Dmitrii N. Rassokhin
To Kathryn Darby - the best English teacher I've ever met.
You can imagine that a dog can attack and bite a man - sure thing! However, what if I tell you that once I was attacked and carved-up by a dog armed with a knife? That's a cock-and-bull story you think! Nothing of the kind.
When I was in California this winter on a scientific mission, I stayed with my business partners, a family of computer-nerds who lived in a large, wooden house located on the North Coast. The house is situated in a gorgeous coniferous forest four miles from the Pacific Ocean. Flourishing wild nature, fresh ocean air, and sunny, unusually-warm and dry weather would literally draw me out from my computer work and into a bicycle's saddle.
One lovely day I was spinning away my daily twenty-five miles along the shore line. Is was early evening. I was already halfway home, only a miserable six miles left to ride. These miles were terribly long though, for the road rose steeply upward. I was hardly going a snail's pace but I pushed the pedals like a demon, thinking toward the moment when I would take a hot shower.
Suddenly, I cast a quick glance back down the road and saw in the dusk two big gray shapes looking very much like huge dogs. They were about fifty to sixty yards behind and coming at full steam after me. "Oh, Bozhe moy!", I thought, "They're certainly gonna take my pants off!"
The dogs were approaching fast. I could soon recognise one of them was a monstrous mutt likely to have German shepherds among its ancestors. The second was a diminished copy of the first who apparently was its mother. It was a clumsy puppy far inferior to its dame in speed, but chasing with more enthusiasm. It was evident there was no sense in trying to outstrip my pursuers. Dogs are plainly more-than-a-match for an exhausted bicyclist laboring up a steep hill. I jumped off the bike to take-up a defensive position.
However, when the dogs reached me, I saw with relief they weren't going to bite me at all. These two lovely creatures simply wanted to amuse themselves a little, and persistently enticed me into their joyful pack. Rushing about, yipping, barking, wagging their tails, and dipping down on their front legs into a crouch, they cast quizzical glances at me. I was tickled to death they were cozying-up. But the sky was getting darker and darker and it was not really my plan to ride my bike through the forest in pitch-darkness without a flashlight or, at least, night-sight equipment. So, I decided to wish them good-bye and go my hard way.
Just about to jump into the saddle again, I suddenly noticed that the plastic bag tied under the bike's seat was about to tear. It held a couple of bananas and a small bottle with water. I wouldn't be glad to lose such a treasure and I started to untie the bag to put its contents into a spare. But the old bag didn't want to capitulate and seized the bike with stubborn knots, refusing to be untied. To cut these Gordians, I drew my long, razor-sharp, sheath knife from my belt. Having done this simple surgery, I put the knife on the ground next to my feet and began attaching the new bag.
Meanwhile, the dogs kept playing their ridiculous game. The puppy chased its mother, while she jumped and tried put her paws on my chest. Barely beating off their friendly, but too-familiar attacks, I suddenly caught sight of a strange, long-but-narrow, glittering thing that the monstrous dog held in her jaws. It came to me instantly that it was my knife! This damned spawn-of-hell was light-footing-it 'round me like a traditional Georgian lezghinka dancer, dagger-in-teeth, poking the blade into my hands and clearly making fun of me as though to say: "Come on, take your knife away, if you can!"
The puppy gazed at its mother's dance open-mouthed. Dodging the shining blade, I desperately tried to recall from my hand-to-hand combat experience some way of disarming a dog. It was useless! Neither ancient Russian fighters, Chinese kung fu masters, nor Japanese karate superstars could have done much about this. The more I leaped and dodged the more the dogs thrilled at this wonderful, new game. The blade was flying at face-level - a samurai sword threatening to cut out my nose. At last I screamed in full voice, "Get outta here!", angrily adding some strong Russian phrases. Deeply insulted with such a rudeness, the couple instantly got lost in the bushes with my knife seized in compensation for the insult.
"It would be a great pity to lose such a good knife," I thought. "I have to swallow my pride and beg the dog's pardon".
I squatted down and recalled the dogs to me. My calls were not left unheaded. The bushes were drawn back with a loud snapping as the motherís long body took off like a shell from a canon aimed directly at me. I barely dodged, avoiding a direct hit to my face! Yet the knife nicked and drew blood from the middle finger of my right hand. Good grief! That was too much for me! I blew a fuse and cursed them, and every hair on both their bodies, with all the English and Russian expletives I could muster. The mother was so shocked by such a sharp switch in my mood that she loosened her jaws and dropped the knife. Then, glancing at her son as though to say, "Wow! You see? Such a flaky guy!", they both disappeared in the bushes for good.
Coming back with my hands covered in blood scared my hosts considerably. I clearly confirmed I had gone completely nuts when I told them it was a dog that wounded me with a knife. My explanation, though, dispelled their doubts about my mind's state. "You see", they told me with laughter, "here in the U.S. even the dogs are violent. They attack people not only with bare teeth, but with knives! It's good it was a knife, not a pistol: imagine the newspaper headline, 'Russian Scientist Shot by Dog!' "
So here in cold, gray Moscow, two physical things remind me of sunny California, a small scar on the finger of my right hand, and my knife-handle clearly imprinted by dog's teeth.
All pictures in this site are digitally watermarked and some of them are copyrighted by Webster Publishing. If you want to use any, ask me first!
(C) Dmitrii N. Rassokhin [Email] | Up to: Ovcharka Dogs | This text is a part of Dmitrii Rassokhin's website. | Last modified: Sun Feb 16 17:57:35 EST 2003