By Ralph84

I recently drew my gun in self defense. I wasn’t sure if it was the best thing to do, but I felt like I could definitely be in a very bad situation if I didn’t. Why would I share this? I think my actions, inactions and gear shortfalls are relevant to anyone with a self protection mindset.

I have recently taken to exercising in the late evenings. This started small with a mile and a half walk around the neighborhood with my wife and our puppy. Over time, this has turned into 5 mile a night treks.

So on the evening at hand I ended up leaving for my walk a bit later than usual as I had forgotten to charge my smart phone which also acts as my MP3 player. So by the time it was ready to go it was about 1:30 AMish.

My neighborhood isn’t particularly crimey, and my 5 mile trek actually runs me from my pretty decent lower middle class neighborhood, to an even less crimey upper middle class neighborhood. So generally speaking the carrying of my firearm is more about my life choice to be armed whenever I legally may be than about a perceived need.

Before I had walked four blocks I saw something out of place. I have seen a few odd wildlife situation during my late night romps as suburban sprawl has turned quite a bit of woodland into homes, but this was out of the ordinary even for that. I saw a 120 pound Rottweiler (not pictured above) saunter around the corner.

Now I seriously love puppies, and I inhabit a mental fairy land world where a 120lb Rottweiler is a puppy. Unfortunately for both myself and this puppy, neither one of us was expecting to see the other so we both stopped dead in our tracks.

Now fortunately I am a total gear junkie. I recently dropped some cash and bought myself a dedicated get home bag so I have added some items to my utility belt, as it were. Really, though, none of those items were at all useful to me in this situation. My standard Every Day Carry has long been 1 or 2 handguns, usually 1 extra mag, and a high powered “tactical” flashlight. These items served me marginally well, but back to the story at hand.

Upon the realization that he had been caught, our puppy friend decided that he was unhappy with the appearance of a human type animal ruining his evening of turning neighbors yards into his own personal restroom. That’s when he revealed a decidedly less puppy-ish side. His lip curled back revealing some serious chompers and he started a low growl.

As I mentioned, my mindset is puppies are sweet and awesome and generally nothing to worry about. I have not generally been wrong as most puppies at least tolerate – if not love – people. This interaction was clearly different. It was pretty apparent that this puppy had just gotten away (chewed through his leash or his master’s arm etc.) and saw me as someone who might ruin his fun. Granted, this is all conjecture because I’m actually not a puppy psychic…but it fits the script of what happened.

I figured I had a couple seconds to react and chose to use my flashlight first (mostly because when I walk it is already in hand). My flashlight is roughly equivalent to 100-1000 suns in brightness. The maker claims it is only to be 60 lumens on low and 250 lumens on high, but anyone who has had the misfortune of looking directly into the beam knows better.

Then I unsnapped the thumb break on my holster (because you always need a backup plan, and also as they say, “be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone in the room”). I got a good grip on my pistol, and I activated my beam right into dog’s eyes.

This pup was obviously not expecting 100 suns (yeah it was in low mode…failure #1 is me trying to save batteries). He momentarily disembarked (no pun intended) from his low growl and aggressive Elvis lip curl.

I made the unfortunate mistake immediately after disengaging my beam, however, of blinking. Upon seeing that, the Rottie decided it was just about time he taught me a lesson. He resumed growling this time much louder.

I immediately reacted with a bit of verbal judo yelling “GET, GO” about as loud and as angrily as ever a man has yelled those two words.

SPF was confused by this, as he again paused for a moment. I believe the look on his face indicated “doesn’t this dumb shite know that I’m a hundred and twenty pounds of bad-ass Rottweiler?” A moment later he began to charge.

I’ve heard of Tachypsychia (the perception of time slowing down due to an extreme situation) and I’ve experienced it a couple of times. This wasn’t as intense, but looking back at the situation I processed way more info than normally possible in the milliseconds where the dog began moving toward me.

I thought to myself, “If this dog keeps coming at me things are going to get bad fast” I thought “I really don’t want to hurt this dog.” Then I thought, “I’ve gotta give this one more try, because I don’t want to discharge a firearm eight feet from someone’s front door.”

While I was thinking all of that I was tracking exactly where the dog was and approximately how long I could wait before pulling the trigger. I also drew my firearm and I think I began bringing my flashlight back up (but did not turn it back on). Finally, I took a step forward and again screamed “GEEET, GOOOO!!!” breaking my own record for how loud and angrily those sounds have come from any living being.

