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Thursday, 20 February 2014

Dogs Can Bark Even From the Dead

By Clifford Rothband

This may be a sad story to some but if you are a true believer in animals understanding and offering love, unconditional love, there is a happy ending offering hope for the future.

We lived in a small Florida city, Parkland. At the time maybe 500 residents, maybe seven police officers. Ten square miles of forest and farmland. Being a Vietnam vet, this was my utopia. Wife, two kids and two Red Dobermans.

I walked perimeter at night with my non-lethal weapons. Keep in mind that a dog is possibly the only animal that would sacrifice its life for a human. To this day it bothers me that I have read that of the about 9000 dogs sent to Vietnam, only three returned. And that the Oriental Chow dog was raised for food.

Patty was born on St. Patrick's day, a red and fawn AKC-registered elegant female Doberman pinscher. We tried to mate her and it didn't work out.

One day this Red Doberman male shows up, flat-footed and tail cropped, but the biggest silliest bimbo uncut ears. So funny looking was he with a smile and grin that says, "Here I am, please take me in. I've been deemed expendable and dumped in these woods.”

Of course we adopted him. He obviously had come from a unloved harsh existence, wanted a family and knew how to share love and only wanted to please.

Patty I walked on a leash. Bozo the clown dog kept in step without a leash and obviously was smart enough to read my mind and obey with a constant K-9 smile.

We lived on acreage with a creosote board fence that held a horse but the dogs knew their territory and stayed on site. Even when the occasional wild boar, bobcat or raccoon, squirrel or someone else's dog came uninvited, my guy's stood their ground.

Now, we had an elderly couple who moved in just south of us. They had two sons, one older and a younger kid about nine at that time. Well, the Mom loathed, hated and feared Dobermans.

A military lesson I remember is that fear can be cured by a simple attitude adjustment. My brutes' temperaments were really only like big stuffed toys but there size intimidated and fed their ferocious myths.

The dogs felt the old lady's rejection and kept their distance. Now the husband would walk over on occasion with dog treats. I asked that he not feed them as it confused them as a friend and a food source, and since I had taught them only to eat from the kitchen bowls.

When we went out, we placed Patty indoors and Beau on the enclosed screened patio pool area. He slept quietly on guard in the shade, as far as we knew.

My wife comes home with the kids about three one afternoon and Beau is laying next to the pool, blood coming from his head. They loaded him into the pickup bed and off to the nearest veterinary hospital.

The .22 bullet had grazed his skull. Several screen bullet holes indicated projectile direction that they came from the house next door. Beau had a concussion and he would spend a few days in a animal hospital.

Now this is Friday.

An epiphany. On Sunday morning, our neighbor calls me to come get my G-Damn dead dog who is leaning on his front door. At the time both of the dogs had to be more than 10 years old. A good lifetime for a large breed.

Patty was cold stone dead for sure. I picked her up - me at 40, a combat veteran with tears in my eyes.

Why she went to that place to expire, I now see as a message. I screamed at the neighbor, "You bastards shot one dog What did you poison this one?"

He replied that his wife had the eldest son shoot Beau. Why Patty showed up on the door step to die was beyond him.

I answered, "Obviously a broken heart! You should only drop dead, you jerk. I could kill you but it isn't worth forfeiting my life for you piece of garbage.”

By the weeks end, I had Patty buried and found a new home for Beau.

A few weeks later, I was reading the newspaper and saw an add for a blue female Doberman. I had never seen one this color before. $1000 with AKC papers. Under a year old, house broken and trained.

So I got my son and we went to check out the blue. I explained what had happened to our two reds and as my son frolicked on the ground with "Blue," the lady handed me the papers free of charge, food, bed and asked if she could visit.

She never did. But we kept “Blue" until she reached past 14 years. We also obtained another Dobie, a black and rust partner named Zeus who also died of old age a few weeks after Blue. Blue and Zeus gave us so much after a tragic loss.

An epitaph. The old man they found weeks later on the ground in his yard. We were told he died of a heart attack and the eldest son, we had heard, died in a fight in Vegas. How things work out.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Thanks for writing such a compelling story! Barbara Y.

That is quite a story Clifford. I was wondering, since the creep admitted to shooting your dog, and your house, wasn't there some criminal, or civil action taken? Thanks for sharing your story.

Yes, Clifford, it is quite a story--poignant, well-told, and thought-provoking.

Something that may interest you is a book I have which is titled "Dogs With Jobs." It has amazing stories about working dogs which do a huge variety of jobs. A few years back I gave a speech in my Toastmasters group about some of the dogs in the book and the search-and-rescue dogs brought to Ground Zero after 9/11.

Many people in the audience were tearing up to see the physical and emotional impact of the work on the dogs and their trainers. If you're interested, try Goggling something like "rescue dogs at Ground Zero."

Thank you again for the story of your dogs.

Good storytelling. How can people be so cruel, though? I, too, wondered why you didn't take action against those neighbors.

Makes me mad when people pick on any animal. Thanks for sharing.

WOW - what a story. I can't understand cruely to animals in any form. Here in SF, someone is trying to kill San Francisco pets with poisonous meatballs AGAIN. I hope they are caught ...and wish they could be forced to eat their own poison. Of course, they won't but what kind of psychopath does things like this - or your former neighbors. I would be honored to have you as a neighbor and get to know your dogs.

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