This morning I woke up to Selkie barking on the front veranda. She's about eight months old and her usual modus operandi at dawn is to rip underwear with a ping of pegs from my clothesline and leave it on the doormat. She's not that into barking yet but she's a huntaway and huntaways are supposed to be barkers ("Their bark is deep and repeating, usually with a short pause between barks, which allows the barking to be sustained for very long periods.") and so I lay in bed this morning thinking 'Oh, joy. The age of barking has begun.'
I shouted commands like 'Shut it!' and 'Shut up dog!', and then some expletives that naturally follow on from those commands at 5 am. She kept on barking. Something is wrong, Sarah! Something is wrong! At 5.05 I grumbled out of my bed and opened the door. Selkie fell inside, wriggled at my feet, then followed me back outside.
Two huge, grizzled rottweilers stopped their snooping and stared at me. The male had a docked tail. The female had the tits of a bitch who had recently pupped. Both of them wore heavy silver chains around their neck. People jokingly call the diamante-studded collars on their dogs as bling, but these two looked like serious incarnations of Mr T. They even clanked as they came over to me, ears pricked.
Selkie slunk behind my legs. She was terrified. The rottweilers were friendly. ('Oh, here is a human. Maybe she will pat me/feed me.') I told them to sit down and the male did. I checked his collar for a tag and a phone number. Nothing. I could see the bitch had a council tag but as I called her over, everything changed.
They looked at each other and I could see a message move between them.
"Rotties freak me out," my sister said later. "They're clever and they know how to intimidate. They manipulate that knowledge."
Let's get her. That was their look.
I was standing on the veranda in my petticoat and no shoes; nothing covering my legs and arms. It was stupidly early in the morning. Crows were still calling up the sun. I suddenly felt really scared as both dogs focused on the pup. She was grovelling around my shins and I knew that if they attacked her, I didn't even have a decent pair of boots to kick on with.
As the dogs went for the pup between my legs, I opened the front door and she fled inside. I bounced the door against her hind quarters, banged it shut. I turned around and shouted at the rottweiler husband and wife.
"Get out! Go on, go home. Fuck off!"