Fortunately for me, for the dog and for the suburb dwellers whose yard happened to be under said dog at the time, our friend decided that I was f-ing insane and he wasn’t going to wait around to see what the big blocky thing was in the hands of the crazy f-er who was moving toward him and screaming. He turned and began moving away.

Ahh sweet success…but no not completely because I was still standing in a suburban street in the middle of the night about one step off of someones front lawn screaming and brandishing a firearm…sometimes even when you win you lose.

That’s when I decided I was not going to walk around with a gun in my hand and quickly re-holstered. I also decided that if this dog decided I wasn’t nuts after all, he was going to turn around and make a snack out of my throat. So immediately after re-holstering I continued after the Rott (at a relatively safe distance) screaming, “GET, GO” over and over again. Fortunately, as I rounded the corner behind the dog, it’s owner was standing in his yard about half a block away calling for him.

That’s when I realized I had a new problem. While my drawing down on the dog was concealed by the house we had just walked around, my gun was not completely concealed (as I had very hastily holstered). I also had a flashlight in my hand, and my bag with a giant survival knife sticking out of it. I looked like a nut armed to the teeth screaming and chasing this guy’s dog.

Fortunately I think the dog’s owner was about as thrown off by the whole situation as the dog so he came over and eventually secured his animal and thanked me for corralling him and we parted ways. (There is a bit more to that story…but that’s for another day.)

So why write a  long story that makes me look a bit silly? Three reasons:

1. If you are going to be anywhere after dark carry a flashlight 60 lumens or brighter…more flashlight doesn’t usually translate to more weight, so carry as much flashlight as you can afford

2. Always be aware of your surroundings. If I hadn’t noticed that dog for even one second, I think this would have ended in shots fired and me explaining myself, first to an angry owner and then to the police.

3. Get some pepper spray. I really would have liked to have had something in my hand other than a firearm at 0’dark thirty on that suburban street. Especially when the dog was moving away. While I was very fortune to have a tool to deal with the situation, I wish I’d had more than that one tool. I know that a lot of concealed carriers don’t carry their guns, but even if it’s just for dogs, carry some pepper spray.

44 Responses to Sometimes A Gun Isn’t the Right Tool

  1. Makes me happy I just bought my surefire executive defender. It is 60 lumens with a 2.5 hour runtime if I remember correctly. It is now discontinued and I,got the last one at sportsmans.

  2. I have always, throughout my life, had guns within hand’s reach.
    But for near twenty years my very first line of defense were my Komondor dogs. Without question if any felon SOB got past them I could absolutely claim my life was in true jeopardy.
    Love your Guarding Breeds. The only thing better is a SEAL, or SOG or Force Recon… (there are too many spectacular Warriors, forgive me for not being able to Honor you All!)

  3. “Ahh sweet success…but no not completely because I was still standing in a suburban street in the middle of the night about one step off of someones front lawn screaming and brandishing a firearm…sometimes even when you win you lose.”‘

    “I wish I’d had more than that one tool. I know that a lot of concealed carriers don’t carry their guns, but even if it’s just for dogs, carry some pepper spray.”

    There are two of the smartest statements I’ve heard in a long while. A good reminder for the importance of being prepared for the unexpected.

  4. +1 on the pepper spray.
    You might also consider a cane or an asp baton.
    Dogs don’t like sticks, and might leave you alone
    if you are carrying one.

  5. OMG I’m already weighed down! iPhone, Glock 30SF, 10-round spare mag (.45s), wallet, keys, sunglasses case. Sometimes Smith & Wesson 642. Sometimes cigar cutter and cigar and lighter. Not too bad in winter but definitely a bummer in summer. Pepper spray and flashlight? I carry pepper spray when I walk the Schnau but otherwise . . . How do you guys schlep all this stuff?

    • Slim down everything.

      Right now I have a Sccy CPX-1 (a Kel-Tec P11 clone) at 4:00 on my hip in an IWB leather holster. In my weakside front pocket is another 10 round mag, my keys and a CRKT Pazoda clipped to the pocket. In my strong side front pocket is my wallet/money clip (which carries just the essentials), a Pelican flashlight and a Leatherman Micra. I could easily fit a key-chained size Sabre pepper blaster in either pocket and/or ramp up the flashlight to something more powerful and clip that into my strong side pocket and still have room for my iPhone.

      • Good thinking, bro. I should look into that.

