Friday, August 22, 2014


“People who keep dogs are cowards who haven’t got the guts to bite people themselves” August Strindberg

There is a time warp of a road around the corner from where I live. With asphalt and black top paving most of the planet, I have found a respite from modern society. This little gem, practically in my backyard, is called Purnell Ridge.

Purnell Ridge is a vein of a country road where few remain. Traveling deep down Purnell Road, an arm that leads to Capital Boulevard, or more commonly known up and down the east coast as Route 1, one may stumble upon a few of these back country roads. With such names as “Shoe Fly,” “Black Horse,” or my favorite, “Lightning Bug Lane,” they are spots paused in time, untouched and amputated from the reaches of Big Brother. I would caution traveling down some of these roads as “no trespassing” signs and shot guns are partners in preserving such tranquility. However, Purnell Ridge is a little more welcoming, with county zoning of five acres per lot. Civilization is more prevalent on the Ridge, thus certain considerations and expectations apply. With such precedence as no kill zones and shot guns need not apply, trespassing along the road is permitted.

I love visiting Purnell Ridge. A leisurely stroll on a crisp, fall day down the unpaved, sandy colored road, where rain fall carves divots and ruts makes traveling a character trace. Foliage of hundreds of year old trees shade the pathway, and creeks runneth alongside while the sounds of birds, frogs and insects harken melodies to the base of running water.

The seclusion of the road is peaceful, full of solace, and cleansing in nature. Surrounded by lake and woods, there are a few cautions requiring mindfulness. Random copperhead or cotton mouth snake indigenous to the area make rare appearances. Legends told of an existence of bears or coyotes scavenging the woods, though I have yet to site any. Some even claim bob cat lurk in the shadows. But the biggest treat is tiny Toto, the dog, who barrels from his home, barking at your feet, only to roll over for a belly rub.

I love running the Ridge. A mile round trip, hilly and winding, always adds interest to a challenging run. I used Purnell Ridge to add mileage when training for my sole marathon. While not a resident of Purnell Ridge, my home overlooks the woods of this beloved trail and I feel a special kinship developed and nurtured over ten years of my visiting this unique spot. That is until recently.

Seems a rather vicious beast has moved into the neighborhood. Situated at the entrance of Purnell Ridge, he has become the gate keeper. His name is Remington and I don’t like him very much.

One fine day I ran down Purnell Ridge, then I ran up. On my way back up the ridge I was abruptly stopped by a large and juvenile German Shepard that, unlike Toto’s friendly greetings, came charging with loud barks, growls and fangs. I sized him up at about a buck twenty. His hair raised along the spine, ears stretching to the trees, I was more than startled; I froze in a panic.

Thankfully this beast was just out for a stroll with his lady master who quickly called him back before he attacked – me. I am acquaintances with this woman and we chatted as I inquired about her new family pet.

She explained that her good for nothing, slacker, late blooming, leech of a son brought him home. But really the dog is quite friendly.

 I asked of this fine pet’s name. She replied, “Remington, after the gun.”

“Oh, how cute,” I responded and then reached my out my hand as a peacemaking gesture of diplomacy.

You could feel the tension in the air as she quickly shouted, “Don’t. I wouldn’t pet him.” In coincidence with her plea, Remington, the friendly dog, started growling at me, about to pounce. She called him back. I laughed a little nervously and politely said I’d be on my way and that it was nice talking with her.

Time had passed and I had forgotten about Remington. I ran the Ridge with no disturbances other than a welcoming hello from Toto. That is until one day after a run down the Ridge, making my way back up, I encountered Remington. I was just about to pass his territory when I heard him bark. I made sure I steered clear of his boundaries and headed to the far side of the road. But that was not far enough.

Remington is a cruel and evil beast. He was bred to attack and terrorize those not in his pack. He knows no other purpose. I doubt rehabilitation would work with Remington. Could I picture Cesar Milan, “The Dog Whisperer,” finding out what makes him tick?

Cesar’s assessment of Remington would go something like this: “This dog was raised by an overindulged, entitled master. Watch what happens when I rub behind his ears.” As Cesar reaches to stroke Remington, Cesar interprets the dog’s speech.

“What did he say Cesar?” asks the audience.

Cesar responds with a look of fear in his eyes, “He says ‘I vill keel you! RUN!!!!”

Run I did as Remington came charging at me. I did not know what to do! I know you are not supposed to run from dogs or they will run after you but I tried to stand my ground. I waved my arms and started growling back at him with no retreat from Remington. He was getting closer. So I started screaming at the top of my lungs, and ran as fast as I could but he gained so much speed, he was on my tail. And then, just as his snout grazed my ankle, ready to bring me down, my pleas for help were heard, and his owner called him back.

Trembling with fear, shock and awe, tears streaming from my cheeks, I headed home lucky to be alive.

I am not one to retreat from terror. I will not give up my ridge. This is war!

Story to be continued...


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