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Archive for May, 2007

dog fight!

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Last night, I did some really stupid things on my dog walk, and got into a tussle with YET ANOTHER neighbor.

I was at the Cape this weekend, and everyone blew outta there by 3:00 Monday afternoon. The place was deserted. Around 6:30, which is really late for us, I decided to take the dogs for a walk down our dirt road with just regular buckle leashes — no choke collars (my first mistake). I always use choke collars there because I have better control and there are tons of dogs. But I figured everyone was gone and there’d be no encounters with other dogs (or cats).

There is one year-round home on the road, and they got a new dog about 6 months ago. It’s sort of like a Beagle, but single-color, sort of a golden color. Cute dog, howls like a Beagle. I sometimes let Hector walk off-leash on this road, it is totally deserted except for my house and this other one at these times when the summer crowd hasn’t arrived yet to fill the rental cottages. I always, always hook up Hector when walking past that house. I don’t want him on their lawn, and I don’t want to disturb their dog. So, I hooked the leash on Hector and we walked by. Their dog started going ballistic inside the house. A few minutes later, I looked behind me and the lady was walking with the Beagle-type dog a little bit behind us on a flexi-lead, going in the same direction as us (which happens to be further away from home).

Feeling social, I turned around and started to walk towards them (second mistake). My dogs went nuts, and I figured I’d just let Hector off-leash, and that was perfectly fine, he is such a peach, he never causes any trouble. (third mistake)

Hobie went berserk, probably jealous that Hector was loose and he wasn’t. I held his leash really tight and close to me (fourth mistake — tension on the leash) and we walked up to the lady and her dog, who was already cavorting and socializing with Hector, and they were perfectly fine. By this time we were in the lady’s yard. I forgot to mention I don’t know these people, except the husband did give my dogs water one time a couple years ago. So, Hobie started pulling REALLY hard, and without the choke he is so powerful I could barely control him. I held on, but I allowed him to “greet” the dog in the dog’s own yard (fifth mistake).

The woman was scared TO DEATH of my two big dogs. I kept saying, “They’re fine, they’re really friendly, just really strong” (as I was being dragged onto her property by Hobie). She started asking me questions rapid-fire, and I could tell she was scared witless: “Are they fixed? Because he isn’t.” she said. “There’s a leash law, you know. You’re supposed to have him on a leash.” (“Him”, being Hector who was doing NOTHING but standing there being the big
doofus that he is). I said, “I took the leash off because if I hadn’t they would’ve pulled me down on the ground, they outweigh me and they were too excited.”

“Will they gang up and attack him?!!” she cried in total fear.

I’m like, “No way! They’re really friendly! They love other dogs!”

Well, just about that time, Hobie’s leash and the lady’s stupid flexi-lead got tangled right at the collars. Hobie, who was doing his play-mount-dominance thing that he does with every new dog he meets had his head pulled right down next to the Beagles. Hobie flipped out and CHOMPED down on the Beagle’s neck from the back and wouldn’t let go. I VERY CALMLY said “He’s never done that before. What the hell are you doing?” (that last part to Hobie, not the lady).

But the woman was freaking out. She started screaming and kicking Hobie as hard as she could repeatedly. I CALMLY told her, “Their leashes are tangled. Will you hold on a minute, let’s fix the leashes.” By distracting her in this way, it stopped her from flipping out and Hobie let go of the dog’s neck, thank doG.

I dragged Hobie back out onto the dirt road. Hector then ran up and gave a resoluate “WOOF!” to the Beagle for good measure, and the lady promptly kicked Hector as hard as she could. I decided, because I was on her property I will say nothing, but she is damn lucky she didn’t get bitten acting like that. THAT is how people get bitten by dogs. She was completely hysterical, and her question: “Will they gang up on him?” her voice already shaking, and her mind already made up, and her energy, well she MADE IT HAPPEN. I was so disgusted with her, and myself. If only I had turned around before her house, as I sometimes do. Or kept going away from her house instead of attempting to socialize. And of course, being so lazy as to not use the choke collars. That was really stupid.

Then, the husband comes out of the house, apparently drunk and goes, “WHAT THE F*** IS GOING ON OUT HERE?!” “A LOOSE DOG! THERE’S A LEASH LAW YOU KNOW.” (Little do they realize that the LEASHED dog was the one who got aggressive — since there’s this very common problem called Leash Aggression in the dog world, which many people don’t realize is a very real issue with many dog owners). I kindly gave Husband Of Freaked Out Lady the same explanation about the choice of being dragged down on the ground, then I promptly put Hector’s leash on him, asked if their dog was all right (four times!!! before the woman finally looked him over and confirmed that he WAS all right), I apologized, and started walking home.

The lady asked me where I was “staying”. I said, “I’m not ‘staying’ anywhere. I live here. I’m here all the time.” (By this time I’m incredulous that these people acted like they’d never seen me before, this is my regular walking route, I go by their house twice a day when I’m in town! The husband has even given my dogs water before!) She asked me my name and the exact house I live in, which is just up at the end of the same road. I told her, and figured for SURE the
police would show up at my house just in time for dinner.

