Monday, July 19, 2010

The Tale of The Pet Bull & The Lascivious Dachshund

Veronica was victimized this past weekend. Molested, violated if you will…fondled in a most unseemly manner. It happened on a crowded street, in a good neighborhood, in the bright light of day.

Every summer the tiny seaport town of Wickford hosts an Art Festival. One weekend a year – the weekend after the 4th of July to be exact; the streets are magically transformed into a serpentine labyrinth of white tents each containing a stunning visual array of paintings, portraits, photography, glass, metal and all manner of art. People seem to come from far and wide, despite the oppressive summer heat; and the sidewalks to the quaint little colonial town are packed with tourists like sardines in a can. Narrow alleys wind through the town – shops and boutiques on one side, white canvas tents on the other. The art festival has been a staple in Veronica’s short life. It presents an excellent training opportunity - throngs of people, toddlers waving soft pretzels at dog’s eye level, baby carriages and leashed dogs. The perfect training ground for a high maintenance, occasionally skittish, dog reactive pet bull.

I have to say I was very proud of her. In years past we stuck to the outskirts and gave wide berth to leashed dogs; but she has been making slow, steady progress and this year we were in the thick of things. Veronica did extremely well sitting and watching me while leashed dogs passed by in fairly tight quarters. She did great responding to the clicker and looking calmly at other dogs, then looking at me…instead of trying to bore a hole into their souls with an unwavering gaze.

She also did well with not soliciting attention from strangers. Don’t get me wrong; she flashed the eyes, gave the big, goofy pet bull grin and amped up the charm to lethal levels…and she was rewarded with many “howdy-dos” and some pats and the occasional love fest – but there was no unsolicited licking of strangers feet, only 1 wet-willy cold dog nose to the back of someone’s knees (I didn’t actually catch her, but I heard the woman directly in front of her let out a startled “WOOooo” and give a little jump), and she did not stick her head up anyone’s skirt – despite ample opportunity.

All in all it was proving to be a good day. We didn’t stay long because the heat was unbearable. We stopped at St. Paul’s Church to sit on the steps in the shade and give Veronica a drink of water. She thought it was wonderful to sit and watch the crowd of people parade by. She was the veritable Princess on her throne; and of course many loyal subjects stopped by to pay her tribute and she held court like the royalty she knows she is.

It was when we decided to head back to the car that the incident occurred. We opted to take a shortcut which sent us by the street where shops tapered off to private homes. We were passing one of the first homes, still quite in the thick of the crowd; where the home’s residents were enjoying their prime location by sitting out in their yard. Perhaps 10 older folks were clustered around their patio enjoying a bite to eat and a cool drink. Then we saw…him. Small (no more than 10 pounds; 15 tops), low to the ground and perky as hell. He saw Veronica and his little heart sang. He made a beeline for her as fast as his little feet would carry him; which is when I noticed “no leash”. The lascivious dachshund with love in his heart and lechery on his mind was making a skippy beeline towards Veronica and he was not wearing a leash. No worries. The dog came from the group of people sitting outside of their house. Surely one of them would come to the rescue of their diminutive charge. I called out to them, “She’s not good with other dogs”…just to hasten things along, and picked up my pace. No one moved. Really, Not at all. Not a muscle. Meanwhile the miniature lothario is bearing down on us and catches up ramming his little needle nose snout directly into Veronica’s behind. And let me just take a moment to share that Veronica does not like to have her behind sniffed; she’s very selective about who gets to go back there and when.

Luckily I was armed with my clicker and my treats and a sturdy leather collar. I nonchalantly took Veronica’s collar in hand (if nothing else control the head) and I clicked and I treated…and surprisingly, she took the treats despite the impromptu proctology exam she was undergoing. Lots of people passing by…still, the dachshund’s owners are not moving. To Veronica’s credit she didn’t let out a peep. My main concern was not that she would try to eat her perpetrator; but rather that she would make “the sound”. “The sound” is something that comes out of Veronica when she needs to establish her position with another dog. It rather sounds like something out of the exorcist and one fully expects her head to spin round right after she vomits up pea soup. It’s sort of a cross between a guttural snarl and a low growl…and it’s a show stopper. It is NOT what I wanted issuing forth from her saintly muzzle in the middle of a crowded art festival even if she was being rudely accosted by an unleashed heathen.

So now we’re at least a full 1 to 2 minutes into Veronica having her derriere continuously assaulted and my clicking and treating. Now she’s getting just down right curious. She’s less interested in my treats and trying to whip her head from side to side to see “what the hell is going on back there”????? At this point the dachshund’s owner decides to make an effort to remove his dog. He ambles over and calls the juvenile delinquent…who ignores him; because “Hello! Busy with my head up a hot girl’s hiney”!!! Eventually after several more efforts he gets through to his dog and Veronica is free!! Not knowing what to say, I exclaimed the first thing that came to mind, which was “Well! THAT was a vicious attack that came out of nowhere”!!! – which got a few laughs from people not belonging to the dachshund. And one lady consoled me with an “at least you knew what to do”.

In retrospect we were very proud of Veronica for handling herself so well; proving that when the chips are down – she really can come through with some good behavior. We also realized that since my husband was standing right there the entire time, he could have simply picked up the dachshund – funny the things you don’t think of in the heat of the moment. We also took a minute to ponder whether or not the Dachshund’s owners WANTED him to be eaten. I mean here you have a strange Pit Bull, the owner says “Not good with dogs”…and no one moves? Why didn’t they just squirt him with mustard and throw a bun on him??

But in the end everything seemed to work out okay. Veronica had a good day, lots of new exciting experiences and she didn’t seem overly traumatized by having been so rudely accosted. She was quite happy to spend the rest of the day lying in front of the air conditioner.

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