Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

C: Hey There, Little Red Riding Hood….

Do you think that most of us have some primal, unrealistic fear of wolveswolf ?  As a child I did.  As an adult I have grown to love reading and learning about wolves, but that interest also has heavy overtones of some vague fear not so far in the back of my mind.

When I was about five years old my father, fresh from law school, was an insurance adjuster.  This job kept him traveling all over our state.  I vividly recall one evening over supper his recounting of a trip he had made to a small town about sixty miles south of us.  “A large pack of wild dogs are on the loose down there,” he said.  “The entire community is on the lookout, and kids can’t stay out and play until they round them up.”

Why can’t the kids play out?” I asked, wondering how a group of dogs could be a problem.

C, these are wild dogs,” he replied.  “They’re dangerous.  The kids can’t play out because they could be snatched and dragged off by the dogs.  They are like wolves when they get in big packs like that.”

Snatched?!!  Dragged off?!!  Well, let me tell you, that imagery went right to my brain and played over and over like a horror movie.  I remember dreaming about wild dogs.  My mother remembers that when we’d head out for anything more than an hour’s drive away,  I’d ask, “Will there be wild dogs there?”  Clearly, it made an impression.

Not long after that, I was introduced to the Lon Chaney, Jr. Wolfman movie.  OMG!!  To see that wolfman stalking across a meadow in the light of the full moon!  I simply cannot tell you what this was like to me.  And it jumbled all up with that previous imagery of the wild dogs and the real wolves, who—after all—do have that chilling howling.  And I have to confess that, even today, I did not want to find a picture of the wolfman to post here—just a little too scary, still…

Along about the time these horror factors were merging in my mind, my father bought a farm about forty miles away, near his own upbringing and amidst some of his “people.”  My great-aunt Donnie and Uncle Fred (written about in an earlier post) lived there, caring for the stock, which included my first horse, a little black gelding named “Champ.”  We’d go up there on weekends, and I’d ride Champ around through our pasture and into our woods.

One day we were all milling about the yard in front of the farm house.  A truck pulled upon the dirt road which ran before it, and a distant relative of my father’s got out.  He pointed to the body of a canine tied across the top of his pickup.  My father exclaimed appropriately over the “kill” (which now seems quite sad to me), saying “Well, I’ll be…so there still are wolves in these parts!”

There ensued a discussion about the probable wolf population in the area and whether/how one could tell the howling of wolves from thahowlingt of coyotes.

Wolves?! Coyotes?!!  HOWLING??!!!  Okay, this was almost more than  I could take in.

From that point forward, I began angling to leave our farm well before dark set it.  I did not want to even hear howling, and I sure did not want to run up on one of these wild creatures.  Who knew?  There might even be wild dogs to boot!

One afternoon my mother loaded my brother and me in the car and took off for the farm without my father.  He was working.  We were going to get vegetables from Ain’t Donnie’s garden.

moon Well, Mom picked and picked, and I got more and more and more nervous.   It was getting dark.  Real dark by my book.  Furthermore, the moon was rising.  The MOON?!  Yes, a big, round moon.  I knew full well what the moon meant in terms of this wolf lore.  I was fit to be tied by the time we set out.  I remember sitting silently in the back seat of the car, barely able to look out the windows for fear of seeing glowing eyes on the side of the road, yet unable to keep from it. 

As we drove the winding, hilly country road in what was now the dark of the night, we started down a steep incline.  Understand that this was a country dirt road, complete with big rocks in it and ruts from running rain.  All of a sudden we hit somethincountryroadg!  There was a thud! followed by a grinding noise.  My mother pulled over to the side of the road.  She was afraid to drive any further for fear we would hurt the car.  She ordered us out of the car to walk to the dim house lights we saw a bit further down the road.

Out!! Was she nuts?  Was she kidding?? Apparently not.  I recall getting out of the car and, really, I cannot remember another thing about this incident other than feeling pure terror, that the diagnosis was the oil pan (does that sound right?) had been knocked loose, and that we somehow got home safely.

It absolutely solidified my fear of wolves and wild dogs for the rest of my childhood—without ever actually seeing either! 

My mother barely recalls this incident, considering it a nuisance.  For me, it was a horrifying experience.

And today I occasionally go try cases in the little town down south with the wild dogs long ago.  And even now I think of those dogs when I do.

Many years later when my son was about six, my father gave him a radio alarm clock for his birthday.  He was so taken with the concept that he requested that we set it for him when he went to bed so that he could listen to a little music, which would go off in half an hour or so.  We left him happily tuned in to an “oldies” station.

