Picture it, Ohio, 2002…

Just doesn’t roll of the tongue, does it Estelle? (Side note – back in 2002, I watched a lot of the Golden Girls reruns. Nightly. They were on back to back around 11 Pm on Lifetime. After a while, the second one was replaced by Dharma and Greg, which was ok, but I preferred the Golden Girls. It was part of trying to reclaim myself, and who I used to be, and I know it sounds lame because it was a dumb show about four old ladies, but it was a small step toward setting my own schedule and doing what I wanted, thank you for being a friend.)

Christmastime 2002 was kind of lousy for me. I was a little more than three months into my new single life, though my divorce wouldn’t be final for another three months. I had to have my mom and my brother come over to help me put up and decorate my tree. Not because I couldn’t do it, but because I didn’t want to do it. Why bother? What’s the point? Who will see it? What am I going to do? Put dog toys under it?

But they came over, and they helped, and I cried, and my brother even misted up a little bit (don’t tell him I told you) and it was sad but it was a step in the right direction. Life goes on, whether you like it or not, and it’s better to just get back on the bus instead of waiting on the corner, because you’ll only get splashed with muddy water if you don’t.

I felt a little better, having my tree all decorated and I DID put dog toys under it, so what? My dad put up my outside lights for me. All was festive. I even listened to Christmas music on my NEW stereo I bought for myself and danced around the living room, and nobody told me to turn that shit off.

I remember I had these Coca-Cola decorations that my ex’s friend’s mother gave to me. They were ornaments, but instead of hanging, you stuck them on the lights on your tree and they kind of lit up. Cool. I also had two dogs at the time. Rottweilers. Z-dog and Rescue. Rescue was, well, a rescue. I got her from the SPCA after she had weened her pups and recovered from being caught in a leg trap. (She had a pink cast!) I originally wanted one of her pups, but the ex felt bad for her. So we ended up with her. Then I ended up with her, because, in case you haven’t gotten it yet, the fucker up and left with no notice. Anyway, so I had Z-dog and Rescue and they were both females. And a bit protective of me. Which was good in some ways, bad in others. The good was because one time, Rescue bit someone for me. She didn’t maul him or anything, just kind of grabbed his hand and held it when he came through my door uninvited to let him know what he did was not allowed. Enough to get his attention but not break skin. Good. Bad because, if one dog did something wrong, and I scolded that dog, the other dog would kind of growly-bite the dog that had done wrong, as if it say “Hey jerk, you pissed mom off.” At least that’s how it seemed to me. I’m not a dog psychologist.

I was in the kitchen one day and Rescue and Z-dog were doing their own things in the living room. You know reading, knitting – typical dog stuff. Well, one of the Coca-Cola ornaments fell off the light it was on and landed on the floor. Rescue set down her NY Times and picked it up, carried it over next to the recliner and started chewing on it. I walked back into the living room, and saw her, and said “Aw! Rescue! What do you have?” and I snatched it away from her, tsk-tsking. Z-dog was clearly upset by this and pounced, no, not pounced, SLAMMED into Rescue like a shark on a surfer. Rescue, not pleasef by this attack, retaliated.

Soon there were teeth and snarls and growls, and fur was flying and bellies were almost torn open. (Have you ever seen that? They really do go for the gut, they know exactly where to go in for the kill. It is awesomely terrifying.) I stood, shocked, clutching my stupid Coca-Cola ornament in my hand. They had fought before, but this, this was different. This was not a growly-bite. This was real. This was scary. If I didn’t do something quickly, the rest of my day was going to be really bad, I could tell. So I screamed. “Z! Rescue! Stop it! Drop it!” Nothing. I started shrieking at them. Loud shrieks. Nothing. I got the water bottle and sprayed them. I think I even laughed at myself for thinking that would help when it didn’t. I thought about the garden hose, but it was winter and I had put it away. I went and got, honest to baby Jesus, frying pans and started HITTING THEM WITH THE FRYING PANS. Nothing. Oh, and don’t you cry animal abuse to me. These dogs were going to kill each other if I didn’t stop them.

So I went in. I got my hands in between them and I felt teeth – I don’t know whose they were but let me tell you Rottweiler teeth are big. Like bear teeth. And I’ve been around dead bears, so I know. I fell to the floor – they were now doing some rolling thing, like alligators, and I went down with them. We landed on my footstool – it broke. I remember hearing the wood splinter, and seeing the piece that flew up and hit the glass on my entertainment center. We were dangerously close to the damn tree with the damn ornaments that started the whole damn thing and if it fell it was going to be damn mess. I thought to myself, “I HAVE to get them apart. I HAVE to.” (Looking back, the tree falling on them may have been enough to startle them into letting go.)

