Close Encounters in Cinque Terre

Here’s how it went down: I was out walking my father-in-law’s dog, Rocco, who’s spending a month with us taking the airs of the Mediterranean.  I’ve gotten into the habit of taking one of my daughters with me when I do this walk, sometime after dinner, but last night we had guests, and so I was doing it later than usual, and alone.  After I got about 50 yards away from the house, and while Rocco was heartily sniffing the wet grass around him, I heard a heavy thudding coming straight for us.  I thought, “Shit, it’s another dog, and a big one too by the sound of it,” so I turned and yelled out at the black thing charging for us in the shadows.

The thing stopped, and then trotted out into the road from the field it had been running through, passing just in front of a street lamp.  And I’ll be hogtied if it wasn’t the silhouette of a wild boar that came into view.  He remained there for a few seconds, then headed back across the field from whence he came, at full speed, thumping the ground like a horse.

Now I know there are a lot of wild boars in this area, and the shotgun blasts from the hunters every weekend testify to the size of their population, but I’ve only heard of a handful of sightings, and never of anyone getting charged.  So let’s just say that it came as a bit of a shock to see him come bearing down on me.  It all happened too fast for me to be really scared, but by the time I got back into my house, I was plenty ready for a glass of red wine to calm my nerves.  And let’s also say that throughout this entire episode, Rocco was of zero help.  A 9-year-old, overweight, golden Lab who is tough enough with the neighborhood curs, he neither heard nor smelled the razorback coming, and even after I had brought his attention to the raging pig, he didn’t even lift a hackle nor attempt a growl.  He’s sleeping outside from now on.

I’ve now read enough about the species to know that males will do bluff charges, much like bears do, especially during their rutting season, which is of course right now.  So I can only hope that he was just testing the waters, standing his ground, or checking us out, rather than intending any serious harm.  But remembering what happened to Adonis in the Shakespeare poem, I’ll be carrying a heavy hickory stick with me from now on:

“Tis true, ’tis true; thus was Adonis slain:

He ran upon the boar with his sharp spear,

Who did not whet his teeth at him again,

But by a kiss thought to persuade him there;

And nuzzling in his flank, the loving swine

Sheath’d unaware the tusk in his soft groin.”



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