Just as Bailey and I stepped onto the street, we were attacked by a tiger. It was, like most tiger attacks, entirely unexpected and very traumatic. Actually Bailey didn’t seem especially traumatized, but at the time I was pretty upset and still remain a little miffed. City living has its drawbacks, but one of the principle recommendations of an urban residence is a supposed reduction of ambient tigers. Indeed, one can become so accustomed to a tiger-free life that one may not always check for tigers before stepping out onto a city street. This was my mistake.
We had hardly gone ten steps before the massive beast emerged from the bushes across the street. I think I noticed it before Bailey, and my reaction was to freeze. Did you know the human brain reacts to a stubbed toe in 40 milliseconds, while processing new information can take up to ten-times longer? In the instance of the tiger attack, I think I froze in about 2 milliseconds, and then had many dozens of milliseconds to carefully weight the respective merits of ‘fight-or-flight.’ By the hundredth millisecond I decided the best thing to do was to just keep right on freezing.
Bailey reacted differently. She’s a black lab you see, and though she likes to wag with her whole body and sit on my feet and bury her head in my lap (like most labs), she is what I’d call a ‘Gamer.’ If we walk by a house and there is a dog at the window that feels the need to bark at us, Bailey will be growling and lunging for the other dog before she even sees it. In other words, she doesn’t do ‘flight’ and is ready to take on all comers several hundred milliseconds before she knows who or what they are. Even if they’re huge and orange and covered in black stripes and charging right for her. Bark bark.
Generally speaking, a pelvis is very useful thing. It connects lots of important body parts together, as well as housing some important functions of its own. I long ago decided I would do whatever is necessary to keep my pelvis from between sets of gnashing teeth, and this is still a conviction I hold to. I can’t really explain why I pulled Bailey behind me and pinned her poor head to my butt as I circled and circled, trying to separate the Tiger and the Gamer with my body. Maybe the protective instinct of the dog walker in his natural environment is more powerful than the pelvis-preservation drive.
In any case, it worked. The tiger turned out to be just a huge orange brindled Mastiff escaped from his yard, and after a few dozen orbits around me, decided to just go smell some nearby poop.
It took several minuets for Bailey’s hackles to go down, and much longer for my stomach to slide back out of my throat. I called the Out-U-Go! office and asked if they happened to know the non-emergency number for the local police (they did) and even managed to sound cool and casual when I told every person Bailey and I happened to pass to be careful: there’s a tiger on the loose.