In Austria we've just had the coldest January for 30 years. Today is 1st February and there's a thaw.
This morning I jogged and walked doggedly through a fresh fall of snow in a park in the Vienna Woods. I say doggedly because I was approached three times by strange dogs which were barking, growling and one, a little ratter, bowled into me full tilt. Fortunately I was wearing my heavy duty Berghaus leggings and nothing was damaged.
There is an area the size of 6 football pitches where dogs are allowed to run free, but for some reason best known to themselves many dog owners prefer that their dogs gallop about on paths and trails used by walkers, runners and cyclists; paths and trails where dogs are supposed to be on a lead, or at least muzzled, according to the rules.
Whenever I see a dog running towards me I immediately stop running and stand my ground. I have refined this tactic since the day I was body-checked in the same park by a flying Rottweiler in charge of a drunk. I am now able to rattle oncoming canine teeth with a swift movement of my shod foot if I think the animal is planning to bite.
The 5 most heard names of park dogs are: Here! Stop! Halt! No! and Sigmund.
In the park I saw a reward poster stuck on a tree. It offered €10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a dog-poisoner.
Maybe the dogs think it's me?
Or maybe, as one dog owner more intelligent than the rest quietly explained to me: The thing is they don't like the colour of your jacket.
I always thought dogs were colour blind. But clearly I must be wrong.
So it goes.