        Better carry a spare, though- if it gets hit by lightning, it probably won’t be much use against meteorites.

        KISS, guys, KISS. Too much gear, you’ll end up grabbing the wrong thing when the time comes.

  6. Dogs don’t particularly care for loud noises, either. A blank round or two, time permitting, can be a very effective deterrent. Albeit with the drawbacks associated with a pistol report.

    See also, a few small steel ball bearings in one’s pocket.

    • +1 to the loud noises. I have a dog-loving friend who packs an airhorn (along with a cane and citronella spray) whenever she walks her 4 dogs (she only walks one-two at a time). I think she carries some dog treats to throw and distract them also.

    • You can also find what I believe are called ‘snaps’ — these little white almost mini-hershey kiss looking things that when you throw them to the ground they make loud snapping sounds. A hand full thrown at the dogs way seems to do the trick.

      I also carry a cap gun which is a 38 snubby looking thing. A few shots with the cap gun seems to make them run as well.

      Pepper spray, flashlight, 3″ wooden dowel and cap gun are on me when I go jogging and me and the mail man have had to beat off more than one dog over the years.

      In my area we have a lot of dogs and nobody seems to want to keep them on a leash. In at least two cases I have called the cops. The first time its a $50 fine and it double for each call although it does not seem to deter some people.

  7. I plan to start carrying Bear Pepper spray. Good for puppies, and black bears alike.

    Actually, I live in a VERY rural area. Beautiful streams, lakes, ponds and a couple waterfalls…all with in short distance walk or bike. And the occasional moose or black bear.

  8. I always carry pepperspray on duty. It’s just a bit of a hassle to carry off duty however and around here Pit Bulls that you have to call the pound about are a common enough occurrence for me not to feel bad about shooting. Then, it being the area that it is, the shots are not going to take as much note as say the neighborhood you detailed at 0130. I don’t walk my area anywhere near that time of night and with everything equal during the day stray dogs generally do stay away from most of us and forage most of the time.

    I like to imagine that I would have done what you did, in that order. The odds are though, that I would not have and may have had vet bills and/or a lawsuit in the worst case scenario.

    • If a dog attacks you, you should be the one filing the lawsuit. The law is on your side, not on the side of the irresponsible dog owner.

      • Civil court still is a financial liability. That was my meaning. Being jailed, I doubt. A dog coming at me doesn’t get any sympathy where I live; too many owners raise dangerous breeds irresponsibly.

      • You’re absolutely right, but: most states won’t give you attorney’s costs for the defense. And, $7-10k minimum cost of admission to prove you’re right. Homeowner’s may or may not cover.

        +1 on LC Judas’ comment.

  9. Generally, you can intimidate a dog into backing down by showing him that you are not afraid of him and that you will fight back if attacked. Obviously in the above tale, you were afraid, but you didn’t let the dog see your fear. You handled the situation perfectly.

    I have faced off against several mean dogs and I was always able to get the dog to back down. (I was a door-to-door salesman for a while.) Most of the time it took only a loud voice and maybe a step toward the dog, but a couple times it took quite a bit more. I actually had to hit two of the dogs – once with my fist in his nose (a very sensitive spot) and once with my knee in his chest. At that point in both of those confrontations, I was so angry at the dog that if he hadn’t immediately backed down, I probably would have beaten him to death. I taught those two dogs very quickly that they shouldn’t mess with me, and the dogs immediately backed down.

    Now I’m not telling you this to brag or … I’m telling you this to remind you about the survivor’s mindset that we have often talked about. When things get to the point where you can’t avoid violence, don’t get scared – Get FIGHTING MAD and use that anger to your advantage. When the confrontation is over, then you can get scared.

  10. “Tactical” flashlights that have 23 different modes and require that you remember the secret handshake to change modes are undesirable. The most you want is slight press for low power and full press for full power.

    Oh, and a dog can close a LOT faster then a person can, and can take a lot more damage. So don’t wait to draw. Particularly when nobody is around to get upset at you aiming a gun at their pet monster.

  11. I always carry my Kubaton pepper spray, surefire light and my favorite NRA tactical pen that actually writes really well and hurts really bad if you get jabbed on any body part. I’ve never had to use any of them in self defence and I hope I never have to.

