Monday, June 24, 2013

Running and street dogs- I

Inside Goodluck Cafe

It’s a common sight in most Indian towns.   Free range urban dogs can be seen at garbage bins or moving singly or in packs along most streets.  They are considered a menace and Pune has in the last month recorded an unusually high number of dog bites.
I usually run around 6:30 am through 8:30 am.  It’s too hot after that and the traffic accompanied by pollution from vehicle exhausts also becomes unbearable.  During one 15 km run I had counted about 40- 50 dogs along my route.
Here are some suggestions about running past dogs that seem like they are waiting to chase you down.
First, some behavioral observations and what they mean to you.  I must mention that I like dogs in general.  While I am not defender of the ‘street dogs” (It’s not a great life in any case for them) I am against culling them by poison or other painful means. If you are fearful of dogs you should stay alert and keep a few pebbles handy so you can throw them in the dog’s general direction when you see them.
 Dogs are territorial. It’s important to be aware of what that space maybe.  If the dog seems to belong to the house by the street, or is attached to a group of huts or shanties by the road side, about a meter or two into the road and along the length of their house is what they typically consider their space.  So give in to them and go around.   Dogs around garbage bins are usually scavenging. They don’t really care about you unless you look like competition.   Running close to a feeding dog may generate aggression.  Dogs are also unpredictable and moody. The same dog that barked at you when you went past first may completely ignore you on your way back. Or vice versa. 

What can you do about them?  See Part II.