I gave Ben credit for keeping me from leaping off that car park: “Thanks, for saving my life.”
But Ben simply said, “It was the pup who got you off that ledge, not me.”
I insisted on carrying the little fur-ball the six blocks back to Ben’s van and as we walked I said, “Yes, it was lame of me to want to jump off that garage, but try having two cops as foster parents. The lectures
drove me over the edge. Try that on for a daily dose each day.”
The Indian dude said, “Try living on the rez, see how that would suit you. I was born on Pine Ridge. It is a rez up north, a shared space between Nebraska and South Dakota. Growing up there, I lived with
my uncle, Pete He Dog. He watched all those Dog Whisperer shows, and fancied himself a dog trainer. Uncle Pete raised pits. He said pits were the most loyal of all dogs, and since they got such a bad rap
because of thugs in the world, most pits know they have a lot to compensate for by showing themselves to be most noble, loyal, and eager to please their masters. It’s like each pit knows the bad reputation
they’ve had over the years, and so they know they have something to prove. Animal Control officers used to just put pits to sleep, but now, more pit bulls are being sent to no-kill shelters. And cops and the
military are actually adopting them as service dogs.”
This Ben Black Bull could talk. This Native had a lot of wind.
“Did you know,” Ben asked me, being extra careful not to make eye contact with me, as if he knew how uncomfortable that made me, “that Pit bulls have been famous throughout history? Most people
claim Pits are bred to kill. Most people have the notion that American Staffordshire Terriers are natural born killers.”
I had to ask, “Staffordshire?”
“Pits,” Ben said, “are known as Staffordshire Terriers, part bull dog, part terrier, descendants of the English bull-baiting dogs that were bred to go into a pit and fight against bulls and bears. When
bull-baiting was outlawed in the 1800s, people turned instead to fighting their dogs against each other. Larger, slower bull-baiting dogs were crossed with smaller, quicker terriers to be fighting dogs. Pits
may be labeled as vicious dogs, but all dogs have a wolf-like attack mode they are born with. Rarely do they act on it. It’s only after some cruel thug ramps their aggression meter past the point of no return do
they turn a loving pit into a monster.”
He paused as we approached his black van parked before the Child Guidance building, then he went on blabbing. “Killer pits are manmade. Weak men who can’t dominate in any other way, turn to breeding
hot-tempered dogs to entertain themselves like gladiators. And yet Pit bulls have been famous throughout history. Pete from the Little Rascals. Billie Holiday’s pit, Mister. Helen Keller’s pit, Sir Thomas. President Roosevelt’s pit, Pete. Sergeant Stubby, who served during World War I. Weela, who helped save 32 people. D-Boy, who took three bullets to save his family from an intruder.”
He paused again, surprised to find me actually listening to him. Talking about pits was not boring me at all. In that past year, I had drowned out what most adults said to me like Charlie Brown listening
to his teacher, “Blah! Blah! Blah!” I had not listened to most things that most adults said to me. But this Native was making sense.
“My favorite of all time was Popsicle,” Ben said, finally slowly turning to settle his gaze on me as we stood before his van. “He was a five-month-old pit puppy found in the freezer of a drug dealer
during a bust. A cop involved in the bust, ended up adopting the pit puppy and he grew to become one of the nation’s most important police dogs. At the end of his training, Popsicle went with his handler
to work in Texas, where he alerted to drugs on the border. In his time, Popsicle made seizures amounting to $7,000,000. And at the end of his career, his handler took him home. Evidently, he was a gentle dog, for his handler once said, ‘Only we know that he’s a pit bull. Popsicle thinks he’s a cocker spaniel.’”
I stood there, thinking of Ben’s long-winded blabbing about Pit bulls. Ben didn’t keep his eyes on me for too long of time. It’s as if he knew just when I had enough of the direct eye contact mushy stuff, and decided he was intruding on my space so he backed off. He asked me if I wanted to return to my therapist I had blown off at anger management. I told him that talking about my anger with a stupid
counselor just made me more angry. We stood before Ben’s Ford van parked in front of the Child Guidance building, Ben glanced up to the office upstairs, giving me the silent message that he wanted me to make peace with my therapist. In my defense, I held the pit puppy up between us and said, “What about this little furball? Poor little guy has already been abandoned once today, can’t have him think we are bailing on him, too, can we?”
Ben did not want to be played by the master manipulator, but I did have a point. He said, “I’ll take the pup back to my dog rescue ranch and settle him in there—”
“You run a ranch for wayward dogs?” I blurted. “Can I see it? Could you take me there before returning me to my foster home?” I had slipped out of my funk and was no longer determined to end my life. No, now I had switched gears entirely and wanted to be a part of the rescue operation for the pup I had not put down since picking him up in the middle of the street. Ben had just opened up his side door on the van, when the Pontiac came screeching to a stop in the street behind the van. The bald driver with the dragon tattoo, reached back over his seat and swung the back door open. “You got Goblin,”
he said. “Take Grunge, too!”
With that, he shoved the large pit out into the street. Slamming his back door closed, the bald man gunned his car, leaving black smoke drifting through the air. “Goblin?” I said, staring down at the pit pup now squirming excitedly in my grasp.
“Yes,” Ben said, standing there facing the large pit bull uncertainly. “And Grunge.”
Grunge walked stiff-legged past him and onto the sidewalk, a low growl rumbling in his chest.
to be continued. . .