As I walked away, I heard the husband SCREAMING at her, and then they had a huge argument that I could hear clear down the street as I was walking. No police ever came to visit me last night.

I know the things I did wrong, as I pointed out above. I think I will start running with the dogs instead of walks — it will keep them more occupied so they won’t have the choice to stop
and “socialize” — if we’re running, we don’t stop. I have backpacks in the car, do you think I ever take them out and use them? Heck, no! I will start using them immediately.

At one point right after I got home, I was so discouraged I was thinking that the ONLY time I get in trouble with my dogs is when I walk them. Cesar Millan says to walk and master the walk. I’m so close, but just so far away. And then I started thinking, if the ONLY time we get in trouble is when we walk, then why keep doing it? Does that make sense, am I explaining this right? — hard to do in email. Why not just stop taking my dogs for walks, since that’s the only time we ever have problems. You know what I mean?

spencer, massachusetts

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In the month-plus since my birthday, life has been unbelievably crazy. Crazier than I can ever remember. I live in the tiny towns of Spencer and Eastham, Massachusetts. The happenings in these two remote villages have been staggering this last month.

I posted last about the nor’easter that ruined the stairs at Nauset Light Beach. I visited Eastham that week and took photos, which I haven’t had time to post here. I went back a couple weeks later, to find, to my delight, stairs with several landings at various intervals. Not only are they easier to maneuver (particularly going UP) but will be infinitely better to navigate with two hounds, if I ever get up the courage to do so.

Tomorrow, I venture forth to Eastham again. On my way there, I will take on a new challenge. I’m going to visit my friend Sue, in Bourne, with both dogs accompanying me. She also lives across the road from a dog-friendly beach. This will be interesting! I will report back after it’s all said and done.

On to my primary residence in Spencer. Let’s see. First, there was the contaminated water. That one made national news headlines. Spencer, Massachusetts was the #2 story on The Today Show. Wow! Spencer’s town water supply became tainted with unsafe levels of lye. Lye is used in the water treatment under normal circumstances, but something malfunctioned. The result being that 100 people were burned by taking showers or washing their hands or faces, and some drank it. Thankfully, I live in such a remote part of town that we have private well water. But our office is located right on Main Street. The number of ambulances that day, you would’ve thought we were in the big city! Interestingly enough, nobody ever contacted our place of business to tell us about the water. We heard about it through the grapevine. But that’s another story, for another day. I wrote a letter to the town a few days after the water contamination, but never sent it.

Shortly thereafter, we had a (possible) murder-suicide in Spencer, and the wife who was allegedly murdered has not yet been found. They’re declaring her “missing” still, and we sure hope she is alive. We made the news again.

The third thing that happened, and we made the local papers on this one, was that the house across the street from mine got struck by lightning and burned beyond repair. Its occupant, a dear, dear friend of ours, lost just about everything he owned.

It was one of the most horrific things I’ve ever witnessed in my whole life. The storm came out of nowhere. I was downstairs at my house, doing laundry of all things. Thank goodness our friend was not home when this happened, so no one was in that building when it went up. I thought it was a tornado, it came up that fast, and the wind was howling, and then BLAM! a wicked strike of lightning! I yelled (to the dogs) “WHOA! That HIT something!” I ran outside in the middle of the storm because I was sure it had hit my house. I smelled burning plastic (which I would later find out was the cable TV wire from the pole to my house). I walked around outside and inside my house, crawling under the deck in the back, trying to see if and where it hit. All the other neighbors were doing the same. Because the strike hit the back of Mike’s house, we didn’t see it. We all went back inside, and about 10 minutes later, I see Steve — he’s running. Steve doesn’t run, so I knew something was wrong. I hollered out my door, “Steve! What’s the matter?”

“Mike’s house is on fire!”

I asked him if he called 9-1-1, he had. And then, for good measure, I called myself.

The fire was really nothing at that point. We could hear the trucks coming, a crowd had gathered, and we were saying to each other, “It’s gonna be OK. It’s nothing.” Then, within ONE second, BLAM! something caught and the thing erupted into an inferno. The kitchen went up in one second flat. The huge picture windows in the room that got hit by lightning blew right out of the building.

We were so scared, and there was nothing we could do but stand there and watch, my hands “Home Alone” style. Turns out the trucks (7 of them) came from three towns other than Spencer. There was talk afterwards that some got mis-directed and went up the wrong dirt road, there are so many on the lake.

Even though I didn’t live in that house, we spent a lot of time there, and the fact that “but for the grace of God” Mike wasn’t home that afternoon, and it didn’t hit my house, well, it is just too scary for words. I cried on and off for two days. It was just awful. It was one of the most frightening things I’ve ever witnessed in my life.

A chapter ended, and lots of memories, both good and bad, for all of us.

I’m hoping Spencer stays out of the news for a while.

A dog named mini-Cooper is brought to you by Tripawds.