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A strange thing happened to us the other day. I don’t know, maybe my fantasy is too wild, but maybe my dog friends saved me from quite an unpleasant experience… or who knows from what.

Frequently, we spend a lot of time walking. When the weather and my work permit it, we set out for walks in the forest parks which begin just by our neighbourhood, and we stroll through the countryside. Akha runs and jumps, nothing can escape her. Tari, my wise friend, usually trots in my steps and often touches me with his lovely wet nose. We know where and when and whom we would meet; generally, the environment in our forest park is very lively, mainly due to a nearby university campus and students hostels. We meet people jogging, our dog-walker friends, cyclists pass by. It has never occurred to me I should be afraid of meeting somebody who should better be avoided. Now, I am not so sure any more.

The other day, we started for our daily walk a bit later than usual. There was nobody in our little forest – dog walkers had gone to work and sporting students were already at school. My dogs and I began to go up a paved road winding up the hill between the forest and houses, and after a while, we got quite far from the urbanised area. I freed Akhami from the obligatory muzzle, and we started playing. Tari had to keep his muzzle on, as his annoying habit of shredding every piece of wood and swallowing it is quite dangerous and usually makes him sick. All of a sudden, a high lean figure appeared up the hill, coming quickly in our direction. The stranger passed by us. A thin young man with an ugly face gave me a penetrating look. I did not like him and Tari´s opinion was clearly the same as mine. He lifted his head and observed the man. The stranger looked so out-of-place here, he was really different from the type of people we usually meet. I took Tari by his collar and we went on. I did not look back and I turned to a forest path down the hill. I had a strange feeling in my gut and my plan was to get back discretely without giving the impression I was afraid and escaping, and at the same time, I wanted to monitor the movement of the stranger. I followed down the path with Tari by my side, however Akhami stopped and remained standing behind us. I thought she was afraid of the stranger and was waiting for him to disappear. All of a sudden, the young man turned abruptly and made his way through the bushes as if his intention was to close the line of our retreat. I stopped and with an ostentatious gesture, I took Tari´s muzzle off. I was standing there, waiting. He who behaves like a victim is on the best way to become one, I thought. I could feel that Tari was getting prepared for the same as I was. OK, come on, strange guy, we are prepared for you, I thought and I felt a strange calm. The man hesitated, observing us. Suddenly he turned on his heel and returned through the bushes back to the road from which he had come. He was continuously turning his head to us, and a twig slapped him in his ugly face. I could see him wincing with pain. I felt a malicious satisfaction.

I watched the man’s retreat up the hill. I started calling my Akhami and my intention was to get away as quickly as possible, however Akha was standing up the path, refusing to move on. It was until then when I realised she was monitoring the strangely behaving man all the time, not because of fear as I had thought, but just because she and Tari were playing different roles. Tari guarded me and Akha was monitoring the surroundings. And suddenly, Akhami set off her alarm – a loud sequence of short harsh deep sounds – rrrraw-rrraw-rrrraw. I had never ever heard her barking like that. I turned to see what was going on at my back. The young stranger turned again from the road, entering the shrubs again to get to the path I was standing on, but this time he wanted to approach me from the back. However, my back was well-covered by my brave little girl. I had never believed that my little slightly shy girl with a tender face could do anything like that, and I really did not believe such a gentle-looking dog could make anybody scared. She was standing there, my girl, without moving an inch, and absolutely fearless, she was crying her lungs out to scare the stranger off. And he got scared – and I was also scared that he could do anything to my lovely friend. I called her, but it was useless. After several seconds, just when I was about to go and see if Akhami needed Tari´s and my help, the man backed off and disappeared behind the hill. We could not see him any more.

Akha came to me running and jumping high with happiness and pride. I praised her, as well as Tari. Danger was over, we made it together. We are a pack which is not easy to beat.