One day during blackberry season, Mike was busy looking for my ball in the underbrush. I wandered off a little ways, and two people picking berries around the bend in the trail startled me. I barked and retreated, which made them feign cowering and chortle. “Stranger danger!” one of them correctly surmised, and Mike quickly agreed. “You got that right,” he replied.
Now, let’s not get carried away here. I’m no wuss. “Just a bit on the cautious side” is the way I’d characterize it, if anyone should ask.
Besides, I’m getting a little braver all the time. For instance, when I first saw these four squat things along one of my walking routes in the park, I thought they were very scary. I took a wide berth around them, walking slowly and deliberately, keeping my eyes on them at all times. I had no idea what kind of alien beings they might be, but they made me suspicious. Only after three or four days of walking around them did I decide they must be safe enough to approach for a sniff. But they’re still standing there today, and if Mike tosses my ball their way, I go right over to retrieve it. Cautiously, of course.
Now, I admit to chasing after a few runners and bicyclists back in the day. In fact, I was scared of virtually everything I encountered on the trail. These days runners and cyclists barely intimidate me at all, unless they really startle me. Hey, then they deserve any bark they get, as far as I’m concerned.
But strangers still make me nervous, wherever I may encounter them. Not every one, just random people (and dogs) that I pick out and fix upon. If we come across one of them on a walk, I immediately tense up and walk slowly. As we pass, I scoot by as fast as I can, before it can grab me. The instant the threat has passed, however, I enjoy looking back again and again, stealing furtive glances at the monster I so skillfully avoided.
I’m a still work in progress, for sure. But we’re getting there.