ON DOGS AND WHEELS
By Zac Dunn
Published Issue 121, January 2024
The velocity that we move through time and space on a skateboard is seldom a silent act. This would by all accounts be a direct relationship between surface texture and the durometer selection of any wheel in contact with the plane of projection forward.
As one approaches any given day, we as riders of wheels choose to take said wheels into the street. Be it to propel ourselves from point A to B, or to choose a more profound and stylistic path.
No matter the context, it’s imperative to note that the choices we make can have a very direct impact on the experience and outcome of any outing. This is in large part due to the other living creatures that we interact with as we skate through the world. At this time we must telescope inward to our CANINE friends who share our world.
In my 30 plus years of skateboarding in many iterations, I have had many experiences with dogs. Most of them could be labeled as traumatic.
I was first attacked skating up NORTH WINOOSKI street in the old NORTH END of BURLINGTON, VERMONT. This was completely MY FAULT. I was riding an era correct deck with hard ass SPITFIRE, LONGHORN 99a wheels, that growled on the rough gradient of pavement. I was also wearing a certain outfit consisting of a BOB MARLEY tied shirt, cut off jeans shorts, and nasty chicken wing/blood/wing sauce, food essence as though they were foul tea bags that were on my feet. The full-grown PIT BULL barked quite loudly so as to announce himself, prior to lunging and breaking the retractable leash that he was tethered to.
The dog was roughly 50 feet from me as I passed when he broke and charged at me. I saw him coming and took several solid kicks. The dog was very fast, but I was determined to not let him get me. I kicked him out and cussed as I gained the space to step off and the owner to get him under control. The dog was acting out of instinct. The dog either saw me as a threat to his dude, or the sound simply made him really upset, potentially hurting its ears.
The dog didn’t wake up dreaming of seeing me and charging at me in the street, no more than I woke up expecting him to. But we both live in a neighborhood together and have to coexist. I never saw that dog again, but I never forgot him. I always wanted to prevent that from happening again.
The second time was midday, skating down COLFAX and WASHINGTON in front of ARGONAUT LIQUORS. My amigo and I were just out and about passing by the LQ and a lady had parked her large 80s JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE with five dogs in the back seat with ALL THE WINDOWS OPEN, and NO ONE watching over them. I skate by and all the dogs pile out of the CHEROKEE. It’s almost comical until one who seems rather MAD charges me and starts to bite the tail of my skateboard. This is as we are rolling away rather fast. Then he shifts his chopping to my ACHILLES … Which is mad painful!!! I just off, kick the shit out of the dog to get him to stop biting me and run back to the JEEP. By this time the security guard and owner of the dogs come out of the LQ. The lady is pushing a huge cart of booze. She is crying as though she was attached to this guy and I’m trying to sort out what to do about my leg. The lady was some kind of manic narcissist because rather than say SORRY, she immediately turned the security guard loose on me and my friend. Threatening us. Telling us to leave the property. So I calmly look across COLFAX and start yelling at two COPS parked next to KITTY’S ADULT BOOKS.
They chirped the siren and pulled right up on the curb almost instantly.
The two men who got out really were cool to me and my boy. They cussed out the security guard and the lady pretty hard and offered to take me to hospital. I didn’t wanna go and I didn’t. People told me I should SUE her and all that. I realized I was not raised to be a man who SUES people like this. If I had gotten sick, that would be another matter. But I forgave her just as other random people I have crossed paths with in her shoes have forgiven me. This is the way for me.
When I was summoned to court, the two COPS showed up too. I saw them in the elevator and sort of recognized them. I cracked a joke in the elevator about them looking like two guys who were security guards at the TIVOLI downtown … They were salty for a second! But we had a laugh when we were all in the DA office and they told him what nice guys me and my buddy were. They really said nice stuff in court too. It meant a lot to me and I was pulled over by one of them while I was arguing with my boy years later. He smelled booze on me and he somehow recognized me and gave me a stern GOOD TO SEE YOU, GO PARK THE WHIP.
I’m still thankful to those two guys helping a skater instead of just harassing us.
The common factor in these two tales of wheels and dogs is the negative consequence of two things interacting.
In order to really enjoy our CANINE friends and skate in the same space we share, it’s time to address some foundational respect so we can all live prosperously.
These are my these initial MAXIMS of DOG AND DUROMETER:
- The sound generated by a wheel is a product of surface, hardness and speed.
- All dogs will react differently to the sound of skate wheels as such.
- Dogs that are larger need to be seen and respected.
- DOGS are NOT RESPONSIBLE for reacting to sounds that scare or frighten them.
- If we choose to roll in the streets with the hard wheels that BARK and mean BUSINESS, we must be aware that the dogs will all bark and potentially charge.
- We shall not fear each other but learn to RESPECT and PROTECT each other’s space.
- I went to skate on my tiny ledge spot a couple blocks from my home.
I entered the gated track and realized I was alone in the fenced-in park with a young man and a very large ROTTWEILER. When the man first saw me, his first instinct was to anchor himself to the 120 pound dog that would lunge at me if he heard the wheels. I told them both to chill as they were there first playing and I could just chill a sec and skate another spot.
I sat and chatted with this guy about his dog and being a big dog owner person. I could tell how serious he was about owning such a large and very serious dog.
I rolled a spliff and left after our chat wishing them well.
DOGS and SKATERS do not need to fear each other.
But understanding how we choose to interact is very important to what’s next for us both.
Ray Young Chu’s background starts with his grandfather being taken away by North Korean soldiers for being a preacher when his dad was six. They never saw him since. This back history has contributed to Ray’s continuous search for meaning and purpose behind his subject matter and art.