We have some friends, Jay and Meg, who once picked out a cute puppy to adopt. Later, Luther the puppy turned into Luther the pitbull. That's not entirely surprising, as pitbulls make very cute puppies, but it was a surprise to our friends. Previously, they had kept only small dogs, respectable breeds. It took a cute mutt for them to realize that they had been pitbull people all along and not even known it.
Once they were converted, though, they were all in. So much so, that one day, Jay went down to the animal shelter and picked out another pitbull. They named him Caine. Now, there is a spectrum of bulliness. Luther obviously has the lineage, but there are a lot of other breeds going on in there, too. This new dog was possibly the pitbulliest pitbull they had at the pound that day, and I have to tell you, they got some pitbulls there.
Unfortunately, Luther did not like Caine. The day they adopted the new dog, Jay dropped him off at the house with Meg, then ran some errands. When he got back to the house, there were blood splatters all over the walls.
They had an awful weekend. Luther lost no opportunity to attack Caine, and Caine fought back only as much as he needed to do to defend himself. Caine could have ripped Luther to shreds easily, because he is a massive muscle beast, while Luther is more of a medium-sized beast that stays fit. But he wasn't trying to make trouble. They had to take him to the vet for a gash on his paw which required stitches. While they were there, the vet shaved Caine's face and head so that she could patch up all the other little bites and scratches.
Our friends, after several days of running interference and not really sleeping, called in a dog whisperer. I was amazed to find out that people really had that job. The dog whisperer came over and checked out the dogs, the owners, the house. A lot of it is really instructing the owners how to think like dogs, because dogs operate at a different level than we do. Some things that we do, things not even directed at the dog, have whole other meanings to them.
After that, there was some level of peace in the house. For the most part, Caine and Luther played like nice doggies who like each other. But every once in a while, the play would lead to growling, which would lead to horrific pitbull fighting. The harried owners learned how to predict the fights before they led to bloodshed and to separate the dogs beforehand.
A few weeks after Caine came to live with them, Josh and I went over to write some poems. Because of a miscommunication, we did not bring Remix, who has played happily with Luther several times in the past. It was our first meeting with Caine. I'd seen a picture of him on the internet, strapped in to the front seat on the way home from the pound. That dog in the picture had looked happy and sweet. This dog in front of me looked pretty rough. He still was regrowing the fur on his face, and you could see every little scratch and rip. He looked like what many people think of when they think of pitbulls, a fighting dog.
The dogs tussled and played in the basement with us while we visited. Jay told us about all they'd been through - the blood, the fights, the vet, the whisperer. He said he thought everything might have been fine if they'd brought home a female dog. We sat at a table. Luther staked himself out underneath the table, coming out to provoke Caine, then retreating under our legs. It was cute and seemed fine, until it was not.
Suddenly, the dogs were growling and attached at the face. Our friend grabbed Luther and held him up bodily. Josh took ahold of Caine and together, the two grown men were able to pull the dogs apart. Luther was unceremoniously dumped out into the back yard before we all surrounded Caine to gauge the damage. Jay turned the dog's head this way and that to look at it, came back with blood all over his hands. There were splatters on the floor.
The fight had lasted maybe ten seconds. It was terrifying. And what I could not get out of my head was that this was what people had bred pitbulls for. They wanted to see dogs kill each other like this. They placed bets on it. The human race sorta sucks sometimes.
We left pretty soon after that. It was late anyway, and no one felt like writing poetry. Even leaving was a hassle, as we had to keep the dogs separated through the period of our exit. We went home to our dogs, who were asleep on opposite ends of the couch, as usual. They sniffed us all over. I always wonder how much of our activities they can sense, but this time, I wondered if I had dog blood on my pants.
A few days later, Jay dropped Caine off at a no-kill shelter out in the country. They'd had all they could take. It broke their hearts to do so, and it was unfair, but Luther had been their dog from the beginning. I do not know if they are planning on getting another dog, and if so, how they feel about pitbulls now.