It was Sunday night. I was pumped. I was re-motivated to start Operation Blubber-Be-Gone. So motivated that I couldn’t wait for Monday morning to start my exercise and I told my husband I was going on a walk. I hadn’t counted on Washington dogs.
I’m a Chicago suburbs girl. I’ve lived 40 minutes away from the city my entire life until about six months ago, when my husband’s work transferred him to Spokane. I am trying to acclimate to the differences between Illinois and Washington, and I was about to face a new challenge this particular night.
Now, Chicago dogs are straightforward. They see you, they bark. They see a leaf blowing down the street, they bark. They hear an ant trip over a blade of grass, they bark. Washington dogs are different. They are sneaky. They see you and they stare at you. And they wait. You watch them out of the corner of your eye as you walk and think at the dog, Don’t you bark at me, dog. See? I’m walking past. All I want to do is go on my walk. I’m not a burglar or a psycho. Let me pass in peace, dog. As soon you have decided they are going to ignore you, they let loose with a torrent of nerve-jarring barks designed not only to scare the wits out of you, but to warn their raggedy little pals down the street you’re coming. This is bad enough during the day, but sheer terror at night. At night, as on this particular Sunday night, they saw me, but I did not see them. They’d wait for me to come alongside their property and then launch themselves out of the dark at the fence separating us, snarling and barking like Old Yeller, post-rabid wolf bite. I was soon tiptoeing down the street like the doomed victim in a slasher film, hyperventilating and jerking around with every little noise. That was the last time I walked through my new Washington neighborhood at night.
Thinking I had solved the problem, I took my next walk at 7am. It was either too early for most people to have their dogs running around outside, or late enough that the dogs were indoors for the day, because I encountered no canines of any variety. Eureka!
I had been unknowingly lulled into a false sense of security. The next morning, I walked happily along, daydreaming about all of the evil stomach-pooch fat cells being blasted into oblivion. All of a sudden, a booming, crazed bark just inches from my posterior turned my internal organs to stone. The Darth Vader of sneaky Washington dogs was hurling himself at the chain link fence, slobber flying through the air. This dog was especially sneaky because, from a distance, he was a friendly Golden Retriever with a wagging tail and a jaunty kerchief tied around his neck. Upon closer inspection, however, one could see that the flab of his middle-aged dog face had settled into sinister lines. His eyes harbored a maniacal, Cujo-like glint, and his horrible bark promised pain, should the chain link fence ever give way. I had met my arch-nemesis of the canine world.
“Stop it!” I yelled. “Go inside!”
I clapped my hands at him. I tried to glare. He responded with a lunge that made my heart actually leap out of my mouth and flop onto the sidewalk, silent and still. I hustled out of range as fast as I could with my rear end clenched tight enough to crush aluminum cans.
I decided not to let the beast derail my healthy efforts. I still walk every morning, but I walk prepared. No more daydreaming. As I approach the beast’s territory, I steel myself. I scan the entire yard for him. Sometimes he hides under the deck in the shadows and then hurtles across the yard at me. He is cunning, oh yes, he is. But, I vow, never again shall he catch me unaware. I will not be intimidated and defeated by a crusty old dog. Every time I’m tempted to be lazy and skip my walk, I think, That dog WANTS you to be fat.
2 months ago