Monday, September 16, 2013



I honestly can say that an event that happened to me over Labor Day weekend scared me more than I’ve ever been scared in my life. And believe me, I’ve lived through a lot of pretty scary things.

My road forms a circle of just under two miles. So when I take I walk, I start at my house and end at my house, which is nice because I don’t have to backtrack.

On this particular night, my dog Willow and I left the house for a walk at dusk. It was still fairly light out when we started, but by the time we reached the 1.4-mile mark, it seemed as if the sky had pulled down a shade. Suddenly, it was pitch dark.

As we walked past an area that was thickly wooded, something in the bushes growled at us. It was a loud, deep growl that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up (until then, I didn’t even know I had a hairy neck).

Willow and I rapidly moved to the other side of the road and quickened our pace. I wanted to pass whatever was lurking in those bushes as fast as humanly possible.

Just when I thought we were in the clear, I heard the growling again. The beast was following us.

Every horror movie I’d ever seen came to mind. I envisioned everything from a drooling werewolf to a giant mutant spider in those woods, just waiting to pounce on us and turn us into a pile of shredded meat.  Not being able to see a thing in the dark was the worst part.

On second thought, maybe it was a good thing I couldn’t see anything.

As Willow and I continued to walk, the growling followed us. I could hear branches snapping and leaves rustling as our stalker kept right up with us. Suddenly I came up with the bright idea of trying to scare it away.

“Go away!” I shouted, stomping my foot.  My response was a louder, more vicious growl. Obviously the critter wasn’t a big fan of aggression.

With every step Willow and I took, I kept hoping our follower would back off, but it didn’t. What animal, I kept wondering, was gutsy enough to chase after a human and a 110-lb. Rottweiler?  And why?

When the growling got louder, Willow decided she’d had just about enough, and took off running toward home. Seeing I was holding her leash, I had no choice but to run with her. That’s when I heard our stalker start running, too, keeping right up with us, growling all the way.

I couldn’t take it any more. By then, my nerves were completely shot from the stress of wondering when something was going to leap out at me and attach itself to my jugular vein.

There was a house straight ahead. Without thinking twice about it, I ran right up the front steps and pounded on the door. A man and a woman answered, took one look at me and said, “Come in!  Are you OK?”  They later told me I looked as if I were about to faint. I didn’t doubt it. I was sweating worse than someone who’d just been trapped in a sauna for 12 hours, and I couldn’t catch my breath.

So I would like to take this opportunity to thank Kay and Sam Bruce for saving my life – because I probably would have dropped dead from a heart attack if they hadn’t answered their door. And Sam was kind enough to give Willow and me a ride home, which I really appreciated, because there was no way I would have been brave enough to walk the rest of the way; not with Godzilla’s brother lurking in the bushes somewhere.

The day after Labor Day, I contacted the NH Department of Fish and Game and described my adventure to the woman who answered. Within the next half-hour, three different wildlife/conservation officers called me. I was very impressed with their quick response.

All three, after asking me a number of questions, such as the sound and loudness of the growl, the pattern the beast moved in, the speed at which it followed us, etc., finally concurred they were 99-percent certain my stalker was a bobcat – and a fairly large one.

“The growling actually was a good thing,” one of them said. “When a bobcat is going to attack, it does it silently, so as not to warn its prey. Then it attacks to kill. This one obviously was warning you with its growl, trying to scare you away. You probably interrupted it while it was feeding.”

“Well, if it was trying to scare us away, it definitely succeeded,” I said.

“I suggest you carry a flashlight when you go walking from now on,” another said. “Shining the light into any wild animal’s eyes usually will scare it off.”

“Carry a big stick with you,” suggested another.

A big stick? I was thinking of something a little more protective – like a grenade launcher.

They also told me that the bobcat population has rapidly been increasing in the state, but they’re not certain why, because at one time, the cats were becoming fairly scarce.

“I guess I’ll be sure to go out walking in broad daylight from now on,” I said.

“Oh, bobcats come out in the daylight, too,” the officer said, matter-of-factly. “No time of day is safe.”

I think from now on, my trips around the neighborhood will be taken in my car.


No comments:

Post a Comment