Sorry, there are not many pictures for this post. It’s hard to take pictures when you are dealing with dogs who are all riled up wanting to chase you.
When you go to Kyrgyzstan, it’s recommended that you get a rabies vaccine. In the US, the cost of this is crazy high, $1,500, so I opted to not get it. Maybe that was a bad call. There are wandering dogs everywhere. And if you are riding a bike a lot of them will chase. There’s no way around it. It’s just going to happen. You will get chased in the towns and you will get chased way out in the middle of nowhere. The question is how do you deal with it.
One girl I rode with a bit seemed a bit scared of dogs. I think her approach to try and outrun them. That resulted in one getting ahold of her shoe and trying to drag her off the bike. Trying to outrun dogs, seldom works, especially when you are dealing with dogs like these. The dogs in Kyrgyzstan are not the fat pets we have in the US. They don’t lie around all day with the occasional trip to the dog park. They are working dogs. They spend their entire day running around herding horses, sheep or cattle. They are fit and fast.
I grew up with dogs and am not afraid of them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been chased by them on my bike here in the US. On my road bike I will often let them chase me until they get tired. If needed, I will stop and the chase instinct usually drops. If that doesn’t work, I will be aggressive and charge the dog. I’ve never seen a dog not back down to that. This approach worked in Kyrgyzstan.
I got chased multiple times every day. My general approach was to do a quick stop, sometimes a 180 with the whole bike, and then charged the dog(s). Once I did that, almost every single dog turned and ran. A few came again once I started moving, but that was always a half hearted effort. A few other riders told me they tried picking up rocks. The dogs seem to know very well that a well placed projectile hurts and they’d turn.
I only had one encounter that made me a bit nervous. On day 3, I was coming down a hill pretty fast and saw two dogs start chasing at a distance. I didn’t think much about it because they were really far away. I assumed I was too far away and going way too fast for them to get anywhere near me. I was totally wrong. Suddenly they were with me trying to surround me. There were two of them. Both were big with long curly black hair. They looked similar to standard poodles but builds closer to wolfhounds. I really love dogs, but am not a big fan of poodles. My neighbors have a poodle which is supper sweet, but most other’s I’ve encountered have had ‘issues’.
Anyways, getting surrounded was a bit unnerving. I quickly, decided to put my bike between me and the smaller one and then I charged and roared at the bigger more aggressive of the two. Thankfully, the approach totally worked and I was back on my bike and moving again within a few moments.