Outdoors Column: Something Scary Out There

Most of Saturday night and Sunday morning, rain was pouring down, accompanied by thunder, lightning, and strong winds. We watched the water level rapidly rising in the lake from the safety of the porch. The dogs are not afraid of storms, but no more spent time than necessary out in the rain. When it all quit, they were ready to go out and run around. They chased each other around the yard like they had been cooped up for a week. My wife and I went back inside and left them to their rowdy games.

I was in my chair in the living room when after a half hour or so, they returned. Billy, the poodle, usually knocks on the door when he wants inside. If that does not work, he will scratch loudly. This always elicits an instant response since his scratching can remove paint. This time, without warning of scratching or knocking, Billy banged against the door with both front feet just below the window. I looked up to see him looking in, wild eyed and glancing back across the lawn and into the pasture. I jumped up to see what was wrong. When I opened the door, he bolted in and ran to my wife. Jag was on the porch, looking through the railing, with the hair standing up on his back.

Jag is a typical terrier. He has more courage than brains. I have never seen him back down from anything, and usually wins any fights he gets himself into. It was totally unlike him to seek the safety of the porch when there was a fight to be had.

I went out to see if I could determine what was bothering the dogs. Something had scared them both more than anytime before. Billy will become the back-up dog if he feels the odds are not in his favor. I can lead us into danger, and he will be right behind me if I need help. He will also be the back-up for Jag. If Jag has the battle almost won against an opponent with fangs and claws, Billy will jump in and finish things off.  Neither of them wanted any part of what was out there. I walked to the edge of the lawn and looked out into the pasture. The sun was coming out and the wind had died down. I looked up the hill toward the woods and down toward the lake. All I saw was green grass and a couple of bluebirds. I looked back toward the house and could still see Jag peaking between the porch rails, watching as though he expected something to come and eat me. Billy was still in the house, his head safely on my wife’s lap. It is unusual for me to be able to get off the porch without both dogs coming along to help me, whether I need help or not.

Walking back toward the house, I did glance over my shoulder more than once. It was starting to creep me out, not knowing what was going on. My wife and I came back out and sat on the porch. The dogs stayed right beside us. After a couple of hours, I knew they needed to go for a bathroom break off the porch. I went into the yard and with much encouragement, finally got them to come with me. They did what they had to do and went back to the porch.

By Monday morning, the sharp edges of terror were gone but neither dog was a carefree in the yard as they usually are. I still do not know what they saw, but it was definitely something scary.