A tan, 120-pound mastiff growled through the crack in the door, barely held back by a 12-year old boy. I was knocking at the door of this rural home to let the residents know I’d be working in the stream nearby. Even if the stream bed is technically public, nobody likes being surprised by a stranger in their backyard. As a 27-year-old female graduate student, I didn’t feel very intimidating, but the13-year-old boy was creeped out by me knocking. I told him I’d be taking some measurements in the stream and handed him a flyer about my research to give his parents. He said OK and slunked behind the door, but not before first letting his huge growling dog squeeze outside. As I turned to go, the mastiff immediately lunged and chomped down on the flesh of my ass. I yelped in pain and I looked back at the silent closed front door for help. But the boy was gone, and the dog seemed satisfied with his bite and also retreated, still growling. I walked quickly back to the car on the road where my field assistant was waiting, my heart pounding wildly.
By that time in my life, I was a full-fledged dog lover with two dogs of my own, Rooster and Arlo. I had adopted Rooster from a shelter, and he was the absolute best dog ever. Perhaps you’ve heard this before, but listen, this is the real thing.