|Handle with care . . .|
I was now a college graduate.
This meant several things.
1. I was no longer a student.
2. I had to earn my own living
3. I had no idea how to do it
4. I was a bit frightened
My Dad knew the people who published 'The Canadian Hereford Digest'.
Yes, it's just as exciting as it sounds.
And yes, they would give me a job.
Their offices were in Calgary (population 450,000+ in 1975). This necessitated me moving there.
It was a bit larger city than I was used to.
Okay, I admit it. Our family had been living outside of Fort MacLeod. Population 3500.
On a ranch.
I don't know what the percentage of difference is.
My estimate would be: large.
I packed up my little, orange Dodge colt and my six-month Old English Sheepdog puppy, Muffy, and headed out.
My best friend, Debbie was living in Calgary, in a comfortable one bedroom apartment.
I could move in with her.
In a matter of hours, it was done.
In a matter of days, I had gotten used to the change of pace that working and living in a large city entailed.
In a matter of weeks, I could fly across said city like a native, making use of the myriad (good word) back streets and little-known avenues.
I was officially a city girl.
I enjoyed my work and the people I worked with.
I got along famously with Debbie.
I was earning $300.00 a month. A fortune!
There really was only one thing that stopped me from being completely happy.
I was still a bit frightened.
Lets face it, Calgary just wasn't a ranch in the Porcupine Hills of Alberta.
For one thing, there were . . . people . . . everywhere you looked. People I didn't know.
And a complete lack of cows.
I did have my dog.
And I found a place to board my horse.
But somehow, that didn't make all of the strangers in my new world any more familiar.
One Sunday night, I was just returning to my apartment from a weekend at the ranch.
I really hadn't been excited about leaving, so I had put it off until very late.
My Muffy and I pulled up in front of the building about 2:00 am.
Now this wouldn't have been a problem back on the ranch. In that safe little world, the most I would have had to worry about was my parents . . . worrying.
Here, there was the unknown.
Suddenly the dark street looked, you know, dark.
And rather scary.
I got out and started unloading my suitcase and boxes of food and donations from my Mom.
Then I proceeded to lock the car door.
Suddenly, Muffy growled.
A deep, forbidding sound.
Then she pressed back against my knees, pushing me against the side of the car.
I stared down at her in surprise.
I should probably mention, here, that Muffy was the gentlest dog ever born.
Her own bark startled her. And I had never heard her growl.
I didn't know she could.
But there, still pressing me back against the car, and still growling deeply, was my gentlest of dogs.
I stared down at her.
A sound intruded.
I looked up.
Just in time to see two men walk past on the sidewalk.
The far side of the sidewalk.
Both of them were looking at Muffy.
She was definitely looking at them.
Her head was lowered, her stance rigid and the hair on her neck and back, standing up threateningly.
She was almost unrecognizable.
For several moments, we stayed like that.
Muffy, me, and the car.
Which was beginning to dig into my back, by the way.
The men continued on their way, perhaps even quickening their pace a little.
They had disappeared before Muffy quit growling and looked up at me.
Her back end began to wiggle happily once more.
I let out my breath.
We made very quick work of gathering our stuff and getting inside the building.
After that, I made sure I returned, if not in the daylight, at least at a decent hour.
And, oddly enough, I discovered that I was no longer frightened.
And as long as I was accompanied by my guardian.