Saturday, April 29, 2006

Dogs II: Bob

When dogs sneaked back into his life, they did so gradually, and against some resistance.

He and his wife and their two small sons came home from somewhere one day and discovered a stray dog cowering in the front yard. He thought it looked like a shepherd/put bull mix, but would not have put any money on that hypothesis.

Whatever else the dog was, it was very frightened. And it was the sort of dog that is dangerous when frightened. It snarled as it cowered and would let no one near it. Nor would it be run off the property.

He discovered then something he had forgotten (if he had ever known it): He was good with dogs, when he tried. He could make his voice calming and his manner reassuring. The stray stopped snarling. And suffered itself to be approached, and touched. And gentled, seemingly.

The boys wanted to keep the dog, of course. He and his wife did not. They chained it for a time in the front yard, so that passersby could see it and, they hoped, claim it. They put up a notice on the bulletin board in the post office. They did not realize then that the dog had almost certainly been deliberately abandoned in their little town by someone who wanted to be rid of it—they would find out over the years that that was common practice.

No one claimed the dog. They moved it to the back yard and named it Bob.

Named and adopted or not, he would not let it in the house.

Bob gradually became comfortable with the family and with the boys’ close friends. Beyond that, he was generally OK with women and with children.

But not with men. Apart from our protagonist, Bob was afraid of, and hostile toward, all men. He snarled and snapped if any other man came near him. You really could not take Bob out, even on-leash, for fear he would try to attack some stranger. Bob, unhappily, was damaged goods.

And then one day, Bob knocked a child down. Did not bite him. Did not harm him. But scared him badly. They decided that day, he and his wife, that Bob would have to go.

They took Bob to the SPCA. The nice people there insisted on the cheery fiction that they were giving Bob up for adoption. They understood that they had brought Bob there to be put down. They felt bad about it. But they never doubted that it was the right thing to do.

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