  12. A Rottweiler, especially if it is from a European line, will not back down. It is a “you wantta go?” breed. so don’t bet your life on facing down the dog. A Rott goes right for the throat and can inflict a fatal wound in seconds so be prepared to act fast. Pepper spray is an effective tool in dealing with nasty animals. If nothing else it will slow them down long enough for you to nail them with your gun.

    • Please, lets not get carried away with Rottie legends. With U.S. or EU dogs. Most of them are very stable and there are far fewer ones with the kind of dangerous personalities that you are claiming, thatn there are of the top working dog breeds. It’s hard enough to find a good working Rottie as it is, in either continent. It’s a huge challenge and a handicap to make a great protection Rottie. I helped train an American-bred Rottie who went to EU to win their Millenium Challenge and the separate Protection Tournament, so basically the best protection Rottie in Europe. I also certified that Rottie trial helper in a later year to do a protection tournament that I judged in Germany. None of these dogs are going for anybody’s throat. They could, but that would be deranged. Who would have such a garbage dog? BTW, said dog retired to do therapy with mentally handicapped children and the hospitalized elderly. And a good life of providing comfort and strong security to a housewife in a safe and controlled manner. Burglars will skip that house.

  13. Lots of lessons here. The slowing down of time is a common occurrence of Body Alarm Reaction which happens under stress.

    Flashlights should be dirt simple, on or off, momentary only without a click on/off. This way you always get what you need. Another alternative is a low output with a light push, with full output with a heavy push. But again, momentary only without a click on/off.

    Pepper spray is good for dogs thinking about attacking, but a gun is best for an attacking dog. If you have your light in one hand and gun in the other, how will you use pepper spray? If you have your light in one hand, pepper spray in the other, can you get to your gun fast enough when “thinking” about attacking turns to action???

    A gun mounted light would free up a hand but the problem with gun mounted lights is that you end up pointing a loaded gun at someone that may not need it. A dog is not as big as a problem as pointing a loaded gun at a person.

    I carry 2-3 guns, spare mag, light, pepper spray, knife and cell phone at all times when I am 100% positive that I won’t get into a gun fight. Although I can’t find room for a cigar cutter or lighter. If I thought I was going to get into a gunfight I would add a rifle, a couple of spare mags and a few friends if possible. Anyone want to be my friend?

    • That’s quite an impressive load to carry, but I’m not too far behind you. I’ll usually have 2 guns, having one within reach of either hand, spare mag for each, knife, and high power flashlight (320 lumens in a focused beam ruins your day quite quickly). So far the knife has seen the most use, and thats just for opening the mail 🙂

  14. I used to train dogs for protection and attack work and believe me, you do not want to get bit by a Rottie. Their bite force is unbelieveable, and I say that as someone who’s been chomped on by every breed of dog — wearing protective gear, of course. But you do not need pepper spray to stop a dog in his tracks. A squirt gun with a mixture of ammonia and water works just as well and won’t backspray in your face.

    • cool. I got my GSD up to Ring 3 and did civil work with him as well.

      Worked GSD, Malenois and American Bull dogs mostly in English, French, German and Flemish LOL I still have the scares from the bites. Did you train Schzhund? Ring? Personal?

      • Schutzhund (up to SchH3), personal, home and family, perimeter and police. For home and family protection, I trusted German Shepherd Dogs the most, but I also worked with Belgians, Rotties, Dobies and Staffs. Man, those “little” Staffordshire Bull Terriers were hell on wheels!

        • I prefer GSD for family protection also. The Belgians are great for police, but a bit too rowdy for me personally. Never worked Dobies or Bull Terriers myself

  15. A growling dog is not a confident dog, he’s feeling fear and suspicion. That kind of dog is prone to biting if he feels threatened and cornered by you. Being calm and confident usually is best, just act like the aren’t even there and don’t look at them and keep going, even walk more towards them but not at them. Easier said than done if you haven’t worked with a lot of dogs and can’t read their ear-set. Growling rottweillers aren’t very high on the list of dogs that worry me. Really it’s hard to find a good one these days. His lip-curl doesn’t come from strength. Dogs like that don’t generally do much damage when they bite, they just want you to go away. Reminds me that two weeks ago I got bit on the ear by a pitbull with the same behavior, barely broke the skin. He was was acting like your rottweiller, growly and threatening, but his ears were forward and down and I was curious to understand him. So I walked up without acknowleding his existence and sat down on the curb on the edge of his yard with my back to him. Nothing freaks a dog out more than the strong, silent type. He didn’t know what to do about that. He sniffed around me and finally sniffed my leg and licked it (submissive), then my forearm (submissive), then my bicep (this is getting sexy), then put his chin over my shoulder (rising dominance, now I’m asking for trouble), licked my neck (still being a pu$$y), licked my ear (sneaky bastard going for it), then nailed my ear with a punch bite. I shoved him off and stood over him, then left. I never said a word or made a sound or raised my arms to escalate the situation. So what we have here is an adolescent male, under 3 years old, with a dominant temperament, who has probably been beaten and turned into a suspicious nervebag, but he can’t stop his dominance and therefore has to be dishonest to exercise it. He’ll bite somebody, for sure. How hard depends on the person, but he’ll bite without commitment using only his front teeth and with a quick release.

