Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Dog Who Would be King

He was a skeletal, black & white puppy, found digging in a trash can on a cold night. He was scraggly looking, and it appeared someone had cut his ears off with scissors, or a knife. A man picked him up, and took him to his house. He fed him 3 cans of Pringles. He didn't know what a puppy should eat. He stacked some boards on top of each other, and called it a "doghouse". He put the puppy on a big, heavy chain in his back yard. He occasionally threw food and water out to him. The puppy often tried to bury his food in the cold ground, to assure that he would have some for later. When summer came, the sun burned hot on his black fur. The flies buzzed his infected ears. He couldn't find a place to lay outside of his house, because the piles of excrement were no longer frozen so that he could move them out of his way.

After 2 years, the man decided that this dog they referred to as a Pit Bull, might be dangerous to his grandchildren. He asked a homeless man across the street at the liquor store if he wanted a dog. The man said "Man, I don't have food or shelter for myself. What am I going to do with a dog?" But he took the dog. Whenever the homeless man got food, he took a bite or two, and gave the rest to the dog. The dog seemed happy to be out of the back yard. Together, they walked. A LOT. The tow chain was weighing heavy around his neck, while the other end of it was wrapped around the man's waist. One day a woman driving home from work saw the dog. She thought he was a stray, until she saw that he was chained to the man passed out in the bushes. A few days later the woman stopped, and asked the man "Does that dog really need that big tow chain?" "Yes M'am, he does" was the reply. She thought he would be better off with a good collar and a leash. She took supplies down to the man and the dog. They both scared her. She offered the dog a cookie. He backed away from her. She dropped it to the ground, and stepped back herself. "He don't eat no bread or crackers, only meat." The man told her. A few days later the woman took a can of Vienna Sausages down to the dog. He took them gently from her, and licked her fingers. He then jumped up towards her throat, nearly knocking her down. The next time he lurched towards her, she felt the blood thumping through her veins, as his big, leathery tongue slashed across her face. He was kissing her! He liked her. She visited more often. She took him in her car, where he escaped the wrath of the hot sun. She brought him food, water, and treats every few days. She took him to a strange place, called "the vet". The dog was neutered. He was treated for heartworms. He was vaccinated and licensed. He was LOVED! He began to thrive. People often stopped now, and offered the homeless man money for him. They wanted to put him in something called a "ring". The man, the woman, and the dog learned to trust each other. He recognized the sound of the woman's car, and was excited to see her. The dog became protective of the man and their surroundings. He chased away raccoons and packs of wild dogs.

One day when the woman came to visit, there was someone else in her car. It was another man, her husband. He smiled when he saw the dog, and the dog smiled back at him. He had a third friend now. The husband held the dog's front paws off the ground, and danced with him. As the weather started to cool off, there was another surprise in store. The woman showed up with something else in the car. It was black and white, and had 4 legs like him. The woman cooed and talked to it, the same way she talked to him. The homeless man and the woman called it "her dog". Gradually, over the next few weeks, they met. He wasn't sure whether he liked him, or not, but he did smell like the woman (or vice versa). They licked each others' faces. One day they all went to a place called "her house". The man and dog both got baths, and ate 'til they could eat no more. They played in her back yard. It was obvious that her dog did not live outside like he had. The homeless dog, longed to be her dog too.

The bitter, cold weather returned. The man and the dog huddled for warmth. One night the woman came and took them home to her big doghouse (garage). Homeless man and his homeless dog slept together, on a bed! Not on a pillow of concrete, but a soft, bed. Dog barked out a warning the next morning at an unfamiliar sound. Some unknown man yelled at him to "shut up". That man was called "the neighbor". When "the neighbor" found out that the woman had let him and his Master stay in her garage, he put his house up for sale. The dog always sensed tension between the woman and "the neighbor" after that. The next visit to her house, they got to go "inside". The dog marked his territory several places, and didn't understand why he was reprimanded. They said "go outside potty". He learned what that meant. He imitated what her dog did. He was smart, and eager to please! The homeless pair stayed with the woman and her husband, for several nights when the temperature was below freezing. They had their own bed that they shared in her basement. They were safe and warm.

