Reflecting upon my time as a youth, living in the grand metropolis of Lawton, Oklahoma, I remember many people in the neighborhood having dogs. Dogs of various shapes, sizes, furriness, and breed. We had a German Shepard-Husky mix. He was a great friend to have growing up. Many of my friends had dogs as well, and they were lovely creatures.
As the title suggests, this entry is not about any of those dogs.
The subject matter within this post regards bad dog owners, and the terror that their inaction towards their pet’s behavior caused.
Case 1: Two doors down from my house lived a family. For the duration of this post (and to avoid any actions taken by people that I haven’t seen in about thirty years), this family shall be referred to as the Pinto family.
The Pinto family had two dogs, neither of which were kept indoors. One was a Collie that loved nothing more than to knock over trash cans, and eat the garbage (we cured him of this by putting cayenne pepper and Louisiana Hot Sauce on our garbage bags. He stopped coming by our house entirely), and the other was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
That’s the one.
I would only pass the Pinto’s house if I was on my bicycle, ensure a harrowing, but safe getaway. If I was on foot, I’d walk a block and a half out of the way to my destination. Why, you ask?
Because that damn dog chased everyone and everything that was not a resident of the Pinto residence, or a member of the Pinto family: kids, adults, Door-to-Door salespeople, mail carriers, sanitation, the paperboy–EVERYONE! It even bit a few people too.
I remember a friend of mine from Oregon his name was (for all intents and purposes), Red.
Red was over at my house one day. We hung out, played a few games, and such. Eventually Red had to go home. I decided to walk home with him. I, out of habit, took my bicycle.
Red was on foot.
I suggested going around the block, since he was on foot and if we didn’t go that way, we’d have to pass the Pinto’s house. I begged him to reconsider.
I said ok, then we began our trek.
As we approached the Pinto’s house, I hopped on my bike, and began pedaling furiously. “Run!” I shouted.
Red did not run.
The Staffordshire Terrier sees me, and starts the chase. He chases me about three houses past his. Then he turns around to go back to his house. Red is still ambling along.
“Oh, no! Red!” I thought. I start to turn around, and as I do, I hear the sound to the dog in the distance barking and snarling. I start to pick up the pace, hoping that the dog hadn’t attacked Red.
Then I hear a loud whimper. Then silence. Then…
I ride up to see Red, still ambling along, laughing hysterically.
You see, being from Oregon, Red wore hiking boots all the time.
When the dog attacked him, he caught it with a swift front kick housed in a thick, heavy hiking boot.
That dog continued to terrorize everyone in the neighborhood…except Red.
Another dog that terrorized the neighborhood was a Doberman Pinscher that lived a street away from me. Unfortunately, this dog’s residence was in very close proximity to our neighborhood park. It would often jump over the backyard fence, and then cross the street and enter the park.
Once in the park, all hell broke loose.
This dog chased all of the kids away, snapping at them, biting a couple, here and there.
This park was divided into three areas. it was a straight line with the backyards of houses on one side, and a railroad track that went into the Army base (The park ended with a barbed wire fence and a sign that read Warning: U.S. Government Property, No Trespassing. The street that I lived on ended in the same fashion).
In the first area, there was a concrete table. Adjacent to that was a grill.
A few yards from there was a small thicket of willow trees, and a wooden jungle gym, with an aluminum slide.
The second area of the park had a metal bench, a creek, and a baseball backstop. About the distance of a football field (US) away from there were three dome climbers, the largest of which was about six feet high. Nearby, there were swings.
The third section of the park started at the dome climbers. There was a tennis court about 20 yards away that had a 15-20 foot high chain link fence. Behind this was another baseball backstop. Now that all of this is out of the way, I can get to the point.
Two of the three locations that I described were good for getting away from that dog when it went on a rampage. The jungle gym was good for avoiding the dog, until it figured out that it could run up the slide. The willow trees were hit and miss. Some of the branches weren’t strong enough to hold our weight, others weren’t low enough to jump up and grab.
I had a recurring nightmare as a kid about being caught in the middle of section two of the park while being chased by this dog. It’s all open space, with no escape.
I do remember, however, being saved quite a few times by the large dome climber…that is until the dog got enough hops to get close enough to biting my legs as I sat atop the dome climber. I knew that I needed to get out of there, so I waited until the dog got distracted by something else. As it took its gaze off me and began to investigate whatever (or whoever) had caught its attention, I slowly began to maneuver my way down the dome climber. When the dog had trotted off far enough, I jumped, and made a mad dash for the tennis courts, and the chain link fence. When I got close enough, I jumped on the fence, furiously started climbing the fence, and not a moment too soon, because that Doberman started chasing me the moment it heard me running. I get about halfway up the fence, and the dog is leaping, snapping at me, trying to get at me. I keep climbing.
When I get to the top of the fence, I sit there, looking down at the dog. H’es trying to figure out how to get up to where I am, so he keeps leaping and circling.
He circled around the tennis court for at least 15 minutes, then wandered off somewhere. From my vantage point, he seemed to be gone. I begin my descent down the fence.
I get within three feet of the bottom, and guess who pops his head around the corner, and sees me coming down the fence?
That damn dog.
He charges towards me, and I hightail it up the fence again. And again, he begins to circle around the tennis court.
I straddled the top of the chain link fence for about 45 minutes, waiting for this dog to leave, and more importantly, leave me alone. Finally, he leaves, and then I make my way home. I find it nothing short of miraculous that my male extremities still function after straddling a chain link fence for the better part of an hour, but what can I say? Kids are resilient. I’m not too sure if I could handle the same uncomfortable situation at my current age. I’m also glad that we live in a time where people are held responsible for their animals and their actions. I’m getting too old to run from dogs.