Matt Mullenix’ comment on this post over at Querencia prodded me to write this post. He was talking about the pod people when he said; “When you told them you’d rather walk alone, they would open their mouths at impossibly wide angles and send a silent scream to the hordes who come to collect you.”
I had an encounter with the pod people. What follows is a true story.
Last fall the dogs and I were out enjoying a long walk together. Zip, Zorro and Audie were with me. At this time Zorro was nine and suffering from the effects of Addison’s Disease and Leonberger Polyneuropathy. He was an enormous and very imposing looking dog, but that presence masked that fact that he was frail old man no longer steady on his feet. Because of this we were following trails along a relatively level section of the steep river bluffs that Red Wing is known for.
Audie was a cheerful four month old pup. He probably weighed about 20 pounds. Zip was a healthy young adult with quite rigid ideas about etiquette. It was a day much like this:
As we wound our way along the trail I caught sight of an older couple some distance behind us. Preferring to walk alone, I sped up a bit to stay well ahead of them.
Much of this trail winds along steep hillsides so there are only a few areas where one can see those ahead or behind. As we came to another open area I was disturbed when I saw that not only had these people hurried – nearly to a run – to catch up to us, but that they were accompanied by a teenage Rottweiler mix. Stuck with staying on the trail because of Zorro’s lack of coordination, I resigned myself to the inevitable encounter.
Red-faced and out of breath, the pod people finally caught us at a three-way fork in the trail. The woman asked — no, demanded that they walk with us to that her dog could “play” with my pack. When I politely declined she immediately turned astonishingly ugly. Not bothering to listen to my explanation that a young pup and ailing senior citizen weren’t appropriate playmates for a wild, 90-lb teenager and that my fit, fast 35-lb bitch was likely to teach her youngster a (probably much needed) lesson; she raged at the unfairness of it all. After all, who was I to deny her this?
Visibly embarassed by her behavior, the man took her firmly by the elbow and literally dragged her down one fork of the trail. Panting with a combination of stress and relief, the dogs and I beat feet down the other. I felt utterly violated. Our walk had been ruined by a clueless poddie who probably would have gotten more enjoyment from a walk through a crowded parking lot than she would ever find in this quiet place. For a long time I could not walk in that place without constantly checking to see if I was being followed.
I’m not alone in my nightmares. The thing that really terrifies me is the idea of not having a place to be alone in.