It has taken me a couple of months to write about this - mostly because life is too busy, and for some reason the processing of the incident has felt strangely complicated.
It was a very windy day and I was frustrated and anxious from the stress of the day. I decided to go take a quick hike with my two dogs, Aberdeen and Bumpy. As I neared the Forest Service (FS) road where I planned to hike, I saw a sketchy looking pickup truck with dark windows parked just inside the entrance to the road. Because the windows were so dark, I knew I wouldn't be able to see if there was an individual inside and also knew that there are no trails nearby where the vehicle was parked, so there was likely to be someone just idling. So, I passed on by the FS road and continued further to a forest access and parking area near a campground - I thought I was being paranoid but that just in case my paranoia was something more, being near more people would be safer.
I parked and as I got out of the car, I unhooked the buckle on my holstered gun and made sure it was ready to fire. I told myself I was a paranoid freak. I hiked into the woods for about 35 minutes and was cantering back down a hill. As I neared the parking lot I saw the same suspicious pickup backed in next to my car so that our driver's doors were next to each other. Also so that there was no way for me to see the license plate. I paused, mid stride, with a wave of alarm. At that moment, I heard something move behind me and a large man stepped out from behind a large pine tree and rushed toward me. Bumpy, who was behind me, lunged toward the man and was curled into a snarling beast at his feet where he had come to an abrupt halt, approximately 21 feet from me. Her hair was up on end and she looked huge. She also looked rabid. Aberdeen stayed right next to me, constantly touching me and she kept herself between me and the man the entire time, though she didn't directly threaten him. I think we all recognized that it was the Bumpy Show.
I un-holstered my gun. The man shouted, "Lady, call off your dog". Ha! As if I could! I responded, "I will not call off my dog, and if you come a step closer, I will shoot." He never looked at my gun, which I thought was odd. His eyes were very dilated. I told him I was going to go to my car and reiterated that if he moved in my direction I would shoot. I slowly backed away, toward my car, keeping my weapon aimed. Bumpy continued to snarl and her whole body was curved in a C. She was standing on tiptoes with her back arched. When I reached my vehicle, Aberdeen wouldn't get into the car until I did. I called for Bumpy and she started to slowly back away and come toward me. Her back stayed arched and she kept glancing back with a death stare. Her hair didn't go back down until we reached the main highway.
I've talked with several law enforcement officers since the incident and have gained tips on how I could have improved my actions, and ultimately I'm just thankful for the outcome. I'm thankful for two faithful dogs, including this pup who is not the nicest dog we've ever owned, but who has earned my devotion for the remainder of her life. She's rough around the edges, but I love her immeasurably.