Last evening of the holidays. The last time I would take the dogs around the block in what had been a peaceful and uneventful week away. Uneventful, that is unless you count your husband building a super nova in the living room, a bird knocking itself unconscious twice while you are trying to help it and your living room being invaded by vampire moths. Well, moths.
So my husband walked with me and the dogs to the end of the street and then peeled off to go to the pub where I would join him once I completed the circuit, a job of no more than ten minutes but a routine we have got the dogs into.
I knew Archie was going to start digging his heels in at some point, he always does. I am not sure if it is the burrs in the grass, the bull ants on the sand or a general objection to doing more exercise, but he reaches a point and starts resisting, then later forgets to resist and gets on with it – usually walking in the road while Lucy skips along the verge.
Most of the houses, being holiday shacks seem uninhabited at the moment and I was surprised to see a car pull into one which I had assumed was empty. The car was driven by an older couple and had country plates, so maybe they were the owners and had just got back from a trip to Perth. Right behind them came a police truck. The dogs were both on leads, but I pulled Archie off the tarmac and onto the verge to demonstrate what a responsible owner I was. I had just reached the bottom of the road where we were staying and was about to turn left into it. The police van had stopped and I wondered if they had been following the couple because they had been called to the property.
Out of nowhere a large black and white dog came charging towards us. Not a breed I would normally consider dangerous – this one looked like a cross between a Kelpie and a Collie, but it was moving fast and it was coming for my dogs. Following it was a smaller fury tiny dog that did not look as if it could do much damage but was lending vocal support.
The dog came up to mine and barked. It was not happy about having tourists in its town. In vain I looked for an owner. The dog ran off then thought better of it and came back at us, snarling with hackles raised. Lucy stayed away but it was Archie who seemed to be his main target. The dog lunged and Archie and grabbed his tail. Archie, who is normally pretty quick to go on the offensive was taken by surprise and did not retaliate, but I knew it was only a matter of time before he would kick off and put himself in more danger.
This is the reason I always wear boots when I am walking the dogs, however hot.
‘HEY!’ I yelled at the dog, ‘BACK OFF.’
The dog looked at me and decided to obey, for the minute, but there was still the small matter of trying to get down the street which it seemed intent on guarding.
There was the roar of an engine. The police car, which had been a few meters from this roared into life and the driver positioned it in between me and the attacker.
The small black dog disappeared.
Two policemen got out of the truck and while one shooed the black and white back down the street, the other asked if I was ok.
‘Yes, thanks,’ I said, ‘but I need to get home down that street. I don’t know where that dog lives. I have not seen him before.’
‘We will walk you down,’ said the policeman, my hero.
The black and white had meanwhile retreated behind the fence of a house at the top of the street and the other cop was banging on the door. A man answered and when he confirmed the dog was indeed his, got a swift lecture on the fine system for allowing your dog to roam around on the streets off leash.
The man expressed surprise and apologised.
‘He is never aggressive,’ he said.
‘Well he tried to go at my dog,’ I said, ‘but no harm done, this time.’
‘Thank you, officers,’ I said. I sounded like a swooning Victorian woman (the era, not the state) but I was grateful. I could have been stuck there for ages if they had not turned up.
I think I have seen that dog before. I think I had seen him sitting on a porch a few houses down the street and tied to a rope just long enough to let him charge at the gate when people go by. I have gone past this house twice with my dogs and I think that is why he came for Archie. He just thought he was doing his job, except he was off the leash at another house, this time. Plus, his owner is a dick.
No harm done this time, which was lucky as I would have hated to finish off the holiday with an emergency trip to the vet and I am thankful that we have policemen who are on the streets – because the big crimes do need to get fought, but sometimes it is all about the smaller stuff and making sure that people can feel safe.