Monday, 27 January 2014

The Pitbull Conundrum

Well, I’ve still not heard anything about the best 1200 words I’ve ever written. I sent it off yesterday, hoping it might be accepted by the editor in charge but, as yet, nothing.

In the meantime, I’ve been giving serious thought to my short writing projects.

One of the problems of trying to write more isn’t so much the problem of writing, although finding time can sometimes be a problem. The main problem is finding things to write about. I sat down yesterday afternoon, my notepad open on my lap, and I scribbled down some ideas. I’ve decided that if I’m going to write more for the blog, I might as well write seriously and try to get things published. It’s the way of these things that you usually find out that some editor has given you the spike after a day or two and that means I should have at least one long decent article to post here between the cartoons and unpolished jottings such as this one.

I sat there for nearly two hours and the best thing I could come up with was an article about ‘mouthy types on Youtube’. I knew then I wasn’t on a hot streak. That doesn’t mean my instincts were wrong. I’m sure I could write a pretty strong 1000 words on the way culture has shifted and the world is now dominated by the empty vessels making the most sound. That thought was precipitated by my browsing Youtube and stumbling across this rant about Nintendo’s future plans for the Wii-U. You don’t have to be interested in gaming technology to understand my point. There’s something about this particular video that grates but perhaps it’s no more than the cocky certainty of the American baritone. Perhaps it’s just an English sensibility: the guy sounds so confident in his own voice when I sound like I should be playing a milkman in some grim kitchen sink drama from the 1970s.

Today I’ve been a little more productive. I woke up at 7am with what I thought was a really good idea, which I intend to work on for the rest of the week. It’s all part of a new strategy I’m trying to put in place. I even have a vague idea about making a short film to go along with it but I’m not entirely sure I have the right hardware or I have it in me to go into public and film real people. I’ll have to see. I was looking at the price of video cameras and they're well outside anything I could afford.

But the point is: I was feeling more upbeat by the time I also went on my usual bike ride which is when I had my second good idea. It happened the moment a dog launched itself at me.

The dog was one of those mastiff types which I hear are even more dangerous than the pitbulls that usually commit horrors in aid of good media headlines. I’m not a dog owner for the one obvious reason that I’m actually one of the world’s great dog fearers. I’m scared of the brutes, probably on account of a mauling I had at the mouth of an evil Labrador when I was a mere infant. I know Labradors are supposed to be the kindest of dogs and I believe that their owners believe that when they say it, except one of the clearest memories of childhood was being chased down a street by this big bastard hound which proceeded to bite my arm. It probably explains why I go rigid in fear when a dog even sniffs my way.

When the mastiff jumped, I froze. I froze going forward on my bike, which wasn’t a good combination. Luckily the dog was a long leash and its owner hauled it away before he laughed it off. ‘He’s only being friendly,’ he shouted as I recovered from riding into a bush. ‘He wouldn’t hurt anybody.’

It’s what dog owners always say. It’s probably what bush owners would say where I to point out the scratches on my legs. The point is, dog owners usually say this and then after their dog has eaten some poor bugger’s face off, they’re on TV repeating it all in the past tense. ‘I don’t understand. He was the friendliest dog in the world. He wouldn’t harm anybody.’ And this usually after it took a Police tactical firearms team to take the dog down.

The point is: the dog jumped, I fell off and after I exchanged a few 'pleasantries' with the dog’s owner. Then I began to think: if that dog had got hold of me, what would I have done?

It seems like such an obvious thing that every person should know. What should you do when a vicious fighting dog attacks you?

I hear sticking a finger in their eyes can help but some experts say it’s sure to annoy the dog even more. Sticking your hand down its throat is another trick but I don’t see how it’s do that if it was in the process of chewing through an artery. Would squeezing their balls help? Even if it did, would I want to touch a dog’s balls? It reminds me of an old comedy routine, possibly by Jasper Carrot, about sticking a pencil up a dog’s bum but what to do if you don’t have a pencil? Would a finger do the trick but is that something you’d really want to contemplate? What, indeed, about using a carrot? Not a bad idea. Note to self: always carry a carrot in case of dog mauling.

So there we have it: two ideas for essays. I might look into this a little more. Simply from a survival point of view, I think this is something a man like Ray Mears should have covered. I don’t recall Ray Mears ever sticking his finger up a pitbull’s rectum. Or at least, I don’t believe I ever saw it on BBC2.

In the meantime, if you have any tips on how to subdue a raging dog, please pass them on but I do know the one about hitting it with a garden spade. I’m looking for something a little more subtle and less likely to arouse the anger of dog owners.

PS. Here's last night's caricature, meant to be Theresa May but it was really rushed in the few minutes before I fell asleep. However, this allows me to maintain my ambition of posting one a day for my big month of caricatures.



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