Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dog days of summer??

As a child I was terrified of most dogs.  I had many nightmares about dogs.  I can trace some of it back to a dog nip by a favorite neighbor dog.  Fairly I was taking the bone out of his mouth, he and I later mended fences and the poor little dachshund continued to let me pretend to ride him.  I miss Strudel.   Part of it comes from an episode of Little House on the Prairie where a wild dog pack surrounds the children and strands them in the barn with the dogs digging under the doors, attempting to climb the ladder to the hay loft etc.  It was horrifying to a child.  I must have seen that episode 3 or 4 times and each time it frightened me a little less, but it was still a scary concept and a recurring nightmare.  Yet a third part I can trace to my Grandma telling me about the dog days of summer and how it could turn dogs mad, they would "come down with hydrophobie (hydrophobia or rabies) and they would attackt you!"

Growing up I didn't have many chances to be greatly immersed in dogs.  One of my Uncles had a dog named Yashka (sp) Yashka attacked another Uncle for crawling around on the ground and scaring the cousins.  The dog thought we were in danger.  It was kind of funny. I had a few strays...(I am NOT making up these names), a brown and black dog found me, I named him Brownie.  My cousin was accosting me and the dog tried to protect me.  My Uncle promptly took him to the dump and abandoned him.  A white husky found me,  I named him Whitie.  I think he took a ride to the dump too.  A black dog found me, I named him Blackie, same road trip I believe.  My Aunt Linda got me a little red odd looking dog with long shaggy hair shaped like a dachshund her name was Cuddles, she disappeared shortly after the three of us cousins were crawling around under the "old house" and we found their dog Sloan's body.  Dogs were nothing but heartbreak for me.

I visited with my new neighbors after we moved from KY to FL often and played with their little chihuahua Peanut.  Peanut had a younger sibling outdoors....a VERY large and barking sibling who scared the CRAP out of me!  The I got another dog.  Our new pastor moved to town.  For some reason he couldn't keep his dog.  He gave the dog to us.  He was this funny looking medium sized dog...a cockapoo!  He was grey and I believe he came prenamed this, if not I struck again...Pepper!  Pepper had to stay inside so he wouldn't follow the car home.  He pooped on the floor, whined, then settled in to getting to know us.  After a few hours my Grandma put him in the yard but chained him to the porch so he wouldn't run off.  Things were different back then.  We chained up dogs outside with some kind of protected or semi protected shelter.  Pepper was chained to the porch.  We went through the routine of letting Pepper roam free during the day but chaining him up at night.  I'm not certain of the logic behind this but if you read an earlier post you will know a strange older kind of logic was at work since cats drew lighting and must be put outside during a storm.  For years Pepper went through this same routine, walking me to the bus stop in the morning, waiting with me until the bus came, then going home and for a walk with my Grandma, in the afternoon he would wait until the bus came to the stop then walk me home.  We played, he loved hanging out with the neighbor kids.  All was well until one summer night...it happened.  We were watching TV with the windows and door open when we hear scary barking, Pepper scream, then shreik in pain, snarling, biting..horror.  I ran outside and saw two enormous dogs tearing into Pepper, he was fighting hard.  I was terrified.  I slipped the catch on the chain so he could run for it. My Grandma was mad at me and snatched me back by this time the dogs had already snarled and lunged at me but Pepper was too good to resist running away, so they lit out after him.  He made it to relative safety under the green metal glider swing in the yard.  The dogs continued trying to attack.  I had shaken off my Grandma who was on the phone with the Police, our next door neighbors (moved into my Uncle's house after they moved away) had arrived.  The oldest boy was a year or two older than me, he was snapping a bullwhip at the nearest dog.  Pit bulls the neighbors declared.  The dad ran back home and came back with his hunting rifle.  He took aim and both dogs bit the dust.  I had never heard of fighting dogs before.  Now the owners arrived on the scene.  They were furious their fighting dogs were dead.  The police arrived shortly after while the neighbor, the owner and my Grandma were shouting.  I had already had my two cents worth put in and was being held back while I tried to go to Pepper. The dad next door wouldn't let me go to Pepper or see him.  The policeman looked at Pepper too and advised against it.  They all said that Pepper would bite or attack me.  I didn't believe it.  He was moaning and in pain.  We left him alone all that night.  I don't remember if the people were in trouble for having fighting dogs or not, but there was no doubt after the blood, the fury and the mess that they were good, strong and very vicious.  The next morning I was crying a little on my walk with my Grandma to the bus stop when I heard something familiar.  The click of toenails on asphalt.  I looked back, Pepper was limping, but was following me with a big dog smile.   My Grandma cleaned his wounds and put some type of salve on them. That afternoon he was waiting at the stop.  He healed fully but other dogs scared him.  Years later Pepper was hit by a car crossing the highway to go see a litter he sired.  The same neighbor who helped rescue him, helped bury him in the pet cemetery the neighbor kids and I all created in the side yard where we picked wild plums and wild blackberries near the Catawba worm trees.

Still years after Pepper...Cuddles reappeared on day with a nasty mark on her neck where a rope had cut in.  I found her lying in the shade by the well house.  She was ok, but very old. She stayed with us for a while but wandered away.

I've been mainly a cat person since early childhood, but those were the notable dogs in my life....and the reasons why I like other peoples dogs but not my own. They can turn, they can become wild dogs and scare you, but mainly they have to be walked whereas cats encourage you to do nothing aside from providing a proper supply of food, litter and a nice warm bed.

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