage that she wasn’t interested in him in a good way.

I pulled Broder behind me and positioned myself between the two, and in my best commanding, “Queen of the Dogs” voice I shouted, “STOP!”  She looked at me for a brief second as though sizing up my ability to truly enforce my command, then decided that I was all bark and no bite.  She focused again on Broder, who must have looked to her like bait on a line, and charged him.

Broder didn’t start the tussle, but he wasn’t going to stand by and let some obnoxious she-devil take him without an argument.  For another split second, they separated as if they were sizing each other up, just enough time for me to grab Broder’s collar and swing him behind me, again putting me between the two dogs.  I could see the wheels turning in her head; the lab/chow continued to focus on Broder and was plotting her next strike.  I was an inconsequential roadblock that she needed to go through or around, but posed no significant threat.

It’s not often that I feel smarter than a dog, but because she was so focused on battling with the intruding dog, she underestimated my ability to read her intention.

She darted in again, the top of her nose crumpled up in a semi-snarl, the hair on her back raised with excitement, and her body pushed forward for maximum impact.  I sidestepped her advance, Broder behind me, and snagged her collar with my right hand.  Fortunately, the nylon collar was fitted correctly to her neck and she could not slip out of it when I pushed both my arms out in opposite directions to separate the dogs who were both now grousing at each other from a safe distance--arm’s length.

By this time the homeowner came out calling for Tabby.  I walked both dogs down to the fence and helped the owner get Tabby into the back yard.  I was thankful these were both medium-sized dogs.  It’s not likely I would have been able to hold them apart for any length of time, had they been larger. 


I chatted for a while with Tabby’s owner and shared some insights into Tabby’s actions.  She apologized several times, and thanked me for “catching” the dog and bringing her back, “usually when she escapes she’s gone down by the river for hours.”  I encouraged Tabby’s mom to keep her tethered, explaining that Tabby’s display with Broder could have had a very different outcome for a smaller, less confident dog, especially if the smaller dog’s person was a little older or less skilled at dog-wrangling.  It was a very good conversation and a great opportunity to share some insights and ideas.

Broder and I continued on our morning walk with no other excitement.  Now he’s resting at my feet while I write, no doubt dreaming of out next excursion…