    Contrast that to my old bulldog. He’s highly confident and competitive-aggressive. He has never growled, and only barks to be pushy. If you walked by the yard he would be stone-still and silent, ears erect, making constant eye contact. That’s the kind of dog to worry about. He wants you to come closer, he’s girding for battle, and if he bites he throws his full weight into his opponent like a linebacker making a hit and gets his molars into it. This is about victory. And nothing makes him happier than being hit with a stick or a flashlight or a boot. It lights him up, makes him go 100% bonecrusher. Heavy frying pan? Sorry, I’ve tried it. No effect. Pepper spray, same thing, just pisses him off. Just so you know, the good dogs like the serious units use get exposed to every type of spray and gas in the training compound and it doesn’t stop them. Maybe if you have the big bear cans. The good news is that pepper spray is going to help you with the 99% of dogs that are running around loose. Hopefully the wind isn’t in your face. The bad news is that it doesn’t work on the kind of dogs that will put you in a hospital bed. So it seems that to be fully prepared you need pepper spray and a gun. But learn to read dogs and learn how to act and you’ll get through life with empty hands and won’t need to carry pepper spray. But carry a real weapon for that 1%. In that respect, it’s just like people.

  16. I enjoyed the story very much. It was well written and interesting all the way through. I do find it extremely comical the way you guys carry stuff for that special situation that may never happen. No wonder you’re all nuts, who wouldn’t be living with all that stress.

    • Nah, it’s not stress. Most of it, for most people (I think) is just for fun. If shooting wasn’t fun, most us would probably only own one gun, maybe two (hunters excluded). Most of us would practice only occasionally- say, about as often as one might run a propane generator to make sure it’s in working order. Most of us would probably still carry, but probably for political and cultural reasons (a right not exercised is soon lost, self-reliance, that sort of thing) as much as for defense.

      That’s what most (or many) of us do, anyway. Anything beyond that is usually just for fun- because we like to be prepared, and because we like to feel prepared. I agree, carrying 15 pounds of tools I’ll use once in lifetime seems kinda ridiculous. But then, fantasy football and WoW seem kinda silly, too (no offense, guys).

      We drive cars because we need to. We own firearms because (we believe) they are necessary to free democratic process and (occasionally) self-defense. Many of us enjoy driving and shooting to a degree out of proportion to our actual *need* for them. But we think that’s ok.

      I wanna say that I really appreciate Mike’s willingness to hang out on this site. If nobody makes an effort to understand the thinking of people who disagree with us, we’re all doomed.

    • Funny how the antis will bet their money that they will win a 50 million to 1 lottery ticket, but they bet their lives that they will never get assaulted with they have a 100 to 1 chance of being a victim of a violent crime.

      Pretty much says it all.

  17. I’ve never had an issue with a dog while walking, but I’ve had a few take after me on my bike. Keeps life interesting I guess. Aluminum air pumps are not very good clubs.

  18. Great story. Makes you think…

    As a lifetime fan of dogs, I would hate to have to use a firearm on a dog. That said, I have been in a few situations when I had to use force to get out of a dog bite (or bites). Usually this involved improvised clubs, rocks and even meter-reader issued “Dog Repellent”. I consider myself fortunate that I have never even had a bite break the skin.

    It would be horrible to have to explain to the dogs owner that you shot their “puppy”. Those conversations never go well.

    Still puzzled by the presence of the giant survival knife…

  19. Canemasters and a few other makers have walking canes with an oversized crook. This allows you to twirl the cane like a windmill or in a figure 8 pattern. In Puerto Rico I used to run into packs of 3 to 5 “pets” that would charge me. The moving cane would always back them off. You can instantly switch to a strike or a poke if needed.

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