“Get out of here, Bull,” I called to the next-door neighbor’s dog. Bullwinkle always wore a big, goofy grin – especially when he got caught dropping a deuce on our lawn. After he finished his business this time around, he tore at the late March grass with his hind paws as if trying to hide the evidence. He kicked up small clumps of sod before sauntering back to his property.
I sighed and attached Bandit’s leash to his harness. “I don’t know about him, man.”
Bandit cocked his head as if to say, Who cares? We’re going for a walk! The old boy was ten going on eleven but still a pup at heart. His tail thumped into my son’s chest.
“Ow, Bandy.” Dillon giggled as Bandit covered his face in kisses.
“Okay, Bandit. Okay. You both ready?” I asked. Bandit pulled against me ever so slightly and Dillon took off, half running and half stumbling down the driveway.
When we got to the bottom, before going out onto the quiet road, I grabbed Dillon’s hand with my right; Bandit’s leash was in my left. Bullwinkle trotted over, exchanged some friendly sniffs – received some pats – and went back to his meandering.
The spring air smelled like mud and worms and hope. We’d survived another winter, and that alone was cause for celebration.
Or a walk on a Saturday morning, at least.
The constant push-pull of opposing forces made me feel like I was half-drunk – stumbling this way, smiling, stumbling that way, chuckling. We stayed off to the side of the road to let the occasional car go by.
We passed the privacy fence at our next neighbor’s home. Normally their two Rottweilers were outside in the fenced-in backyard, barking at us. Not today.
But as we came into line-of-sight of the front porch, a low growl tore out at us – and then a second. The two dogs leaped down the steps, muscles rippling.
“Hey, get back! Get back here!” my neighbor Giovanni yelled, splashing his morning coffee everywhere as he bolted after them.
Shit, shit, shit raced through my mind as I positioned myself in front of Dillon and braced for impact.
Bandit stepped in front of us, hair bristling. He only weighed sixty pounds soaking wet.
The first dog barreled into him and went straight for his neck. Bandit rolled to the side as the much larger dog lost his footing and fell to the ground with him. I let go of the leash. The second Rottweiler was on Bandit at this point, and I screamed “Hey!” at the top of my lungs. The thing sunk its teeth into Bandit’s flank, and he howled in pain. I planted a firm kick into the dog’s side, and he yelped, refocusing his attention. He rushed toward me. By then, I only saw red. I was ready to plant my steel-toe boot in its maw – ready to kill if it meant our lives or theirs.
“Get back!” Giovanni yelled again, bathrobe flapping, as he got between us. He slipped and fell in the mud as he gripped the dog’s collar and eventually yanked him away. “Junior! Junior!” he yelled at the other Rottweiler, who was on top of Bandit. My neighbor then let out a shrill whistle.
The sound of his owner’s voice – or maybe the whistle – must have pulled the dog out of his frenzy. He was still growling.
“I’m so sorry,” Giovanni said, gripping Junior by the collar, too, as he muscled his way back toward the house.
Bandit limped over to me, a serious, solemn look in his eyes. Dillon let it out all at once and started to cry. My heart pounded so hard and fast that I felt it in my ears.
“I really am so sorry,” my neighbor repeated, thrusting the dogs inside before following them in.
I was so angry and confused and still in shock that I couldn’t think of a single word to say in response.
Bandit was shaking. I examined his body. He had a large gash in his ear and his side had been bloodied, but he seemed okay, all things considered. I planned on calling the vet as soon as we got home.
I pulled Bandit into my arms. Dillon, too.
“We’re okay,” I said to them. One of the Rottweilers was still enraged in the house, still barking. I could hear Giovanni yelling in Italian.
“Let’s go home.” I picked up Dillon and held him until we were in our driveway again. Bandit walked with a slight limp but soldiered on as he’d always done.
Bullwinkle must have heard us coming. When he saw us, the grin vanished. He tilted his head, concerned. What the hell happened to you guys?
We stopped for a moment. Bandit took in a deep breath and let it out.
I scratched behind his good ear. “It’s a long story, Bull. Maybe I’ll tell you someday.”
Thank you so much for reading “Bandit”.
Just to be clear, I have no ill will toward any specific dog breed. In fact, I grew up with a Rottweiler mix named Zeus, and he was one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever known. Dogs need to be loved and nurtured just like humans.
For this particular story, I felt that Rottweilers gave me the specific visual I was looking for.
Have you ever had a scary, animal-related experience? Or animal encounter in the wild?
I’d love to hear from you. Maybe even tell me about your dog, or pet(s)!
And if you liked this story, you may also enjoy “Pups for Sale” - another dog-centered story.
Fifties by the Fire
I wanted to let you all know that I’ll be taking a break this week from Fifties. In lieu of a prompt, I’ll be sending out March’s edition of Embers on Friday. I’m pretty excited about it because it marks the one-year anniversary of writing under my publication name, Along the Hudson. More to follow!
Take care and have a great week!
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Intense is the word! And for me it brought back a memory of being attached by a German Shepherd while delivering the newspaper when I was a young boy. The owners of the dog sat on the front step with their dog and assured me it was okay to bring them the paper. I did, and as I walked away I heard the sound of the dog running up behind me and he lunged and sunk his teeth into my rump. i fell to the ground and he was about to bite again when his owner pulled him off. I lay bleeding in their lawn. Yikes, what a memory!
We have two small dogs, a few times when walking them a few larger dogs have broken thru screen doors, jumped fences or just left out unattended. My wife grabs the dogs and I get between them is the plan. So far I've been able to scare the larger dogs and no harm done. I have to walk them separately when alone. One day while walking Benny, a cat strolled up and kicked his ass on the leash.