One night when they were back on the street, they got cold and wet. The dog prayed that the woman would come take them home, but she didn't. They huddled together under their bridge. His Master told him to go get help. He didn't know what that meant, so he went "outside potty" and returned to stand guard. The next day the woman returned. He was so happy when he heard her call out his name, but Master didn't say that it was ok to go to her. His heart jumped up into his throat as he barked to let her know that he was under the bridge, protecting what was his. His Master called out to her in a weak voice. He said that he was frozen. She called an ambulance. Life as they knew it would never be the same. They were on TV. The man said that they were famous, but it turned out they were infamous. As word spread of the homeless man's rescue by the woman, so did word that there was a Pit Bull in the neighborhood. Some people drove by in their cars and offered them food or money. Others drove by, offering to kill the dog. Wild packs of young humans, teased and tormented the man and his dog. The homeless man began to drink heavily. He wanted to fight. He threatened to use his dog as a weapon. He cursed and shouted at the dog, and sometimes jerked him around. He said bad things to the woman, and she cried. He told the dog that the woman didn't love him anymore, and that she was never coming back. Dog tried to put up a brave front, like he didn't care. He loved the man unconditionally. Dog would die for him.

The woman tried to help them both. She enrolled the dog in obedience class. She hoped the socialization with other people and dogs would help him, and his Master. The dog was the only one in his class who had to wear a muzzle. He didn't like it. Master put off bad vibes, and called him "stupid" in front of the others. Didn't he realize that he was the one who encouraged and praised him in the past for defending him? They now call called that, aggressive behavior. Things were different now when the woman came. She was nervous, but the dog still sensed her great love for him. He would never hurt her feelings like Master did. He sulked, and had no appetite when the woman didn't come to see him. So strong was his love for her, he might even die for her if he had to.

Dog's Master had become so different. His world was crumbling. He used to enjoy dog's company, but now, he blamed the dog for everything wrong with his life. When the woman comes to see them now, she cries as she drives away. Dog is tired of having rocks thrown at him. Tired of people coming right up to him and asking if he bites. Tired of trying to defend the homeless man in numerous encounters with bad people. Tired of being a pawn in what appears to be an endless game. While protecting Master from a crack head throwing bricks at them, Master won't let go of the leash. He yells at the dog to quit lunging and barking, as if it's his fault. Dog turns around and bites his Master to confirm his boundaries. The dog ends up in the woman's back yard. The woman prays that he was left there while the homeless man went to a treatment program, but it didn't turn out that way. He was only at the hospital for treatment of the bite wound. Dog's spirit is broken. He wants to stay with the woman, her husband, and their dog.

The homeless man calls for the woman to come get the dog a few days later. The man has been hit by a car, and for the second time in a week, his dog has bitten him. He needs to go to the hospital again. The woman doesn't answer the call, so the man calls Animal Control. The dog is scared as he's tied up to a pole at the gas station. Loud sirens signal the arrival of Police, Fire, and Ambulance. A stranger in a truck comes and tries to take the dog. He stands firm guarding his pole, as he has been taught to do. Something sharp stings his hindquarters. He's getting very sleepy. He wakes up in an unfamiliar place. He can tell from the barking of other dogs, that this is not a good place to be. The woman tries to rescue him. She is told that he has to be quarantined for 10 days. She is told that he can not go back to the homeless man. She is told that because he bites, he can not be adopted or rescued. Where can he go? She is told that he can, and will be, put to sleep. The woman sobs, but in her heart she knows that death will be a better place for him than out on the street again. The woman loves him enough to let him go. She will bear the burden of telling his Master of his fate. The homeless man cries and curses. He threatens. He listens, as the woman tells him that he is mostly responsible for the way the dog has turned out. She warned him many times, but he wouldn't listen. She wishes that things could have been different. The woman, her husband, and their dog would have welcomed him into their family.

A family... all Dog could ever have hoped for.

R.I.P. King

~ by Brenda

No comments: