Thursday, June 14, 2007

On The Mark -- Pit Bulls

It was a beautiful Monday morning. The sun was shining, the air was clear, and I was taking a break from work with my usual three-mile walk with my lab dogs, Miles (after Miles Davis) and Cady (after Elizabeth Cady Stanton). Cady, blind as bat from diabetes, was probably enjoying the walk more than Miles because her senses were at full-strength to make up for her lack of sight. Even though we hadn’t completed mile 1 yet, I was already looking forward to the enthusiastic thank you kisses I would be receiving once we arrived back home. Then everything changed in a flash.

I saw them first, across the street from the elementary school we were walking in front of. Three pit bulls on the loose and hyped up like they were on crack. Miles then saw them and Cady “felt” something wasn’t right. For a few seconds we stood silent hoping they would continue on and not see us. But a few seconds later I was flat on my back having been knocked down by one of the pit bulls, it’s teeth grinding into my calf, meeting bone and (as I would later learn) severing a major nerve in my leg. Miles was being attacked by the other two pit bulls. Heroically, he stopped defending himself against those two dogs and attacked the pit bull attacking me, leaving himself completely open to devastating injuries.

Once I got back on my feet, Miles was once again fighting off all three of them. One was ripping at his back legs. Another had an ear in its teeth trying to rip it off. Another had Miles by the neck. I was kicking and slugging them as hard as I could, to the point of a near heart attack, but I might as well have been hitting a cement wall, the effect it had.

Then one of the pit bulls turned its teeth on me again, knocking me down and attacking my other calf. But the calf wasn’t enough this time and it lunged for my neck as I lay prone. I was able to fend it off for a second with my left hand, but that was long enough for Miles to lunge at this piranha out of water and stop him cold. The beast had no choice but to stop its attack on me and defend itself against Miles, who was once again being viciously attacked on his back legs by the other two pit bulls.

Blood was flying everywhere. People were helplessly crowding around, calling the police. A plumber got out of his truck and came halfway across the street with a pole, then stopped in his tracks and said, “no way I’m getting them mad at me.” I screamed, begging him to throw me the pole, but he climbed in his truck and drove away. Forever a coward.

I then went down for the third time, blood pouring down my legs and from my hands, Miles squealing now with pain, his chest ripped open and hanging to the ground, blood pouring from his neck, ears, eyes, stomach and legs. He was tired, but not beaten. As I tried to get back to my feet Miles attacked again with ferocity that I didn’t even know he possessed. He pinned to the ground the pit that had knocked me down, forcing it onto his back. It was an unbelievable sight. Super powers unleashed. Maybe it was the new energy in the air or exhaustion, I don’t know, but the other two pits gave up and walked off to the side as spectators.

Then I made a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life. At this point, I thought the other dog, beaten and exhausted, would take off, too, so I told Miles to let go, which he did. In a split second the other dog got back on its feet and viciously attacked my poor, sweet, exhausted and life-threateningly injured Miles. It was then I realized this dog was trained to kill or be killed. My continued kicks and slugs had absolutely no impact.

Finally, a brave woman found a long tree branch and chased the remaining pit away. The police finally arrived and witnesses stated that the attack lasted at least 10 minutes, maybe 15. It seemed like an hour to me. People then starting streaming out of houses and the elementary school. A neighbor helped me rush Miles to an emergency vet hospital where he underwent more than 4 hours of surgery.

Miles survived. He spent weeks sitting in a single position, even when sleeping. For 5 days I slept near him feeling helpless as I listened to him cry and groan through the night. Cady, miraculously, didn’t get involved and stayed behind me the entire time. She’s a fighter, and strong as hell, but I’m sure felt helpless not knowing where or what to attack. My neurologist tells me that my left leg may be numb for the rest of my life.

Each day I pet Miles on the head and tell him he’s my hero. And thank him for saving my life.

I walk Miles and Cady with an electric cattle prod in hand now. Maybe once a week. And even that is difficult as I fight the feeling that I’m walking into a war zone, pit bulls behind every bush, ready to attack and maim. A horrible feeling.

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