Three Wild Turkeys, Two Vicious Dogs, One Sweet British Boy

The wild turkeys travel in a gang of three.  I believe they lay in wait for me each morning.  The biggest turkey surprise this summer was the morning I saw only two of them.  They stood in the middle of South Street, at the corner of Eden Road.  I slowed down, as usual.  For some reason I am terrified of them.  They have chased me, stalked me, stepped out in front of me just when I thought I escaped them.  I’ve been told I could pet them on the head as I run past, but I’m not taking any chances.  This one morning, there they were, and I prepared to cross the street if necessary to avoid them, when suddenly a giant shadow loomed overhead, followed by what looked to be an obese vulture swooping down from the tall oak tree on the corner of Eden and South.  It was the third turkey, flying down from its night roost.  I could feel my knees weaken, and a fluttering tremble start in my belly.  The other two in the road turned every bit of their tiny, bird-brained attention to the third, and so I raced by, my legs and heart pumping frantically.   I turned the corner to Eden Road and spied my friend Michelle trotting up the street toward me.  I pulled my ear buds out and waved my arms in the air.
“Did you see that?  That turkey?”

“Yeah!  I didn’t know what it was.”

“Me either.  I had no idea they roosted in that tree!”

I chatted with Michelle for a couple of minutes, long enough to catch my breath, and for the trembling in my knees to subside before continuing on my run.  I told her about the two dog incidents I suffered recently.

The first was when I was almost home from a six and a half mile run.  I started up Harridan Avenue.  Tired and spent, I looked forward to home and a cold glass of water, then my shower.  About halfway up the hill, I heard barking.  As I clicked off my iPod to better hear where the barking was coming from, a dog came rushing out of the bushes to my left.  Now, I know this part is an exaggeration, but I’m certain the dog stood about four feet tall and bared long, bloody fangs at me.  He rushed against my legs, growling and barking. I froze in place.  I screamed.  I heard a woman’s voice from behind the bushes.

“Fluffy!  Fluffy!  Come back here right this minute!”

With my heart pounding like a fast bass drum, I cannot be sure this is quite what she said.  This dog could not be named Fluffy.  He stood back a pace or two from me, and I cowered while he growled deep in his vicious dog throat.  I had no idea what to do.  Should I run?  Should I stay still?  Should I put out my hand, palm up, and offer him a sniff of me?  What if he decided to take a taste instead of a sniff?

As my mind raced and my heart pounded, the woman continued to call the dog.  He began to retreat, keeping his eyes on me all the while.

“Oh, don’t worry,  He won’t hurt you.  I’ll grab him.  You go ahead.”

I was speechless.  Our town has a leash law, which, I know for sure means that dog should have been tied in his yard or on a leash with his owner, whether or not she was just hanging out in her yard with him.  Without answering, I waited until she had the dog tightly by his collar before I began to back away.  Still without a voice, I shot the owner a nasty look before turning away and picking up my run.  When I reached the corner of my own street, I bolted for home.  After checking my pants and guzzling a cool glass of water, I headed back out and ran another five miles, just to use up all that adrenaline.

The second dog incident occurred only a couple of days after the first.  As I sprinted down the hill by Loblolly Cove, I noticed a man standing far down the beach.  He was wearing a bucket hat and stood gazing out at the water.  The sun was bright and the water sparkled, as I took the time to look, too.  Then I noticed the dogs.  There were two of them— a German shepherd, and another one that looked a lot like a gray pony.  They saw me, too, and decided to come closer to check me out.  They trotted together, the began to run towards me.  I yelled.

“Hey!  Mister!  Call your dogs!”

The man turned his gaze my way.  He whistled, and the German shepherd paused.  The pony kept coming, faster and faster.  Again, I froze.  Again,
I had the urge to scream, but this time no sound came out.  I tried to decide if I should run, but the road there is open and empty.  With marshes on either side past the beach, there was nowhere to go.  I f I stayed where I was, at least the man could see me.

The man began to amble over to the German shepherd, who kept his head cocked in my direction but did not move.  The big dog, Marmaduke’s brother or father, or maybe the mother of all Marmadukes, bounded up to me and jumped.  If I thought the dog who jumped out of the bushes the other day was big, it was absolutely miniature compared to this one.  I took a step back, then another.  I glanced over and saw the owner still stumbling slowly along the beach, aiming for the street where I stood.  He was not calling this dog, but at least had the German shepherd by the collar.  Meanwhile, the big dog kept jumping on me, its long dog toenails scraping my arm and my chest.  Each time he rose up, I took a step away.  He did not seem mean, but his size made him seem dangerous.  He almost seemed to be grinning, like he thought I might be a new toy for him and is evil brother to destroy.

