Today was just a bizarre day. I was walking just before 6am and by 6:30am we'd been rushed by 4 off leash dogs. One was supposed to be on leash between the parking lot and the dog park and the owner couldn't be bothered...even though I was RIGHT there before he opened the door. That one we've been able to practice enough, and the dog listened relatively well to the owner (after he got about 10 feet away), so we got out of there with a minimum of fuss.
The other 3 I saw happening and I could not stop it. I've never had a problem with him before - his dogs are off leash but they've always listened well. He sets up a few hunt/retrieval exercises on the soccer field, works his dogs, and they're gone in 20 minutes or less. We've walked by and they haven't done more than looked our way.
For some reason today he let the 3 dogs out before he set up. I saw the middle dog - maybe 2-3 - head to a popular pee spot to sniff, so I cut through the field in order to not walk right next to him. I saw the oldest dog, at least 4 or 5, roaming the parking lot and I thought "as long as the puppy isn't loose, we'll probably be ok". As I thought it, the puppy (about 6-7 months) comes around the equipment shed and runs for us. This gets the middle dog's attention and then the oldest dog came to check it out. Pixel was not happy. Up until this point, Pixel was used to them enough that he could walk past them working or in their crates in the truck and never say anything about it.
With all 3 dogs, I couldn't body block them away from Pixel, and I knew if he snarked at one and that dog snarked back, at least one other dog would get involved and I'd be totally unable to protect 17 lb Pixel against two 60 lb dogs. So I scooped him up and shouted "Call your dogs!" The guy had no clue any of this was going on. He called and I was shocked they didn't head back because they listen so well...until I realized I had freeze dried tripe in my bait bag and no self-respecting Lab will leave tripe just because someone called them. So I've got Pixel in my arms and the dogs are alternating between jumping to get him and mauling my bait bag. THIS IS 6:30 AM ON A QUIET BIKE TRAIL! It's also 45F - why are all of these people interfering with my walk?!
To Pixel's credit, he kept himself together pretty well. He was growling (as was I) but he wasn't batshit. And once the dogs had been called away I set him down and he gave them a few hard looks and growled - maybe a bark or two - but he settled down sooner than I thought he would.
Hopefully that will never happen again, but if it does, is there anything else I can do? I've worked so hard to have body block be my default, but that just didn't seem safe. I supposed I could have thrown my bait bag away, but it took me awhile to figure out that was the lure. And I had squirming, upset Pixel and I didn't want to drop him. Throwing myself on top of Pixel would be an option and it might have been ok here since I'm 99% sure these dogs are marshmallows, but in a more aggressive situation, I've just squished my dog and exposed the back of my neck to aroused dogs. I don't want to carry Direct Stop and be "aggressive" enough to spray off leash dogs, especially if I one day start a business in town. I don't want to have that negative image, but I guess having it in an emergency would be good.