I haven't written anything personal in awhile, but what happened late this afternoon made me cry.
My 7 pound poodle was attacked by a pit bull.
The story begins this past Thursday evening. Xavier plopped down $40 before me.
"This is for you, Ma."
"For what?", I asked, "and where you'd get it?"
"I'm babysitting for my friend's dog for the weekend. It's an eight month old puppy. He's in the back now."
Since our live-in landlord is away for the weekend, it sounded okay, until he said, "It's a pit."
"Oh no," I replied. "Oh hell no. Take it back. Now."
"I can't," Xavier explained. "The guy's already gone on vacation. It has a big cage."
"Then keep him in it..."
"He's really nice, and just a puppy..."
A puppy my azz, I thought. At eight months old, he's a teenager and almost grown.
Memories flashed back to when my brother dumped a six month old part-pit puppy on us years ago. He'd gotten it for a dollar at a yard sale. The only reason I gave it a chance then was because Xavier was doing the please please please can we keep him thang, and the dog was purportedly part retriever. Retrievers are nice. Maybe he'd have that temperament.
At 7 months, I got Radar neutered. This surgery generally reduces aggression when performed at a young age.
A month later, I sat in our backyard on a late summer day and watched the kids play. Radar was on a 50 foot tie. Casey, my daughter, was wearing only a diaper. She was 2-1/2 years old. Xavier was 9.
It all happened so fast.
Casey was laughing and ran past Radar, and he suddenly gave chase. That dog looked like he was running after a rabbit. She was fast, but he was gaining ground on her rapidly. He was almost on her before I was barely out of my chair and over to her.
Then he lunged for her. I could see his teeth as he was a fraction away from grabbing her by the diaper.
At that precise moment, he snapped his jaws barely nipping her diaper, but he'd run the length of his tie, and he flew up the air and fell to the ground with a thud. It is exactly the kind of scene you'd see in a cartoon.
The kids were dying laughing. It was so funny, that I was laughing too, while at the same time, thinking, this shit is serious.
I told Xavier this and for Casey to stay away from Radar.
"He didn't hurt her, Mommy," Xavier said.
"By the grace of God, he didn't," I replied. "He gave into his baser instinct. She's small and vulnerable, like a little animal. He gave chase with the full intention of hurting her. What they say about pits is true, they cannot be trusted. Looks like that goes for part-pits, too."
A few days later, Xavier was tearful as a guy bought and took his dog away. I told him and his girlfriend what had happened. They lived somewhere out in the boonies and had no children, and thought it was funny, but that they could train him.
Lotsa luck, and to this day, I wonder if I should have him put down.
A few years later, a father brought his ten year old daughter to me for therapy. He owned a pit that never gave him a problem. He was in the dining room while the child was playing quietly in the living room.
I guess the dog didn't like not having any attention, or maybe it had a break with reality, and viciously attacked her. The dad grabbed a hammer and had to beat the dog to death upside the head to force it to release her.
The kid's face was scarred, but it was her arm that was really messed up. She was traumatized months later, which is how they came to me.
I observed the child. She was very still.
Fast forward to the present, and there I sat, watching my son's mouth move.
"Since you can't send him back today," I said, "here are the rules. Keep that dog in your room with door closed, or in his cage on the patio, and he better be gone Monday."
That was hard. I hate pits, but how you gonna get rid of somebody elses dog? And I damn sure wasn't gonna put it in my car. Years ago, I read about a young woman in her 20s. She loved her pit and took it with her everywhere. One day for no reason, it attacked her while she was driving. She said it "must have gotten upset by something it saw out the window. He's fine now."
Sounded to me like it had a brief psychotic episode.
Anyway, Xavier agreed. I walked to the kitchen back door that leads to the patio, and peeped through the window. There sat it.
Yep, I thought, that's a pit alright.
"His name is Carlito."
"Eff him and you too for bringing him here," I growled. "Just keep him away from us and especially our dog. If Jani smells Carlito has been walking around the house, he'll start marking territory. Don't need him peeing on the carpet."
"Okay," he said, smiling.
Maybe me too, 'cause Xavier ain't never been good at keep his word. Give him an inch and he'll take a mile.
