Gwen’s already covered all the salient points, and pretty eloquently too. I thought I’d add my two cents for the sake of completeness. Plus, it makes for a good blog post.

So, as Gwen has noted, it was a rough night to start with. In addition to the restlessness of the boy, the weather has been pretty much the pits. Last night, we were subject to brief periods of torrential rain. It was pretty warm, so all the windows were wide open and these downpours would wake us up every once and a while. It was the type of weather that you’d associate with severe thunder and lightning, but Vancouver so rarely has thunder and lightning, and we didn’t last night.

I woke to a woman shrieking. It was a cry of pain and terror. It was followed shortly by an angry man’s voice and the sound of a dog going nuts.

Before I had a chance to fully appreciate what was going on, I was out of the house barefoot and shirtless heading down the stairs to the alley. Despite the hour (1:30 am?) our condo complex was reasonably well lit. The alley was a different story.

I reached the alley, opened the gate and made my way to the middle of the alley. It wasn’t raining, but it had been recently and the pavement was pitch black. The alley itself isn’t too well lit, but there was some sort of light at the end of the alley as I looked east. This had the effect of backlighting the scene laid out in front of me.

What I saw was a large-ish man dressed in dark clothes straining at the end of a leash. Well, at the business end of the leash was a large dog, pulling, and barking endlessly. It didn’t look like a Shepard, instead it looked like a large pit bull or some other large, muscular dog. Hidden in the darkness of a carport must have been a woman. She was whimpering and crying, but other than that and the dog barking, there seemed to be no other sounds. Certainly the man wasn’t saying anything, nor was he moving.

I took in the scene and tried to make sense of it. There was clearly a woman in some distress, but it didn’t seem that she was actively being harmed. In fact, it seemed that the man had pinned her in the carport with the dog, and was content to keep her there. At this point I was thinking domestic dispute or something, and I yelled down the alley inquiring if everything was alright, and if anything was needed. Clearly it wasn’t alright, but I figured we had to start somewhere.

The shadowed figure said nothing. Possibly he didn’t hear me over the dog barking, but I certainly did get a look. Some sight I must have made too. Anyway, I yelled down the alley again and this time I got a response: “Police”.

Now, this wasn’t the most helpful response in the world. Was he asking for the police? Was he claiming to be the police? Pretty unclear. Regardless, I’d seen enough. I started back into the condo to call 911 when one of our neighbours from the front of the complex came to the alley. After a quick discussion of what was going on, I resumed my journey back inside to call 911. Just as I turned around, though, a police car came down the alley from the east end with lights flashing.

At the same time, two unmarked cars came rushing into the parking lot at the west end of the alley. Two plainclothes officers jumped out and ran down the alley. At that time, it became clear that the man with the dog was a policeman with the dog squad. By this time (only a few short minutes later I’m sure) quite a crowd was gathering in the alley. Another neighbour from our complex was coming down the stairs, and some people from some of the neighbouring condos were poking their heads out. Suddenly feeling rather underdressed and ancillary to the situation I went back inside.

Gwen and her mother were on our balcony (which overlooks the alley) and I went up and joined them. Not much to see. The woman was now angry and was screaming bloody murder, and the police were going about doing their job. I’d seen enough and knew it was going to be an uphill battle getting back to sleep, so I beat it back to bed and started down the path to slumberland. It was going to be another hour and a half before I got there.

After discussing the happenings with folks throughout the day, I’ve come to a few conclusions.

I should have brought a phone with me. A cell phone or our mobile, it doesn’t matter. If there was something unpleasant happening, going back for a phone wouldn’t have been helpful.

Shoes would have been nice.

There was some discussion about going into the alley in the first place. Ali wondered what would have happened if the person had a gun. The thought hadn’t crossed my mind until then. In retrospect, though, I was in the alley before the cogs started turning in my head. Oh well.

Just part of living in a big city, I guess!