PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Wild Dogs

Here's a little 8-track flashback most of you probably don't have. I was 9 or 10 years old, just your standard 4th grade life in rural Iowa - except for the raised-by-hippies, never-gonna-fit-in thing, but anyway, I had a half mile walk to the county gravel road from our house. This is where the schoolbus would pick me up, and my dad would often walk me out in the morning with our dog, Ghost, and I would be on my own walking home after school.

But then that fall, some neighbor across-the-way (and keep in mind, neighbors in rural speak is anyone within an 8-mile radius of you, sometimes more) had basically lost control of his dogs. He let them go wild, and they were running as a pack, taking down deer, etc. It was quite the buzz. As a fleshy child, smaller than a deer, there was some reason to be concerned about my own safety. I can STILL remember my dad putting his hands on my shoulders and talking to me: "OK, Jennifer. There are wild dogs running on the property. Now, I'm going to do my best to meet you at the schoolbus after school every day, but if I don't get there in time, here's what you need to do-"
(me: GULP)
Dad, continuing. "If the wild dogs come (HOLY SHIT IF THE WILD DOGS COME? my brain was racing.) you need to climb a tree. (HOLY SHIT HAVE YOU SEEN ME EVER CLIMB A TREE? NO!) But there aren't any really good trees to climb along the lane, so here's what you do, you get a big stick right when you get off the bus. (HOLY SHIT I HAVE TO FIND A STICK. FIND A STICK. GOT IT.) Then, if the wild dogs come (OH MY GOD THERE'S THAT PHRASE AGAIN), you need to find a big tree, put your back to it and wave the stick around in front of you at them and yell. (YELLING, WAVING STICK. NOT A PROBLEM. ENVISIONING LOSING BOTH ARMS AND JUGULAR TO WILD DOGS.) I will be there shortly. (SHORTLY? LET'S TALK ABOUT WHY YOU'RE NOT THERE ALREADY, MAN.)"

All I could do was nod. TER-RI-FIED. And for the record, my dad met me every day at the bus, so this whole stick procurement/tree safety thing never needed to be put into place, not that I didn't have stark visual images of it in my little 9-year-old brain. I have always been prone to delusions of grandeur, but I never fancied myself the hero in those imaginings, more like a terrified child watching the last few minutes of her life be images of a big wooden stick and the snapping teeth of a wild dog or three.

It didn't end well for the wild dogs. They were "taken care of" one weekend when my father heard them down on the bottoms, and with his binoculars could tell that they were chasing deer. He called the farmer in question and informed him that he was going to go down there with his rifle and kill them. This was where, in terror, I thought it could all end Disney-like, the farmer would come to his senses, drive over and get the dogs and take them home and be a responsible person again, and everything would end well. No snarling snapping dogs anymore, just kind, gentle farm dogs that licked the back of your hand. URRRRRT, that fantasy screeched to a halt. The farmer said he didn't care what happened to them, that he couldn't control them anymore, and so my dad, along with one of the other hippies, John, went down and we could hear the cracking report of their rifles, and it STILL makes me sad, because they weren't wolves, they were dogs, but they weren't dogs anymore, either, they were back in the large food chain cycle, where large deer and chubby 4th graders all looked tasty on the buffet of life. Re-reading this, I also realize that Hippies with Rifles is pretty damned funny. They weren't your typical hippies, my folks. Nothing about my life has felt particulary typical, but it sure does make for some funny stories.

Not that being attacked by wild dogs is funny, for let me tell you, I will carry that Wild Dogs Safety Lecture to my grave.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:23 AM