Yesterday, on our daily walk, the dog and I turned right rather than left at the end of the driveway, and we headed up the road away from the Narrows. While I never get tired of the beauty of the Narrows, I like to vary our walks. The dog likes it, too—different smells on different walks.
Partway up the long hill that gives me so much trouble on my bike, I looked down a lane that led away from the road, and I saw turkeys. Lots of them. I had my trusty little Cannon tucked in my pocket. Could I get a picture of them before they took fright and hurried away? I decided I would try.
Taking pictures while trying to manage a dog on a leash is always a challenge, especially in the winter when gloves are also an issue, but I have pretty much mastered the process. I throw the gloves on the ground, lock the leash so that it is very short, and put the leash cartridge between my knees.
I took several pictures of the flock, which just stood there and didn’t run at all. This should have given me a clue about their lack of fear, but instead, I thought, “Can I get a little closer for a better shot?”
The dog and I inched down the lane. I took a few pictures, and then the turkeys did indeed begin to move. But rather than hurry away from us, they came toward us. They moved with purpose and assurance and didn’t show any signs of slowing down.
“Oh, no!” I thought. “Those turkeys are going to take me down.” With my creaky knees, I knew there was no chance I could outrun them. Like a deer in the headlights, I watched in awful fascination as the turkeys came closer and closer. I could just see the headlines, “Winthrop Woman felled by turkeys.”
But then something rather wonderful happened. Man’s best friend—or in this case woman’s best friend—came to the rescue. Liam growled at the approaching birds. There was just one growl, but that’s all it took. The turkeys stopped, briskly turned around, and headed the other way.
“Good boy,” I said, patting Liam’s back. He gave me look that indicated it was nothing at all, that he was just doing his job. I put my camera back in my pocket, gathered my gloves, and unlocked the leash. Liam and I continued on our walk, unthreatened by fowl or beast.
Now, I’m exaggerating the turkey threat for comic effect. I expect I would have survived a turkey assault, even though it wouldn’t have been much fun. However, it really did feel like Liam saved the day with his one growl. It made me realize, yet again, how crucial dogs have been to humans over the centuries—for herding, for protection, for keeping other animals away from the farmstead. Even now, when most dogs—at least in the U.S.—are considered pets, they can still unexpectedly show us how important they are to our well being.
There is no doubt about it. Yesterday, Liam was dog of the day, and how good it felt to walk by his side.