If you've ever been to a dog park, most likely you've seen one of these. An unsuspecting person, we'll call her Sue, has brought her dog Rover to enjoy the exercise and social milieu of the dog park. Rover takes off running. And, like all of the other people at the dog park, Sue stands there, her attention divided between the dog (in case of something shovel-worthy) and the other dog parents, with whom she is engaged in conversation about the best biscuits, the pros and cons of Gentle Leaders and other such dog-owner-speak.
Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, in comes Rover, heading for his human at top speed with a pack of canines in hot pursuit. (The dogs have an acre to romp in, but for some reason the small area where the people are standing is much more interesting.) Unfortunately, in his enthusiasm to engage Sue in his game of chase, Rover doesn't put on the brakes quite soon enough and careens smack into Sue's right knee cap. At best, she's just knocked over. At worst, she'll be in a brace for weeks.
I've seen this happen more times than I can count. It's happened to me on more than one occasion (thank goodness I've managed to avoid serious injury). But I'm a bit more savvy and wary now. One can usually spot the experienced dog-park-goers from the newbies. Those in the know always keep an eye out for the marauding pack, no matter how interesting the conversation becomes. They keep a stable stance, never lock their knees and have mastered a side-step routine that's rivaled only in professional dodge-ball.
I'm not quite sure what the dogs are getting out of this. Perhaps when we think they're all just sniffing around each other, they're really plotting their next approach pattern... Come to think of it, watching a bunch of panic-stricken, side-stepping humans scattering like bowling pins is probably pretty amusing. Who's the alpha now, eh?