I Took My Dog For a Walk Today and I Got Freaked Out

Michelle Jaqua
My intuition was working again in my favor
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I love walking my dog in the early mornings when the sun is just starting to rise, and it’s still quiet.

My dog, Willow, is a scary-looking dog when you look at her. She’s a pit bull and mastiff mix; she’s built like a tank, lean and muscular, and her bark can be terrifying if you don’t know her, because she snarls and growls while she’s barking. I know that if something terrible happened to me, she’d protect me with her life. Deep down, she’s just a goofy sweetheart with massive separation anxiety, and maybe a killer instinct, which I kind of like about her.

We walk down to the river about a mile away and take the trail alongside the water. There are other dog walkers, joggers, and bicyclists who take the path, but even then, there isn’t a lot of traffic in the early morning.

When I pass someone on my walks, I always make sure to acknowledge them and say “good morning.” it doesn’t matter if it’s an older lady or a teenage kid; I smile with a cheery “Good morning!” Most people return a ‘morning’ or a nod or even a smile as we pass each other.

This morning was like most other mornings, I walked down to the trail, but today Willow was especially interested in sniffing the ground. She’d stop every few steps to sift her nose through the dried-up leaves on the ground. I figured she was intrigued by the scent of a squirrel or something.

I was standing there, letting her sniff the base of a maple tree. It was a quiet winter morning, and the river was still. There I was, alone, enjoying my solitude, breathing in the fresh air.

Up ahead, in the corner of my eye, I noted a man walking towards me on the trail, a coffee cup in hand — another person enjoying the morning. I thought to myself, a fresh cup of coffee would be so perfect right now.

I didn’t pay much attention to the man. Instead, I looked down and watched my dog sniff and patiently waited for her to become bored with the tree so we could make our way along the river and back home.

As the man approached, I looked up and immediately smiled and said, “Good morning!” Within a microsecond, I felt complete fear. As he said back to me, “Goooood morning,” I felt ice run down my spine.

I suddenly had visions of this man — like he lived in a dark basement and played video games all day, and his pleasure was pursuing young girls by catfishing them on the internet. He gave me the creeeeeps.

Then I had the feeling that I was being contemplated as prey — or that if I was about thirty years younger, he may stop and start trying to make friends with my dog and me in an attempt to wedge himself in. I looked back down at Willow, but she was much too interested in sniffing the damn tree to be aware of my sudden hyperalertness.

“Come on, Willow,” I said as I tugged on her leash and started walking in the opposite direction.

I didn’t get more than two steps when he shouted at me, “I’ve never seen a dog sniff a tree before!” I gave an awkward laugh, like “ah — haha.”

‘He definitely lives in a basement if he’s never seen a dog sniff a tree,’ I thought to myself.

His comment only cemented my urge to walk as fast and as far away as possible. I was so grateful to have Willow with me, even if she was being a bit absentminded this morning.

Once I got out of sight from this man, my feelings dissipated, and I was back to being calm and serene the rest of our walk. Although I felt safe from any harm, I was thankful for my age and intuition, and yes, even that my squirrel-chasing dog was with me this morning.

Others may not be so lucky.

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Michelle Jaqua is a freelance writer who lives in the beautiful state of Oregon. She writes about a variety of news and happenings in the Pacific Northwest, along with some PNW history and fun facts. Subscribe to her page and get her posts in your email.

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