My Personal Trainer advised me in order to loose weight I must wake a half hour earlier than usual and go on a daily walk. As the dog needs walking as well, I kill two birds with one stone and take her with me.  We started this ritual only a few weeks ago; because it is December our morning walks are done in the dark. It is a bit eerie walking the neighborhood at this hour.  Nobody is about – nobody human anyway. Harper and I have our share of animal encounters.

Bunnies are her favorite. Bunnies drive her to distraction and there is no lack of the creatures.  She can spot them in the dark long before I do. We will be trotting along when suddenly she takes off on a tangent, yanking my arm at an unexpected angle.  Getting her to calm down and heel is a challenge.

Lizards evoke the opposite reaction.  Harper will make sudden stops with her nose in a bush. Tugging at the leash is met with resistance. When suddenly, a lizard leaps out and scurries off, quick as a quarter-note. This evokes a yelp from Harper, which dominoes into a yelp from me.

Very rarely we other dogs at this hour. Harper is a very social dog, and sees an oncoming pooch as play time. She will pick up the pace to greet it. She approaches a fellow canine with a little smile as if she is going into a drawing room where everyone had been waiting for her. Alas, not every dog wants to play; and some of the owners are even more sour.

This morning, while walking on the paved, well lit sidewalk that lines the wash, we encountered what looked like a black sheepdog coming at us. Harper picked up the pace to greet it and “Fido” did likewise. I was puzzled as there was no owner/no leash. When we finally got close, “Fido” turned out to be a javelina!  Harper, who is often frightened of her own shadow, now gets brave!?  Meanwhile, I tried to remain calm.  I had to fight my natural impulse to shreik and run like a girl.  Javelinas are large pig-like creates who smell terrible and have worse tempers. They also have nasty pointed teetch. They can easily outrun a person. We three stood still, each party watching the other. Mr. Javelina began to snort. Thank Heaven we were near an escape outlet to take us back to the streets. I backed up with Harper (who wanted to stay) and got to the middle of A street. I was rather frightened.

All of this is a reminder the animals did not leave when humans moved into the Valley.

I think we deserve to run into a nicer critter next time we go a-walking.

How about something like this —