Sunday, October 16, 2011
“Vince... Vince… Are you alright?” they kept harping at him but to no answer. “Is there anything that we can do?” This, they were finding quite unusual and his three sisters were a bit worried by his dead silence. They had been trying to get him to talk for the last few hours but to no avail…
Usually, he was the life of the party at night and would never shut up but on this particular evening, he was as quiet as a church mouse. They had witnessed it all earlier that afternoon as the dramatic experience had unfolded right in front of them. To see their brother being brutally attacked like that by this huge black dog had scared the daylight out of them. They were still too young to comprehend what had transpired but knew that their brother was wounded and had been served quite the lesson.
It was early in September and as you would have it, it was “Hell Week” times five at the “Howl-A-Day Inn”. It was one of those dreaded periods in the dog kennel where chaos would reign for a while. One of the young bitches by the name of “Nikita” had started her menstrual period and her being in “heat” caused a chain reaction that made it that the other four intact females would soon follow with their own cycles. Where one cycle would normally last twenty-one days, when you had five girls going through this back to back, it made the “Best Little Whore House in Texas” look like a convent. There was no real explanation to this peculiar natural phenomena but that’s just the way things happened in a “pack”. When one started, all the other females followed.
As you would have, the males in the barn would not only take notice of these “in season” bitches, they would become totally focused on them and would actually challenge one another as to see who would get a “go” at one of the willing females. These clashes between these “macho” mutts were for real and would be at times, extremely savage.
Unfortunately, that’s what had happened to Vince earlier that day. Although extremely big, he was just still an overgrown happy go-lucky puppy. A fourteen months old “goof ball”, he didn’t really know what was going on nor did he know where he stood in the hierarchy of the pack. Till now, he had always enjoyed his time spending the better part of the last year just playing with or being a general pest to the other dogs. Everybody tolerated his antics and simply attributed his behavior to his immaturity. That was all fine till he decided to shoulder check the “Kid” who was busy sniffing and savoring an area where one of the bitches had urinated. The big black bruiser saw this as a sign of aggression towards him and he would defend his “turf”. He instantly snapped into action and took on the young “buck”.
A prudent move by the inexperienced white dog would have been to back off but Vince had other ideas and decided to hold his grounds. Ending up standing on their hind legs, both determined opponents were holding each other in enveloping “Bear Hugs” while growling and biting each other in the facial area. This “Sumo” wrestling match was for a moment at a stalemate as both dogs weighed in the 70 – 72 lbs range. However, what was to tip the scale in the “Kid’s” favor was his experience and muscle mass. He had been the “Alpha” dominant male for the longest time not because he had beautiful brown eyes but rather because he had fought his way up to that position. He had had a taste at every other male in the barn and then some and had never lost a fight. His time in the trenches made it that “Vince” was not even close to being a serious contender on this day. The “Kid” toppled the puppy on its back and jumped at his throat burying his teeth through the skin in the neck area. In pain, “Vince” tried to get free but the more he wiggled, the more the white fur in the area turned red. The jaws of the “Alpha” dominant male were well embedded and he would not let go until either complete submission or eventual death.
“Kiddddd!!” he screamed from the top of his lungs. “Leave him!” Hearing that voice and knowing that if he didn’t obey, there would be more fur flying and it would be his, the winner released his opponent before the musher could reach the scene. He ran away to a safe distance in the bushes, satisfied that he had taught a lesson to this young punk. As for the disoriented victim, not only was he scared shitless, he didn’t have the slightest clue as to what had happened or as to why. However, he did recognize the man as a trusted friend so rushed over and sat at his feet.
“Holly Shit Vince!” he eventually spoke out after closely examining him. “He got you pretty good!”
“But don’t you worry. We’ll fix you up just as good as new with a bit of peroxide and Aloe Vera”. And on that note, Vince was escorted to the house where he was to be provided with medical care.
“As for you “Kid”, he said before leaving the area, “you’ve done enough damage for a lifetime! Next week, it’s off to the vet and off with the family jewels!”
The big Shepard-Husky mix didn’t have a clue as to what the “Boss” was talking about but two things were sure. He was some pissed-off so best be on our best behavior till the storm passed…
The next morning, when the musher came to feed the dogs and let them out, the young gladiator refused to come out of his pen. He had been administered a severe blow and didn’t know if it was safe to wander outside the perimeter of his stall.
Noticing his absence and wondering how the yearling had faired throughout the night, Granddad “Irving” went to check on him.
