23 July 2012

The Crazy Dog (a true story)

I was staying with my good friend Dogsong von Trout in my old stomping grounds. That's his Holy Name. His other name is Brook. He's the friend with whom I saw the band WEEN live over a dozen times. He's a fine man, a good drummer, a shabby swords-man (so far) and probably still likes Pam's ass. Sadly, he has no part in this account other than location. 

I hadn't seen him in years and was visiting. I walked to the grocery store every day as I had no car, couldn't carry too much, and didn't feel comfortable eating all his food. It was only about a ten minute walk, at a leisurely pace. Should have been easy. The thing is, on the way I had to pass the Crazy Dog. Not a cute eccentric dog who walked on two legs crazy. Real crazy. Bad crazy. An insane emissary of death that charged at every passerby until its chained yanked it back. A monster that I saw nearly give heart-attacks to an old couple walking through a neighborhood they obviously never walked through before, and never would again. And I had to walk past it. A lot. It scared the hell out of me to do so, but unless I wanted to add a mile to the walk that was formerly an easy leisurely stroll, I had to pass Crazy Dog. It snarled barked charged and I could tell it wanted to eat my still beating heart. Even though it was always chained up, I was terrified. But still, I walked by as calmly as I could, acting like my heart wasn't pressing against my ribs like an alien chestburster seeking escape from its host. La la la, nothing wrong here. Mosey mosey. Oh, hi doggie. La la la.

And so it went. Every. Single. Day. It got a little easier as the days wore on; still I always kept a blade in my pocket. A sharp blade. A very, very sharp blade, in fact. The thought of killing this drooling teeth delivery system was not pleasant, but a little better than the image of my predated corpse lying in the street, still hungry for the bacon, peaches and candy I planned to buy. "Poor fella. He died sober, hungry for hot wings and martinis."

Grocery store checklist: keys, wallet, razor sharp blade.

As acceptance and near-complacency set in, I grew more and more confident and would sometimes even wear headphones. Usually, I listened to the then-new track BBB by How to Destroy Angels. It was my walking song. Every time, the dog would run to the edge of the yard screaming its dinner plans at my throat only to be yanked back into the yard with a sickening gargled choke noise I could feel more than hear. It was terrible and reinforced how madly and badly this creature wanted to rip into my precious meatstuff.

Except for the day it wasn't yanked back. The day it got to edge of the yard and kept coming at me. The day it was suddenly in the street. Then ten feet from me. Then five. Then one. I stopped, in shock. So did it. Snarling and barking, it started to flank me. I turned to keep facing it and each time I did, it stopped and started again. Like it only wanted to attack from the rear. It circled me for a couple minutes like hours and I slowly drew out my blade, shaking, ready to kill. Still, I didn't want to kill this animal. Why was it so mean and deadly? Probably because of the dog's owners who had trash in their yard and tapestries of southern flags and whiskey ads instead of curtains. The yard littered with beer cans. The yard with water and food dishes that seemed perpetually empty.

I thought: I don't want to kill you, but will if I have to.

Then: I'm going to die here in the street. Eaten alive.

It kept getting closer and I slowly backed up against a large knobby tree to have one less side to protect. The tree also afforded me the opportunity to pick up a rather large stick to use as a club. Anything to postpone what seemed an inevitable bleeding-out of the dog. I saw myself on the ground, crying, covered in blood, with a dead dog next to me that I'd have to explain and never be able to forget. Hit it with the stick. Just keep hitting it, scare it, don't kill it. I raised the stick to strike and the dog stopped dead. Staring at it. It backed up and started wagging its tail. It moved closer again, now panting, never removing its eyes from the stick. It began pacing, restless. Throw the stick throw the stick throw the stick throw the stick throw the stick, it said. It was suddenly so sad and so obvious. This was a mistreated dog, nearly gone crazy from neglect and apathy.

I threw the stick.

Light a light bulb turning on for the first time in years, he exploded into action. Free, tail wagging, playing, fetching. Running! Now a he, not an it. He ran back to me with the former weapon, now toy, in his mouth and circled me. Not threatening. A challenge: Catch me if you can. I smiled and the weight of death dissipated. A small tear like the sad Indian from that old anti-littering commercial, and I, too, exploded into action.
And just like that I was chasing the the no longer Crazy Dog. The Sad Dog. I'd stop, he'd stop. I'd run towards him he'd flee. I'd run away from him and he'd chase. I'd stop again, he'd stop. I'd start to turn away and he'd start to run up to me and I'd quickly turn around and sprint towards him and away he'd go with a joy I could never imagine before. It was a demon transformed. I'd yell HEY BUDDY! and he'd run back to me and I'd throw another stick. Pure joy and fun seemed to beam from the eyes that two minutes ago seemed cold and empty, like a shark's. We continued this for a good fifteen minutes. Chasing each other around. Hunger dictated that I continue my voyage to the store and he followed me, tail wagging, for a few blocks. On the way back he ran up to me. His good friend. I threw a stick a couple times but had frozen goods that needed tending and knew I'd see him tomorrow. He followed me again.

The next day he barked at me, like he'd forgotten himself in the madness that was his keeper's but snapped back into friend-mode when I called out, HEY BUDDY!

Tail now wagging, an apologetic look in his eyes. I forgave him and gave him respect and attention.

The next day I was giving him jerky and dog treats and looking forward to going to the store.

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