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Raymond E. Foster  More Info



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She Wolf

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     I learned to hate Sunday mornings. It wasn’t getting up at 4:30AM to deliver the Sunday paper. The problem was the dogs. In the early 1970s, when I was a paperboy, the newspaper came on weekday evenings, Saturday afternoons and Sunday Mornings. People’s dogs were much better behaved Monday through Saturday. At first, I thought the dogs were better behaved because during the week their owners were home. But it was more than that. I have often seen that painting of dogs playing cards. I was convinced that the dogs did indeed get together on Saturday nights and got all liquored up. They were mean, hung-over drunks on Sunday morning. I devised ways to avoid most, but there was one dog - a huge German Shepard I called She Wolf who had taken my delivery of the paper personally.
     My alarm, a wind up with two bells and a knocker in-between rudely announced the papers were probably at the end of the drive-way. At 13, there is no coffee to get you going, no hot shower, not much of anything; just quickly dressing and walking down the drive. Although it was late summer, the night was clear and convection had sucked most of the heat out of the desert ground that is Southern California. It was cool as I pulled the heavy bundles of Sunday papers up to the garage and got to work.
I finished packing the Sunday load and set off on the route. Sunday papers are much larger, a heavier pedal and throw. I set into my pattern - pump, coast and toss. After a while I remembered the She Wolf.
     I had tried various methods of offense with the Sunday morning dogs. First there was my pellet gun. No, I wasn’t going to shoot them. Originally, I figured that the dogs wouldn’t know the difference between a pellet gun and a real gun. It silly now, but I still don’t know why I thought dogs would understand a gun at all. They definitely did not. Just pointing the pellet gun at dogs slowed me down and I nearly got me bit. And, the pfffft sound wasn’t very convincing. All I succeeded in doing was ricocheting a pellet into Mrs. James picture window and breaking it; ultimately losing the pellet gun to my father and a month’s collections from the paper route.
     The next big idea was a water pistol. That worked great. A stream of water deterred them long enough to ensure escape. It had the drawback of a reload problem. It was pretty much a one dog deal. While the water pistol worked once, it also soaked four papers in the left bag, costing me .40 cents. What I needed was a stick.
I took a busted radiator hose from the trash at the gas station and cut it down so that it was long and relatively straight length. I attached the radiator hose to the front fork of my bicycle with duct tape. I had made a sheath, a quiver, a rifle scabbard. I then cut a length of broom handle down to about 3 1/2 feet. I had my stick for dog jousting and a place to carry it. Having learned from the pellet and water guns, I beta-tested the dog jousting stick. I rode up and down my street, drew the stick and jousted with imaginary Sunday dogs. It was perfect up until I tried to put it away.
     When I leaned over the handle bars and went to insert the stick back into the makeshift scabbard, it went between the spokes instead. The front wheel stopped, but the back end of the bicycle and I did not. Over the handlebars I went. I learned valuable lessons about inertia and gravity. Inertia’s not so bad; gravity’s a bitch. The hot summer pavement convinced me that I had no future as a weapons designer. I would stick with speed, stealth and planning as my defense against the Sunday dogs.
I planned the She Wolf confrontation as my last delivery. Three customers were clustered together at the top of the steepest hill in the neighborhood. It was cul-de-sac street terraced into the foothills. Each house was four or five feet higher than the next so they could look down on each other from their cookie-cutter ranch style homes. The customers were at the top and so was the She Wolf. The plan was pretty simple, get up as much speed as possible on the level cross street - pump like crazy to near the top, use the inertia “good witch” to carry me to the highest house, pivot, toss, coast, toss, coast, toss and pump. It was my only plan - fast and quiet.
     I picked up speed on the parallel street and began pumping hard as I turned onto the uphill cul-de-sac. As planned, I slowed, pivoted and began to toss. As I released the toss at the second house, I heard the slap of paws against the sidewalk. There was no barking, not a sound on the early morning street except - slap, slap - slap, slap. I caught a glimpse of her as she shot from between two parked cars. I reached for the final paper and made a quick toss and pumped.
     Standing on the pedals and leaning over the handlebars I began the furious downhill run. I glanced over my right shoulder and didn’t see the dog. I began to glance to my left and saw her. Beside me, keeping pace - slap, slap - slap, slap. The She Wolf was as big as my bicycle, a huge German Shepard. Her right eye looked directly up and into my eyes, her tongue lashing out and trailing out of her mouth like some red second place ribbon.
     The mirrors from the parked cars on my right side jerked my attention away from the land shark’s right eye. They were closer and whizzing by. An electrical shock jolted through my body as I realized the She Wolf was herding me, edging me closer to the parked cars. I was prey in full flight. Time began to slow.
     In the present, I am fully cognizant of this phenomenon. Time seeming to slow in a crisis. I know it’s my mind firing faster, the result of chemicals being released into my system. Time isn’t slowing; my brain is trying to give me a break. As an adult faced with mortal danger I would experience this. In a deadly confrontation, a vehicle pursuit, a gunfighter or foot chase - time slows. It would give me nano-seconds to insert my training and experience into the situation - come up with a plan. But 13 year olds don’t have plans. I didn’t have any training or experience, just the She Wolf trying to crash me into a parked car. My mind did the second best thing - it went Walter Mitty on me. It found a fantasy, interpreted what I knew and gave me an out.
     Suddenly, I was a Corsair pilot being chased by a Zero. The ride downhill became a steep dive. The approaching parallel street became the ocean. At the end of the block I couldn’t go to the right because the She Wolf had me too close to the parked cars. My only chance was a sweeping left bank at the end of this vertical dive. The best I could hope for was to flash momentarily in front of the She Wolf’s gun sights and out run her on the parallel.
     At the last moment I leaned hard to the left, down and almost on top of the dog. Not expecting my last minute gasp at escape the She Wolf balked. I flashed in front of her, leaning into the turn so hard the handlebars nearly touched the pavement. I knew I won the race when the slap, slap - slap, slap was replaced by: “Bark, bark bark.” “I’ll get you.” “Bark, bark, bark.” “I’ll get you.”

About the Author

Raymond E. Foster was a sworn member of the Los Angeles Police Department for 24 years.  He retired in 2003 at the rank of Lieutenant.  He holds a bachelors from the Union Institute and University in Criminal Justice Management and a Masters Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University, Fullerton.  Raymond is a graduate of the West Point Leadership program and has attended law enforcement, technology and leadership programs such as the National Institute for Justice, Technology Institute, Washington, DC.


Raymond has been part-time lecturer at California State University, Fullerton and California State University, Fresno and is currently the Department Chair of the Criminal Justice program at the Union Institute and University.  He has experience teaching upper division courses in law enforcement, public policy, technology and leadership.  Raymond is an experienced author who has published numerous articles in a wide range of venues including magazines such as Government Technology, Mobile Government, Airborne Law Enforcement Magazine, and Police One. 


His first book, Police Technology (Prentice Hall, July 2004) is used in over 100 colleges and universities nationwide.  Raymond E. Fosters second book, Leadership: Texas Hold em Style is widely available.


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