The Heroes

Athena's Story

Name: Athena Haus Juris

At around 6pm Saturday, November 6, 2004, I decided to run some errands. As you know, at this time of year it's dark outside earlier. Since my errands meant I would have to leave Athena in the car, I hesitated to tell her to join me. But she had already run to the door and was spinning in anticipatory circles, mouth open, eyes shining, so I told her okay. First we went to Blockbuster Video. Athena is always a very good girl in the car; she usually lays down in the back seat and waits patiently for me to come back. We have a ritual greeting when I return to the car; I give her an enthusiastic hello, and out of the window darts a long black snoot, from which I get kisses. After Blockbuster, I decided to go to Kentucky Fried Chicken. The KFC is in another of the many strip malls clustered off one main road, and it sits at the very end of the stores. It's kind of desolate, I realized-not a lot of people walking around as they are in the middle or front of the strip mall. I found a spot directly in front of the entrance, the last spot in the row, actually. I told Athena to stay, and she again curled up on her side. The only indications that there might be a large dog in my car were the barely distinguishable tips of her pointed ears.

I noticed immediately as I walked to the entrance that a young guy walked very quickly in my direction across the parking lot, also in the direction of the entrance. Something about him, I can't really put my finger on what, made alarm bells go off. Although he seemed casually entering the restaurant, not really looking at me, I got the distinct impression that I was part of his focus somehow-I had a sensation of being watched. He was white, but dressed in "gangsta" clothes, including a sideways baseball hat. I'm not an alarmist, who sees any suburban young man dressed that way as a threat. This guy just bothered me. I stood in line to order, and he stood behind me. After my order came out, I picked it up, got my drink, and turned to leave. As I turned to leave, I noticed that he quickly turned, and left the restaurant. It felt like he had been waiting for me, and in a split second I realized that he hadn't ordered any food. I still didn't want to blow something out of proportion, so I rationalized that he wasn't hungry or had been in a hurry. But mentally I was simultaneously calculating how far it was to my car. I wanted to get to my dog. For the first time since I bought her, I felt an overwhelming urge to get to her. She made me feel safe. I went to my car door and put the key in, watching the young guy who had been in the restaurant. He had gone over to a very old beat up pickup truck and stood talking to an older guy who could have been right out of central casting for an ex-convict. The older guy was disheveled, and was staring intently at me. This wasn't the type of stare that was just harmless ogling. He was staring at me in such a way that I felt very alarmed, like he was mentally picturing doing horrible things to me. He-still looking at me-seemed to point to me with his chin, and the younger guy nodded and turned around and started walking towards my car! But it wasn't a confident confrontational walk, he looked past me almost but I still had the sensation that he had honed in on me. His walk was casual and furtive but definitely in my direction. I truly believe in my gut that he was sent over to a) rob me or b) worse-abduct me. Right then I had the door open and said cheerily "hey girl!" Athena uncoiled herself from the back seat and stood up, placing her front paws on the center console of my car, excitedly sniffing at the bag of chicken I had with me. From over the top of the car, I saw the young man's eyes widen, and he stopped DEAD IN HIS TRACKS. He took one more hesitant step towards me but seemed to think better of it and turned and walked quickly back to the pick up. Before I could do anything, he had jumped into the pickup and he and the older guy sped off.

I went home, called my mom, and my friend Robin. Robin advised me to call the police, so I did. I recounted the story, just in case the next person those two try something with doesn't have a big German Shepherd in her car! So I just wanted to tell everyone this story, because in my heart, I know that my Shepherd girl saved me from harm. I'm glad it didn't have to come to her actually defending me, but just her presence comforted me, and scared the crap out of two bad guys.
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