10.47pm. It’s dark, quiet. Cold creeps cautiously around your face as you brave the elemental outdoor conditions. Oblivious to your surroundings, headphones channel distraction directly into your brain. Wind howls, stroking your dog and blowing a fine rain into your squinting eyes as you wade through the thick, colourless mist. Your canine companion sniffs the air, identifying and categorising scents as he delicately guides your shoulder from its socket, pulling you along. Approaching a corner, you reel in the lead, restricting the allowance of your canis lupus in preparation for the bend.
Tentatively you turn the corner and a new horizon appears. Peering up at the tarmacadum from beneath your hood, you see a shadowy silhouette. It is what you feared. Merely ten feet in front of you, beneath the ominous luminance of a broken streetlight stands a humanoid shape accompanied by a long, thin line. You navigate the lead with your eyes, as does your hound. His ears prick up as he distinguishes a staunch shape from the darkness – another dog. All parties stop as the stand-off occurs.
You stare at the cowboy opposite, mirroring the intensity of his western glare. Your hands twitch above your holstered leads. Ennio Morricone’s Inseguimento reinforces the theme, courtesy of the ever-relevant iPod shuffle. Two men. Two dogs. One path. Someone has to make the first move? Will it be you?
This is the perennial problem of the dog-walking populace. An abrupt corner contains a rival dog and it’s master. Do not mistake this for a simple civilian passing. It is an irrefutable competition. Like all competitions, it requires a victor. A battle of wits ensues as you each hug the fences and hedges to your immediate left, edging forward, attempting to force the nameless challenger off to the right, to the curb. Only one man can win, and the man who walks his pooch roadside has lost.
You must act quickly and decisively if you hope to defeat the evil that stands in your way. Any hesitation will grant your opponent the opportunity to take the inside line, and leave you humiliated in the road.
You may be lucky enough to encounter the imposter at further proximity. If so, there are precautions that can be taken to avoid close quarters combat. I walk my dog every night and have perfected special, environmental maneuvers to ease the process. Dog walking is a matter of tactics and strategy. Tactical advancements can be made by placing objects between yourselves and the other party. With a party on the opposite side of the road, parked cars and rubbish skips can act as perspective barriers, preventing the dogs from visual recognition.
First you must pick your objective blocker and assess its dimensions. You must then study the speed of the approaching pooch and adjust the speed of your own accordingly. Finally you must execute the passing to perfection. With a carefully considered approach, the blocker can be placed firmly between both parties, ensuring the dogs never get a clear look at each other. The maneuver is complete. You have safely prevented the dogs from making visual and consequently physical contact.
Strategic advancement isn’t always an option however. When a face off occurs, whiskers and incisors, face to face, there has to be some set parameters. A set of universally accepted rules to prevent the initial confusion that overcomes all involved.
This is why I, as a proud walker of dogs am demanding international reform. Cameron forget the recession, forget climate change, forget foreign aid and forget your precious Endellion. You need to get to the U.N and sanction an international conference. You, Ahmadinejad, Berlusconi, Obama, Putin, Sarkozy and every other world leader [except perhaps Kim Il-Sung. He’s not invited. Partly because North Korea do not participate in the U.N. Partly because he’s dead. But mostly because his country’s attitude toward dogs differs from the western world] must sit down and seriously discuss a strict set of standard, universal guidelines pertaining to all aspects of public dog walking.
This code of conduct must state who has the right-of-way in a variety of confrontational situations, such as those mentioned above.
For example, when one dog walker encounters another, the person with the smallest dog must concede, and carefully cross the road. Whilst the larger dog and its master are free to saunter straight and true. Authorities could enforce strict timing schedules and routes that all walkers must abide by. This would eliminate all possible confrontation by ensuring that at any given time, there is only every one dog, in one location. Deviation from the assigned route would be punishable by law. The offending walker would be hauled in front of a tribunal and face the possibility of being neutered, whilst the dog could be issued with an ASBO. Or in extreme cases of anti-social behaviour, be shipped to Korea in a crate.
Together we can eradicate petty competitions, close proximity awkwardness, and full-blown attacks. Dog walkers of the world unite! Let’s band together! Let’s form an alliance! Let’s write a petition and get it to Number. 10!
I’m off to see a man about a dog [walking guideline of international importance]…
Or not. Whatever. It’s only a pissing article.