April 02, 2017

The Hounds Proved They're Great Watchdogs

I'll warn you right now, this post is going to be a long one. It has to be for me to tell the story. So if you have the time to read it, you might want to grab something to drink or something to nibble on. Even Blogger might decide on it's own that this will be a two page post.

My hounds proved they are great watchdogs and defenders. The story I am about to tell is real. It might have happened on the night of April Fools Day but it was officially Sunday morning based on the time and it wasn't a joke.

Let me set the scene by reminding you that I live in what I call a rural area but nothing like some of you that might live on actual ranches out West or large farms in the Midwest. Yet my four neighbors, houses I can see, are  a good 200 feet or more away. One house is empty, one is now a childcare business and my two neighbors to the north are far enough way a spoken word cannot be heard.

Some of them have security lights, with a couple of them streaming a little light inside my house when all of my lights are turned off. I live 100 feet from a major highway up on a hill. Traffic noise doesn't bother me and the later it gets the less traffic there is. Some of the newer headlights of oncoming traffic do reflect into the house through the large picture window I have in the kitchen. Those really are not a problem.

Due to staying up until 4am Saturday morning or Friday night, listening to music (just one more song) at concert level volume being played through my Apple Earbuds (don't want to wake the hounds) played a small factor in my condition. Without a Saturday afternoon siesta in preparation for a late college basketball game I knew I was going to by tired before midnight.

With a basketball game with slopping play and millions of missed three point shots, was too much of a reminder of what I had watched a lot of times here in Indiana for the past 9 years. Thankfully they fired the coach a few weeks ago and I was more than thrilled with that .... yet Indiana basketball is not part of the story ... the the 2nd game on Saturday night is a small factor ... I lost interest and went to bed at halftime of the game.

That last part is a big factor in this story.

For as long as I can remember I have always been able to sleep soundly in any condition, any time of day or night and in any place that I have room to lay down. "Soundly" is the key word in all of that ... basically it has to be "something" to wake me up.

That "something" happened sometime after midnight or close to 1am, not sure.

As I woke up I caught a light moving over my bedroom wall. I thought it was strange but then again, I had been in a deep sleep and was still groggy. I would prefer it to be pitch black at all times but the neighbor's lights are not that big of deal since they don't shine that bright. I brushed it off as on coming traffic and thought I was going back to sleep ... I never got up.

There it is again ... bright light shooting across the top of the wall ... so I laid there waiting to hear possibly a large semi truck driving by 100 feet below on the highway.

That sound never came ... nor did the hounds wake up ... the house was so quiet I could hear my ears ringing, probably from the loud music the night before.

As I laid their in the darkness of the bedroom, half asleep and mentally not able to decipher what was taking place ... the light got brighter and larger. My mind told me it must be some lost soul pulling up my driveway for some weird reason and it was headlights from their car.

That couldn't be it ... I don't even have people pull into the driveway in the daytime let alone in the middle of the night when it's really dark outside. Why would they do that when the house did not have any lights on ???

There was one problem with that groggy analysis ....

If someone is driving up my driveway in the dark, they are not only 80 feet or so in the opposite direction of my bed but the angle of the driveway would shine their headlights into the woods in the direction of my blog infamous burn pile. AWAY from my bedroom wall.

Still ... not a sound out of the hounds ... so everything must be okay and no need to get up. I rolled over on my side and attempted to go to sleep.

That is until my house lit up like the 1977 movie some of us might have watched called "Close Encounters of a Third Kind".

I'm serious ... that is just how bright the inside of my house became and I am instantly in the "WTF" mode. My built in adrenalin pump turned on so fast the meter faceplate broke from the needle going over the maximum 100%. My brain is processing information faster than any of the latest built computer and I am moving into a "fight or flight" mode.

As a reminder, let me stress that my brain activity was moving faster than the speed of light trying to put all the pieces to this puzzle together. My pulse rate was off the charts, my brain was on running the speed of sound ... at the same time I am mentally groggy.

Not a sound from my three sleeping hounds.

Since I did not hear any sounds of breaking glass or doors trying to be opened I mentally moved from my Option A to Option B. Let's just say that whoever or whatever "it was" they should be thrilled Option A was not chosen. I was too actually.

About the time I quietly slowly climbed out of bed so I could glance around the door jam of my open bedroom door ... to see what in the *&#$@%&$ was lighting my house enough you would have swore there was a UFO was sitting outside in my carport ...

Sadie and Stella woke up and charged from the living room where they were sleeping in FULL ATTACK MODE !!!!

