It was one of those days. I was grumpy, irritable, and nothing seemed to be going right. It was hot, that special ‘sauna turned up to ten’ hot that Townsville is so good at turning on in November/December. The buildup. Air like hot soup, the sun beating down like a sledgehammer, sweat oozing from every pore when you’re in the shade, and gushing like a river when you step into the sun. I’d been in and out of my van all day, and never a park in the shade. Getting back into a car that’s spent an hour or so in the tropical sun is a special sort of torture – gasping for breath, waiting for the struggling air-con to start to take the edge off.
It was my last visit for the day, thank goodness. I pulled up (a shady park, oh joy!) under a tree. gathered my stethoscope and trusty leather briefcase, and walked over to the gate. There was a big dog, tied up to the house, about 20 meters away. He was carrying on like a pork chop, barking and growling, giving me the stare of death. I was in no mood for this, so I stared back, hard (even though I knew better than to do that – it’s about the most aggressive thing you can do to a dog, after all). He took grave exception to this – you could just about see the steam pouring out of his ears, and he was literally dancing with rage at the end of his chain. I have to admit that in the mood I was in, this amused me somewhat. The lady who owned the cat I’d come to see came out and let me in.
“Don’t worry about him,” she said. “He’s a great guard dog, but he’s never really worried anyone. He does seem a bit upset though!”
“Yes, he is carrying on a bit, isn’t he?” I said, as she closed the gate behind me.
Just then, the chain holding his dancing rage in check broke, and he roared across the yard at me, eyes burning. I very quickly started jumping about and fending him off with my trusty briefcase, spinning to stop him getting behind me. The lady was yelling at the dog, and trying to get hold of him. Clouds of dust started to billow up. He was las happy a pig in mud, and was seriously intent on teaching this nasty interloper who’d stared at him so horribly a very sharp lesson. He kept evading his mum, darting around, doing his level best to get a hold of me, and I kept furiously fending him off with my bag. Eventually she collared him, and dragged him back to his chain, fighting every inch of the way to get back at me, while I stood there, a lather of sweat, panting, my heart rate through the roof.
“Are you ok?” she asked, after she’d secured him again, with a worried tone…
“Yep, he didn’t get me, thanks to my trusty bag here,” I said.
She came over to look – there was a couple of tooth marks and quite a bit of slather on the bag, but I was intact.
“Come on in then, and I’ll show you your patient…”
I checked the cat out – he was overgrooming, obsessive/compulsive – and prescribed some flower essences. As soon as I stepped back into the yard, the dog was back up, barking, dancing, pulling on his chain, wanting to eat me.
“That’s funny, you know,” she said, as she let me out the gate. “He’s a god guard dog, but he seems to have really taken an exception to you! I’ll make sure he’s tied up when you come back.”
I felt a bit guilty, as I knew I’d made things worse by staring at him. And you know what? He remembered, and the very sight of me forever more was enough to trigger him into a foaming rage. I always kept a very careful watch when walking through his yard, just in case the chain let go again!