Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Night fear

We whose families include little dogs face unique perils.

Last night, walking her alone in the hazy, humid darkness, I heard the sound of a fierce dog barking. I know by now all the homes in the neighborhood where dogs live. Behind their fences, they can bark without concerning me. And my feisty little friend can bark back without bringing a death sentence upon herself.

But this sound did not come from any familiar yard. It came from the ominous gloom near a factory at the edge of the neighborhood. In the haze, I saw a large, dark shape.

I went into defensive mode -- scooping up our little pet, whom just about any other dog could bite in half like a McNugget -- a concern of which she is blissfully unaware. She squirmed in my arms to get down and barked at the shadow in the dark.

With my free hand, I scrabbled in the dirt for a good-sized rock, my heart pounding. My fingers found only hard-baked dirt and crabgrass clumps -- then, finally, closed around a weighty chunk of asphalt sheared from the edge of the road by some long-ago passing truck. I gripped it in my hand ready to fight.

Our little dog squirmed free. I grabbed her up again and stood still, squinting into the blackness.

Relief. The strange dog was behind the factory fence, unable to do harm. I put down my aggrieved little dog and we continued our walk, the strange dog still barking behind us in the night.

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