The owner finally reached the spot on the street where I stood.

“He won’t hurt you.  He’s friendly.  Don’t worry.  We live right across the street.  I’ll just take him home.”

“Your dogs are supposed to be on leashes.  Rockport has a leash law.”

“So what?  We’re going back to New York in a couple of days anyway.  They needed a run on the beach.”

I couldn’t come up with a response to that one.  What did going back to New York have to do with his dogs being loose on the beach?  Why would that matter?  And where was the apology?  I wanted to hear the following:

“I’m so sorry, Miss!  You must have been terrified to have my enormous dog running at you and jumping on you like that.  Can I offer you a glass of water?  Perhaps a defibrillator?”

Instead, he stalked off, a dog collar gripped in each hand, his bucket hat hiding his mean old face from my hurt and frightened one.

Another day, I was flying past the house of the German shepherd and Marmaduke, praying they were inside, or at least locked behind the wrought-iron fence bordering their yard.  Up to the fence they bounded, barking and drooling and frothing, their great teeth bared, ready to bite.  I sped up, feeling the same fear I had just experienced the other day.  When I was well past the house, I peeked back and saw a boy running behind me.  He looked as anxious as I felt, and I slowed a bit to wait for him.

“I’m terrified of those dogs!”

“Me too!”

I turned to look more closely at the boy.   At first glance, I thought he was older, but now judged him to be about my daughter’s age.  He was blond and fair, with a smattering of freckles across his nose.  He had a long, loping gait, probably two of my steps were equal to his one.  We ran together in silence for a while, finding a rhythm in our pace to make it work.

“Do you run here every day?”

“I do this summer.”

His accent made me look at him again. He was so young!  Just a boy.

“Where are you from?”

“England.  I’m here for the summer.  I have family here.  They live on Marmion Way.  I’ve been trying to run most days if I can.”

“How far do you usually run?”

“Oh, I don’t know.  About an hour or so.  What’s that?  About 10 kilometers maybe?”

We reached Pebble Beach, and both let out a gasp of relief at being far enough away from the dogs.

“I’m Elizabeth.”

“I’m Patrick.”

“Would you like to keep running together?  I haven’t run with anyone for a while.  My running partner is taking a break, healing an injury.”

“Love it!  Mine’s pregnant, and won’t run at all right now.  She’s afraid she’ll lose the baby.   She’s been trying for a while…”

We ran in silence, this boy and I, with me wondering how this boy’s running partner could be pregnant.  I didn’t ask, but later he offered that she was 30, married, and was perfect to run with— fast, full of energy, and good to talk to. So that explained why he was running with me.  He was homesick for his running partner, too.

We took the route up South Street, crossing to the other side for a few meters to avoid the turkeys.  He didn’t have any great fondness for them either.  When we reached Marmion Way, I asked if he turned there, but he said he’d like to head to Atlantic Ave., taking on the big downhill slope near the Seven South Street Inn.  Did I want to keep going with him?

We crested the uphill part of South, and I turned to him.  We had been increasing our speed gradually over the run and I was feeling good.

“Let’s go!”

We raced each other down the hill and for a moment I was exactly his age, flying down the steep grade, arms and legs pumping, my ponytail a straight line behind me.  We ran on the street; the sidewalk was not wide enough to contain the energy we created.  Turning onto Atlantic, we slowed our pace and trotted up the next steep hill, catching our breath once more.  I looked at him and he was grinning at me.

“Well, this is me.”

I pointed to my house.

“Thanks for running with me, Patrick.  That was fun.”

“Yeah, it was.  I really liked it.  You’re fast.”

“Only when I feel like I have to keep up— you are the one who’s fast!”

I opened my front door and went in, exhilarated from the sprint down the hill, and from being able to keep up with a boy.

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3 Comments on “Three Wild Turkeys, Two Vicious Dogs, One Sweet British Boy”

  1. lise Says:

    Near dog attacks…not fun. I’m struggling with neighbor’s dogs using my yard as their bathroom….Southborough also has a leash law….grrrr!!

  2. Craig Says:

    Wow! What an entry. This was a great read, like reading three posts in one.

    By the way…. does Halt pepper spray work on turkeys, too?

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