Lillian was playing today with Sebastian, riding her scooter up and down the street, with Sebastian bounding ahead of her, and behind her, and around her in an excess of glee. Occasionally he would grab his favorite stick and carry it along.
Elena-From-Across-the-Street-Who-Was-Born-Two-Weeks-After-Lil joined them with her bike, and they zoomed up and down the sidewalks until Sebastian's tongue was hanging around his toes. Howie ignored them, as I was prepping the bread chunks for tomorrow's turkey stuffing, and he felt it more important to supervise me, in case I dropped a piece of bread. (I was doing the prep work out in the garage studio, so that I could keep an eye on the girls.)
An ideal afternoon.
As the sun was going down, the girls went inside for a snack; I did a few more chores so that I have less to do in the morning.
Then the girls decided to take their play over to Elena's house. I walked with them, so as to find out what time to retrieve Lillian.
A man with a fluffy little dog is walking down the street, and the girls coo over the sight and say how cute the dog is.
On the other side of the street, two houses away from Elena's, a woman walks with two white pit bulls, looking smug at her fine, clean, muscled animals. The girls look with awe on the pure white matched pair of dogs.
As we started across the street, I began to mutter to Lillian that she should never go up to a dog like that, because they are dangerous. The woman with her two white beasts walked past Elena's house and turned the corner. By that time we were on Elena's porch, and the girls were dithering because Elena's dogs were barking.
I heard a growl, and an exclamation, and pulled the door open and shouted for the girls to get inside, NOW! We left Elena's bike on the porch and I leaped in the door, too, absolutely uninvited.
Elena, shouting at her dogs, old Pokey, an arthritic beagle, and fierce Molly, barking like a vicious maniac, the growling and snarling intensifying outside. Confusion, clamor.
Poking my head back outside, I saw that the two white pit bulls had suddenly attacked each other. Blood was on their muzzles, so I ducked back into my neighbor's house, far more willing to risk a bite from cranky Molly than get involved in the mess outside. The neighbor pulled open her curtains to reveal the woman trying to separate the two big dogs unsuccessfully, and blood was all over the dogs' white faces, heads, and chests.
A car pulled up, and a man leaped out, grabbing the tail of one of the dogs and pulling it back away from the other. The dogs separated for a moment, then resumed their fight, spattering the woman's face, chest, and arms with blood. The man grabbed the leash of one of the dogs and pulled it away.
He took the dog across the street; the woman continued on Travaille Street and turned at the next corner. I don't know where she lived, or what she said to the man except for the words, "they're sisters" regarding the dogs. He kept the dog he was holding away from the other until the woman could get the dogs ... home?
When the woman and the dogs were out of sight, I headed back across the street to confer with my neighbors on either side who were out on the sidewalk; the snarling of the dogs had been loud enough to draw a lot of attention. The police arrived, asking us where the woman and dogs had gone.
One of the neighbors and I stood and talked about the incident until the police came back, shouting to us that "everyone is okay."
"Yes," I said to the neighbor, "except for those of us who will have nightmares about this tonight."
Yet it provided an opportunity to drive a lesson home to Lillian. While still in Elena's house, I made her look out the window at the bloody dogs, and reiterated my warning about the danger of such breeds. I know that this time, she learned the lesson to the depths of her soul.
Lil is a very trusting and loving little person. She loves animals and people, and wants to be affectionate. It was harsh of me to make her look at that horrible sight, but she has to know that she may NOT assume that other dogs are as mellow and people-friendly as Sebastian and Howie.
Anyone who could view those two white dogs could see by their square frames, with the legs set well apart for stability; their heavy musculature in shoulders and necks for shaking strength; and the thick, broad muscles of the top of their heads for jaw-lock power -- those dogs were bred to grab hold, thrash, and retain their balance. Umm. Gee, let's do Dogs for Dummies -- that means they were bred to fight and kill.
I've talked to pit bull owners who say that their dogs are sweet and lovey-dovey and beautiful and smart and totally safe, but what I saw this evening belies those statements. Those two white dogs were siblings, raised together, and without a cause, went at each other with death in mind.
No. Sorry. Not proper "dog" behavior.
When our German Shepherd, Babe was introduced to the new puppy in the house, my beloved Howie, he felt it necessary to thump the younger dog regularly. They would spar, teeth showing, flashing their faces around so quickly it was hard to follow the movement. They fenced, move and countermove, bodies posturing to present defensive maneuvers and dominance.
They never drew a drop of blood.
Howie does have to give Sebastian almost a daily beating for his impertinence, but again, for all Howie's snarling and snapping and biting of Seb's face and bony elbows, there is never blood, and all I have to say to them is "Enough" and they separate and go find something else to do. That's proper dog behavior.
Tussling, playing, respecting the Top Dog's order. That's "Good Dog."
The white pit bulls had no respect for each other, or their owner. All they wanted to do was kill. That they had no respect for their owner is what makes them really scary animals, though. With dogs, the pack leader HAS to be able to order the pack. Has to. No other choice. If you don't control your pack, the pack is uncontrollable. Duh. An uncontrolled pack (even if it is a pack of one) will ignore orders and do what it wants.
On a street with so many small children, my heart was chilled by what I saw today. The rivulets of blood flowing down the back of the white fur of a dog's head, the faces of the dogs red with blood, the woman vainly trying to separate the animals, with blood on her face and shirt -- no, I won't forget.
And alas, neither will Lillian.