I've been walking the same route now, almost every morning, for several years - Up past the playing fields and round the little wood with open views to Derbyshire at the far side. At first I walked alone, then with husband and/or Dylan the Dog. Many friends thought it was strange, if not downright dangerous, to walk unaccompanied but I've never felt worried or threatened by it till this morning.
Just Dylan and I went today and as we walked up the field he was playing his normal games pretending to throw and catch his ball on a string and generally sniffing here and there and bouncing about.
Then... a man walked round a bend in the path quite a way in front of us and Dylan immediately came and walked "at heel" by my side, keeping his eyes on the man approaching us. Now, Dylan will walk "at heel' when told to, or at the end of a walk when he's finished romping, but to stop in the middle of his games and behave this way is unusual. There didn't appear to be anything odd about this man - he was probably just someone using the field as a short cut from shops or leisure centre to his house - but Dylan came to my side as if to guard me, which was bizarrely worrying. Had he picked up some vibe from this man that I hadn't? Did he remind Dylan of someone from his past before he came to us? Usually when we meet dogs that Dylan dislikes he detours from his route to avoid them - and the same has happened a couple of times with people - teens in school uniform for example. All of which made today's behaviour so extraordinary and disturbing. Dylan really had me thinking that we should avoid this man.
Luckily, he turned off onto a different path so we didn't have to walk past him. After that, we met dog walkers, mothers with toddlers and pushchairs, two guys gossiping on a bench - the normal sort of folk I'd expect to see - and Dylan didn't bat an eye at any of them. It was only the one man that he seemed to feel a need to protect me from.
A bizarrely disturbing experience,