The bloodhound with kind eyes, a greying muzzle, and always begging for walks (Sadie) was in the kitchen barking as if she was ready to tear off every arm and leg of the intruder(s).

Stella was barking in an aggressive way while slipping in her Hall of Fame quality howling (baying) non-stop.

Whoever it was or whatever it was did not move even with the loud out of control noise by the attacking bloodhounds. Heidi??? She was still sound to sleep ... nothing bothers her between the hours of 2pm - 8am unless she smells, sees, or hears food.

Mentally it finally dawned on me that for whatever reason someone was not only at my house but they were intentionally shinning bright lights into my house. I grabbed a pair of jeans to pull on and decided to take a chance and show myself.

Was I about to be robbed?

As I turned to walk out the bedroom door into the bright lights I see a face looking in my door window. Lights from a flashlight were still inside the house. The hounds were still going ballistic barking ... my pulse rate was still around 300 beats per minute .... I still wasn't sure if I needed to be in the fighting mode. I was still perplexed enough that I did not turn on the kitchen lights.

As I approached the door I did not even turn on the carport lights ... I can only assume I was still in slight shock and confusion.

As I opened the inside door, Sadie and Stella stopped their barking and howling ... they sat quietly looking out the window of the screen door as I stepped outside.

By their voices I could tell there were two people but I could only see one of them. He was a young man from my small towns finest, dressed in a blue uniform ... with a black bulletproof vest and the word 'Police" in bright white letters on his chest.

All I could think of was "WTF" ?????

Now, due to the amount of time since this happened I may not be completely accurate on the conversation word for word but I do remember the most important parts of what took place.

I remember telling them "you scared the living shit out of me" ... I think I remember a short apology.

Their introduction started by asking "are you Steve" ... now before I answer this question my mind instantly thought of the worst case scenario. There would not be any reason for it ... but for about TWO SECONDS I imagined I was on my way of making CNN News by being falsely accused, cuffed and taken away in the backseat of their police car. Strange eh?

I answered "yes I am" while really wondering what this was all about and what was next. I could only guess after this adrenalin rush I had experienced, that either someone in my family had been in an accident or I was about to be questioned about a crime.

Maybe it is because I have watched too many Jason Bourne movies, or movies about detectives and crime mysteries that would make me think I could be in the process of being "questioned" about something.

There is another reason though and it really did happen.

I'll try to not get too far off the path of this blog post with this next short story but it also might possibly explain this paranoid feeling I am having sometime near 1am while standing in my carport with two of "the cities finest".

It is a personal experience I had many years ago. It was a sunny day in 1972 as a young 20 year old US Marine, downtown Oceanside California where this took place. It was almost as shocking as last night and in a way just as mentally confusing with the same amount of adrenalin ... which leads to a thought as weird as "about to be questioned about a crime".

While being stationed at Camp Pendleton in 1972, we didn't get paid a lot of money then. I lived in the barracks, did not have a car nor did I need one. I was going to be there for my short two year enlistment with plans of going back to college on the GI Bill, something that pays for 4 years of college tuition.

So I was using public transportation when I needed to go somewhere and saving close to every cent I was making by living in the barracks. One of the cheapest forms of entertainment besides living on the beach soaking up the sun in Oceanside California ... was going to the movies.

This particular Saturday afternoon I stepped outside the movie theater a block off of Hill St., the main street that went through town. I was blinded by the bright sunshine instead of bright lights ... and before I knew it ... I was being slammed down into the sidewalk with my face being introduced to hard concrete.

Unlike last night ... I had zero time to think or process what was going on ... it happened that fast.

As "Oceanside's finest" was helping me stand up and holding me up as my hands were cuffed behind my back ... a 2nd squad car pulled up in front of me ... while being totally confused, pissed off and some blood running down my face ... the back door window of the 2nd police car rolled down.

The young face of a girl appeared in the window ... she quietly told the policemen "No ... that's not him".

I was off the hook for something. I was never questioned. The reputation of the Oceanside Police at that time in the early 1970's was not the best ... especially to young Marines stationed a few miles away at Camp Pendleton. Therefore no apologies were needed but at least they were kind enough to off those *&#@$@ handcuffs ... besides my sore face, my arms felt like they had been ripped out of my shoulder sockets.

So maybe now you understand where I am coming from being slightly paranoid while standing in the dark somewhere between Midnight and 1am, being asked by the kid wearing "Police" on his chest  ... if my name is Steve.

The next question even confused this situation more but at the same time took me more toward that 'crime' idea instead of a 'family member' idea.

What might that be?

"Do you know someone named Gerald" ???

