So this happened a few minutes ago: I was out with Jasper (my rather large, half Welsh Foxhound, half Otterhound), on our evening walk to the church and back for his post-dinner toilet business. We live on a rural road with very few houses; it’s mostly farm fields to either side of the road we walk. It’s particularly dark this evening – the clouds are close, there’s fog, and not a star to be seen for miles of cotton-wool atmosphere. Street lights stop half a mile back. It’s properly DARK, I say.
Safety first though, and I wear a bright yellow, reflective high visibility vest, and my dog wears a large red harness with a high visibility yellow strap that has solid (or blinking) red led lights. I carry and use a flashlight or head torch. We are hard to miss, even in the worst of conditions.
On our return leg home, I spotted a tiny – REALLY TINY – blue flash on the other side of the road. Then, when the emerging figure was only ten feet away from us, I vaguely saw the contrast of a stripped shirt attached to the irregularly visible blue glimmer. Legs, head, hair – couldn’t see; it’s that dark out. No torch, no reflective clothing. This numbskull was on a rural road with nothing to distinguish herself from the blackness around her. She had the nerve to give me attitude when my dog barked and leapt at the apparition of her, “What’s his problem?” she said. I calmly replied, “He doesn’t know you.” She carried on into the dark towards the church. Jasper and I went home. I made sure to speak calm words to him as she disappeared again into the night. “It’s OK boy, I didn’t see her either. Good boy. Let’s go home.” I have a very well-behaved dog unless he spots a threat, then he goes into gene-driven behaviour. It’s natural. I expect it. He’s a dog.
Humans? I will never understand them.
If you don’t have a dog, you may not know this, but dogs rely on scent and sight to understand what’s happening around them. If you smell unfamiliar and can’t be seen, a dog will see you as a potential threat or danger to itself or its human. So, the moral of the story is don’t blame a dog for doing what comes naturally to it. Think about what signals you’re putting out there to upset him.
Also, don’t walk in the dark without safety gear or a flashlight, dumbass.