I heard it through my bedroom window. Howling filled the air. Barking. I shrugged my shoulders. The neighbors had an annoying little pooch who yapped at anything and everything he thought was in the yard. I didn’t think anything more about it until the next-door neighbor came to the house several days later.
For all intents and purposes, I will call the next-door neighbor "Diane" in this story.
Diane was there to pick up some cabbage, her jolly polish accent heavy as at times you had to decipher her words. Hee-hee, she is a great woman! My mother would take me to see her when I was little, and she always carried candy in her pocket. From the age when I still sucked on a pacifier, she was always in my life asking if I wanted to live with her while dangling a piece of hard candy as a tempting offer. I always accepted the candy, gladly. Even when old enough to know my mother would get mad as the three of us would pile in the old Vega and head to the store, I would tug on her pants and say, "Buy candy." And Diane would dig in her pocket and slap down the change as I chewed my way into a dentist chair and a buzzing drill during my preteen years. I never regretted it, except when she asked me to stay with her. At that age I would hold onto my mother’s hand and shake my head, not yet ready to fly from the nest. Now I wonder what life would have been like for me if I had accepted the offer.
Anyway, "Diane" came to the house with a story. It was a story involving the baying of dogs in the night. Her story involved fear and blood and the police.
She had walked down her long driveway to meet her granddaughter’s school bus. The barking was loud. Loud and close. Diane and her granddaughter hurried back to their house and saw the horrible sight.
A pack of pit bulls chased after their chickens.
Diane, always the brave woman, grabbed a large stick and swung it at the dogs trying to protect her fowls. She called out her husband’s name, who was hurrying up trying to get dressed to see what the commotion was about. By the time he came outside, Diane had drove off the dogs.
Someone else was not so lucky. Another neighbor who was outside walking his little dog became attacked right inside his garage. The pit bulls swarmed around his legs, biting into his skin as he tried to protect his little pet. By the end of the fight, the pits had run away. The neighbor’s lower legs were covered with blood and his poor little dog was rushed to the veterinary hospital. They called the police and the owners of the pit bulls were found. Fines will be issued.
Why does this story sound so familiar to me?
I remember why. It happened when I was in the second grade. I had walked off the school bus and started to stroll along the driveway to my house when a large brown shape appeared right next to me. A neighbor’s Alsatian dog (a.k.a. - a German shepherd) had trotted around the bus and up to me to sink her teeth into my leg. She took out a little chunk and then strutted back across the street to her dog house.
I ran home screaming.
Pit Bulls. German Shepherds. Often we think of these dogs with fear. Biters. They would rip off a limb any chance they get. Horrible dogs. Right?
Wrong. They are not horrible dogs.
See, I didn’t mention something before that is important to this story. These dogs were ALLOWED to roam free. The owners untied the dogs at night and allowed them to roam through the area getting into trash bags and neighbors’ food dishes for their own pets. These owners believed it was cheaper to feed their dogs by allowing them to scavenge for their own food.
Sometimes this food was human.
It is a sad thing when people cannot be responsible dog owners, or just pet owners. I also remember the time when I was a kid that I discovered the two kittens curled up in our shed. Their whiskers and ears had been burned. We had no clue on whom the owners were. In those days, so many people would drop their unwanted pets in the countryside. They believed it was better for the pet to live free than placed in an animal shelter where it might eventually be euthanized.
No, what would have been better would have been if you never took on the responsibility of owning a pet that is eventually abandoned, or neglected, or even worse . . . allowed to attack any living creature to fill an empty stomach.
Remember, everyone. There is no such thing as a bad dog - only bad owners.
Note: To this day, I still carry the scar of the dog bite - physical and emotional. I get frightened when around large dogs, although I love dogs and grew up with two of them. Yet anything bigger than a border collie will send shivers down my spine.