Still shaking

I’ve just had a terrible experience. I’ll eliminate all suspense up front by saying that everyone survived. But it could have gone otherwise.

I was sitting outside on our back deck, with my laptop on a little table in front of me and Xerxes on his 12-foot leash attached to my chair. He had just returned from a prowl in the ground cover and was about 8 feet from me when Eva, the wretched German shepherd from next door, burst like an artillery round through the yew hedge between our properties.

This dog barks dementedly when released into her fenced backyard several times a day. A couple of weeks ago when I was walking Xx in our front garden, Eva erupted through that hedge, terrifying Xx and causing him to climb me like a tree. The dog belongs to our neighbor Linda, and at the time of the front-garden incident was nominally under the control of Linda’s girlfriend Flora, who apologized. I pointed out that we had tolerated Eva’s occasional breakouts into our yard when all she did was tear up our plants, but that now I worry about the cat. The whole point of this dog is that she is supposed to be under restraint when outside her own house because she has attacked other animals before. So there were renewed promises not to let it happen again.

You can see where this is going, can’t you? Just┬álast night we were sitting on the deck–Zach, me, and Xx–and Eva ran over. Nothing much happened, I scooped up Xerxes, and Eva ran back to her own house without even barking. This afternoon things went rather differently.

I didn’t see the dog coming until she was right on top of us. She leaped down the bank and grabbed Xerxes. I started screaming–I must have been pretty loud, too, because neighbors came running from up to three houses away! but I’m not embarrassed–and tried to wrestle the dog off Xerxes. Eva dropped Xx but snapped at me, which was scary–she’s a big dog. I’ve never been scared of her, but she seemed maddened by blood lust. She broke away from me and went after Xx again, knocking over the table and running across my laptop. (It seems okay but still has a dusty dog-print on the screen; this just happened and I haven’t even cleaned it.) Xx was snarling and bristling and trying to get away, hampered by his leash, and Eva kept snapping her horrid jaws and leaping on him. I was screaming bloody murder.

Linda and FLora came running over to try to get Eva, and just then Xx squirmed out of his leash and was off like a shot around the corner of the house with Eva in pursuit. Linda nabbed Eva and took her away, but by that time I had lost sight of Xx. I was terrified that he would bolt out into the street in a panic and get hit, or that he would run away. Fortunately the crowd of neighbors aroused by my shrieks had seen a whitish streak running through another neighbor’s yard and into the woods. Soon Zach spotted Xx up in a tree not too far into the woods. The tree was thickly surrounded by a dense, nasty patch of blackberry, so when I charged in in shower thongs, my feet got a bit scratched. By the time I had worked my way to the base of the tree Zach was already on a mission to bring me a stepladder. Xx was on a branch about 3 feet higher than I could reach. He showed no inclination to go higher and in fact reached toward me with a paw, but was clearly unsure of how to get down. Zach manhandled the ladder up through the blackberry. The ground was very uneven and full of holes, but I managed to balance on it long enough to grab Xx. Then we both fell down. So did the ladder. But I didn’t lose my grip, Xx didn’t freak out (much), and the blackberry bushes cushioned our fall (sort of).

Xx was shaking with what I assume was fear, but he seems okay now except for some blood between the toes of his hind feet. I think he just tore up his little indoor pads tearing through that brush at top speed. If his paws seem sore later or I can’t wash away the blood after he calms down, I’ll take him to the vet. The only other sign of the ordeal was dog saliva on his back where the wretched beast grabbed him. I feel sick when I think about how much worse it could’ve been.

I talked to Linda, who felt terrible about it–she has a cat, too. She was relieved to know that Xerxes is okay. And I’m glad we had a calm and even friendly conversation. But I did tell her that Zach and I have been very forebearing about Eva, and that if there is another attack on Xerxes (who never leaves our yard and is NEVER outside except when I have him on a leash) or another snap at either of us, we are going to call Animal Control and the police. We can’t be afraid to sit on our own deck, with our own pet on a leash, because we might be attacked!

Linda swore that Eva will be on a leash every second she is outside from now on, except when she’s in her back yard (which she can’t escape from). I hope so. We shall see. The sad thing is that it’s not the dog’s fault. She’s friendly to people she knows, and to Flora’s little dog, and to Linda’s own cat. But the dog regards anything outside her own house as prey, and Linda has done nothing to discipline her.

Now Xx is curled up on the sofa, with Z sitting next to him petting him, and he appears to be okay. Time to clean my computer screen and my own scratches. Zach said something kind of sweet–might not be meaningful to anyone who doesn’t know that I am terrified of arachnids and go to great lengths to avoid any possible contact with them or their webs. He said, “I wish Xerxes could know that when you saw him up in that tree you ran through not just a huge blackberry thicket but also several huge spiderwebs.” Never even saw them. Not quite the same, perhaps, as a mother lifting a car off her trapped toddler, but still.

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