A few days ago I went for a run and was accused of stealing a dog. It’s true. And as I’ve thought about it more and more, I suppose I did. But it wasn’t intentional.
The run started out simply enough. I left the building of the YWAM base I’m currently visiting, passed through the parking lot and was just at the point where the driveway and road connects when a medium sized dog came running up to me. Initially I thought the dog was going to bite me but then it started licking my hands (ew) and was jumping up at me. I still wasn’t convinced that it wouldn’t bite me and I tried to back away but that only egged the dog on even more. He thought it was all a game. Finally the dog got distracted for a second and I took my chance and started off down the road. But the dog came at me again.
When I would go running in Mae Hong Son in Thailand, I would run along a nice stretch of highway, where anyone who was anybody would go and exercise in the late afternoon/early evening. Often there were dogs that were just roaming along the road – it is Thailand after all. Sometimes I’d have to stop running and walk calmly by the dogs, so they wouldn’t think it was all a game and run after me and bite me. But I then I started talking nicely to the dogs as I approached them (or they approached me) and would kind of invite them to run with me. Befriending dogs. That’s what it’s about people. That method seemed to work pretty well and there were a few dogs that would routinely run with me for a kilometer or so and then head back home on their own. That’s what dogs in Thailand do. They know how to get home again.
So the other day, when that dog started running after me on the road by the YWAM base, I decided to talk nicely to it (so it wouldn’t bite me – I still didn’t trust it). I confess I may’ve actually verbally invited the dog to come run with me – more like a question if anything. “Are you going to come too?”
This dog was roaming free. A lot of dogs near the YWAM base seem to roam free. I figured the dog would find it’s own way home. I figured there wasn’t much I could’ve done to make the dog stay near its home – wherever that happened to be.
But about half a kilometer up the road, a SUV drove up, a window rolled down, and a lady asked me if I was with Youth With A Mission. I said, “Sort of. I’m just visiting there.” She, in the meantime, had pulled over to the side of the road, got out of her SUV, motioned for the dog to go to her, opened up the back of her vehicle and put the dog in the back. And then she said something about how I’d stolen her dog. I, in the meantime, kept running.
I was so mad. I couldn’t believe that this lady was accusing me of stealing her dog when her dog had been roaming free in the first place and then followed me on it’s own. I kept running but I kept thinking about various responses I should’ve said to her – like Kathleen Kelly in You’ve Got Mail, who could never think of quick comebacks in the instant she needed/wanted them. Finally I came to the point where I decided to just let it go because the whole situation was so ridiculous.
It wasn’t until I was nearing the end of my run when I realised that my actions and words to the dog could’ve been perceived as if I was stealing her dog.
I guess it’s only safe to invite Thai dogs to run with me.