The Black Dog

It’s four o’clock in the morning.  Time for me to get up.  I am not a runner—but I am a walker.  I throw myself into sweats and sneakers and out into the cold dark I go.

You would think pre-dawn is a quiet time. Maybe in human terms.  There’s not much traffic.  Birdsong, however, is booming.  I like having this time alone to think, even with all the raucousness of my feathered friends.  Walking now is both my exercise and my meditation.  Without it, I might lose my mind.

I’ve been walking at the local high school track for the past few months.  It took me a bit to find a time and a place that put me in the least contact with other beings.  Humans have this awful need to talk while walking…and all I walk to do is walk and let my mind wander wherever it wants to go.

I get to the track and I start walking.  I close off all but the necessary parts of my brain and just go.  Slow, steady, meandering, one foot in front of the other.  It may not look like much to anyone else, but it is what I do.  I do it because it’s all I can do at this point.  I don’t pay attention to much around me, although I keep my “spidey’ senses alert, just in case.  My intuition has never been wrong nor has it ever let me down.

About halfway through my second lap, this huge black and grey dog comes barreling up to me like we’re old friends.  I reach out to ruffle the fur around his face.  He sort of grins and keeps moving.  I like company fine if it’s quiet…and this old boy is great.  Other than huffing along with my puffing along, he keeps my sedate pace.  I find it odd, but animals are animals.  Who am I to judge?  Maybe he just likes to walk with people here.  I don’t begrudge him that.

We walk another lap and a half when my ‘spidey’ senses pop off an alert.  I snap more alert and look.  The dog has already noticed.  He’s growling deep in his chest.  I see them.  Not real clear or anything.  I see enough to know it looks like two big brutes are stalking alongside the track.  It looks as if they mean to head us off a bit further up.  The dog switches sides with me so that he is closer to them than I am.  We both keep walking the track, well past the two guys.  Thanks to the dog, the dudes keep their distance.

After that, I’m ready to go home.  The dog walks all the way back to my house.  I try to invite him in, but he won’t budge.  I bring him a bowl of water and two scrambled eggs.  It’s the least I can do.  I sit and watch him eat.  After he finishes, he licks my hand gently and off he trots, the opposite direction of the track.

I go back inside and start getting ready for my day.

It’s lunchtime when I overhear two co-workers talking about the grisly murders that happened around five in the morning out at the high school track.

Wherever you came from, wherever you are, Dog, my friend, I cannot thank you enough for your kindness and protection.  I don’t know what made you choose me, but I am glad you did.