Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Member of the Pack

I was bitten by a pit bull this morning. 

I am fine.  Not even broken skin.  And to be fair, he had no desire to hurt me.  I just got in the way, and he reacted to my arm being where it was definitely not supposed to be....

...which was between his mouth and the throat of my neighbor's dog.

Let me back up. Adam and I walk the same 2-1/2 mile route every morning at 6am.  It provides a little bit of exercise for us, gets the blood flowing, lets his dog - Oreo - get some fresh air, and we discuss stuff. Married guy stuff sometimes, working stiff stuff sometimes, philosophical discussions sometimes, and sometimes we talk about Taylor Swift or Katherine McFee.  Not infrequently, those discussions lead to ideas for blog entries (well, maybe less frequently for the McFee conversations...).

One of the things we talk about is the fact that Oreo reacts to us as members of his pack.  One week, Adam's aunt (insert 80's musical joke here) walked with us, and Oreo got confused and anxious if two of us walked ahead, because we had split the pack.  If only one goes ahead, or another stays behind, it is not a concern. That is just normal recon - any member of the pack will rejoin after their scouting mission is complete.

But splitting the pack is not allowed.  And is met with serious anxiety. For in Oreo's mind, we are a pack.  We even walk like one, with Oreo on Adam's left side (my position varies...). 

This morning, our discussion of regional linguistic variations was interrupted by a couple of dogs charging their fence, snarling and snapping.  Although it is not unusual to encounter aggressive dogs on our walk, we have each of them mapped out.  On the corner of Fern and Zimple, the miserable yappy terrier and his blind companion.  The excited golden retriever at the corner of Fern and Dominican. The unseen ferocious dog at Lowerline and Pearl. 

These dogs were new to our walk.  The border collie hit the fence, barking excitedly.  Oreo didn't react.

The pit bull hit the fence with his full weight, violence the clear intention. Barking madly.

Oreo still maintained his composure, and we walked on, and I heard Adam yell, "HEY!"

I turned to see that both dogs had burst through the gate to their yard, and had charged Oreo.  I thought maybe there was play in mind, until I saw the pit bull bite Oreo's shoulder.  Adam was using the leash to pull Oreo free of the fray.  And if there had just been one dog, that would have been the perfect response.  Remove Oreo from the threat.

With three dogs in the fight, however, that action only served to raise Oreo's head, exposing a throat.

During college, I once showed up unexpectedly at my parents' house, and my dad came in and scolded the dog for sneaking in.  I responded "Who, me?".  At which point, Dad went into full-throated protect-my-home mode, sending me crawfishing across the deck in terror, backing away full speed from the charging, bellowing man in his underwear.

Channeling Mac Lawton this morning, I waded in.  I reached over Oreo to punch at the pit bull, who had bitten into Oreo's shoulder, bellowing my fury at the attacking animal.  Once the pit had been separated from Oreo, I continued to roar "NO! YOU WILL NOT!", and stepped between the dog and Oreo.  The dog retreated, looking for another opening. Adam pulled Oreo out of harm's way.

I charged the pit bull.  Grabbing a trashcan lid, I started beating on it, and using it as a shield, all the while yelling at the top of my lungs.  At this point, the dog began to seriously look for a way to get away from the sound, and retreated to the safety of his fenced in yard.

By this point, the owner of the dogs, a nightgown-clad woman with a thick French accent, came out and asked what had happened.  We explained, and she asked if our dog was OK. Adam said Oreo seemed to be fine, and the three of us walked off.

About a block and a half later, the adrenaline bled off enough for me to notice that my arm was sore.  The dog had bitten me.  Not even sure which one - might have been Oreo in the heat of the moment.  There was no blood, but I might have a small bruise tomorrow.

It was Adam's wife who pointed out that Oreo's 'pack' had closed ranks to protect him.  The thought made me smile.

It also made me consider the groups that I am part of.  Will my Corps family circle the wagons if I am in harm's way?  Will they pull me from the path of the bus, or throw me beneath it?  Will my neighbors? My choral group?

But there one pack to which I belong for which is no question.  There was a bellowing "NO" that resounded when my God placed himself between me and death.  When he said "It is finished," he was actually roaring "NO! YOU WILL NOT!"

I am proud to be an adopted member of that pack. 


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