Monday, September 8, 2008

No, No! Bad Dog!

One of the great pleasures in my life is a good long walk. It’s my natural stress reliever. For a half-hour or more, I leave everything behind—reading, writing, housework, bills. For however long I choose to simply put one foot in front of the other, no outside commitments intrude. Sometimes I simply enjoy the weather, the beauty of the day. Sometimes I pound the pavement to the beat of the songs on my ipod, getting lost in the music. Some days, I just let my mind drift; other days I set myself to pondering something that I’m writing about, and, like solving a math problem in my sleep, I often come up with the perfect thesis, or a better plan of organization, or a clearer way to present an obscure point.

But nothing can ruin a good walk like an aggressive dog. And I speak from experience. Quite a few years ago, I was attacked by a pit bull, so anyone who tries to convince me that they’re not dangerous will find themselves talking to a brick wall. I mean, imagine yourself being chased by this and tell me again how gentle and loving they can be:

Although it happened many years ago, the images remain forever fresh in my mind. The dog attacked me at the end of my own driveway. I’d gone out to get the mail, and luckily, I had not let my daughter, a toddler at the time, accompany me all the way to the roadside mailbox. The dog attacked me repeatedly, slamming into me and biting me. Pit bulls have power unimaginable to those who haven’t seen it or felt it. When the dog would hit me, I’d fly up into the air as if hit by an NFL tackle, and land on my back. I kept getting up because I was afraid it would go after my daughter if I stayed still and she moved and drew his attention.

I was very lucky, because although pit bulls usually rip and tear, I ended up with only about six or eight bites, all puncture wounds, and extensive bruising. I don’t guess I’ll ever really know what stopped him, but suddenly he quit attacking and just stood there watching me. I’ve always secretly pictured an angel, maybe like the one who prevented Adam and Eve from returning to the Garden of Eden, standing in front of him with a flaming sword barring the way, saying, “Enough!” I backed slowly away, grabbed my daughter, and eased toward the house until I felt close enough to break into a full-fledged run.

Other than a few tiny scars, I suffered no lasting damage, except for a great mistrust of dogs. For a while, my reactions were totally illogical. A miniature poodle could run at me and I would almost lose it. I'm a lot better now, but I still can’t see a pit bull without a shiver running down my spine.

Just the other day I heard on the news that a nine-year-old Pulaski County boy was attacked by pit bulls while he was playing outside in his neighborhood. Tell me again how pit bulls are misunderstood animals?

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