I have a confession to make, though it seems impossible to believe I did not always love dogs. In fact, there was a time in my life that big dogs scared me…really, really badly! Just ask my best friend, Cheryl. Way back in the day, I can’t tell you which day because Cheryl is not fond of certain ‘numbers’. But, way back when little girls were sent out to risk their lives…I mean sell Girl Scout cookies…door-to-door; I was sure that the dogs would lay in wait to pop up at the window and bark at me. As I got older and taller (it helped that they were no longer eye level) I came to love big dogs and realized that, for the most part, they seemed to love me, too. All but one…
Once there was a dog named Shadow. She belonged to close family friends of ours. Ones that we visited…often. Shadow was a black dog, hence the name. She had a bobbed tail though it was unclear exactly why it was bobbed. She was a mutt, fairly good-sized but not huge. She was very protective of her family, and her food and she did not like people walking near her food dish. I forgot this a lot and was barked at as a reminder. I did my best to make Shadow like me, but she would have none of it. The nicer I tried to talk to her, the more she barked at me. It soon became obvious that she hated me and I gave up trying to change that fact.
A little background…
We always drove on our visits to Ohio. It’s not really that far, just a very boring ride through Pennsylvania on Route 80, which I’m sure is still under construction. We drove in our little Nissan Sentra. A small, light blue, station-wagonish vehicle that scared the crumbs out of me one day when it asked me to, “Please turn off the lights”. I always loved how wide the windows were on that car, lots of viewing area, hardly any blind spots; nice, w-i-d-e windows.
On one of our visits to Ohio, after I’d stopped trying to make Shadow like me, I was unloading our things from the car. Shadow was on a chain in the front yard barking and pulling at her chain every time I walked out of the house. I finally told her, not very nicely I might add, to be quiet. I think the words I used were more along the lines of, “Shut UP!” She ignored me and kept barking and pulling. It was hard to tell if she was just trying to protect her home or if she really wanted to do me bodily harm. The answer was soon apparent.
I had just exited the house and was on my way towards the car. Shadow was barking, I was rolling my eyes at her, confident in my safe distance when we both heard it. The clinking sound of a chain that’s been broken. I stared at Shadow, Shadow stared at me and then we both ran. Shadow for me, me for the car. There was no time for the door, Shadow was not that old and plenty fast, so I dove. I dove like a great Olympian entering the water. I dove right through that w-i-d-e front passenger window, thanking God that it was down. I banged my shins trying to get my legs inside, but I made it. Shadow almost did too. I was on the drivers side, beeping the horn; Shadow was jumping up and down on the passenger side looking like she was out for blood. Cujo had nothing on this dog.
I was soon rescued and Shadow was brought inside. Once inside, she seemed more at ease, content to just bark whenever she saw me. I avoided her as best I could just in case. For all the years we visited, it was always the same between Shadow and me. Maybe she knew that she was the one dog I could never bring myself to like. Maybe she knew “what evil lurked in my heart and mind?” I’ve heard that “Shadow knows!” Then again, it’s really not that big a deal!