Sunday, 28 April 2013

Dealing to the dogs!

Thumb your way through any cycle touring guidebook and you’re sure to read
about problems with dogs. Browse any blog of adventurous cycle journeys and
before long you’ll read of misadventures involving beastly canines. At the very
least the cyclist might escape after an adrenaline fueled burst of sprinting, some
have fared worse and have had panniers ripped open, still others have fallen
victim, been bitten, and had to administer their own rabies shots! The dogs of
certain regions of the world have over time picked up fearsome reputations
amongst cyclists, the crazed dogs of Thailand, the wild dogs of Turkey, the guard
dogs of the Tibetan Plateau. So in all of our trip planning and research there has
always been the question in the backs of our minds…how will we deal with this
when our time comes?

There seems to be a broad range of literature and opinion regarding defensive
methods. One friend of ours, a retired rural GP, relayed to us how he used
to keep some pepper in his pocket and subtly shake it in the eyes of any
approaching dog. Some say dogs just love the thrill of the chase and lose interest
if the cyclist simply dismounts and walks, sounds pretty high risk though. Our
friend Xiao in Chengdu suggested that firecrackers would be most effective, but
I imagine once they’ve been lit and exploded any attacking dog may already
be enjoying the feast of my back steaks. High frequency noise alarms have had
mixed reviews which just doesn’t seem good enough odds. So we’ve chosen a
simple and old fashioned method recommended by both an Australian cycle
tourist we’ve met on the road, and by a kiwi friend who used to live in these
Tibetan regions of China…rocks! These need to be on hand at any moment, ready
to launch at the offending canine. So our solution has been the Rock-et launcher!
A water bottle cut in half, attached to the handlebars with zip ties and string, and
packed with stones.

Rock-et launcher product review 1: Wed 24th April, 8.50am. Sure enough within
500m of leaving the main road and turning toward more remote country we had
a hound launch from our right and hone in on our pedal powering calves. After 3
days on the main road and no serious threat from any dog we were just itching
to unleash. The poor fella was showered with a barrage of pebbles, he persisted
at first but cowered away to his home territory once we connected with his
sensitive snout!

Rock-et launcher product review 2: Thurs 25th April, 9.10am. Far from home
but inspired by the ANZACS. Not one but three canine terrors raced out onto the
road, again from our right flank. Once again they found themselves littered with
rockets, forehand, backhand, over-arm, under-arm, and soon decided to abort
their flesh-feasting mission.

A victory to the cyclists. 2 to the humans, 0 to the dogs. You would be amazed at
what a morale boost this has given us. But it’s early days, very early days, there’ll
be plenty more where those beasts came from, so it’s time to re-arm the rock-et
launcher and remain vigilant around ever corner!



Snow, trees and mean descent!

Wooden houses of Daofu area

Main street roadworks, Luhuo

Our hosts at the trucker stop, Ya De Village

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