I quickly found out that stopping at H & M Hot Dog in downtown DeFuniak Springs was a must. True to legend, my hamburger didn't disappoint. No one there had any Chiles tales to tell, but they the staff was tired from feeding the whole town at their 60th anniversary hot-dog-eating-contest. As I waited for my burger, I read the Walkin' Notes and listened to the country radio station 96.9 "The Big Dog." It was the full experience.
I re-read Chiles' classic encounter with a bull mastiff outside DeFuniak Springs, and the local remedy he used to scare him off:
I was in a conversation about dogs with a couple of fellows from DeFuniak Springs...
So we swapped stories. One fellow said that if a dog came after you and if you pointed your finger at him, many times he wouldn't attack you. Which prompted the other follow to suggest this just might be a good way to lose a finger. Then this man said someone had told him that if a dog really charged at you, you should pull your pants pockets out and then kinda bow over and make a loud noise. This would present a picture so different from a man that it would thoroughly confuse the dog. So, we all laughed about this and I went on walking and talking.
Well, this morning as I was walking out of DeFuniak, a dog — looked like he had a lot of hound in him and maybe some mastiff or pit bull — started for me, barked some, then went back. I quit paying attention to him and kept walking. But I heard or sensed something and looked around. Here he came, really bearing town on me. His head was all in a ruff and he was charging. I started to point my finger at him when I realized that that wasn't going to stop him. I somehow thought about what the man had said and I turned my pockets out, bowed over and bellowed. Well, that mutt just veered off and went yelping away. I just had to sit down — though I was still a little scared — and laugh about the picture I must have made to that dog (and any nearby voters). Thank goodness I had seen that fellow the day before.