Groucho from Groucho the Wonder Westie gave me this idea and I’ve been thinking about it ever since he mentioned it.
The suggestion was a result of my last post when I was talking about how big Raffles is. He obviously felt sorry for me in comparison to the hulk that is my puppy Raffles. I have to say that I still harbour a certain amount of resentment towards The Help. She promised me a puppy and look what I ended up with. Although he’s great in many ways, he is not my idea of a puppy and I am not ready to forgive her for that yet. I feel short-changed.
Anyway, in my last post I described how my going out into the garden seemed to be viewed by Raffles as an invitation to play. The most basic of trips has become fraught with danger and embarrassment.
Groucho suggested I use evasion tactics. What a brilliant idea! Evasion. Self-defence. I have been planning ever since.
I really need number one son to help me here, or even number two son. They are both good at emergency response and they have both attended and led courses on survival and how to behave in high risk situations like kidnapping in overseas countries, the places where they work.
However, because they tend to be working in overseas countries they are never around when you need them so I can’t ask them what I should do. I have tried to remember some tips and I have come up with some ideas myself.
1. Risk Assessment
One of the things that number one son is trained in is risk assessment. This is the first step really. You have to decide if you might be at risk. Am I at risk walking to the dog park? Not really. I am in safe company, an unlikely target for kidnapping (even though I do understand I am special) and Raffles is busy focussing on getting to the park.
Am I at risk at the park? Very definitely. I am now with the big dogs and let me tell you they do not take prisoners. When they are tearing around and playing games it is like ten-pin bowling at the park! Owners flying everywhere 🙂 But, because I stay alert and I have identified the risk I have only been bowled over once.
Am I at risk at home. Sometimes.
Having assessed the level of risk I have to make some decisions. How am I going to respond to that risk.
Risk assessment means being alert at all times. It may look like I’m just meandering down the garden path but really I am alert and watching. Every muscle is a coiled spring, every sense scanning for danger. If you are living with a puppy or a kitten you can never relax, never go ‘off duty’.
a) Run – This is always my first response. If you can find a gap, run and don’t stop running until you have reached your safe place wherever that may be. If you are away from home and feel the need to run from danger it is probably wise not to run to your own home because then the pursuer would know where you live. It is usually counselled that you run to a friend 🙂 Great. Then the pursuer knows where your friend lives. Lucky friend!
Sometimes it is impossible to run, perhaps you are cornered or injured. At the moment I am having paw problems and running fast is not an option for me so I have to use other tactics.
If you can’t run it might be useful to try and figure out what the attacker wants from you.
b) Assess the level of danger. If Raffles is just after a toy I make a decision whether it is worth the yips and grumbles and fake attacks to keep that toy or if I just hand it over without a fuss. If there is any risk of personal danger I would hand it over at once. No possession is worth my being injured. Fortunately the level of risk with Raffles is usually measured by the proportion of slobber I am likely to be covered in!
At all times your aim should be to escape so even when negotiating you should be scanning for escape routes and ways to RUN if you can without inflaming the ‘attacker’. Usually when I run I manage to go faster than the pup and I know I can turn quickly so I will always go for this option. If you are not certain of outrunning the pursuer this is never a good move.
If you cannot run you may be forced into a situation where you need to defend yourself. It is surprising what useful tools are with us all the time and when it comes to an emergency these can be called upon.
c) Defend yourself. I have great sharp teeth, not so good claws. Occasionally a tool may come to hand which can intimidate an attacker, use anything you can if it comes down to it.
d) RUN. It is never too late to seize the opportunity if you see a gap. As you may have realised by now this is always my preferred approach.
e) Look Confident. Through it all make sure that your state of mind is positive. This will show in your body language. I have found that I have a tendency to let my tail drop, a sure sign that I am feeling overwhelmed. Positive self-talk is good and can be as much of a weapon as my teeth. If I look like I’m beaten, I am beaten.
f) Call for help. If running is not an option and the confrontation hasn’t worked my last resort move is to call for help, or scream as loudly as I can. This will usually bring the attention of others and almost always result in the attacker running away themselves. Screaming is good. I have a great voice but haven’t had to resort to this one with Raffles. If you are able to scream and run this will often ‘encourage’ the attacker to break off the pursuit knowing that your cries will most likely have been heard and already others could be drawn to the area.
g) Hide. If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot run and for some reason drawing attention to yourself is impossible or doesn’t seem like a good move you can hide using the environment around you.
If you do not see a good hiding place use camouflage. I am great at this. Depending on where you are you do your best to merge into your surroundings and your attacker can’t find you. Unless of course your attacker happens to have a long snout and incredibly good smell ability! But it works when I’m hiding from The Help at bath time!
h) Play Possum. Finally. If all else has failed – play dead. I warn you this is a messy technique which almost always results in my being chewed and sucked and being covered in puppy lick, but it does mean I get a peaceful hour or two. You just have to work out if it is worth the cost.
I hope all of you keep safe and never have to use these tips but if you do remember that whenever you can the best thing to do is RUN….
Love from Zena, the Prepared Princess