Reflections on a Wandering Life.....
Sunday, August 02, 2009
My last day in Langmusi for the summer. How the time does fly! I tried to hike up the canyon this morning, but when I came up to where the Tibetan shepherds had moved down into the meadow, I suddenly realized that one of their five dogs was loose!
I don't know why. I suppose perhaps they had some trouble with someone trying to steal sheep or something. Five barking dogs would certainly let you know something was up if a thief came in the middle of the night. But if the thief had managed to figure out that your dogs were all tethered, he might be bold enough to take one of them away. After all, the shepherds in the canyon have hundreds of sheep. This is not a small flock. Or perhaps they were having trouble with attacks from wild animals. Five barking dogs would not be able to prevent this. But one loose dog would make short work of any kind of thief.
I saw it running toward me full speed through the crowd of sheep. Suddenly I decided it wasn't that nice a day for a hike. I turned around and started running, but immediately realized the unworthiness of my plan. Dogs can run faster than people. I turned around and prepared to square up with the beast. Kill or be killed. I was ticked. For one thing, Tibetan Mastiffs are huge, vicious animals, and I intensely dislike being chased by them. I was almost savaged by a Mastiff three summers ago when I was hiking across the prairie on the Gansu side of town. The dog was lying in the grass, and I didn't see him. The old Tibetan lady who was standing by her tent when I walked up didn't speak English or Mandarin, but she yelled a warning just in time. The dog jumped out of the grass and came charging after me, but he was chained, and I was just beyond his reach.
Today, though the dog was not chained and he was definitely in attack mode. But, as I said, I was pretty ticked, too. Three years ago, when I was attacked, I had deliberately walked up to an encampment that was out in the middle of the wide prairie. I didn't have a particular need to be there, or to walk through that particular camp. I have been told since then that I was crazy to go hiking alone on the grassland like that, and, in retrospect, I agree. You are absolutely defenseless against a dog that happens to be loose. I didn't even have a stick with me. But today was different. The canyon belongs to everyone. Certainly I have no problem with the Tibetans being there, especially since they are so friendly, and they often give me tsampa.
But their camp spans the entire width of the canyon. You can't proceed (at least up that fork of the canyon) without walking through their camp. So, you see, I also felt infringed upon. I took my book bag and started swinging it and yelling at the dog. I was really ready to kill him, and I think he could sense it. You should have seen me. Then again, maybe it's a good thing you didn't. Anyway, the dog finally gave up and ran back to camp.