His father and I were two rooms down the hall, getting ready for bed when our little son came flying down the hallway and dove headfirst under our blankets.  When we asked what was the matter, he said “A really scary song came on the radio—can I sleep with you???”red riding hood

We went down the hallway and heard Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, singing, “Hey, there, Little Red Riding Hood.  You sure are lookin’ good…” complete with a wolf howl….

So, I ask you again: is there some innate fear of these creatures in us all? C


Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

I have an irrational fear of dogs -- unless one should be our pet. Don't know where it came from, but oh it is there. I remember walking home from kindergarten and just hearing a dog bark -- well, I had a meltdown, causing my friend to have one also. The milkman stopped and offered to take us home. Well, apparently I was more afraid of my mother -- cause the warning was: Don't ever get in a car with anyone. My friend DID get in the vehicle with him; I refused -- crying like a girl..lol.
He took her home and went and told my mother that I was boohooing in fear. I met her on the sidewalk looking for me. Never did see the dog -- but I HEARD it. I'm 61 now --YIKES-- and still have such a fear of dogs. Man's best friend -- go figure. (I had forgotten about Sam and Little Red Riding Hood!) Sorry for rambling on!

jan said...

We heard coyotes howling when we spent the night in the country at my Aunt Ruth's house. It never bothered me, though. I guess I though that Blackie, the big lab mix farm dog would keep us safe. Plus, in Western Kansas, nothing can really sneak up on you that you can't see from miles away...

kath001 said...

Reading gave me a strong sense of deja vu!

Mamma has spoken said...

I lived in the country growing up and nope, no fear of wild dogs or wolves. Of course now there is no way I would live on a dirt road were your nearest neighbor is a mile away. I think it has to do with what you were expose to when you're young. We never talked about packs of wild dogs or wolves...

Happyone :-) said...

I'm fascinated with dogs and wolves - no fear here. Maybe your son picked up your fear!!
Great post!! I like how you always have the little pictures to go along with your story!!

Zuzana said...

I love wolfs.;) If I could I would immediately have a cross bread of a dog and wolf.;) There is something about these animals that leaves me standing in awe. As a child I devoured the novels by Jack London and my dream would be to own a blue eyed Husky.
I have never had a bad encounter with a wolf, this could be why I do not fear them.;) In fact, Czechoslovakia, where I was born, is the origin of a certain breed of German Shepherd that has wolf blood in it.;) They were used by the border patrol under communism regime and the dogs were so faithful, they retired together with the soldiers.;)

Vee said...

Oh I enjoyed this story so much. I read it last night knowing that I'd have to return and read it again. It brought up a lot of memories.

Parents. They are all to blame. I have so many fears of so many things and I am placing the blame squarely on mine.

My son has an irrational fear of his basement...the one he lives above every day of his life. It all stems from his father pretending to be grabbed by a basement monster. Father'd hold the basement door and rattle one foot while yelling, "Let me go!" I knew that that had trouble written all over it. LOL!

KathyB. said...

I think in this day and age we forget that throughout history people were very vulnerable to hungry predators and so were their precious livestock. To hear ravenous wolves or coyotes, or even wild dogs nearby at night meant at least something was going to be killed and eaten if it was not secured and that could well mean people.

In the middle east ( Iraq) our son witnessed an injured insurgent try to find cover in the shell of a car only to be dragged out and consumed by a pack of wild dogs, so still in some parts of the world wild dogs and their kin are every bit deserving of the fear we ascribe to them .

P.S. Love that song, and find myself singing it sometimes for no particular reason...now it is stuck in my head for the day~

KathyB. said...

I forgot, we have coyotes around here all the time, and we have lost animals to them. I believe we are also seeing some wild dog/ coyote hybrids too. They are pretty bold and aggressive. I am not particularly afraid of them, but I don't think I would leave young children alone at the edge of the woods. Or anywhere now-a-days for sure, it is the human predators that scare me!

Janera said...

We live in the country and at night can often hear the coyotes. Their howl is a strange mix sounds, dog-like but also something like a woman wailing. It is eerie. Cats don't stand much chance around these parts, but we haven't had any come close to the house, as far as we know.

Not really concerned about coyotes, but snakes? Oh, Girl. I automatically look for them everytime I go outside for any reason. I have fears of them similar to your wolf issue. So, I do get it.

commoncents said...


Keep up the great work!!

Common Cents

ps. Link Exchange??

Paul C said...

Entertaining story. I like the book Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat. He dispells any fear of wolves with the observations of them in the wild. Also Walt Disney made a wonderful movie of the book. Highly recommended.

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