It's been an ordinary kind of week but the last two days tipped the balance and reminded me of the good reason for an indoor job. Friday I had a less than fun encounter with one of these (you know, the kind that tear small children to pieces):that emerged from an open front door as I approached. Now as a child I was frightened of dogs; we lived across the road from a council estate where they ran around loose in gangs (something that thankfully no longer occurs), and it has taken me a long time to grow out of it. Over the years as a postie you develop certain techniques. At houses where you know there might be a dog you rattle the gate, so if it is around it comes running (rather than catching you unawares) and you put the post in the gate. I have always been very strict about not putting myself at risk and will only enter a garden where I am comfortable with the animal, I am happy to just walk away with post for a house where a dog is running free unattended. I have gradually trained myself not to run away when I see a dog coming but to stand still, and then back myself against a fence or wall so I can defend myself (usually with whatever mail is on my hand!). I had a nasty one just a few weeks ago when a dog escaped from a house and had me pinned against the fence snapping and barking for some minutes before the owner responded to my shouts. So after Friday's experience I was suspicious of all open front doors and Saturday I approched one house very quietly, placed the letter down gently and walked back to the gate, which unfortunately banged, and did not catch shut, causing the nasty little mutt inside to be able to pursue me onto the street and again harangue me for several minutes while the ineffectual owner tried to get it to come back in, or even stand still and be caught.
Fortunately none of these encounters resulted in injury. I have been bitten three times in the nearly nine years as a postie, though very minor compared to Mike, who was left badly scarred on his leg after a run in with a stray, Rick, who was scarred on his arm (and who accepted a bottle of whiskey by way of apology), and Glen, who nearly lost the end of his finger being bitten *through* a letterbox. All three times were bites to the back of my calf, twice being just brief little nips that bruised, the third was a much worse meeting with a Border Collie. I had seen the dog at this farm before and it had gone for me, so that day I got out of the van cautiously but the yard was completely deserted. I set off across the yard from the cottage to the main house and was abruptly brought to my knees by this pain. By the time I had turned around (this was how fast it happened) the dog was already disappearing around the wall at the end of the barn. I found one of the stable girls and asked her who's dog it was. I hobbled round for the rest of the day, and had a scar on my calf that took a year to fade away. The only consequence is that the owner gets a letter from Royal Mail asking them to keep their dog under proper control. In no way do I think that dogs should routinely be put down for such behaviour, but if a human being injured me in the same way they could be charged with assault. I think neglectful dog owners should, at the very least, receive a police warning after any such incident. I remember meeting a woman in the local MIU who had been badly bitten and I asked her if she would report it to the police because it is important to record dog bites, so that if/when it happens again the owner cannot claim that the dog has never done it before.
While I'm on the subject ... shut the bloody thing in the kitchen before you open the door won't you, rather than trying to block the gap with your body as the blood crazed creature tries to push past and get at me ... it makes me nervous.