Some days it just doesn't pay to chew through the leather restraints.
As vacations go, my last one sucked. It began with a very busy day selling and cutting Christmas trees, and ended with a visit from the city police. I'm sitting here in my family room filled with boxes of holiday decor needing my attention; problem is I'm lacking the spirit and cheer to enjoy the task. I'm just too angry and sad. My heart is broken and my head is reeling.
Yesterday Sam faced the very difficult task of taking Allie to the vet to put her down. She was neither ill nor injured but we had to do it having been served a second vicious dog citation after our neighbor filed a complaint stating that Allie attacked him. It happened while Sam and I were in Spokane last Monday and being a hundred miles away complicated the situation, but fortunately friends and family stepped up to assist us until we could return home.
Rumbeau (top) and Allie (bottom), April 2001
Allie came to us in the spring of 2001 as a four month old puppy and in the five years since she never jumped the fence of our back yard. But a couple of weeks ago she started and why is anyone's guess; I suspect it was because a new dog in the neighborhood is allowed to run loose and when it came on our property Allie's pack mentality kicked in and she went into territorial mode. On a couple of afternoons this month Sam came home to be greeted by Allie on the wrong side of the fence.
The events that took place last week are complicated, all we know is what the police and several friends told us. Allie was loose, our asshole next door neighbor claimed she attacked him on his porch, the police were summoned and they pepper sprayed her, at which point she jumped back over the fence and returned to the back yard. Lucky for us she did, we later learned the responding officer was preparing to shoot her. As all this took place another city officer we personally know called Sam's cell phone after hearing our address over the dispatch radio. He wanted to let us know about the situation but didn't know we were out of town; he later told Sam the responding officer had shot a dog the week before and our friend was concerned Allie's fate was sealed. In the end it was.
Allie waits while Rumbeau swims, Clearwater River, July 2006
Sunday when the police served Sam, I found it quite interesting how the responding officer kept referring to Allie as 'he.' He cornered the neighbor. He jumped the fence. Sam and I expressed our confusion and politely pointed out that Allie is a female and the officer's reply was, "I couldn't tell." He couldn't tell the difference between a male dog from a female dog? Right. When Sam and I pointed out there is another male black lab who is never penned up the officer brushed our comments aside, and squarely stated after he sprayed the dog with pepper spray he watched the dog jump over our fence to the back yard. Allie is a labrador and yeah, everyone knows how vicious that breed is! I'm so angry right now I just don't know if anything I write from this point on will make sense. A friend who was also summoned to our home told us both dogs were in the back yard when he arrived and neither showed any signs of being maced or sprayed in the face with pepper spray.
Allie (left) and Rumbeau (right) swim in a river of gold, Clearwater River, July 2004
This whole thing just reeks and makes me sick. I can't understand how a timid dog can suddenly turn aggressive, without provocation. Provocation being the operative word. My gut tells there's more to what happened that we may never know, but there is a lot we do know. The neighbor in question is pissed at us over a petty matter and we suspect this is his way of getting even. The difference being that our problem with him involved a broken down vehicle he parked on our property without first asking us. Since the day Sam finally called the city to complain after repeated requests to the neighbor to move the car failed to produce action the neighbor and his wife have given us the cold shoulder. All the neighbor lost was a parking space that was never his to begin with, but I have lost a beloved companion.
At the office yesterday I struggled to keep my emotions in check, without success. My stomach felt like a battlefield of swinging swords and knives. I worked through lunch, the time Sam had set to take Allie to the vet, and I left at 4, an hour early. Coming home from work and seeing Rumbeau alone just tore me apart. He sensed something was wrong and wouldn't leave my side. I sat here on the couch waiting for Sam, sobbing and Rum just leaned against me and kept nuzzling my hand, softly moaning as I slowly stroked his head and scratched his chest. When Sam arrived home he sat with me and minutes passed by in silence. I cried for so long my sinuses hurt. All this over a dog, a stupid zuccinni bread stealing, cat food eating, hole digging, bed hogging, fur ball shadow I was always tripping over; how could I let myself get so attached to her I said to Sam. He softly replied we humans are stupid that way.
Allie after an early morning dig, April 2005.
I can't help but notice Allie's behavior lately showed signs of stress, two years ago she started digging. Ironically that was about the time our neighbor retired. Rumbeau and Allie stay in the back yard while Sam and I work during the day. Our yard is large with four terraced levels on just under 3/4 of an acre of land surrounded by a five foot chain link fence. We have a dog run with an eight foot fence located on the side of our house, but its the same side as the neighbor and we can't keep the dogs there because they bark everytime they see him. The city called us on that awhile ago, and suggested we not keep the dogs there during the day. With the colder temps we kept both inside on the days we worked and at lunch I drove all the way home to let them out for potty breaks. Allie slept with us every night but last night I couldn't sleep. I tried to express what I was feeling in my journal but everything came out jumbled up and I cancelled the entry. I ought to go to work but I'm a mess. In my mind I hear the words of the Christmas song I've embedded in my journal...Hallelujah, noel, be it heaven or hell, at Christmas we get what we deserve.
Tell me what did we do to deserve this? I believe in karma, I believe what goes around comes around. I believe what you put out comes back to you ten fold. I suppose I should find peace in my beliefs, but at this moment I don't. Last night Sam said someday Spencer will stand in judgement for his actions. The guy used to gather cats in the neighborhood to use as bait for training his hunting dogs. Yeah, he's a real nice guy, an upstanding model citizen. I want justice and I want it now. We obeyed the rules, fenced in our yard to keep our pets contained, while two other dogs, one a male black lab, the other a male Chow-Sharpei mix are allowed to run loose every day in the neighborhood. The chow mix is always in our yard and bothering customers at our tree farm. Sunday a family was at the lot with a toddler who saw the dog and began to cry. The grandmother told me the child had been bitten by a dog and is afraid of them. I've thought about calling the city and complaining about the two dogs, but given what our last complaints to the city produced, who can say what that will lead to. No point having two more neighbors pissed at us. We are surrounded by losers.
My soul tells me justice will be served, but my heart wants someone to explain why. If dogs at large is against the law then why are two other dogs allowed to roam the neighborhood everyday without complaint, and the minute one of our labs slips over our fence she immediately becomes a threat to one neighbor and the police are summoned. Next month Sam will appear in court before the judge for the second time this year. The first time Sam forgot to lock the gate and Spence claimed he had to beat Allie off with a stick, so based on his word the police issued Sam a vicious dog citation. Rumbeau won't leave the yard unless we are with him, even if the gate is open. But Allie had two strikes against her, so we did what we knew the court would order us to do, while two other dogs are allowed to run loose in the neighborhood.
I want to understand, but I can't.
Yes Allie, you may. Yes Allie, you did.
Allie's been featured as the subject of several journal entries which can be found by clicking on the links below: