Tonight I took Hazel out really late. We had been out for our usual evening/night walks, today was 4:30 to 5:30 and then again 10:30 to 11. I stayed up late. My wrist hurts, husband is out of town and I was in no mood to sleep. Hazel, who had put herself to bed after the last walk, started looking a little like she might want to go out. Knowing I would want to sleep in, I figured I would just take her up the street and back. It was about one o'clock in the morning.
I live in a nice enough neighbourhood, though it is close to downtown so sometimes interesting characters are about. Usually not an issue. As we walked, a man was walking towards us from the other side of the street. I thought nothing of it, it is Friday night and it isn't unusual to see people at this time. Hazel was busy sniffing for rabbits. The guy stopped and turned away from us, facing into a tree. For a second I thought he was going to pee or something! I think he was just trying to prevent me from getting a look at him, to be honest. Hazel saw him, looked for a bit, and then her posture changed. She sensed something and started to bark and growl at the guy.
Now, I need to add that this is not usual behaviour for Hazel. We pass people late at night all the time. Especially when my husband is out of town, as I tend to have a harder time getting to sleep. She usually pays them no mind at all. The few times it has happened, the person usually laughs and says a few words to me and Hazel calms down. This guy just looked even more sketchy. I am fairly sure he was looking for a place to break into. I know, it sounds paranoid.
Hazel did not give up her vigilance toward this guy and continued to utter low barks and growls and wouldn't let me walk in the opposite direction. I obliged, this is one of those moments when you should trust your dog, I thought. We walked a ways behind, still on the opposite side of the street. The guy stopped a few times and stared at us. Every time he did, Hazel barked at him loudly. I've honestly never seen her like that.
The man turned down the street just before my place where there are businesses. I worry that he is going to do something but I wasn't about to follow him and I wasn't sure it was something I could call the police about. What would I say?
I often wonder if Hazel would try to protect me if something happened. I don't encourage that type of behaivour and I am not really given an opportunity to reward or correct it, either way. She is so friendly with everyone and has almost never concerned herself with normal-looking people, even when I feel nervous about them. Tonight she showed me a bit of her doggie intuition and that she can certainly be a protector. She made her feelings crystal clear.
Is it wrong that I was really proud and happy with my dog for this? I did not react much to her, but I listened to her. I didn't say anything to her but I placed my hand on her and guided her home. Once inside I gave her a good pat and said "good girl". No panic, no excitement, but I'm sure she knew I was pleased.