I walk the children to school every morning. The walk to school is a leisurely stroll with frequent stops to examine a bug on the sidewalk, a flowering vine on a fence, or to say hello to a friendly construction worker. The walk home from school is a nice kind of solitary. Often I walk home quickly, anxious to get in a bit of work before it is time to pick the children up again.
One morning last week I was in a particular hurry because I had a dentist appointment that morning and I wanted to give my teeth a post breakfast brushing before heading out. Coincidentally, it was the only morning of the entire school year I forgot to take my phone with me.
It is a fact of life that obstacles appear in your path in direct proportion to your need for hurry. A neighbor doing yard work stopped me for a quick hello as I turned the corner back into our neighborhood. Then, as I turned onto our street and rounded the corner leading to our house a dog bigger than my children came running across the street towards me.
Now I like dogs, and I'm generally quite good with animals. This huge, black barking monstrosity was not barking in that happy, excited, pay-attention-to-me kind of barking. Its body language was definitely not the leaping, bouncy come-play-with-me kind of body language. It was coming at me fast accompanied by back-off-my-territory barking and body language. To be honest, I was scared. I backed up, fast! I didn't move fast enough for the dog and it sped up herding me even more aggressively. It backed me up to the corner before moving back to guard the only route to my house.
I didn't know what to do. I didn't have a phone so I couldn't call anyone. I couldn't get home. I was going to be late to my appointment. I considered going though a neighbors backyard and climbing the fence into our backyard. However I'm too short to climb the fence. Even if I did get over it the back door was locked and the front door was guarded by the dog.
I considered knocking on the doors of neighbors on the next street over who might be able drive me past the dog. Thinking of neighbors reminded me of the friendly guy doing yard work. I walked back to the corner and asked him to walk me home. I felt like an eight year old asking for a chaperone. It was embarrassing. "Can you walk me home?" is just not a phrase I expect to be using at this stage in my life. On the other hand I really needed to get home.
As it turns out he knows the neighbors who own the loose dog. He had seen them interact with the dog and knew how to get it to back off. He walked me home and then went to let them know their dog was out.
All in all, it was way more excitement than I needed that morning. Encountering a dog that truly makes you fearful is a humbling experience. I was deeply grateful the children weren't with me.