Every dog has its day
I have read and heard about wild dogs in China. I have also been told numerous stories about them, “I think, maybe, maybe not! I won’t go into that”. From the beginning of our journey, in the Gobi area we saw very few. In Shaanxi the most, as well as this, it was the province renowned for the stray ones, who tend to chase one. We have had our share of dog dodging. From little snappers to real serious numbers. But you will find that most dogs are either in a cage or chained to a stake outside a house, and never welcoming. We have also found that a good verbal onslaught in “Afrikaans” normally helped to fend them off. I have also witnessed the inhumane treatment of the dogs which saddens me. I have tried to intervene, but now know from experience to walk on.
It was lunch time, the freezing wind was really sapping us and we could feel the hunger gnawing at our ribs. The wall was bending down into a valley and lazily flopped onto a plain near the village, there were terraced chestnut trees all the way, which gave easy access to a farm house. We decided to go down and see if we could find a nice bowl of warm green tea to have with lunch and get out of the cold. Bounding down the terraces, landing in piles of dry leave made the decent quick, just ahead was the first farm house and a few locals were scattered amongst the trees gathering wood. We rounded the house, and walked towards the veranda at the far end. As we approached the door we heard a deep rumbling, like a V8 starting up. There lay a seriously large black dog. Black, scruffy with bright yellow eyes. It seemed a bit bewildered at first, but then its lips rolled back and it burst into life, going berserk.
The dog lunged at us, the most terrifying growl rumbled through my body, stopping only meters from me, it was jerked to an abruped choking halt by its chain. The dog retreated and charged again. Once again, its chain stopped it in its tracks as the dog did the standard Chinese chain back flip half choking itself in the process. We decided it was best to fined a more welcoming home, and turned to look elsewhere. The dog did its next chain charge.
The peg popped out of the ground as the chain jerked tight and the dog became air born, shooting behind us and bolting down the terrace in amazement as it tasted its first steps of freedom. Hardly had it touched the ground and the brakes were on, turning in mid air as it suddenly remembered the enemy was yonder.
It took Braam and I a split second to realise, “Hier kom …” We turned and bolted up the terraces heading for our refuge and protector, the wall. I was using my poles as back legs and bounding up the terraces like a grasshopper. Braam trying the more conventional hurdling of the rock terrace walls, “the grasshopper had the edge.” The dog was now right behind us, our only temporary help was that its chain was occasionally hooking in the rocks of the terrace. We would hear its bark turn into a half strangled growl as it choked, but then the chain would break free, this seemed to anger it more. The village folk’s laughter had now subsided. There was a definite sense of panic that had now taken over, as they joined the chase trying to grab hold of the chain as the dog passed. The terror was obviously evident on our faces. I received the first nip at my leg, tearing my pants, and just grazing my calf, the dog then veered left and nailed Braams leg, as he did this a villager temporally grabbed the chain, but the dog broke free.
The terraces we now getting steeper, my legs burning I just had to get to the wall, as long as Braams butt was behind me I was safe. We finally reached the wall and rounded it to climb up. Fatal mistake as this was the Mongolian side and impossible to scale. We were jumping up and down like 2 frogs trying to get out of a bath, and just sliding back all the time, trying to get a grip and climb one of the rocks. The beast was now meters away. We turned and headed for the thorn thicket, our only hope was to get up the rock ledge. The dog now seemed to be dropping back; I think he had run out of steam being tied up so long. Finally a villager managed to hold onto the chain, as Braam and I headed off into the thorns and up the ravine like spiders scrambling for cover, bushes, rocks and dust flying.
We finally collapsed in an exhausted laughing heap, each accusing the other of being the “Bang Broek” Where was the camera man now?!