Until we adopted a dog, I would never have dared to take a walk alone in the dark.  Too many frightening experiences have left me extremely wary of putting myself in the way of danger.  Since we adopted Charlotte, however, this reservation has changed dramatically.  Charlotte is just about full grown now and has become an impressive 65 pounds of insurance against stranger-danger.   I now look forward to the liberation of a late evening walk in the quiet darkness, enjoying the crunch of snow under my feet, with Charlotte at my side.

Charlotte loves the snow, and the deeper it is, the happier she is.  She loves to stuff her head down in front of her and plow her way through the powder.  She finally emerges with her head completely covered in snow, which creates an amusing contrast against her black fur.

Tonight Charlotte had drifted away from me and was bounding through two foot high snowbanks when she suddenly ran over to my side and began barking aggressively.  I peered into the dark but could see nothing.  Charlotte continued barking, becoming more and more agitated, lunging forward and then returning to my side.  I trust her instincts implicitly and I was frantically searching the darkness to try and locate the source of her turmoil.

“What does she sense….??” I asked myself wildly, “What is out there??”

I was growing more and more afraid, but was emboldened by my dog’s ceaseless pressure against my leg.  I felt certain that she would defend me, no matter what was in our path.  Charlotte was now pulling backward on the lead, trying to pull me away from whatever it was that was out there.  She lunged forward once more and suddenly I saw it.

Relief flooded my body like warm soup and I started to giggle.

Charlotte was prepared to defend me to the death…

against a fire hydrant.