Piper, my guard dog

When I was 17 I used to work at the shopping centre, two blocks away from my house. One day walking home, a strange man followed me, trying to make conversation, stopping when I stopped, and immediately sending up all the red flags it should, thankfully there were two or three other people walking just ahead of us, but still I feigned "forgetting" something and doubled back, walked home a different way.

Maybe a few months earlier we had rescued a dog due to be put down the next day. She was pretty, smart, streetwise (she picked up a habit of running her tongue along the grass as she walked to pick up dew water), wary of people touching her. I called her piper lane. A beautiful collie cross blue merle cattle dog that I trained to open and shut doors, balance balls on her nose, fetch, bark, "be gentle" with anything, look for mum, take the mail to such-and-such. She was so smart. And funny. I regularly walked her to the park two doors down from me to play her favourite game, rip apart the newest "dog-proof" ball.

A few weeks after the strange man incident happened, piper and I were at the park when I saw the man, walking with another man up my street, and you know that look you recognise in dogs? That calculating and resentful look as they glance sideways at something they really don't like, just before they snap? That "there's something off about to happen look"? That's how I felt about these men, they had that look. I just sat on the swing with Piper next to me, hand on leash. She knew straight away I was a bit scared, hackles up, protective stance in front of me and glaring at the source of the concern. The guy recognised me and came up to try and talk to me, immediately (and I've never heard or seen this side of her) Piper gave the biggest, deepest warning growl I have ever heard, she was angry and she wanted them to know it, gave one or two very loud warning barks, that definitely sounded like something you would hear from a rottie. She was my equivalent of two bodyguards with guns right than, the strange men backed away and quickly walked off, I promptly rewarded her with hugs and thankyous and a snack when we got home. But piper knows when to do this or not, if i don't like someone she knows but she is the sweetest belly-up puppy for any kid and baby, loves meeting new people, as long as they don't mess with her owners and could not care less about irritating dogs unless they took her ball. But if i tense up near someone, or tell her "look out" she was immediately on guard.

We look out for eachother, i stop other dogs taking her ball, and she protects me. She really is my best friend.

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