It was unnaturally warm last night. So much so that we were sitting on the front porch enjoying a beverage when a meatheaded old brindle pit bull we'd never seen before wandered into the yard to play with Harper. It was an idyllic dog romp through the clover--Harper dominating the dog as she is wont to do, him letting her, us petting them both. Then Shaft, the skulking little ne'er-do-well male dog across the street, decided he couldn't take this affront to his territory.
Side note on Shaft's personality: Shaft is the kind of uneasy little beast who sees you come in and out of your house several times a day and sometimes he barks at you and sometimes not. When you're out walking sometimes you'll get a sense that something is following you and you whirl around expecting to fight the Walnut Hill knife rapist, but it turns out it's only Shaft, sneaking around behind you like he's trying to pull a flank maneuver. You call him, he starts growling. You walk toward him, trying to make friends. He turns and slinks off, only to resume following you after you turn and keep walking.
Meanwhile, back at Michael Vick's Ranch: Shaft charged down the hill toward the street and growled at the stranger dog. Bared his teeth. Then he ran. Well, he got about ten feet before that pit bull was on him like stink on crap. A blur of brown and white and then the most horrible, asphyxiating yelping sound. The pit had him by the throat. That fast. And he wasn't letting go. I have never seen anything like a pit bull when it has something locked up. The scene escalated rapidly. Beth ran over, the people in the house came out. When I ran over, a fully grown man and woman were out there kicking and hitting this pit bull as hard as they could, screaming, cussing, etc, hollering about, "he's gon' kill that mother f------!" And ole Shaft WAS, in fact, rapidly expiring. Beth and I both yelled at them to get a water hose, because that's really the only chance to get a bulldog off of something without killing it. About that time, one of the men went and got a shovel and was about to brain the dog. The pit got distracted by the woman hitting him in the head and went to shift his grip and Shaft somehow weaseled out of there. He ran on around the house with the pit hard on his trail. The neighbors managed to get Shaft into the house and the door closed just before the other dog showed up at the door. Just as quickly as he'd gone berserk, the pit calmed down into the same docile fellow he'd been before the ugly scene. He was wheezing from the exertion and from being kicked in the ribs and his nose was bloodied but, other than that, he was totally calm. It's hard to tell, because it seemed like everything was in super slow motion, but I'd estimate the whole thing lasted less than five minutes. If it had lasted a minute more, I have no doubt there would have been at least one dead dog.
We fended off the guy with the shovel, who looked like he still had some inclination to use it, and took the pit bull back over to the house while we called the police. They didn't want to send anyone out at first, because it was an animal control problem, but finally they agreed. Fast forward to the end. After some cajoling and convincing on our part (there apparently is no provision for after hours animal control emergencies except to call someone with a key and hope they can come out), the dog rode off in the back of the police cruiser.
All that to say this: the ugly, snarling, violent scene last night made me kind of rethink my opinion of pit bulls. I had always thought they were a breed whose behavior doesn't justify their negative reputation. I had always thought the way an animal, any animal, acted was a direct reflection of its owner and how it was trained and treated. I had owned a pit bull before and thought it was the most loyal, gentle dog I had ever had. But this dog was also someone's pet. It was well cared for and not scarred. And it turned on a dime and became a killer. Granted, Shaft is annoying and it wouldn't have been any great loss to the Brandon Avenue scene, but still. I wouldn't have a pit for a pet now. Not after seeing what I saw last night.