What happened next was almost scarier than the fight. I’m sure you’ve heard about those stories with the husband working on a car up on jacks, and it falls, and his tiny wife runs outside when she hears him yell and picks up the car, saving his life? That was totally me. Adrenaline, man. Fight or flight. Whatever. Z-dog weighed in at about 125 at the time. (Big dog, but not really fat – I have pictures to prove it.) Rescue was smaller, about 85 pounds. I was about 107 (divorce – the best-kept diet secret) at the time and could probably bench about 45 pounds, but only if I had to. Somehow though, I rolled these two snarling monsters over me. And I rolled and rolled and kept my hands in their mouths and I rolled some more and I got to the kitchen doorway and I just SHOVED and they let go and Rescue slid into the kitchen across the floor and I SLAMMED the gate shut. Thank goodness I had the gate attached to the wall, or, well, I don’t know what.

Rescue jumped up and ran to the gate and just stood there. Z-dog was sitting up, and just looked at me. There was blood. Blood on me. Blood on the dogs. Blood on the floor. Blood on my white walls. My hands hurt a lot. Throbbing, kind of like if you slam one in a door. I had a phone in the living room. I just stared at while I tried to catch my breath. My whole body felt heavy. I was starting to shake. I dialed my mom, “Can you come over?”

Always ready for drama, my mom was there, dad in tow, in about 30 seconds. (They only lived two streets away). My mom rushed over to me, and looked at my hands.
“Are you ok? What happened?” I tried to tell her, and I just lost it, sobbing. My dad, misunderstanding the whole entire scene because I was not yet able to explain it, was literally getting ready to take Rescue out the back door to shoot her. He never liked Rottweilers anyway. They’re vicious, you know.

“Stop! No! Dad! No!”

He hesitated, and looked at me with those eyes that dads get, you know, the ones that say, “I don’t care who or what it is, it will not hurt my little girl.” Those eyes. I managed to stop him and finally explained the situation, showing them the Coca-Cola ornament that was still on the ground.

“Well,” my mom said, “You can’t keep them.”

“Yes! Yes, I can! It was my fault, I shouldn’t have said that they way I did! It never would have happened if I hadn’t done that!”

“They’re dangerous!” said my dad.

“No! They’re not! They’re just big dogs! It’s ok!”

But it wasn’t ok. It wasn’t ok at all. They were big dogs and I was not big and I couldn’t handle both of them.

“Fine, then you have to get rid of one.”

Oh, and they were right. I hate it when they’re right.

My mom called the SPCA (only open for a few more minutes!) and explained the situation. Rescue was going back. No problem, they said they would wait.

So we cleaned up Z-dog, (merely a flesh wound, she felt fine, really) and cleaned up Rescue, who actually had a HOLE in her lip from a tooth. My hands were looking quite bad by then. I grabbed Rescue’s squeaky toy and kong and my mom and I headed to the SPCA to abandon my dog. I cried so hard. I felt like such a failure. I couldn’t stay married, and now I couldn’t even take care of my dogs. I was a loser. I was giving my dog away. Only bad people give their dogs away.

The lady was so nice. She let me hug Rescue and cry on her fuzzy neck and listened when I showed her where her cut was because she would have to make sure it wouldn’t get infected, and I told her she likes it when you put a dog biscuit AND peanut butter in the kong, and to please call me if sge couldn’t find her a home, please don’t put her down, she needs a house with a fence and no other dogs, cats are ok, and no little kids, and…

It was awful.

If you are wondering how I chose between the two, it was because I had Z since she was a pup and Rescue only about a year. I had a better bond with Z, she was my baby, and there was no way I could get rid of her. It hurt enough to get rid of Rescue.

Z-dog never missed a beat. She was fine. She got extra toys on Christmas (*sob*) My hands healed up. I did have some scars for a bit, but they went away, except for one teeny-tiny mark that you wouldn’t even notice unless I showed you.

I think of Rescue every year around this time. I wonder if the SPCA really did have her put down, and didn’t tell me, and that just about breaks my heart. I hope that she found a nice family, maybe a mom and a dad that weren’t afraid of dogs, and maybe they had two teenage sons who would play really hard with her in their big back yard.

I hope that’s what happened.

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2 responses to “Picture it, Ohio, 2002…

  1. Very well written and so heart wrenching.
    I think Rescue is fine now, and you absolutely did the right thing.

  2. Thank you, I hope you are right.

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