Michaela Vodvarka, 22, Bruce, ACT
I stared into the darkness as the trees rustled.
'Zeus,' I called. 'Come back, boy.'
I'd been house-sitting for my parents Megan and Alex while they were on holiday when I decided to take our family dog Zeus for a walk. Our Great Dane, two, is always bursting with energy and loves running around on nearby Mount Jerrabomberra. So that Sunday afternoon, I took him to our usual spot.
The sun was setting as we headed back to my parents' house. But as we made our way down the hill Zeus took off. I tried to grab his harness but he wiggled free and bounded into nearby bushes.
'He must've spotted another dog,' I sighed. He was always looking for new playmates.
Suddenly, a shadowy figure emerged from the bushes in front of me. It wasn't Zeus. As I froze on the spot, I realised it was a giant, wild pig. With thick, wiry black hair and a menacing grunt, it was missing an eye and had rough scars where its ears should have been.
The feral pig had clearly been hunted in the past, but now it looked like it was out for revenge. Before I had time to react, Zeus came bounding out after the pig as if he was trying to play with it.
Edging closer to Zeus, I stretched out to try and grab him by the collar but the pig got in between us. I gave it a push to try and get it to move, when suddenly it lurched at me.
'Ow,' I yelled as it bit my left leg. The pig snorted angrily and I knew we had to get out of there before it attacked Zeus too. But Zeus happily bounded around, totally unaware of the danger we were in. As complete darkness fell, I tried to get Zeus to leave the pig alone. But every time I got close, the creature got more agitated.
Trying to push the boar out of the way again, my hand connected with the spot where its eye used to be and pus exploded from the wound. My stomach twisted in a sickening knot as I felt it drip down my arm. It was like I was in a horror movie!
After what felt like an eternity I saw my chance to grab Zeus. I wrapped my arms around him in a bear hug as I tried to get his lead on. But in doing that I had to turn my back to the boar...
I gulped as the sound of grunting grew louder behind me and turned just in time to see it charging towards me!
Kicking out my right leg to protect myself, the creature latched on and bit deep into the skin. As I felt hot blood start to pour down my leg, I screamed for help. I was terrified.
While there were houses nearby, no-one seemed to hear my panic. As I kept screaming, I limped down the hill calling Zeus after me. But with every step, more blood gushed from my legs. We had to get out of here.
Making it to the bottom, I spotted two figures racing towards me. 'Help,' I screamed as they reached me.
'My name is Mal and this is my son Jono,' the man said. 'Everything's okay. You're safe now.'
Realising someone was finally there to help me, I collapsed to the ground and started shaking. I felt like I'd been in a scary movie. It just didn't seem real. Mal calmed me down and asked me what happened before calling for Zeus in a stern voice. Finally, Zeus listened and followed us down the hill as the boar retreated back into the bush.
As Mal raced me to the hospital, Jono took Zeus back to my parents' home. When I rang Dad from the car to tell him about the pig, he was in disbelief.
'What do you mean it attacked you?' he asked. In all the years we had lived in the area, he'd never heard of anything like it.
My family were hours away so my boyfriend Will met me at the hospital. As doctors cleaned my gaping wounds and gave me 11 stitches, they too were shocked when I told them what had happened. Later that night Will took me home but I was still coming to terms with my ordeal.
The next morning I was incredibly sore and tired but Zeus did his best to comfort me. Usually bouncing off the walls, he laid his head in my lap as if to say he was sorry. I reported the sighting to the local council and they've posted signs to warn other dog walkers in the area.
It's now been a month since my attack and I'm still having nightmares about it. But I'm so thankful to the strangers who came to help me. If it wasn't for them, things could have been a lot worse.
I'm just grateful my horror movie had a happy ending!
This story first appeared in that's life! Issue 33, 2015 cover date August 20, 2015
When animals go wild
*In 2007 a group of monkeys set upon a senior government official in Delhi, India. Attacked on the first-floor terrace of his home, the deputy mayor fell attempting to fight them off. He died later of head injuries.
*American Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie were killed by grizzly bears during an environmental project at Katmai National Park in Alaska in October 2003. Reported missing from their campsite, the couple's mauled remains were later found. In the 85-year history of the park, it was the first known fatal attack by a bear on a human.
*Wildlife conservationist Ofir Drori was enjoying Ethiopia's Omo River when a three-metre long crocodile made a dash for his canoe and latched onto his leg. Luckily Drori managed to free himself. But he lost a chunk of his calf.