Valentine’s Day – the one day each year devoted to peace and harmony, where love flourishes and is raised to a higher level. The evening began with such promise. My wife Bridget and I would take our dog Maisy for the tranquil mile walk around the neighborhood, as we have done each night since adopting her in September.
Maisy is a sweetheart who is transitioning to a better life. Her past, though, has not been easy. She and her brother were found abandoned in a house in Terre Haute, Indiana, unbelievably left behind by the owners. Both dogs were rescued and Maisy joined our family as a beautiful but timid two-year old Aussie Shepherd mix, always offering love and slowly learning to trust and to accept love.
The walk began uneventfully as we traversed the familiar neighborhood sidewalks, the February cold stimulating the senses. Approximately one-quarter into the journey, though, I caught a peripheral flash of a charging dog perhaps fifteen to twenty yards away, and making a direct beeline for Maisy. This was no ordinary dog. Even though it was dark outside, I could tell that this was a Pit Bull.
My first inclination was to scoop up Maisy as quickly as I could. As I began to lift the perplexed Maisy, the charging Pit hit my back and I fell to the ground. I grabbed Maisy, lay on top of her, and covered her as best I could. The Pit was snarling to get at Maisy, and Maisy was squirming to get free and flee this entire menacing situation. Bridget was screaming at the top of her lungs for help while repeatedly activating a small air horn she kept in case we encountered a coyote (how we would have gladly traded places with that scenario).
Maisy got free of my grasp and ran, leash attached, down the street. The determined Pit Bull followed. Three houses down, and before the Pit could attack Maisy, the owner called off the dog, and it returned to the house. We were lucky. Upon closer examination when we got home – shaken up – we found that Maisy was bleeding and had indeed sustained a bite above her leg. We went to the Emergency Vet where we received our Valentine’s Day present – the bite wasn’t deep enough to require sutures. Maisy was cleaned up and put on antibiotics. This incident was reported to the police, and the owner of the Pit Bull did make contact, apologizing and offering to pay the vet bills. The offer was declined.
The real request is for a return of the stolen peace of mind, the carefree feeling of being able to walk around your own neighborhood without fear. The real request is to return Maisy to the place where she had been – a place of escalating trust, joy, and outdoor anticipation.
We were extremely fortunate to escape this ordeal with minor scrapes and cuts. Many have fared much worse. St. Valentine (et. al.) bestowed a tremendous gift that night. When will we realize, however, that dogs genetically engineered to inflict maximum pain and punishment, and who are aggressive by nature, are a menace to society? I am a dog lover but cannot tolerate these breeds, and will not accept anecdotal rubbish about how kind and docile these dogs are. The Pit Bull, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier (whatever name one wishes to euphemistically employ to soften their nature) is genetically bred to be a killer, plain and simple. I have experienced the sheer terror they inflict, and unequivocally state that they have no place in any community, responsible dog owner or not.
Time to slow down and smell the flowers (and candles).
Photo taken in La Grange, Illinois during warmer climes.
Belting out a tune is Dave Swartz, bass player for the Chicago based band, The Hominids.
An idyllic winter scene — the snowy whites contrasting with natural and man-made elements at the park.
Photo taken at Mallard Lake in Hanover Park, Illinois.
Soft, virgin snow provides a textural and color contrast against the spidery trees in the background.
Photo taken in Aurora, Illinois.
There is intrigue in serpentine paths, and I have found none more alluring than the prairie paths found at Peck Farm Park in Geneva, Illinois.
Two special companions whose lives never intersected, Maisy and McGee have both enjoyed the splendor of long walks in the woods. Through generous artistic license and imagination, they are finally crossing paths in one of their favorite haunts — Bliss Woods.
Is there anything more glorious than a crisp winter morning on the prairie, snow on the ground, a chill in the air, and blue, sunny skies overhead?
Photo taken at Peck Farm in Geneva, Illinois.
End of the line, exceeding the expiration date, termination. No matter the name, there will always come a time when nature overtakes us.
Our dreams and aspirations might be unique, but the simple act of crossing paths on a city street provides a common thread to our shared humanity.