Holy shit ... I am 64 years old, I just received my new Medicare Card in the mail and I have met a LOT of people in my time ... but at NO TIME have I ever known someone named Gerald. I cannot even remember that name brought up in almost 65 years worth of conversations ...

Is this a dream? An April Fools Joke? .... all I wanted to do was catch up on my sleep ... what is this all about????

The 2nd police officer, the guy I had not seen yet while he stood off in the background in the dark, told me to "hold on a second" as he headed toward the police car to double check that name. I had told told them I didn't know a Gerald nor have ever met a Gerald.

When he came back and said "no, his name is ....", it was my old friend from college. A friend of 42 years that lives a 100 miles away and someone I had been talking to by text just 1-1/2 hour earlier. I guess you could say in a way that I had caused all of this ... only because I had broken the routine of a known night person, one that a lot of people know stays up in the late hours where night is slowly moving toward daybreak. I had gone to bed before midnight, a very rare occurrence.

More than that ... I had not been around during an important basketball game and that is just too strange because he knows and his wife knows "steve never misses a ballgame, ever"

I had been texting him during the first game as he and his wife were returning home. Once the 2nd game started and I saw from his last text that they were home and would be watching some of the 2nd game, I set my iPhone on the kitchen island and plugged it in to be recharged.

Combine that by sneaking off to bed at halftime of the 2nd game, somewhere around 11pm ... the lack of response on texting raised their curiosity. Then when they called me and didn't get an answer ... red flags shot up in their brain cells faster than you can imagine.

Let see ... Steve never misses a game, he always replies to text and there have been no replies to 15 different texts during the 2nd game, plus he did not answer the phone. He lives alone and the hounds cannot call 911 if needed ... could have something really have happened to him??

I admit that I still refuse to believe that it is really me that stares back at me in the mirror when I brush my teeth or shave. That has to be someone else because I definitely don't think that old, nor do I feel that old ... but I am at the age that something could happen at any time, I guess.

I will admit I have thought of that and came up with a Plan B for the hounds just in case that does happen.

Since they did not have phone numbers of any of my neighbors, nor my family members ... nor do they know them ... they had enough curiosity to look up my 'cities finest' online to get their phone number I assume and made the call.

As the police officer explained, my friend had called and was concerned that possibly something may have happened to me. He told them I had two cars and if both were there meant I was home. He also warned them that I had two very large dogs (Sadie and Stella) that might get excited and sound mean but they were not mean dogs and wouldn't hurt them. He also said I had basset hounds ... plural.

So those flashlights that were as bright as a UFO in the driveway, and shining inside my house, were looking for me to see if I was okay. They were very understanding, as they say in basketball "no harm no foul" ... they said they were happy everything worked out. I am sure they may have felt some anxiety as they drove up the driveway of a house with all the lights turned off.

I guess I'll have to admit I am that old man staring back at me in the mirror.


Well back in January when I took a few weeks off blogging here, I also had stopped posting a photo or two of the hounds on Facebook almost every day. I hadn't called anyone, nor texted anyone. No one had heard from me online, via the phone or in person.

I was later told by another long time friend that lives quite a ways from me ... she had almost called my local police department to have them come out and check on me to see if I was okay. She had asked other people in Indiana that knew both of us, to get in touch with me since she lived a few states away, to see if anything had happened to me. When she didn't get an answer from them, she was that close to calling my small town police.

Luckily she decided to send a text to me instead, asking "are you okay" ... where I sent a reply.

So no police that time ... hopefully if it would have happened, it would have been during the normal daylight hours.

So that's the long story of my most exciting event possibly in the 19 years I have lived here. I hadn't been that adrenaline'ized' since I heard the knock on the front door at 2:30 AM a few seconds I had turned off the lights to go to bed, just last summer .... but that's another story and maybe a different blog post in the future.

Well I have to go. The hounds are begging to be fed their lunch kibble. Due to their great work last night of alerting me and challenging the intruders, I'll slip a few more bits of kibble into their dishes, even for that 'sleep monster' Heidi.

It WAS actually good to see that I have some pretty good watchdogs if the shit was ever to hit the fan, so to speak. Living in a rural area, next to a highway that can get someone to the interstate fairly quickly, I have always had a Plan B if anything were to happen. After all they have never caught the bank deposit robbers from years ago ... just a half mile away.

Nor have they ever found the girl that disappeared a few years ago, last seen in the parking lot of the grocery store ... just a half mile away.

So, I think it's always best to be aware, and may be good to have some big angry dogs just in case ... yet not live in fear.

The hounds and I enjoy living in 'the tropics' of southern Indiana.

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