Barking dogs never bite. I am searching for that person who told me this to accompany me on my next walk.

Today when I was taking my usual early morning walk, in the veterinary college campus , two dogs started barking.

On a lighter and darker side, having read Machiavelli, I had assumed the dogs were not barking at me. The Machiavellian quote runs something like this ‘If you do not have status in society, even dogs will not bark at you”.  I had read Machiavelli and these specific dogs possibly might not have read Machiavelli!

While I was pondering on the above, the dogs came closer to me and was about to take a good amount of flesh which would have taken some of my weight that I was ready to lose.  I could not let that happen here as the cost of losing weight this way was higher.

Two dogs against one. Oops. Two dogs against me. I thought ‘Not a fair fight folks’.  I raised my leg in a Bruce Lee styled kick which nearly got to the face of one dog. I did not make contact. Next moment I was screaming from the depth of my lower stomach , bent down , and did a sweep of the ground for some stones, found none, (Murphy at its best here, as I daily get my toe hit by a stone while walking and today when I wanted a stone badly I could not find it), cursed my luck , but made an action of throwing something at them. One kick which did not make contact and one action of throwing stones at them seem to have deterred them and the dogs backed off.

Battle won. Temporary reprieve.

As I continued my walk, my useless analytical and reflective mind replayed the incident.

The fight or flight theory back came into my mind.

“The “fight or flight response” is our body’s primitive, automatic, inborn response that prepares the body to “fight” or “flee” from perceived attack, harm or threat to our survival.”

A quick FAQ can be found here.

There are lot of research studies around this and for the curious, Google is your best friend.

When I was very young and I was very blissfully ignorant about this flight or fight theory, this same incident had happened to me. When I was jogging with a group of friends, a group of dogs started chasing us. First we all attempted to flee, the dogs picked up pace and were getting closer to us. I realized we were in a losing battle and then turned around, the dogs stopped . We made one move towards the dogs and the dogs started running. That incident has stayed with me and my general arm chair advice to my children now is do not run. Stay and Fight.

Thirty years had passed since that incident and today I was in similar situation. I was not jogging, not because I do not want to , but because I cannot and also I have sympathy on Mother Earth. There was not the slightest chance that I would have outrun the dogs. I did not have any theory running in my mind to evaluate my choices. I was not going to give up my pound of flesh, without a fight. Not that I wanted to , but because I did not have a choice.

A morning walk gives you perspective , however shallow it generally is, and I just asked myself. What I have been in my life ‘ A person who fights or who flees’ ?

When I was around 18 or 19 years of age, I was traveling in a bus and seated along a window seat and one of the seat was empty. Two persons who were drunk came near me and asked me to move to a different seat. I refused saying I needed the window seat. After couple of minutes , one person came to hit me and I meekly went away and gave up the seat. The first refusal had hurt their ego so much, that they came to hit me when I was about to get down. Before I could think what I could do, the conductor and fellow passengers jumped to my support and thrashed the heaven out of them. Even otherwise, I do not think I would have countered their attack.

Once my boss asked, why you always sit near the door in the conference room ? I managed a political answer , but the actual fact was that I was reminded of the saying ” When the going gets tough, the tough gets going”. Well, actually running.

96% of the time, sorry , 98% of the time I can consider myself as person who chooses flight. I confided this to my friend once and like all good friends he said that you have a very good strategy of following the path of least resistance. He had said exactly what I wanted to hear.

Even in the 2% cases where I have chosen to fight, I have regretted it , irrespective of the outcome being favorable or not.

Revenge is a dish which tastes best when it is cold said the count of Monte Cristo. But I believe time is a good healer, nullifies the need for revenge and allows me to go easy on moments that I fled from or where I had fled thinking I will get back.

Fight or flight, I am not judging myself and just happy being myself.

What about you ? Do you choose fight or flight ?

In the interim I am searching for that person who said ‘Barking dogs never bite’. If you find that person, get that person to me. I want to take that person for a morning walk!

Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)