Ok, I had a weird and downright frightening experience tonite while out roadworking the dogs. Keep in mind, I live in rural Texas, wildlife is just a part of life around here.
I had Cuda on the line and made the decision to go down a different county road than normal. This road took me down into a hollow, narrow and really overgrown. I had been down this road during the day, and really didn’t think anything bad of it. At least not until tonite. Cuda was working along at his regular 10 miles an hour, when suddenly I had a dog that was trotting sideways, in full alert position, hackles up, with a low rumble coming from his chest. I did not see ANYTHING that could have set him off, but I slowed up anyway. Right about then I realized that the three dogs in the van were also staring intently out the drivers side of the van, with the same full alert expression and low rumbles, so I stopped. I decided to load Cuda back in the van before something bad happened. And as I started down the side of the van to load him (he rides in the back), every last hair on the back of my neck stood up, as did every hair on my arms, and I experienced a full fight or flight response. I distinctly felt as if I was being watched. Now, keep in mind, I still had not seen or heard anything out of the ordinary. I literally THREW him in the crate, lead and all, slammed the hatch and raced back to the drivers seat. Every fiber of my being was screaming to get OUT NOW. I didn’t need to be told twice. Just as I started to pull off, the dogs did something I have never had them do before. They started making this high pitched keening sound, almost a scream, but not. Every last dog was shrinking away from the drivers side of the van, even my experienced hunters.
I floored it. I still don’t know what it was, but it took a full half hour for my heart rate to return to normal and my breathing to slow. I have run through every possibility. Cuda knows what coyote and bobcats are, so I can’t see him reacting like that to them. There’s no way a coon or possum could have set that off. We don’t have wolves or bears in this area. The only possible thing I can come up with is a cougar. We do have the big cats in this part of the country, but they are very rarely seen. My dogs have never encountered one, at least not to my knowledge. But whatever it was, it didn’t just set the dogs off. It triggered the primitive part of my brain, the part that says RUN AWAY. The part that exists because humans were not in the past, and are still occasionally even now, not at the top of the food chain.
I do not ever want to experience that again. Ever.