• My Dog Saved Me from an Assault

    Shelby loved to sit in my office chair. 

    I was running with my first dog, Shelby, on a local running path. We left the car in the lot of a nice complex that has ball fields and all the gorgeous park amenities and ran west. When we were heading back towards the parking lot, I noticed two men sitting in lawn chairs beneath a big cottonwood tree.

    What made the situation seem unusual to me is the tree was located next to the running path in gravel and weeds. About 100 yards away is a grassy green park with several tables and giant trees casting shade.

    I thought to myself, “Why would these guys be sitting in lawn chairs in the weeds with a nice park right over there?”

    About that time, Shelby had to poop. Great.

    I’m roughly 30 yards from the pair and I can hear them whispering. I’m watching them in my peripheral vision and they are watching me.

    I told myself, “It seems unusual, but don’t overreact.”

    I cleaned up after Shelby and needed to deposit the waste in a trash can. I walked between the men and my car to get to the trash bucket. As I walked toward the can, one of the men got up and began walking behind me towards their pickup. As he did this, I thought I heard him say, “We’ll show her.”

    I told myself, “That’s surely not what he said. It’s noon and full daylight. I’m in a public parking lot in a relatively busy part of town. Don’t be ridiculous.”

    At this point, Shelby is heeling directly at my side and on full alert. She’s was an 85-pound Rhodesian ridgeback with a serious look on her face. She wasn’t sniffing or messing around like dogs often do, she was at full attention.

    When we turned around to head towards the car, the greasy looking fellow crossed in front of us and had his full attention on the dog. We walked calmly and confidently to the car and got in. I immediately locked the doors and felt relieved. I glanced at their pickup and trailer loaded with scrap medal as we left the lot. I thought to myself that it looked like it didn’t belong in the park setting. It made me feel afraid and I got out of there as soon as I could.

    I went home and immediately called my husband. I explained that I had never felt the way I did that day and I didn’t like it. I also felt that I could be overreacting. There was surely some rational, non-scary explanation for the entire incident. He asked if I managed to get a license plate number and I told him I didn’t. I thought about it as I drove away, but didn’t want to go back. Besides that, I kept telling myself, “No big deal. This is no big deal.”

    The next morning I opened the morning paper and read a woman had been assaulted on the trail, about 200 yards or so from where I saw the creepy guys. I felt sick to my stomach.

    I immediately called the police station and told them what happened to me the day before. I gave them detailed descriptions of the men and their vehicle. They thanked me for calling in and the parting comment was, “Your dog likely saved you.”

    I hung up the phone and hugged my dog with tears streaming down my face. I was certain she prevented me from being assaulted. As I write this story now, some 10 years after the incident, tears run down my cheeks. I’m so grateful I had the dog with me.

    A friend that worked at the police station followed up for me. He told me that the police determined that the guys were with the traveling carnival that headed out of town. The police checked with the carnival owners and the police in the next town where the carnival stopped. The creeps disappeared.

    I don’t know if they ever got caught or went on to hurt other people.

    I decided from that point forward, I decided I would always listen to my instincts. If something seems creepy and bad – it is. If someone is acting suspicious, get a license plate number or a cell phone photo. On the rare occasions I run without a dog, I carry mace.

    I try not to run scared, but at the same time I do realize there are bad people out there and I need to minimize risk as much as possible.

    My dogs allow me to run in peace.


     Addie and Meeka, photo courtesy of Rob Klingensmith


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  • Comments on this post (2 comments)

    • Sydney Mcleod says...

      Hi Gale,
      This is exactly why I got my big, athletic dog. He’s Dane and Border Collie, 100+ lbs. Due to my work schedule, I have to walk or run just as the sun goes down in the Fall and Winter. Although my neighborhood feels safe, you never know. One night, I was letting my dog play just a little inside our beautiful park. As I was wrestling with him down on the grass, trying to get his gentle leader back on, a car pulled up on the curb near us. No one else was around. My dog quit goofing off and stood up and leaned toward the guy, who was walking very near us. As my dog took a keen interest, the guy moved out further away from us and disappeared in the dark. I don’t know if he had bad intentions, but the dog seemed to think so and continued to watch him as I pulled him to the curb under a street light. It’s an extra measure of safety and I also have decided to carry pepper spray. Thanks for the article.

      On June 21, 2018

    • Cheryl Bond says...

      Hi Gale,
      I’m glad you escaped the very potential assault! & I agree w/ the cop, your dog did save you from the assault! I am glad that you realized you needed to trust that “gut instinct!”

      I believe that instinct can & does keep us from harm.if we just learn to trust it & not analize it away! We, as women, especially have a bad habit of doing that. We don’t want to appear…over-reactive, paranoid, not a nice person, rude (fill in the blank)

      Whenever I have trusted that instinct, it has always been right! We don’t always have to know right then & there “why” exactly we “feel” how we feel, we just have to accept that our bodies & intuition is giving us information in the moment & too just “heed the warning!”

      I remember many years ago, watching an Oprah show, where a police expert on personal safety, spoke about exactly what you had mentioned in your article, about pushing away the information that our intuition & bodies are telling us. He said that after interviewing thousands of victim’s of violence & sexual violence, every one of them stated that they felt ahead of time, that “something was just not right”, but that they pushed away that feeling. Whether it was a feeling they shouldn’t get on that elevator, they should have crossed the street, etc.

      I hope many women read your article, and I pray we will all learn to listen to & trust the information, in the moment, that our bodies & intuition are trying to tell us.

      On August 20, 2017

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