boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
I do think that there is value in Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear, even though it doesn't work for me. It doesn't work for me on either end: I'm not much good at understanding strangers' intentions, and don't want to spend enough time and attention on strangers to get somewhat better. And I am good at attracting extra attention from security people, even though I don't intend to steal, smuggle, or damage anything. I don't know how much of that is racism, how much is missing communications cues because I'm partly deaf and have not much peripheral vision, especially on the same side as my deaf ear, and how much is behaving oddly because when I am in a crowd of strangers I am spending a lot of energy wishing that I were elsewhere, and hoping to escape with the least possible eye contact, talking, and being touched by strangers. But just by being myself I soak up enough security personnel attention that anyone who does want to steal, smuggle, or damage things should use me as a stalking horse.


Friday evening I was walking to the library with Aiko. I was on the north side of the street, heading east. I saw a couple walking toward me, but there was a break in traffic and I crossed the street before we met. On the south side of the street, Aiko was uneasy. He kept stopping and looking back. I looked back too, and saw the couple that had been on the north side of the street, going west, were now about half a block behind me, on the south side of the street, going east.

Well, people do change their minds and turn around. But Aiko would not settle down, so at the next street I turned south. The couple behind us also turned south, but I was on the east side of the street and they were on the west. I stopped and let Aiko sniff for a while, so I got to the next intersection after them. They crossed to the south side of that street. I did not. I turned east. They also turned east, and continued to walk about half a block behind me, on the other side of the street, for about seven blocks. Then we were in a well-populated area, and I didn't see them again.

I am a short fat old woman, and my hands were encumbered. I had library books in one hand, and a leash and a bag of dog poop in the other. But I was walking a German Shepherd! How did they plan to assault me without getting bit? Also without getting a bag of dog poop in the face? Though it was one of the good bags, and probably wouldn't have burst even if it had hit. Also, I didn't have any money on me, though they didn't know that. I was wearing a fanny pack, which is where my wallet would have been if I was wearing my wallet. I thought about taking my phone out and taking their picture, but they had dropped back far enough by the time I thought of it that it wouldn't have been much of a picture. The fanny pack has the kind of buckle that you squeeze to open. Probably they planned to run up beside me, grab the buckle, and run off with the fanny pack before Aiko could react. They would have got my phone and my housekeys, and could probably figure out where I live from the phone.

Anyway, I do think that there is observable, identifiable behavior that signals that one human being is looking at another human being as prey, and I think Aiko observed and correctly identified it.

Date: 2017-06-23 09:01 am (UTC)
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
From: [personal profile] sasha_feather
How scary!

Good dog, Aiko.

Date: 2017-06-23 11:40 am (UTC)
clawfoot: (Default)
From: [personal profile] clawfoot
I really do think dogs pick up on things we don't. When we had Tucker (a beautiful, gentle Rottweiler), he was the friendliest, most social dog we'd ever had. He loved everyone. He would sit on people's feet and lean against their legs and just be content to be near them.

However, we were up north on summer vacation, touring a small town and looking for lunch, when Tucker saw a man. He was just some random guy. We have no idea who he was or where he was from or what he was doing. He was just walking on the other side of the parking lot from us, but Tucker went nuts. Barking, snarling, pulling on his leash. He'd NEVER done anything like that to anyone. Not even a squirrel. Not even a cat. Tucker would not take his eyes off the man until he got in his car and drove away. Then Tucker went back to being his normal, laid-back, happy-daffy self.

Did the guy smell weird? We have no idea. But honestly, if the guy had tried to talk to us, I wouldn't have trusted him a whit.

I don't really mind one way or the other if a person doesn't like dogs. But I completely trust a dog if they don't like a person.

Date: 2017-06-23 12:13 pm (UTC)
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] redbird
Dogs pick up on things we don't; the question is how often those things mean what the dog thinks they do. When I was a teenager, we had a dog. My parents had one friend who the dog would not settle down around. Our best guess is that the dog somehow smelled the medication the man was taking for epilepsy. Or it may have been random: what I know is that this man spent years visiting us semi-regularly, and as far as I know never stole anything or harmed anyone in the household.

