Saturday, February 5, 2011
One month, three dog-attacks.
Dale, sleeping off two consecutive dog-attacks.
I have never hit an animal before. I've hit my brothers, to be sure, but I always thought that the hitting of older siblings transcends moral boundaries, especially when it entails returning fire for injustices like wedgies and dutch ovens. But the hitting of animals was something I never considered. Not only does social prudence frown on animal abuse, I believe animals deserve a carte-blanche of good treatment, no matter now angry we get, or how we justify our rage. However, last week I found myself pummeling a full-grown Pit Bull as hard as I could.
Allow me to explain.
Two weeks prior to the tussle with said Pit Bull, I was trail-running up Rattlesnake Canyon with Dale, my amicable Siberian Husky, when a full-grown Australian Shepherd emerged around a corner, took one look at Dale, and charged him. Dog attacks happen exceptionally fast, and before I had time to react, the Aussie had clamped its jaws on Dale's leg, lifted him off the ground, and shook him like a rag. Dale yelped miserably, and all I could do was pull desperately on his leash. The owners (there were two of them) managed to subdue their nasty cur before any real damage occurred, but Dale continued to moan and howl in pain, so I carried him down the remainder of the trail.
The owners maintained a surprised, moderately apologetic demeanor.
"Bro, we're sorry. Our dog is never like that. I don't know what happened," they explained, as if it was somehow partly my fault.
For the record, owners always say "my dog is never like that" when their precious pooches go aggro.
Dale turned out to be okay, anyway. I let a couple of days go by, then continued taking him on trail runs. About five or six days later, we were jogging up Tunnel Trail when we encountered two men with an entourage of three Pit Bulls. Two of them seemed like puppies, but the third boasted a thick neck, burly chest, and the unmistakable intent to kill. The three Pits descended upon Dale while I, in my high running shorts, did a leggy dance trying to stay out of the way while maneuvering Dale to safety. The two youngsters romped harmlessly while the elder Pit immediately chomped down on Dale's neck. I freaked out. Amidst Dale's cries and the owners yelling innocuous admonishments at their dog, I decided it was time to save my dog's life.
Again, dog-attacks happen exceptionally fast, and I was terrified about Dale's safety, so my reactions, while fairly ill-advised, proceeded reflexively. It was simple: make a fist, swing it hard on the Pit Bull. Movies portray fist-fights in a cavalier fashion, with combatants trading head-ringing biffs like mildly painful insults, as if a knuckle to the cheek was the equivalent of bumping your head on a towel rack. And if you're the hero in a Hollywood film, your punches always strike true, and knock out assailants on the first swing. Hitting a full-grown and maniacal Pit Bull, however, is like hitting a punching bag filled with tires. While I swung madly at the stomach and neck of the Pit, i quickly realized I was waging a futile war, and likely inviting an attack on myself. Luckily, the hapless owners managed to drag their dog away.
"Hey buddy," they began, "our dog is never like that, I don't know what happened."
Yeah, right. But don't worry: the dog-attacks don't stop there.
The last—and most bizarre—of this string of canine misadventures didn't even involve Dale: just me, a waifish black mutt, and its dull, bro-tastic owners. Leaving Dale at home, Jake and I attempted to snag a mellow Sunday afternoon session at Lizard's Mouth. Since it was Super Bowl Sunday, we had high hopes for good times and good problems, unencumbered by the typical throngs of glass-breaking dullards, who were hopefully at home watching the game. Fat chance, as it turned out. While standing—perfectly still, mind you—and looking at a problem I hoped to climb, a smallish black dog of dubious ancestry suddenly commenced a rearguard action against my thigh. As with the previous dog attacks that month, it was over before it happened, and I didn't even have the presence of mind to register shock, or outrage. It's owners, who I will describe as cheerily vapid, were mildly surprised, but mostly just worried that I would sue them, as the wilting guffaws on their faces communicated.
"Dudes. Your dog just bit me." I said, as I looked down at a small puncture wound on my thigh, seeping a penny-size drop of blood.
"Shit. Bro, we're so sorry. Blacky (dog's name) is NEVER like that."
Again, owners always say that.
"I don't care. Just put him on a leash."
"Totally, bro. We're sooo sorry. Thanks for not suing us and shit."
And shit, indeed. I'm not out to sue people; my climbing sessions and trail-runs don't begin with an impulse to litigate. I simply want to go and enjoy my afternoons without dumbass owners letting their dumbass dogs bite me or my dog. I hope I'm not asking too much.