An Invention for Tumbling Runners - The Bowser Bomb
To paraphrase Lance: It's not about the dog.
It isn't often that we see the words "pedestrian" and "explosives" in the same sentence - usually for good reason - but in this case we can make an exception. By pedestrians I refer only to dog walkers of the ignorant sort, and the explosives are not so much Hollywood blockbuster finale as firecrackers. Really big firecrackers.
Before we get into the pyrotechnics, let's set the stage by considering the players in this drama:
You - the human who wants to run on a reasonably safe and pleasant route outdoors.*
The Dog – an unpredictable, free-spirited quadruped that chases vehicles, fetches balls, and snatches morsels of food from the tip of its nose quicker than you can say Jack Russell! (that last one being no mean feat, I assure you, having tried it myself countless times- and all of them at just that one party, if memory serves).
The Dog Walker – judging by its distinguishing features and largely erect, bipedal posture – a member of that sub-set of humans that serves dogs by picking up their poop and standing around idly while their animal smells things.
The Leash – any cable, string, rope, chain, or ribbon-like contrivance that tethers dog, walker, and runner into a Bermuda triangle of comical, hazardous, high-stepping dances that often result in injury, most likely to the runner.
The Problem – The runner does not wish to dance; there is no music and the footwear is all wrong.
Avoiding this nonsense seems simple on the surface: if the walker and/or dog could just move to any other spot on the face of the entire earth - often just a teensy step to either side of where they are right now - it might negate the dog/leash hazard and all parties could go about their business unimpeded. We're just talking about enough clearance for a human to squeeze through, with reasonably safe footing, in an area normally roomy enough to accommodate everyone (assuming they were conscious).
The Solution – an invention I've perfected – at least in my mind, from the comfort of bed as I lie awake summoning the gumption to head out for early morning runs – that runners can use to "manipulate the dog walker's spatial coordinates" (ie. physically move them), clearing just enough space to pass safely.
The only criteria I reckon we'd need is for it to be something that would stun more than harm, and be sufficiently light and compact to discreetly clip onto a hydration belt. Result: the Bowser Bomb.
The Simple 4-Step Bowser Bomb Process:
1) On approaching the miscreant dog walker, make all reasonable efforts to get its attention (clapping, clearing the throat, a quick toot from a hand-held Klaxon) thus giving it the opportunity to take the right action before things quickly escalate. This also affords you some measure of legal protection should questions of due process arise. Typically, unless you are downwind from a fire hydrant, the dog will notice you but its innate dearth of cat-level smarts means it will lack the executive thinking skills to figure out how to change the course of fate on its own. Plus it will be sizing you up on its own instinctive PE (play vs. edibility) scale. Remember, unlike its walker, it can't help itself; it's just a dog.
2) At this point, assuming the walker continues in its state of passive disregard (or active contempt - it all amounts to the same thing) and you are faced with stopping and turning around, jumping over the quivering leash, or blazing an ankle-twisting detour, it's time to discreetly reach for your BB. Just like a gel packet, place the BB's tab in your teeth and tear off the trigger, being sure to not swallow the contents out of habit. You can now lob the BB toward the walker, confident in your anonymity because, of course, its concussive force should render the walkers' short term memory kaput. In a perfect world the BB will soar close to the walker without making actual skin contact (superficial burns) and commence its "release of influential energy" (explode). If you've correctly matched your BB volume to the walker's general girth the results will be swift and sublime: the walker will experience a brief flight away from the BB's "event zone," simultaneously becoming limp all over. This not only cushions its landing, in the way a drunk driver usually survives collisions unharmed, but more importantly the leash is usually released, dropping to the ground and clearing the way as...
3) ... the runner strides over the grounded leash and continues running, safe and unimpeded.
4) More often than not the dog will be so impressed by this turn of events that it will just stare in slack-jawed wonderment before returning to smelling things. Should it choose to chase you, it will be more to gambol about and thank you for its new-found freedom than to take a chunk from your calf.
If it's a good day for the walker, it will not lose complete consciousness, and, instead, spring back to its feet within the half hour, likely not remembering a thing.
I'd imagine the BB will be most effective in one-owner/one-leash/one-dog confrontations. Clearly, something packing more firepower is needed to handle multi-leash dog walking services and the poly-dog clusters of stroller-pushing latte-sippers clotting up pathways in leisurely klatches that call to mind those ridiculous giant human doilies formed by suicidal parachutists linking arms in mid-air; the problem here is in the risk of running injuries when the ordnance size approaches what's used in mining and mountain highway construction. Runners might develop scoliosis if loaded down with BBs for large groups - the weight penalties alone would harmfully skew training plans. More pre-dawn tossing and turning will be needed to solve this one. If I can't sleep, at least I can dream.
* Bowser Bomb not intended for indoor use.