Things I wouldn’t do back home

12 05 2011

I was out walking the pooch last night when she started getting a bit agitated. I had to drag her away from something (which isn’t unusual) to keep on walking. Expecting her to have been trying to get at a mushroom (she’s developed a real taste for those recently) I thought she’d just keep on walking.

What spooked me was that she was walking alongside me staring at me for some time. And she kept trying to go back to the spot. All very unusual for her. Normally she’ll just move on and keep walking.

So I started to wonder what the hell she’d found. Was there a body lying beside the path? Was there a murdering psychopath lurking, waiting for an unsuspecting solo dog walker to wander past? Let’s face it, when a stranger approaches our pooch is hardly going to be first in the attacking line!

So I got a bit worried and speedied up my walk home, constantly looking over my shoulder.

Now, the fact is that I walk the dog in a reserve that isn’t lit and is totally dark. There are a number of paths to enter and exit the area and lots of long grass, perfect for hiding. I take a flashlight with me so I can see where I’m going. And like I say, I’ve hardly got Cujo at my side.

This got me thinking about whether I’d have walked the pooch in similar conditions in the other places I’ve lived. Where we lived in Connecticut, I would have felt completely safe as well. Well, that is except for the coyotes! My husband had a near-miss with a pack of three one time near our house when doing a late-night pee walk duty. In the UK, I would have been more fearful of human interaction rather than that of the animal kind.

So why would I do it here?

Well, I feel totally safe in NZ. I have no reason to fear walking around in the dark, regardless of where I am. Whether I’m in the middle of town or the middle of nowhere. In the UK there were stories of attacks every other day. I have rarely seen such reports over here.

So should that stop me being cautious? I don’t think so. Regardless of where we are, a woman alone should always be aware of her surroundings. I never walk around with earphones in because I want to hear what’s going on around me. I can’t stand walking near people who are listening to music because they lack such awareness. Call me paranoid…

It got me thinking about other things I might not do elsewhere that I do here. Well, let’s see. I don’t lock the motorbike up very often. I don’t see any other bike locks in the parking area so feel a bit paranoid if I put ours on. I also left a car window open and left the car parked in the centre of town. Admittedly that was accidental but when I saw it I wasn’t the slightest bit concerned about what I’d done.

In CT I would go walk the dog and leave the front door unlocked, which I probably wouldn’t have done in the UK. But I readily do it here. I’m also not quite so careful about shredding my post or covering my EFTPOS pin. I’d have done both in my previous homes.

So is NZ any safer than CT or the UK? I’ve no idea. But people here are an awful lot more trusting, and I’m afraid that one day there will be a mass betrayal of that trust. Not necessarily by one person, but that the diseases that have spread through other Western countries will find their way here and eat away at the trust that exists to make things harder for everyone. I hope it doesn’t, but having lived in those societies, you can only fear it.

Anyway, this morning we passed the same area again, only this time in a bit more light. And it seemed that all Maddy was trying to tell me was that there was a dirty great big mushroom just waiting for her. She managed to get a bite of it this morning before I managed to drag her away. Nothing sinister after all.

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