The next day I got up the nerve to go out and watch him and Carlito. Indeed, the dog has puppy behaviors. Playful. Friendly. Annoying only in that he jumps on you, but most dogs do until trained. I still didn't trust him.
Then comes today, or I should say Saturday, since it's just after midnight now.
"I'll be back in 20 or so minutes," I hollered at Xavier and his girlfriend. "Keep that dog out of the house while I'm gone."
I dropped my daughter off at a quinceanera party. That's a "Sweet 15" celebration for Latino girls. She looked stunning. I drove back with my little sidekick poodle, Jani, sitting next to me in the car.
He never attacks me when I drive.
I strolled up the path to the front door, opened it, and we walked in.
Within seconds, the demon dog from hell was on Jani. I was horrified. He had Jani's entire front leg in his mouth.
and with my poodle's leg in his mouth.
I screamed and tried to pull Jani from him.
My son, who had only been a few feet away, was now simultaneously prying Carlito's jaws open.
I ran back outside for safety, slamming the door behind me, and was cussing up a storm.
I then examined my poodle. His shoulder was bleeding from a puncture wound which had split the skin. I hoped it wasn't a crushing injury to his shoulder bone, and was crying as I consoled him. He acted like he was in shock, and was very, very still.
It's what I had seen in my client, and also, what I do when I'm hit by unexpected attack or pain from life. Often it's because I don't know what to do. I become very still. This made me cry more.
Xavier came outside, his own face full of pain and more so after he saw the blood. It wasn't dripping, it oozed slowly, very slowly. It was clear that Jani could use two or three stitches.
"I'm so sorry Mom," he said, his eyes pleading for forgiveness. "I didn't know you'd be back this soon."
I spoke almost in a whisper as I looked into his eyes. Maybe the lesson he didn't grasp at age nine would sink in now.
"You cannot trust a pit..."
"But he was so friendly, I thought he'd be okay..."
"Their reputation proceeds them," I said. "They are unpredictable and impulsive. You cannot trust them, because they cannot overcome their baser instinct to attack whatever or whoever they think they can overpower and destroy."
"I'm so sorry," he said repeatedly.
Unlike his usual fake apologies, he meant this one.
Without being asked, Xavier went back in the house and got what we needed to flush out Jani's wound and apply a little hydrogen peroxide around the edges.
I gave my doggie a little left over amoxycillan, like it says on the Internet if you can't get to a vet, to fight any infections. That's the best I can do for him now, because I don't have money to pay a vet for stitches. I just barely made the rent and other bills this month. This has been the new normal for me since the economy went to hell.
When Xavier was done, I said of this pit he's babysitting and others, "They're unlike normal dogs. There is something about pitts where they depart in temperament from other canines, just as some people do."
He was listening hard, not just the Xavier of now, but the boy he was who didn't understand when I sold his pit 12 years ago.
"You're a normal person, Xavier," I continued. "When you go out on your own, get a normal dog, one that will be a true friend whom you can trust to not attack you, your friends, family, neighbors, or others. Can't trust no pit, not the four-legged kind or the two-legged ones in jeans."
He nodded his head. He knows what I'm talking about - a few of his friends over the years.
I see metaphors in unexpected places.
I think of the $40 my son used to win me over in keeping this pit for the weekend, like the 40 pieces of silver Judas accepted to betray Christ.
No, to the morons, I'm not comparing my dog to Jesus, just the concept of betrayal. I wonder if Judas felt he had a choice. I didn't feel like I had one since the owner of this pit teenage puppy had left for the weekend, so intellectually I think I'm not being fair to myself, but emotionally I feel like I wasn't fair to the safety of this family and my dog.
Jani is resting now, and I know that if he ends up with a permanent limp, I'll forever wish I had said, "Tough shit, get that pit out of here and where you put him is your problem."
I also think of this entire, real life situation and compare it to many people I've known who trusted someone, only to be suddenly and viciously treated by them, and this includes a few of my own "friends".
I saw their tendencies to be pits too late, although in hindsight, I can say I ignored their underlying, serious character flaws when these came to light, along with the warning signs - because they were as playful as puppies.
Once bitten, twice shy, very still, and no going back.