I write about dogs a lot. That’s not an apology, just an observation. Oh, and a warning. This is another dog story.
Before I can tell you my dog story, I have to tell you the back story. You might want to grab a coffee or something. Try to keep up.
Across the road from us is the Pit Bull House. The Pit Bull House is inhabited by a couple that doesn’t get along well, and 2 related pit bulls (mother/son). The Pit Bull House is way back from the road, with a metal gate that is supposed to keep people out. It doesn’t work. Cars come and go at all hours, usually for 3-5 minutes per trip. The local deputies are not strangers to the Pit Bull House. You get the picture. (If you don’t get the picture, consider yourself sheltered, and count your blessings.)
The pit bulls themselves have a pen, which they are either released from or escape from on a very regular basis. We met the first pit bull on the day we moved in, when Steve and Moose were playing with our new tether ball in the back yard. Moose took an instant dislike to this dog, which is unusual for him, and Steve ran her back across the street. She was a nervous dog, prone to growling and charging, but then turning and running. Within a year we noticed she was pregnant, and the male dog is her now-grown pup.
Neither the humans nor the canines in my house have a comfortable feeling about these dogs. A nervous, unsocialized dog is not one I wish to be around. They’re dangerous. Not because they’re pit bulls, mind you; because they have bad owners who didn’t raise them properly. A dog that is uncomfortable around humans is a scary dog, indeed. After the male pup grew up, the two pits officially became a pack, and became more brazen. My 2 dogs regularly run them off of our lawn. Moose knows to stop at our property line, but if I don’t reign in Echo, she will chase them right back to their front porch. When there are children in my yard, the appearance of the pits is more frequent, and the anxiety from both the humans and the canines in my house is extremely amplified. Twice I’ve been charged by the female after getting out of my car at night. She continues to come closer, but so far still bolts at a firm “GO HOME” from me.
In my heart, I know it’s not going to end well for these dogs. None of the neighbors in our little area are fans of the Pit Bull House or its occupants.
In the past couple of weeks, there seems to have been a break up of the humans in the Pit Bull House. Lots of yelling, moving of furniture, coming and going. Did I mention yelling? Lots of yelling.
OK, so now you have the back story. Need a refill on your coffee before I get into the main story I want to tell you? Here we go.
On Friday, I was working outside on the porch because it was gorgeous. Moose and Echo were laying in the grass, soaking in the sun, in a state of lethargy only true porch dogs can muster.
The woman from the Pit Bull House pulled up to the closed and locked gate in front of the driveway. My dogs raised their head but returned instantly to the “dead dog on the lawn” position. The pits were giving their warning barks. The woman appeared agitated about the locked gate, and was pacing with her cell phone, arguing loudly with whomever was on the other end of the conversation. The pits, who apparently recognized the voice now, replaced the warning barks with whimpers and yips.
In a few minutes, the man from Pit Bull House came down the driveway. Now they were yelling in earnest, and not on the phone. My dogs were on alert, because they’re uncomfortable with loud angry voices, so I called them up on the porch with me and kept them in the “down” position. Eventually, the argument turned to the subject of the pit bulls, who were still whimpering. She wanted to “just go see them” because the dogs “know I’m here”. The man refused. In a verbal exchange with peaks and valleys, this was the peak.
An eery howl came from the Pit Bull House, followed by a second from the other dog. The couple stopped yelling. My dogs ignored my “down” and went to the edge of the porch. As the howling continued, it was impossible to not realize that these were dogs in pain; if not physical, mental. Even when not well raised or treated, dogs love their humans with everything they have. These dogs had 2 humans that were obviously agitated, and they couldn’t get to them. I immediately thought of children who try to break up arguments between their parents.
It was heartbreaking.
Then it got more heartbreaking. Moose began to howl back, followed almost immediately by Echo. Ears down, tails down; undeniable signs of unhappiness from my dogs. I went and sat between my pups, scratching their necks in that sweet spot just under their ears, but they didn’t stop. Moose gave me that “DO something” look, the same look I get when there’s a baby crying or someone is sick.
After a few minutes, the man from Pit Bull House went back up the driveway, and his dogs quieted. Moose and Echo stayed on the porch, watching that driveway. No more “dead dog” imitations for the rest of the afternoon. Tomorrow, if the pit bulls come into our yard, Moose and Echo will chase them off; but on Friday, they were content with sharing their pain.
So, once again, my dogs taught me something. Even if you don’t LIKE someone, can’t STAND someone, you can empathize with their struggles and their trauma. Even if you have to come to blows with them again later on. It’s humbling when my pets demonstrate humanity that I sometimes lack.