Several years ago, I was scheduled to perform a Sentricon check at a home in Alpharetta. It was a nice home in a “well to do” community with a huge fenced-in backyard and custom built swimming pool. I remember it being a nice, sunny, and warm afternoon. The kind of day that you feel blessed you get to work outside. Back then each Sentricon station was checked with a hand held device that would scan the bar code located on the bottom of the station cap and would make a “beep” sound when it registered. I always made it a point to make some noise before entering a backyard. If you didn’t know any better you would think every time I open a gate is the first time I’ve ever done it. What I’m doing is making noise and waiting to hear for any response. I would do this especially in the summer because you can easily walk up on a house wife sun bathing by the pool who dozed off and the last thing you want them to do is wake up as you’re standing next to them. Fortunately, that scenario has never been a problem but it terrifies me still today that it could happen so I’m very careful. I also want to alert any dogs that someone is about to encroach on their territory because a mad dog is bad enough but, as any good sports fan knows, we always fight harder on our own turf.
Well this day I had already gone through my normal routine and had assumed no one (or dog) was in this particular backyard and I could proceed with my inspection without hesitation. I got as far away from the gate as this check would take me when my “beep” was followed immediately by a very deep growl. I looked up and the biggest German shepherd I’ve ever seen to date slowly came out of a door I hadn’t noticed, until now, between the house and the garage. He had his head down and was creeping toward me like a lion you see on National Geographic prowling a wildebeest in the tall grass of the African plains. It may sound dramatic but you weren’t there were you? It was the most frightened I have ever been on the job to this day and that would include my previous construction job where I had to be revived by chest compressions after losing consciousness 30 feet deep in a manhole.
The thoughts that went through my head, other than “I’m screwed”, included the fact that I was a good 100 feet from the gate to safety and I was on a deck. To get away unharmed I would have to go down the stairs before running to the gate or jump off. Not to mention I would have to turn my back at some point to run and I was not looking forward to that either.
Just then, he let out one loud bark and leaped at me going right for my face. I leaned back and did the only thing that felt natural at that moment. I punched him in the face. It definitely hurt me more than him and seemed to have no affect whatsoever. I turned and ran as fast as I could knowing there’s no way I could out run him because I’ve seen way too many episodes of “Cops.” I knew initial speed was very key so I had no choice but to run straight passed the stairs that would take me down the deck. Unfortunately, it also meant I would have to jump off the deck but there was no turning back now.
Thinking back, it’s probably what saved me from being ripped to shreds because either he didn’t feel like jumping off too or simply had a great deal of respect for me for jumping. I remember being about 12 feet in the air looking down at the ground and thinking, “as soon as you hit the ground, GET UP AND RUN!” I don’t know how but I actually landed on my feet and jumped immediately again over the six foot fence landing safely on the other side. I can only assume its the same adrenaline pumping force that allows a woman to lift a car off her child in a moment of despair.
Since that day, I approach every yard with an even greater precaution for dogs. Now almost everyone in this area has an invisible fence and their dogs run all over the yard. Because of my experience with the massive German shepherd that looked like it was bred for pulling a coach full of Budweiser I am easily freaked out by dogs. I got away but we all get lucky once in our lives.
The feeling from that day has never left me. About a year ago, I pulled up to a home to check their stations. All the signs were there that they had outside dogs. Dog house, food, and water dishes, toys, piles, etc… Nothing came running up when I pulled in the driveway but I knew to proceed with caution. I got around to the front door, bent over to check the station and saw a large shadow on the sidewalk moving toward me. I immediately panicked and ran like crazy to my truck. For whatever reason I turned to look over my shoulder to see how close the dog was. I guess its because I knew I’m not as fast as I used to be. Funny enough, the only thing I saw was a beautiful orange and black Monarch butterfly fluttering in the breeze casting its shadow on the walkway below. It was then that I realized that I had the moxie equivalent to an elementary school girl and was running away from a freaking butterfly.
So this story goes out to those who have ever been chased by dogs, reacted drastically to something that wasn’t what it seemed or anyone who saw an idiot running from nothing down a side walk one afternoon in Milton and thought, “what’s that guy’s problem?” Now you know the answer. He is haunted by a memory he hopes he never has to relive.
Alpharetta Service Center Manager