I have a feeling I’ve told this story before, I just can’t remember whether it was here or not. So if I have, try not to mention it. I do have memory issues, but I’m not that worried about it yet, since I can still remember the 16 Internet passwords I have without a cheat sheet.
I like dogs in general, but I prefer big dogs, because it seems to me they are calmer. But it never pays to be complacent about any dog. A well-placed bite by a Chihuahua can kill you too. It’s kind of like a a commentary I heard about the oil spill–because no accidents had happened in a long time, it was considered low risk. It’s just that if something did happen, there would be a high level of damage. That’s kind of like Chihuahuas vs. Rottweilers. If the lowest risk Rottweiler bit you, the potential for higher damage is in the unacceptable range.
I used to have a Rottweiler, and I’ll never forget that the first time my friend Brenda met him, she went out to play ball with him in the back yard. Hansel loved to play ball, it’s just that once he caught it, he didn’t want to give it up. He would march back up to you, all proud of himself, but he wouldn’t give up the ball. So Brenda took it out of his mouth. When she told me, I was horrified. You stuck your hand in the mouth of a Rottweiler you just met?
Throughout Hansel’s life, he was only a Potential Bad Dog, but I still had Hansel when I encountered an Actual Bad Dog.
Actual Bad Dog belonged to my next door neighbors. I can’t remember her name, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll call her Rosie. The neighbors claimed that Rosie was a Mastiff mix, but they were idiots in many ways. My best guess is that Rosie was a pit bull/Boxer mix. And I hate to say this about any dog, but she was really, really ugly. Maybe that accounts for her temperament. I didn’t trust her from the minute I saw her, and I usually make it a practice to make friends with the neigbhor dogs.
Rosie did have one thing to recommend her: she was completely devoted to the neighbor’s daughter Kaylee, who was about 4 years old. She would sit at Kaylee’s feet and gaze up adoringly while Kaylee sang and swung on her swing set.
One day, I was sitting at the computer and saw Rosie racing down the street, which I was pretty sure was a bad idea. I raced out myself to the end of my driveway, leaving Hansel and my other dogs in the house with the door closed. I left the gate to my fence open. I looked over, and sure enough, the gate in the neighbor’s house was open. “Kaylee,” I said, “Did you open the gate and let Rosie out?”
“Yes!” she said with glee. Like isn’t this cool? See Rosie run! See Rosie run free!
About that time, Rosie came racing back up the street, skidding to a stop in front of my driveway. Where she went into full dog protective mode. Feet spread wide apart. Ears back. Growling. Kaylee made it worse by coming closer to the fence which separated my driveway from her back yard. “Hi Rosie!” she said brightly.
My initial plan was, go back and open the door and let Hansel out. I didn’t want him to get hurt, but I figured he could take Rosie. I didn’t really want her hurt either, I just wanted him to chase her away. But I knew I would never make it that far fast enough. So Plan B was, walk backwards slowly until I could at least get back inside my fence. I took a step back. Rosie took a step forward. So I stood still and looked out of the corners of my eyes for a weapon. The only possible choice was the garden hose to my right, which I planned to dive for if it came to that. I formulated a plan for how I would turn it into a whip, which I didn’t think would work very well, but my adrenaline-powered brain at that point was the same as it always has been. I said to Rosie: You might win, but I’m not going down without a fight. I may even die, but your ass is going to get hurt.
So I kept standing still, and so did Rosie. I said to Kaylee: Go get your mother. “No!”, said Kaylee. Sheesh. You forget how much No is the favorite word of little kids once they learn it. Then she started a whole chatter thing to Rosie. I said: Kaylee, Shut the fuck up. Go get your mother NOW. Which made her cry, and she ran in the house (mission accomplished).
The next thing I know, Kaylee’s father is running around the corner in a total panic. Rosie sees him and goes into happy mode, wagging her tail, so happy to see him, her desire to kill me all forgotten. He is shaking like a leaf, saying I’m sorry over and over. Yeah. Well.
Did I mention my neighbors were idiots? That Thanksgiving, Dad went deer hunting early that morning, and cleaned it in the back yard. He left the offal and the legs in the back yard for Rosie and their by now other dog to fight over. Later that afternoon, a lot of their family members came over, including a bunch of kids, and they were all forbidden to go in the back yard. But little boys being what little boys are, one of them dared another one to go in the back yard anyway, and Rosie took his face off. The entire family spent the evening of Thanksgiving in the ER.
How do I know this? Because Dad came over to tell me that he had been informed that he was required to post Beware Of Dog signs on his fence and wanted me to know why. He also didn’t want me to be alarmed. It was a little too late for that.