The dogs of Teheran

Hunde von Teheran

If you dare to go jogging in the outskirts of Teheran, you should be aware of the potential hazards, but you may also see things which are rather unusual in Europe.

Following a 5-hour flight from Europe I arrive in Teheran one day in October some years back. I plan to visit for a few days, our business in Iran is good, and I fly here on regular basis. Due to lack of hotels, my colleague and I will sleep in a private house in the northern outskirts. The house practically functions as a hotel, has several bed rooms and a team of young men who provide the catering and take care of the cleaning.

After the flight, jogging is now just the right thing for my body and my soul. At least that is what I reckon. I quickly change into my sports gear, and take off from the “hotel” towards the mountains.

I follow a truck path which takes me uphill through a rocky and sandy area with scattered trees and bushes. After a few hundred meters inclination, the path flattens out, and I can see the large city of Teheran below me. Brown smog covers the city ruled by the mullahs, but up here the air is clean and cool, and I continue my run in a steady pace.

In front of me I see a parked car. The driver, probably an European, is just about to empty a large barrel of some red paste into the ditch. It smells strongly of alcohol and fermented berries. The man has probably illegally produced wine at his home, and now he tries to get rid of the „evidence“. In case the Iranian police would catch him, he would face severe punishment and may be expelled from Iran. Our gazes meet for a few seconds, I nod while passing and continue without stopping, my pulse at 140 per minute, it feels good.

After a few more curves a young lady rushes out of the bushes just in front of me. She looks a bit embarrassed and adjusts her headscarf. Just behind here follows a young man, exiting the same bushes while closing his fly. Non-supervised contact between unmarried couples is not allowed, and most likely these two lovers have used the loneliness in the bushes to spend some quality time in privacy. I pretend not to have seen nor understood anything, and just continue my run along the track.

The sun is just about to set, and I decide to return. My “hotel” is only one or two kilometres away, but first I need to cross a small pine forest. Suddenly I hear loud barking from the forest in front of me, and seconds later I see several wild dogs which now are blocking my way through the forest. They are all crossbreeds I guess, but huge as German Shepherds, and six or seven in number. They look most aggressive, hungry and they continue barking. I am not vaccinated for rabies, and even if I were, I do not fancy to get closer to these monsters. What to do now? I am really scared and look around for some trees where I can rescue myself, but the pine trees are all too small for me to climb in. Instinctively I start to walk backwards, very slowly, but the dogs follow me in same pace. Luckily, the moment I come to the end of the forest, they stop and let me escape. Obviously they regard the forest as their territory, trespassing not allowed. I am more than relieved that I have survived this experience without any injuries, and I make a big detour around the wild dog forest. A bit later I safely arrive in the “hotel” where a wonderful persian dinner is waiting.

Jogging in Teheran, indeed a bit different than in Europe, but not at all boring.

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