At the beginning of September, I set off on a new adventure: I’m traveling around the country over the coming months, living and volunteering on a variety of small-scale organic farms through WWOOF. This essay is about my second stop: a small vegetable farm in Liberty, Kentucky.
The way I assimilate anywhere is by walking. Wandering on a treasure hunt without a map is how I pad my own path home, pocketing whimsies along the way: tiny wildflowers, snapshots of sunlight. But the first time I tried to traipse around my neighborhood in Liberty, Kentucky, the local dogs didn’t like it.
Some simply barked from their front lawns or cowered and growled from a few feet away, like they knew I was an outsider, and my mere presence was a threat. A pack of three loose ones came chasing after me, including a large pitbull that leaped up with its paws at my shoulders and bit at my forearms and calves.
I tried to speak smoothly and sweetly — “Okay, okay, I’m leaving, okay, okay, okay, oww, okay” — and eventually pried myself away, heading back from the direction I came, heart racing. Was the beast being playful or menacing? Regardless, there were teeth involved. On my phone, I Googled, “what to do in case of aggressive dog attack.”
Use a stern but gentle tone of voice, said Google, so I’d done that right. Avoid eye contact. Put something between you and the animal, like a large branch. Back away slowly, rather than turning your back.