The terrifying incident of the dog at lunchtime

15 Feb

When my sister heard ferocious growling through the phone she wasn’t surprised. Even though I don’t own a dog. She once told me “sorry I can’t meet you for coffee, I’ve rescued a baby cormorant.” I answered the phone to her by saying “can’t talk now, saving frogs.” We’re just that kind of people. We take animal loving to the point of stupidity. I spent much of my childhood babysitting for a pair of magpies and recently offered sympathetic pats to an overly fluffy discarded jumper.

When I went to get the paper on Saturday morning I met a dog I will call Clunkhead. He was part Staffie, part pitbull, part breeze block and we was tied to a sign post looking sad. We became friends instantly.

Hours later I walked down the street again. Clunkhead was still there, still tied up and looking sadder. The girl who runs the corner shop told me he’d been there since early this morning and that she’d called the council. Council. Dog rangers. Pound. Don’t worry, Clunkhead, I won’t let the evil council men take you away!

So Clunkhead and I move into the shade of the corner shop’s verandah and wait. Clunkhead doesn’t look sad anymore. He begins to look happy. Soon he’s clambering over my lap, smiling and trying to lick me. He loves having his ears tickled and is a very good listener. I learn that he doesn’t know how to sit and that he has mild eczema and unclipped claws. His eyes tell me he hasn’t had the easiest time. I decide that there is no way Clunkhead will be taken to the pound on my watch.

When the dog rangers turn up they see Clunkhead laying on my lap getting his belly rubbed. I prepare to tell them that their services are no longer required. One ranger approaches, Clunkhead sits up, takes one look at him and charges. Like a bullet, Clunkhead flies through the air and latches onto the ranger’s leg. I scream “Clunkhead, no!” and pull him back. Reprimanded, he sits between my legs as I tell him that that’s not how nice puppies behave. The ranger surveys the damage. The dog had missed his flesh but nearly severed his leather wallet in half.

“I’m not going near that thing. That there is a dangerous dog,” said the ranger, looking at Clunkhead enjoying getting tickled behind the ear. Another ranger approaches. Clunkhead charges again but this time I know to pull him back quicker. This dog, this low-to-the-ground, muscular dog had been trained to attack men. I look into his eyes and wonder what kind of monster had created him.

Unable to come within five metres, the rangers pass the microchip scanner to the shop girl who passes it to me with an outstretched, shaking arm. I run the scanner over his fur until it beeps. Clunkhead, or Oscar, is registered to a man in the next suburb. Clunkhead does not respond to the name Oscar. I don’t like his chances of the owner coming to collect him. He doesn’t even answer his phone.

I call my sister and explain the situation. She agrees that no, Clunkhead must not go to the pound. Then she hears him charging at a man attempting to buy milk. Yes, Clunkhead must go to the pound. But he likes girls, I explain. Maybe there’s a convent or a colony of separatist lesbians he can move to? Clunkhead must go to the pound.

The rangers have devised a plan. They are to kit up in their padded gear, get out their Steve Irwin style crocodile catchers and stand 10 metres down the street. And me? Well, I have to get Clunkhead into the van.

That means walking Clunkhead past the shopkeeper and her elderly dad and a number of other bystanders. That means walking calmly so that the dog doesn’t get wise to our scheme. That means looking him in the eye and telling him to get excited. We oh-so-enthusiastically head on over to the waiting cage. Trying to stay calm and look normal, I stupidly, stupidly leave the lead long. At the first opportunity, Clunkhead launches at the exposed flesh of the shopkeeper’s dad. It turns out there was blood but I didn’t give myself time to register it. Less sympathetically, I lead Clunkhead to the cage, tell him “woo, yeah, psycho-killler, we’re going in the cage now!”

With only two paws in, the rangers gather. Clunkhead, tasting human blood, nashes his teeth through the bars of the cage. The rangers are all practically wearing chainmail but there’s nothing between me and this dog’s teeth but his sense of gallantry. “Push!” the rangers yell at me. Push!

Clunkhead, maybe smarter than he looks, hooks his back paw on the bottom of the gate. He stops his nashing just long enough to shoot me a look that says, “I thought we were friends.” He must read my look of pure desperation because he lifts his paw up and lets me slide him in. I slam the gate shut and the rangers descend with a cacophony of locks, bolts and the snapping of jaws on metal.

As they do paperwork and see that the shopkeeper gets to the doctor, Clunkhead and I take a moment to sit quietly, the scent of my betrayal thick in the air. Even when he’s being heaved into the doggie paddy wagon making eye contact with me keeps him calm.

After the doors are shut the rangers come and thank me. Trembling and sweating, I shake their hands. Thinking of how the professional attack dog would rest his head on my lap, I wonder if I’ve missed my calling as the world’s most gullible dog catcher.

Special note: I would like to thank the wonderful, totally not evil dog rangers of the City of Sydney who continue to have Clunkhead’s best interests at heart.

Update: one of the rangers called me to tell me that they took Clunkhead/Oscar back to his owner instead of the pound. The incident has been reported to the RSPCA.

Also, the shopkeeper’s leg is healing nicely.


5 Responses to “The terrifying incident of the dog at lunchtime”

  1. mywithershins February 16, 2012 at 7:45 am #

    One of my friends is an avid dog-lover and participates in the lost dog alerts that occur in our area, posting the notices about lost dogs on her Facebook page. I’ve been trying to help by sharing these posts and in the past couple of months we’ve managed to get several pets home to their owners. These are pets who are well-loved and missed, not abused like Chunkhead/Oscar. I hope he will be ok.

    Another friend of mine rescued a poodle that had been abused by the former owner & his kids. Their actions turned the puppy mean and he would often growl at people for no apparent reason. He’d even growl in his sleep, making me wonder if he wasn’t dreaming about those bad times. It’s a shame to think about pets who aren’t treated kindly by their owners. They don’t deserve their pets undivided love and loyalty.

  2. Deborah Kalin February 20, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Oh, poor Clunkhead! I hope his owner looks after him properly this time (although circumstantial evidence doesn’t look good). It breaks my heart when people raise animals to hate.

  3. fixitdearhenry February 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    Thanks, guys! The whole experience what really quite gut-wrenching, much more for Clunkhead than for me.

    This post could have been called “How I nearly delivered a trained attack dog to my ex-boyfriend’s house” but that would have given away the ending.

  4. fixitdearhenry September 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    Hi guys,
    I would love to turn this story into a webcomic. I could do it myself but lack the ability to draw both dogs and people.
    If you know an illustrator please pass this proposal on to them. I will pay them for their time because I’m not a jerk.

  5. Lyn Hicks April 23, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    Goodness me Eliza! Were you writing about The Dugong? She attacks anything that isn’t Paul, your father, Clark, Connor, our two cats (has been known to take issue with other cats) or me. Her job is to keep us safe … and she does that very well.

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