Letter Re: Some Overlooked Risks

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Jim;
In a recent post, Harry T. mentioned that “Fido” will be competing with humans for food should we return to a hunter-gatherer schema. He is absolutely correct in addressing the newly-wild domestic dog as a threat. I have been treed twice in my life by life-threatening critters. Once was by a huge wild hog while I was fly-fishing on the North Carolina-Tennessee line. Apparently I entered his domain and he felt I was a threat to be dealt with. I’ve encountered bears and rattlesnakes who were far less aggressive than that tusker. The other time I had to climb a tree to avoid being eaten (or at least bitten) was when a pack of feral dogs chased me in the mountains of eastern Tennessee.

These were dogs who had apparently been dropped in the mountains by their owners. Some of them still had collars. They were a mixed bag — one beagle, a few mutts, an Australian shepherd, and some sort of Doberman cross, among others. There were about 10 in the pack. They pulled a sneak attack, rushing me in mid-day while I was hiking. I was only a teenager, about 16 years old. I was carrying a pocket knife, but no other weapons. I went up a smallish Sassafras [tree], climbing about 15 feet up a tree that was only about four inches in diameter. Once there, I had no recourse until the dogs got tired of circling the tree and waiting for their dinner to fall. The only warning I had of the threat was the beagle: Fortunately, he bugled as the pack was approaching me. I love beagles — They’re single-minded and they make their intentions very clear.

After about 20 minutes, the dogs began fighting among themselves, then wandered off. The Australian shepherd was the last to leave. He was the only one that didn’t make any noise. Just patiently waited. I don’t know if he had been more recently abandoned than the others and wanted to make a friend, or if he was simply more patient. Herding instincts and whatnot. Long story short: I got out of the situation with nothing more than a scarred boot where the Doberman caught me while I was climbing. But that incident caused me to grow a new set of eyes (and ears) for potential threats. – J.D.C. in Mississippi

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