That's right. Five miles from town. Out in the sticks. On a road that's not even a blue highway on a state road map. Dog walkers. I immediately sensed their foreignness. Definitely not Backroads dwellers. They had to be city folks, out for a Sunday drive in no-man's land. Roughing it. On an adventure with their four-legged friends. The signs were all there.
First was the big sign. The sign nailed up on a tree ten feet into our gravel road. "Private Property. No Trespassing." Parking one's truck on the edge of the gravel road past that sign kind of counts as trespassing, you know. That's why we used to have a big metal gate with a chain and a padlock, until too many people actually built homes on their property and didn't want to get out and unlock it. The free part of the road is the blacktop, by the bridge, by the creek. Nobody can own a creek. Your dogs can pee to their heart's content in the creek, or along the blacktop right-of-way.
The second sign was the truck. It almost fooled me. A pickup truck, by cracky! Then I noticed the color-coordinated, locking bed cover. No. We don't normally have those. They don't fit right with a toolbox mounted against the cab. And it's hard to haul stuff under a cover.
The coats on the man and woman were a clue. Coats! At only 54 degrees! Who wears a coat in such balmy weather? Not Backroadsians. And not in such bright neon green. That color is for road workers. Besides, a Backroadsian will still be wearing his
And another thing. Backroadsians do not run around with their women. Guys hang out with other guys in their pickup trucks. The gals stay at home. Man and woman together in the woods on a Sunday afternoon? Not in these parts.
The dogs themselves were out of their element. So excited! Two big black ones, and a brown one. I didn't get a good look at the breed, though I'm sure they were not simply mutts. They were so hyped up that two tried to run out in front of me. Perhaps to shove their snouts in my mouth for a good chewing, or because they were so over-stimulated by the country aromas wafting on the wind. Thank goodness the doggies were safe, because they were on leashes!
Major clue! Backroadsians don't take their dogs anywhere on leashes. And they most certainly don't have the leashes hooked to nice harnesses that fit each dog like a tailor-made suit. Backroadsians lower the tailgate of the coverless pickup bed of their truck, give a whistle, and Fido and Rover hop in for a ride. They pace side to side, sniffing the air as they fly down the highway. If the Backroadsian makes a stop at a gas station or Walmart, the dog stays with the truck. It would never enter Fido's mind to hop out and run off after a scent. He jumps up on the metal toolbox and barks as people walk by. He's protecting his truck.
I didn't witness it from this particular couple, but I've seen it at the front-lawn dog toilet that locals call The Dairy Queen. The method of rehydrating the canines. Nobody around here carries a collapsible water bowl, into which they pour bottled water. Backroadsians motion for the dog to jump down from the truck, where it will drink from a muddy puddle.
Yeah. We know you're not from here. But for the sake of the dogs, we look the other way.