Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reality Bites

Saturday, the real world sneaked into my doggy day in two very different ways.

It was warm for coastal Massachusetts in the middle of January, a little over 40 degrees and no wind. The kind of day that gets everybody outside for awhile. Most of them went to the dog park apparently. The parking lot at Stodders Neck in Hingham was full -- meaning 50 cars or more, meaning a lot of people and dogs who aren't usually there. Reg flag anyone?

Hathaway is rarely on his leash at the park. I have it with me always, and he wears his harness, but he minds his business, chases his ball and runs with his buddies. He also sticks close to me and obeys commands most of the time. Most of the regulars know him because he's a good dog and also because this pit bull with rippling muscles trots around the path wagging his tail with a bright orange ball in his mouth and a goofy happy look on his face.

We were walking like that when I got the first dose of reality from a dad with a Bichon on a leash. Hath trotted up and sniffed: the dog and its boy, who was about 8. He asked what kind of dog, and I said a pit.

And then watched the father push his son behind him, putting himself between the boy and my dog.

I said "Hath, walk!" and as we continued on our way, the guy called after us, "Sorry, it's not the dog, it's the reputation." I resisted temptation to point out that his dog would probably bite someone before mine would. We just walked away.

The second dose of reality came a little while later. Hath was fetching his ball, and chasing and greeting the way he always does. He was chasing his ball and another dog was chasing its ball while I was talking to its owner. They'd run after each other, then get distracted by some odor or another dog or a new person, then get their balls again and bring them back to us.

I turned away for a minute, but was quickly brought back to the moment by growls and barks. The other dog was after Hathaway and my boy wasn't backing down. The guy pulled his dog off and I grabbed Hath's harness and told him to walk, which he did. He didn't need his leash. We just headed for the car, listening from across the field to the other owner disciplining his dog.

It wasn't until later that I noticed a small gash on Hathaway's head and a couple of tooth marks on the side of his face. When I rinsed them, I found more teeth marks. Today I found a small scab on his neck. All told, it was the gash and five teeth marks in a crescent shape on the side of my pit bull's face.

Put there by a golden retriever. I hope those who support breed-specific legislation take note.

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