“Are you OK there, young Fella?” was his initial question. “Are you hurt bad?”
“I don’t think so.”, young Vince answered in a very sheepish way. “My neck hurts a bit and I have a hard time swallowing but I think I’m all right…”
"Let me check that.” the senior dog of the kennel said. And on that note, he examined him by sniffing the affected area.
“Ah,” he eventually concluded, “you’ll survive. I think the best thing for you right now is to get some fresh air.”
“Yeah but is it safe out there?” his grandson queried, hesitant and worried.
“Walk with me and the musher.” the old dog replied. “Nothing is going to happen if you stick close to him.”
Vince took a chance and followed his grandfather towards the “Puppy Trail”. Quite nervous at the beginning, the young dog soon came to realize that the musher had shuffled things around. He had re-organized them so to see who would go out and in what sequence. During “Hell Week”, this was a necessary evil. All the dogs had their own characters and had their place in the pecking order. While at the bottom of the ladder some were extremely passive, the more you climbed it, the more aggressive they became. At the best of times, all would tolerate each other but when you had this enticing combination of willing bitches mixed in with horny studs, one was just asking for trouble. One would end up with dog fights or even worse, unwanted pregnancies. Even though they were domesticated, these sleddogs interacted between themselves just like a pack of wolves. The males would fight amongst each others to show their superiority thus establishing the cardinal rule of “the strongest and fittest will survive”. These were the simple facts during this time of reproduction within a “pack” and one had to find the right combinations so to give a chance to all the dogs a chance to go outside and stretch their legs.
Vince checked things out while walking with “Old Man Irving” and once feeling at ease, started talking to him.
“You know, I could have kicked his butt there, yesterday”, he said with a renewed cocky attitude. “The reason I fell on my back was because I slipped.”
The old dog didn’t say anything as he knew that it was just the nervousness that was making him talk nonsense.
“Yeah,” his grandson continued, “next time, he might just be in for a surprise.” “And you know what Grandpa? One of these days, I might just run away and form my own gang.”
Irving rolled his eyes but still kept his mouth shut. He knew better. In his lifetime of nine years, he had lived in six different kennels before he was rescued and given a forever home here at Baisley Lodges. Life out there could be cruel for an “Omega” dog like himself. For some reason, everybody would want to use him as a “punching bag”. Both in the human and canine forms, he had been at the receiving end of many fights and beatings. If one was not to believe this, the numerous battle scares that his body now sported would attest to this. Till he met up with this man walking next to him, he had never known a peaceful existence. Consequently, it had taken him a long time to trust this human but when he decided to do so, life became quite agreeable. For his hard work and dedication, he was given two great meals a day and all the water that he could drink. As a bonus, he was treated to his own dry sleeping quarters, something that was quite unusual for sleddogs. The way he saw things, it was worth being the last rung in this particular ladder as this was a good place to live.
“Yeah,” his grandson continued, “I’d like to go out there and show everyone as to what kind of stuff, I’m made of.”
The wise old dog had been observing young Vince since he was brought into this world and although he couldn’t put his finger exactly on it, he knew that this yearling was special. Acting as his mentor, he had decided to take him under his wing and teach him amongst many other things, skills necessary to survive amongst the dog community. The golden rules were simple. Avoid confrontational situations and if you can’t, walk or even better, run away from the fight. This was an excellent way to avoid getting hurt but something that Vince had a hard time to comprehend let alone put into practice. Inside him stirred this ever looming burning sensation that dictated to him that he was destined for greatness. He didn’t know what to make of this but it was there. So Irving continued to be patient with his grandson and kept on preaching the principles of living peacefully within this particular family. Today’s lesson would be “Respect your elders”.
“Vince,” he started, “if you’re going to live any length of time in this pack, it is wise for you to determine, who’s who in the zoo. Some of the older crowd that occupies this piece of real estate are pretty well hard core and set in their ways. It is up to you to adapt yourself to their way of doing things and not the other way around. The “Old Timers” have put their time in and have worked real hard for the musher over the last seven years. That alone should warrant some of your admiration.”
“Wow” the attentive pupil replied, trying to imagine how far they had traveled during that period, “Are you part of that bunch?”
“Well Vince, I have been around for a while also but only have a limited share of this particular partnership. This bunch that belongs to this particular inner circle has a special status around here. The “Baisley Mob” was the beginning of this great adventure when one day…
To be continued…