Yes, a mistreated abused dog I saved returned the favour and saved me.
I figure it’s time to tell you all about Ben the dog. I was quite young, I would say junior school age. I noticed a neighbour had a new dog, a small puppy with a curly tail, but he was bought as a gift by the Dad of the house for the very pregnant Mum of the house. The Mum already had her hands full with a small and unruly daughter. Ben was losing weight as the Mums’ priorities were elsewhere rather than feeding and looking after this needy pup she had been given. It was a burden she didn’t want or ask for, I understand that. What I can’t deal with is the abuse from the daughter.
I saw her kick Ben. I saw her tie him in a plastic carrier bag and swing him over and around her head. Whilst Ben cried. She was little but she still knew it was wrong. I saw her have a “teddies picnic” in her front garden where she stabbed a fork at his little body and dragged a knife back and forwards across his little body. She would pull his tail hard complaining it wasn’t straight.
The Mum often left Ben shut out in the front garden, where his poo was never picked up, so he had to tip-toe around it all. He would be crying and desperate for friendship and kindness. I used to sit by their gate and squeeze my arm through the posts to stroke him. I spoke to the family, even as a child I was a stubborn sod about animal welfare. I tried to be nice, and I spoke to them a few times and nothing had improved. So I threatened to report them to The RSPCA and I meant it.
The response was the Dad said “Here! Have the mutt then! More hassle than he’s worth!” It’s a good job my Mum didn’t say no, because Ben moved in. Obviously I didn’t stab him with cutlery or kick him or swing him in bags, but he was forever scared of these things.
This is similar to how my Ben looked, he was a Collie, Alsatian and Husky cross.
Fast forward a couple of years, Ben fell down a cliff chasing a rabbit or cat. He survived but it hurt, I would massage his legs when the pain started. I think he had arthritis.
A couple of years later I was walking Ben, my little sis was with me, and we were walking along a public footpath. I saw someone with a big dog in a field opposite a small house a little further along the footpath. She was wearing a very colourful and distinctive shell suit coat and I thought it was a neighbour so I called her name. It wasn’t my neighbour. (Seriously I never thought two people could both have bought such a hideous jacket.)
Nope, she was the lady from the small house nearby who yelled immediately the we “get off my land, this is private property.” I said sorry we are just walking our dog, and pointed out the “Public Footpath” sign just a few feet back on this path. she didn’t like it. Then She Shouted “Kill!”
She really meant it and her dogs really listened to her.
They bounded towards us with the clear intent to do harm. It was three dogs, three big dogs. They were Rhodesian ridge back crossed with Alsatian. It was all teeth and claws and growling. It was terrifying, as scary as you can imagine.
We ended up stood up a wooden five-bar gate. It was as high as we could get, we couldn’t outrun dogs! Climbing was just instinctive, as we stood there screaming and crying, and kicking out at these dogs when these hounds bright white teeth were lunging at us Ben noticed our screams were more frantic. The mutt at our feet was winning. At this moment Ben was being held upside-down in a small river that ran alongside the footpath. His head was under water, and it was like slow motion as I watched one of the dogs mauling Ben, huge cuts ripped into his body. I could see blood in the water. I thought he was going to die right then.
But somehow he got up and placed his body between the other dogs jaws and us. An almighty yelp followed and Ben looked me in the eye. My poor pup.
We somehow managed to avoid serious injury, thanks to that gate and my Ben. I remember him taking at least twenty bites meant for us. He was so brave and focused completely on protecting us even at his own risk. He could have run off, no one would blame him.
The screams were so loud a teacher from my school heard us, above his telly, above his own family. He heard us, and he lived over a quarter of a mile away up a hill. He left his kids at home and jumped in his car. He drove it up the footpath, I doubt it did his car any good but lucky it was an old fashioned Volvo. Those things were almost bullet proof. Thank gawd!
As my teacher drove towards us we were reluctant to jump down from the gate. It felt like being circled by sharks. That gate was our tiny boat, it was safer than the ground. Ben again protected us as we got into the car, Sir remained in the car, engine running hard. The hounds were jumping up at him, trying to force their way into the car. He punched one of them through his open window, another of the trio was ripping at the cars tyres. Something told me they had done this before. We were in, and Ben quickly jumped in Sir’s window, luckily he was the cheap runt of the litter, and had always been small.
Sir reversed as fast as he could and the dogs were still snapping at the car, I was holding onto the inside door handles hoping these beasts wouldn’t get in. They were climbing on to the car bonnet so Sir swerved the steering wheel to shake them off. We were safe at last.
My poor little loyal brave dog.
The scars physical scars for him were permanent. The huge white scars of new skin formed on his wounds, for around a month I cleaned his cuts daily with salt water and cotton wool. It stung him, I could tell that, but the old boy trusted me. He growled at the cotton wool though!
I had saved him as a puppy, he saved me as a teenager. He seemingly never forgot. Without him I would have died or been disabled. Nothing was stopping those dogs.
No case was taken against the owner of those dogs, but I wasn’t the one making that choice.
I later found out they were indeed trained to kill. The lady was a white South African and had fled SA during the “white flight” that happened in the early 90’s following apartheid. She meant to kill kids and a small dog for walking along her path!
I think the dogs needed putting down and the lady needed to face charges for trying to kill us. Sadly the attitude was a bit “no harm done, there there! You haven’t even got any scars” as there was hardly a trace of damage on our clothing. It looked like the dogs just had a fight.
This is why I had a phobia of dogs, and why I can’t walk in the countryside anymore. But with the therapists help I fixed my phobia and we adopted Freya almost a year ago. Of course I had to get a rescue, they deserve all the love they can get.
In memory of my beloved Ben. I still miss you boy. X