Photos by MJ Klein
By now, everyone knows that I have a new recumbent trike. But I’m no stranger to bicycle riding. I’ve had a Giant brand MTB for five years and I’ve enjoyed bicycle riding since I was a kid. But in Taiwan, there is a huge problem with stray dogs and the fact that you cannot go anywhere on the island and escape from them. While not wanting to deal with the issue of strays itself (I’ll do that in another article) I would like to open a discussion on bicycle riding in Taiwan, and dealing with stray dogs that want to chase, bite or otherwise harm riders.
This is a sight that I hate to see on the street – a stray dog. Undisciplined, wild and unpredictable, this dog is more than likely going to chase and attempt to bite, cyclists.
This is my recumbent trike. One of the main features of the trike it’s low height. The low height is excellent for aerodynamics but it also makes a trike rider more vulnerable to dog attacks. When I ride my trike, I basically ride in fear of dog attack and I am constantly on the lookout for strays (or even owned dogs) that roam the streets. Often, it’s very difficult to just relax and enjoy the ride.
This is my Merida MTB that I own and keep in Thailand at my base of operations there. Although it’s much higher than the trike, one’s legs and feet are always vulnerable to dog attacks. The stray dog situation is similar in Thailand and my personal opinion is that Taiwan is too sophisticated and modern to have such a huge problem with stray dogs as does Thailand. But as I said, I will address those issues in a later article on the subject.
On the Bent Rider Online forum, I opened a discussion on the effectiveness of the Air Zound air horn on repeling dogs on the attack. Several riders responded saying that the AZ horn repelled every single dog. Recumbent rider Jim has increased his AZ horn air capacity and he talks about using it to repel dogs also.
Notice the flag on my trike. There is another white Fiberglas whip to the right of it. That is part of a 2-piece flagpole. The flag is too high using both pieces so I use the single-piece flagpole on the left, and keep the lower part of the whip handy in case I need it for something. On the very second day that I rode my new trike, 4 stray dogs came after me in a pack and I had to beat them off using that whip. I practice dismounting and re-mounting that whip so I can do it quickly and safely. If I see a dog coming at me, I can have the whip in my hand in about one second.
This is what I hate the most – multiple street dogs hanging in a pack. By the way, these dogs here were photographed in Tainan, and are part of a pack that is suspected to have killed and eaten an elderly woman, according to my friend in Tainan who warned me that I was in danger by simply photographing these dogs. The dog closest to me in this photograph was growling aggressively.
So, readers who are bicycle riders:
- Do you ride in areas that have stray dogs?
- Do the stray dogs pay attention to you?
- Do the stray dogs chase you?
- Do you feel the dogs chasing you are simply bored, or out to harm you?
- How often are you chased?
- How do you fend off an attacking dog?
- Has the presence of stray dogs affected your outlook on recreational cycling?
- Do you vary your preferred route to avoid dogs?
- Have you personally been bitten by a stray dog?
- What advice would you give cyclists on this subject?
When I was eight years old, I was attacked by a dog that hid under a car in our neighbor’s driveway. The neighborhood kids were in a big game of “Hide and Seek” and that car was the “base.” I successfully eluded the person who was “it” and searching for us. I made it back to base and a few seconds after touching the car, I felt the dog clamp down on my right leg – totally without warning. Needless to say, it scared the hell out of me. I went home and my mother called the police. The dog bite had drawn blood and the police took the dog away and had it destroyed.
To this day I want all dangerously aggressive dogs to meet the same fate.
Please note that a dog being aggressive in the defense of it’s home and family against a bad guy is a different situation.
I invite you to give us your comments, suggestions and personal experiences.
Thanks for reading!