I'm not saying "don't trust your dog in this sort of situation," because part of the point of things like The Gift of Fear is that there are times when it's worth risking a false positive. Not trusting those random strangers did [personal profile] boxofdelights no harm, and ignoring her dog might have been unwise. (If one of them had been bitten, and she had been shoved to the ground, everyone would have been worse off, possibly including the dog.)

Date: 2017-06-24 03:29 pm (UTC)
lilysea: Oracle 3 (Oracle: thoughful)
From: [personal profile] lilysea
But I completely trust a dog if they don't like a person.

One caveat: otherwise sweet natured dogs of all breeds [German Shepherds, Pomeranians, Dachshunds, Samoyeds, Border Collies, mixed breeds] get very barky and also incredibly aggressive at me on a regular basis because they don't like my power-wheelchair. Some dogs dislike the sound the motor/engine makes, some dogs dislike the shape of it, or the fact that it has so many wheels.

So, there's that.

Date: 2017-06-24 04:01 pm (UTC)
clawfoot: (Default)
From: [personal profile] clawfoot
Yes, okay, the statement was more than a little hyperbolic. Especially considering my own dog right now is a timid thing that's scared of just about everyone and everything, including llamas, fire hydrants with hats on them, and, on occasion, her own shadow if it comes at her from an unexpected angle.

There certainly are a lot of caveats on that, including "assuming I know the dog really well and what freaks them out normally" and all that.

My attempt at humour missed the mark. I'm sorry.

Date: 2017-06-24 04:22 pm (UTC)
lilysea: Oracle 3 (Oracle: thoughful)
From: [personal profile] lilysea
All good. ^_^

I wasn't offended, just... adding data?

A lot of dog owners tell me earnestly that they know their dog, that their dog doesn't react badly to power-wheelchairs... right before their dog jumps up and tries to bite me.

Because powerchairs aren't that common that all dogs will have seen one before, dog owners are often extremely surprised and unprepared by their dogs reaction.

So, I try to do a lot of educating on the topic.

Date: 2017-06-24 04:40 pm (UTC)
clawfoot: (Default)
From: [personal profile] clawfoot
Oddly, as much as Luna (my scardy-cat dog) is afraid of a lot of things, she's not at all afraid of powered wheelchairs, probably because she was exposed to my father and his powered wheelchair from an early age. I've noticed that she's actually more apt to go up to folks in wheelchairs than those not in wheelchairs, probably because she's learned that my father is also both a frequent snacker and a messy eater, so there's often accidental treats around him. :)

Date: 2017-06-23 12:04 pm (UTC)
loligo: Scully with blue glasses (Default)
From: [personal profile] loligo
before Aiko could react.

Well, they were already too late for that! I'm glad the experience didn't get any scarier, but if they had tried to get close to you I really don't think they would have enjoyed what they got. Good dog, Aiko!

Date: 2017-06-23 01:56 pm (UTC)
seascribe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] seascribe
What a good dog. How scary; it would never occur to me to be alert to something like that in my daily life and I don't have a dog.

Date: 2017-06-23 04:45 pm (UTC)
jesse_the_k: Modern design teapot with two cups (Share tea with me)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
Excellent dog.

I'm sending you virtual tea, because that series of chess moves sounds truly scary.

Date: 2017-06-23 11:59 pm (UTC)
amaebi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] amaebi
I'm glad you and Aiko are safe.

Date: 2017-06-24 09:26 pm (UTC)
jinian: (capybara)
From: [personal profile] jinian
Since I find The Gift of Fear a weird sort of comfort read, I can footnote that de Becker would claim that you noticed them on some level, and Aiko picked up on your subconscious signals. I don't think that's true in all cases, though; Aiko seems to have been pretty on top of this situation, and a good thing too.

Date: 2017-06-25 06:39 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
GOOD DOG! I'm glad you're both safe.

Not sure you're giving de Becker enough credit. You say Gift of Fear doesn't work for you, but it just did: you noticed Aiko's reaction, you scanned to your environment, you discerned the threat, and, crucially, you didn't try to talk yourself out of believing it.

The crucial message of GoF isn't that one should be good at reading people. It's to not discount what flashes of warning insight you do get. He tells story after story of people who had reason to believe they were in danger, but who automatically convinced themselves it was no big deal, they were over-reacting, they shouldn't take it seriously.

The core message of GoF is to accept the gift when you get it – to believe yourself when you detect something is really wrong.

And that's what you did, with some help from Aiko.

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