I’m beginning to think that the simple act of walking the dogs at 4:30 in the morning is anything but solitary. It seems every morning we run into some wandering critter. I’m used to watching out for raccoons, opossums and deer. On a few occasions, the dogs have heard or smelled something; I don’t know what, but something. I never saw anything, but there have been a couple of times that the hair on the back of my neck has stood on end and my heartbeat started racing, but nothing concrete. Just a feeling of trepidation or uneasiness. Call it intuition, but I didn’t stick around to find out if I was just being silly.
The walk started off normally, Charlie walking back and forth, crossing behind me then getting the leash all tangled up in search of the exact right tree or bush to pee on, making me crazy. I think he does this on purpose knowing how much I hate it and how much he hates being on the leash. Charlie would much prefer to range loose chasing after whatever is out there. Oh and his really favorite thing to do is to roll in something stinky and nasty, causing me to have to bathe him before I can get ready for work. Those are the reasons the dogs now walk on a leash. Sorry I digress.
The morning was cold with clear skies and a light breeze. The stars were twinkling and there was no moon, so it was pretty dark with shadows cast from the porch light glow of a few houses behind me. I felt something, a presence, so I looked first at the dogs to check their behavior, but they acted as though nothing was out of place. Then I scanned the darkness around us and listened intently for some sound that didn’t fit. At first I didn’t see or hear anything unusual, but on a second sweep I noticed a shadowy shape up on the top of the hill. It looked like a person just standing up on the hill not moving, just standing very still.
I felt very naked in the predawn darkness, not knowing who or what it was. I didn’t even know if the shape was facing toward me or away. Was he looking at me or some other direction? I reached back into my memory and tried to remember if the shape had always been there and I have just not noticed it before, but I couldn’t remember ever seeing it before. I didn’t want to call out to the shape, one if it was a person and it was looking away, I didn’t want to call attention to us and two if it was looking at us, I didn’t want to antagonize it. I stood frozen in one spot trying to get a better look at the form. I still couldn’t get a better look and I had no intention of getting closer. I looked down at the dogs but they were oblivious. Maybe they hadn’t smelled him or maybe he didn’t smell. I realized that I had been holding my breath and slowly let it out.
I decided that the smartest decision, maybe not the bravest choice, but definitely the safest option was to make ourselves scarce. I quickly turned the dogs around and walked very briskly back the way we came. I kept looking back over my shoulder all the way home making sure that we weren’t being followed.
I was totally unnerved by the time we made it back home, expecting any minute to have the bogeyman jump out of the underbrush and scare the bejesus out of me. Then when nothing happened, I berated myself for being such a sissy.
Tomorrow I’ll be paying more attention to my surroundings on the walk and check to see if the shape is still there or if it is someplace else.