It began as a low, slow, rumbling growl which was magnified by the still morn of the first day of a long weekend. Not many folks were out this morning; they either left for the north country last night or were sleeping in. The chilly 41-degree temps were not too conducive for sitting out on the porch sipping coffee in your jammies and bare feet. I am, what you would term, a “wary walker” – on Fort Street you must pay attention to drivers who are often oblivious to a walker crossing their path. Traversing through the neighborhoods on an early weekend morning, I am overly cautious and forever looking for someone lurking about. So, the sudden growl startled me. It intensified. I knew a rumble that loud belonged to a very large dog. The sunlight filtered through the trees, hitting my eyeglasses at such an angle that I felt momentarily blinded by the bright rays. In desperation my eyes darted from side to side, scanning the street for the owner of this ominous snarl. Then I saw him – a massive German Shepherd standing on the corner lawn. Was he growling at an errant squirrel or me? Perhaps I was not the object of his attention, but nonetheless I dashed behind a large tree and stayed put, heart pounding. If I were to cry “help”, there was absolutely no one out on the street to come to my aid. I quickly tried to remember what I heard or read about being confronted by a dog. Look him in the eyes? Look down? Speak to him? When I walk, I never leave home without my lanyard on which pepper spray and a huge whistle dangle. The “Storm Safety Whistle”, which I ordered from a sporting goods catalog, is recommended for underwater emergencies because its shrill sound is THAT piercing and intense. I had several pet dogs growing up and I’ve never been afraid of dogs, but this one just spooked me. It looked to be part-wolf. I stayed motionless for what seemed like hours behind my “cover” and finally the dog trotted off in another direction. Five minutes later I sheepishly stepped out, not knowing whether I had ever been in any danger. Still shaken, I switched from my regular route and went the opposite way from where he was headed. Soon I came upon a corner lot with a tall, old, stockade fence running the length of the property. By now, the sun was shining brightly and through the fence I could clearly discern the visage of a very large pit bull terrier; there it was – the unmistakable bent-over ears and square jaw. The dog was pacing down the side of the house, a very menacing shadow puppet which caused renewed fear in the pit of my stomach. I quickly backtracked and sped down still another street where thankfully I met up with nothing more than a few squirrels clambering up, down and around some trees. I let out a deep sigh as I entered the grounds of Council Point Park. There were many walkers on this cool, crisp morn and I passed a young couple and the woman was pushing an umbrella stroller. To be sociable, I glanced inside where I saw a small dog … they explained that they liked to walk but the dog couldn’t keep up, so they brought the stroller along. Well, that was different. After turning the first curve on the perimeter path, I was on the lookout for the pair of geese and their goslings. An elderly gentleman was peering through the marsh grass and told me he had seen the family yesterday. We walked along companionably and I told him my morning had gone to the dogs thus far. He mentioned that he has often seen leashed and unleashed Dobermans and Pit Bulls running around in the Park before. Well, so much for my safe haven. The goose family must have been tucked away somewhere but several brazen gaggles of geese meandered near the pathway. Though I never saw one songbird, I was able to identify five birdcalls – I’ve been listening to a website of birdsongs during the week. All too quickly one complete lap around the 1.9 mile Park perimeter was over. The trip home was thankfully uneventful. I plucked several maple seeds out of my hair and pockets when I pulled off my sweats, the remnants of my Saturday sojourn. Those little “helicopters” were flying everywhere – twirling and whirling and settling onto the sidewalks and streets, Stewart Avenue included.