The world is made up of all kinds of personalities. There are shy people, outgoing people, funny people, dull people, smart people, not-so-smart people, etc. etc. Then, there are the crazy people, creeps that behave in such bizarre ways that they should be locked in their houses and never be allowed in public. We met such a person yesterday.
It started out as a pleasant hike in Mt. Takao on a humid Sunday. We picked a six-hour hiking course that would take us to a couple of peaks. Although the beginning of the track was rather crowded with people, it became progressively remote and we were able to enjoy the sounds of chirping birds and the fresh mountain air. Libby happily padded along in the muddy trails, occasionally stopping to take a bite out of a particularly fresh clump of grass.
Half way through our hike, a woman dashed out of the woods from our left, every inch of her skin covered, despite the absence of sun and the humid weather. I looked at the low bush where she came out of and didn’t see a trail. She proceeded to zig-zag down the mountain at surprisingly high speed, hopping over exposed tree roots, passing Jason and Libby about 10 meters in front of me and another hiker. Soon, she was nothing but a red blotch between the trees. Damn that woman’s fast, I thought to myself, wondering if she got lost from her group. Then all of a sudden, she turned back and ran towards Jason, screaming something. Jason, being the non-Japanese speaker, stopped and stared at her in confusion. I quickened my pace to see what’s going on, and heard her high-pitched voice hysterically asking Jason why Libby wasn’t on a leash. Without waiting for an answer she declared that she’s terribly afraid of dogs and demanded that we leash Libby. I looked down at Libby, who was, at the time, right by Jason’s feet minding her own business. I just don’t see in what way Libby was bothering this woman. As she went on and on, I decided to go into my non-Japanese speaking mode. I know, I’m a horrible person for doing this, but I thought it was athe easiest way to deal with a hysterical people who wouldn't stop screaming. So I put on my best gaijin accent and said in Japanese, “I don’t understand Japanese.” This put her into new fits and she frantically searched the English word for leash and came up with rope!
Maybe it was her choice of words, maybe it was the way she was wildly gesturing, or maybe because I just don’t like the way she looked (she’s wearing earphones for crying out loud! Why would you want to assault your ears with manmade music when you can enjoy the sounds of nature? And why are you even hiking if you are afraid of animals? PLUS I do not trust people who are afraid of dogs as a group!), I looked at her straight in the eyes and said firmly, “No, I will not leash my dog because it is dangerous. The road is too slippery.” (Yeah, this is the bitchy side of me that finds its way to the surface every now and then.) I don’t know how much of it she understood, but she got the NO part for sure. She probably thought she was going to put an insolent gaijin/dog owner into place and teach me a lesson, only to be denied of the satisfaction. The look of disbelief was unmistakable on her face. For a second she didn’t know what to say, but then turned around and ran away mumbling loudly, “Unbelievable!” in Japanese.
Unbelievable is exactly what it is. If the woman hadn’t dashed back to yell at us, Libby would’ve never been within ten feet of her, not to mention the fact that outside people she knows, the dog is completely oblivious to everyone, especially when it comes to lunatics like her. I bet Libby wouldn’t even go near her if she was holding a piece of prime rib!
The rest of the hike turned into a ridiculous game of chase. The creep is surprisingly fast but took frequent breaks. To avoid confrontation, we hung back whenever we see her in front, and took different detours whenever possible. She finally tired herself out running away from us and sat down for a rest on a wooden bench at a split. Since we already lost precious time hanging back, I decided that since she was resting, we would overtake her, solving HER problem once and for all. But the minute she saw us coming, she jumped up from her seat and sprinted up the hill screaming to someone she didn’t even know, “Those two people with that dog claim they don’t speak Japanese, and they won’t listen to me! I’m terrified of that dog…” As she ran further ahead, her voice faded. Boy, it must be so stressful to be her.
Our hike sufficiently ruined, we took a different route to get back to the foot of the mountain, missing a couple of points of interest. I realize I might be grossly biased here because, well, it is my precious dog that we are talking about, and like I said, I just don’t get people who don’t like dogs (except kids). That said, I firmly stand by my belief that in a mountain with slippery trails, it’s extremely unreasonable to ask a dog to be leashed (we could both trip and injure ourselves). I realize I could’ve been nicer and explain all this to her in Japanese, but then again, I know a freak when I see one, and any explanation would've just been a waste of time and energy.
At any rate, what kind of a normal person would be scared of this sweet dog?
Photos from the hike here.