Kasey, Penny and I were at the edge of North of Woods at the beginning of our morning walk when my attention was drawn by sudden movement up ahead. What the? What appeared to be a dog loped into view and stood in a neighbor’s front yard, dimly visible in the moonlight. Penny and Kasey both began straining at their leashes. I waited, thinking the dog’s owner would come walking up behind — but no owner came. The dog was off the leash and on its own.
My heart began pounding and my mind began churning. Could it be a coyote? No, too big. It was some kind of large dog that looked like a very skinny German or Belgian Shepherd, with upright ears and the familiar Shepherd head. Although Kasey barked, the dog didn’t, and I remember the Philosopher King of the Fifth Floor saying once that the dogs that bite try to come upon you silently. Could it be a stray that might attack, or even a rabid dog? If so, what should I do? I braced myself and considered the options.
I decided that standing still and holding back the dogs was the best option. Pose no apparent threat, make no movement that might be misinterpreted, and let the dog make the first move. After a few moments the dog began moving back and forth, then darted around us and disappeared into the darkness. We moved forward, but every one of my civilization-dulled hunter-gatherer senses stayed on high alert to detect the dog’s return.
After we completed the Yantis Loop we returned to our North of Woods neighborhood, near the place of the dog’s sudden appearance, and my adrenalin surged again. I scanned the darkened streets and held my breath as we passed through deep shadow, hoping that the dog would not lunge out at us from a hiding place in the gloom. It didn’t. Fortunately, the dog was gone.
It turned out to be a small incident among countless uneventful early morning walks, but it was a jolt nevertheless. It felt good to close the front door behind us.