Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Last night when I took Sadie out for her final pee before bedtime, she freaked out on me. Usually, the last pee of the night goes without incident, because she's tired and has to pee, and because I'm usually in my pj's. I walk her to the front of the building, stand on the steps while she runs the out the full 16ft of the retractable leash, pees, and then runs back past me, towards the door, because she knows that bedtime and a tarter-control biscuit are soon to follow.

But last night, Sadie saw something across the parting lot that she didn't like. She stopped short, all the fur on her back stood up, and she growled. At first I thought it might be a cat or a rabbit, hiding out in the strip of landscaping that divides the parking lot, but her reaction was wrong. A cat or a rabbit usually gets a growl that quickly develops into a back of the throat whine, a tail wag, and then a pleading look back at me, "please mommy! let me go try to eat the bunny!"

but this was a low growl, with a few barks. There was something out there she didn't like. I couldn't see anything that looked out of place. The lights keep the lot pretty well lit, but created dark shadows in the trees and bushes of the landscaped strip. But that area wasn't that deep, so no one could really hide there easily. So what was freaking out Sadie.

I was torn. My curiosity was getting the better of me, in spite of my pajama status. A small part of my brain made the ironic comparison of my situation to a B horror movie, and that this was the point when the asshole guy in the back row of the theater would yell out "don't go out there! just go back inside, stooopid!"

But the larger, more scientifically curious part of my brain wanted to know what the heck got sadie so worked up. She was straining at the leash, so I decided to let her start to lead me to whatever it was she was growling at. Maybe there was something untoward going on! Maybe we would scare of a stalker or an evil-doer! And capture them! and pull of their mask, and find that it was just Old Man Jenkins, the groundskeeper! Meddling kids!

A few steps into the parking lot, she began to bark more, which was not good. There are some seriously bitchy people living in the complex. Bitchy dog hating people who just needed an excuse to complain.

I tried to see where she was looking. On the other side of the landscaped median, there was a parked motorcycle. She seemed intent on that motorcycle. It had been parked there for weeks. I know she had seen it before, we walk past it every day! The only thing different about it was that there was a film of frost covering the windshield, which made it seem more ghostly and creepy.

As we got closer, her barks got louder, and I decided that while interesting, the motorcycle was not an imminent threat, and certainly not worth fighting another complaint from a grumpy woken up neighbor. I called off the search. Back safe inside the house, Sadie lay in her crate, happily chewing on her kong toy with biscuit wedged inside. But for the next half hour, she would occasionally stop and let out a low "woof!" She was still on guard. I lay awake in bed for awhile...listening. But nothing happened, and both of us eventually fell asleep.

This morning I took Sadie for a walk around the parking lot, and she breezed right past the motorcycle without a second look. But it very well could have been the frosted over windshield that freaked her out, because it was unexpected. Sometimes on our walks we'll come across some garbage: an old trash bag, one of those plastic trays that seedlings come in, and Sadie will bristle, and slowly creep towards it, growling. Then after much sniffing, will realize that it's harmless, and we'll be on our way. So last night might have been another example of Sadie's goofy over-reactiveness.

Or maybe...there was something sinister out there. A lurker...a monster...a wild animal...old man Jenkins...and maybe we scared it off. Brave Sadie...defender of the Condos. After work, I'm going to walk her around the median...looking for clues...

Just call me Velma ;)