We drove to the park. Behind the park there is a forest of sorts. In this forest is a trail. Not a path that the city has made all nice and safe for you. A real trail. With roots and such coming out of the ground. Like this:
So we start out on our hike. It was an absolutely beautiful day....
Louis found some water, and decided to walk through to cool off. And to have a sip :-o
Let me also share with you that having a walk with Louis does not equal real exercise for those walking him. Any time that I plan to get REAL exercise, I leave Louis at home. Why you ask? Well, I'll tell you. It's because you are lucky if you are able to take 10 steps before Louis needs to do this:
We hiked for about 45 minutes. The entire hike looked a lil somethin like this:
My little guy doesn't get out much. I mean he goes to doggy daycare, and to many of my friend's homes, and on walks around the neighborhood....BUT..he doesn't get to go on adventures very often. To places that he has never been to before. To new places. Which means NEW SMELLS! So, this hike was about Louis, and I smiled the entire time. Just watching him have the time of his life. I was completely wrapped up in my little man, and not even paying attention to my surroundings.
We came upon a clearing, and while Louis was sniffing:
I took some really pretty pictures:
I was so wrapped up in watching Louis play that I hadn't paid much attention to the man coming along the trail. He had actually stopped to watch us.
The thing is...this man was NOT dressed appropriately for walking on a trail. He was in regular street clothes. He looked "off" somehow, and he kept staring at us. I hurried Louis up out of the water and back onto the trail. I wasn't 100% sure how far we were along the trail, but I was pretty sure heading toward the man would get us out into the open much more quickly than going back the way we had come.
So, we started walking toward him.
I usually look people directly in the eyes and smile at them when I am walking by myself. It shows that I'm confident. I'm not weak or scared or easily intimidated. However, I recently watched this Criminal Minds episode where a girl smiled at this crazy man and he began stalking her. He interpreted her smiling at him as the beginning of a relationship.
I was super nervous, and that is not normal for me.
As it turns out, I didn't have to worry about how to react. The man hurried past me with his eyes on the ground. He was almost....abrupt.
***SIDE NOTE - While all of this is going on I'm thinking to myself "OMG...he's totally going to kill me". I kept replaying this Criminal Minds episode in my head where a killer grabs girls on trails just like the one I was on. AND...THE TRAILS WERE IN VIRGINIA! Good God. What was I thinking? Coming on to this trail by myself. And with Louis. EGADS! What would he do to Louis? Would he harm him? Would he let Louis run free? Would Louis find his way out of the forest? If he did, who would keep him if something happened to me? I really need to update my will. I need to make arrangements for Louis. If I make it out of here I need to do that. OMG...my car key is tied on my shoe. It has the mercedes symbol. There was only one mercedes in the parking lot. He could get into my car and look in the GPS and find "home". I need to change that. I need to make it say something other than home. So, all of this is going through my head the entire time I'm walking toward (and passing) this man. I just KNEW there was something not right about him. I had passed a man about 20 minutes earlier, and I absolutely did not have this uneasy feeling with him.***END SIDE NOTE
You would probably, at this point, encourage me to stop watching Criminal Minds. But would you be giving me good advice? Because even though you may think I'm crazy, or overreacting, at least I am observant. At least I am not oblivious. I used to live my life that way. Just floating around in a cloud of nice people and safety. I never checked under my car or in the back seat before I got in. I never carried my car key between my fingers while walking to my car so that it could be used as a defensive tool if needed. Does doing that make me paranoid? Or smart?
All of these thoughts caused me to turn around to look back at the man that we had passed. And do you know what I saw when I did? I saw a man standing in the middle of the trail. Stopped. Looking directly at me.
So you tell me who is overreacting!
I scooped up Louis and ran as fast as I could go. And I tripped and almost dropped the puppy about 10 times. But I didn't slow down. And I buried my face in Louis' fur. And I kept saying "it's okay muffin, it's okay. STRANGER DANGER. STRANGER DANGER." Had anyone heard me they would, undoubtedly, have found me to be insane.
I did not look back again. I did not slow down long enough to do so. I simply ran. As fast as I could. And Louis kept licking me. And I cried a little bit. I cried because I realized that I had made a very stupid decision. I went into the forest by myself with my little puppy. And something could have happened to him. My pup. And it would have been my fault. And that was stupid of me.
Eventually we burst into an opening. Louis started squirming and I whipped out my camera. I decided that if that man came out of the forest, and was following us, I was going to take his picture. I'm not sure exactly how that would help if he abducted me. He would probably take my camera too. Whatever. It made me feel like I was taking action.
Louis was, of course, oblivious. He just wanted to keep walking:
And doing this:
I have never been so happy to make it back to my car. I have never been so happy to lock the doors and hug the puppy. Who rode home on my lap. Which is bad because if I crashed and the airbag came out....
But I couldn't let him go just yet. We were safe. And he hadn't a clue how close we were to not being so.
Or were we?
So here's my question...did I completely overreact, and act like a fruit loop? Or, was I doing what you would have done in this situation? Clearly I need not be in the forest by myself ever again. BUT...since I did find myself in that situation what do you think?
I let Louis sleep with me that night. I told him what had happened. What he missed. Why I had scooped him up and run like the wind. I told him that it was not because he had done anything wrong. I told him that I was afraid we would be harmed by that man. I asked him if I had been silly to react in such a way. He snuggled up beside me and laid his head on my chest. I'm pretty sure that means he thinks I'm awesome. No matter how many bad decisions I make...