When I lived with Vascago, back in 1994, we both had the luxury of meeting Tyson, the dog. Vascago dabbled here and there in the business of selling and breeding pure-bred Rottweilers. He was in cahoots with a semi-shady character known as “Couch”. Couch earned his moniker through his portly ability to fall asleep on any couch, anywhere, anytime, sitting upright. Couch was an overworked businessman with his hand in many jars. Although the majority of the jars only contained crumbs, there were a few that held beautiful, delicious cookies. Rottweilers were definitely one of his cookie jars.
We received a sort of distress call from Couch one evening about a dog he needed us to watch for him. He cautioned that this was no ordinary dog. This particular dog was trained in Germany to be an ultra-elite home defense beast of burden. All of his commands were in German. From my understanding, it took Couch a great deal of anguish to get this dog to respond to three basic English commands: sit, stay, and lie down. I think seitz (seats) and plotz (plots) were sit down and lie down, respectively, although I never learned “stay”. Scary fucking dog, tho. Couch figured out early on that he couldn’t keep this pedigreed pariah with his other Rottweilers. Thus, Vascago and I were called on for assistance. We were reluctant at first, given the dog’s five thousand dollar price tag, but after a night on the town and some forever-to-be-unnamed deal sweeteners, we agreed to hold the dog for him over the weekend. Even the dog’s name was auspicious: TYSON.
On a Friday afternoon, Couch brought Tyson over to Vascago’s house to get the dog acclimated to us. At first, we didn’t see what the big deal was. Tyson seemed to like us and was open to our eagerness to pet him. He was a tightly packed, muscle-bound dog with an attentive demeanor in his every step. More like a Pit Bull painted with shiny black and deep bronze magnificence. By the time Couch left Vascago’s, we were excited to have a new friend in the house for the weekend.
Since it was a Friday, which at this point in our lives meant “Prime Time”, we decided to put Tyson in his kennel for the night. Vascago and I didn’t really believe in one-dog carrying kennels, but I guess our selfishness and desire for the night’s offering took over. I carried the kennel down the squared-spiral wooden steps that lead to Vascago’s basemet while Tyson followed close behind. I set it up in the corner and turned around to what can best be described as a three-way old west showdown between Vascago, Tyson, and the newly placed kennel. Vascago had to resort to bending down and using baby talk to break down Tyso’s Pavlovian willpower. This would turn out to be a usefu tactic.
As Vascago coaxed Tyson into the kennel, we learned another useful tidbit: Close that kennel door…AND FAST!!!
As soon as Tyson hit the back of the kennel, he turned around with all of the fury allotted to a singular being and tried to attack both of us. Luckily, Vascago had one of the two lock posts in place. He cautiously secured the other lock post and I half-mockingly congratulated him. Tyson employed this vicious technique every time we put him in the kennel, which we soon became forced to do.
The next morning, Saturday, we decided to take Tyson with us to pick up a food order from a local deli. We only had a couple of blocks to go, so it didn’t seem like a big deal to take Tyson with us. I can remember how much I looked forward to walking this perfect specimen down the boulevard and having all of the passers-by silently admire my beautiful dog. How’s that for being a fucked up tool of perception?
Anyway, we made our way down to the deli. I was adamant about being able to control Tyson while Vascago picked up our order. I commanded Tyson to lie down, in between me and the brick wall of the establishment. He obliged with no hints of insubordination. Then, I carefully wrapped the entire leash around my left arm until I was kneeling down beside Tyson, with his “choke-ckain” in my left hand. With my right hand, I was petting him, as if he was the best dog in the world. I felt like I had a pretty good grasp of the situation.
A family of five came walking up the sidewalk from behind me. Parents, two small girls, and an infant that the mother was carrying. I tightened my grip as I looked over my right shoulder to watch the family pass.
Looking back…I shouldn’t have looked back.
As soon as the family crossed the threshold of Tyson’s field of vision, he lunged at them. Instantaneously, I pulled back on his leash like I was reeling in an award winning sailfish, but to no avail. Tyson was too quick for me, but not by much. He had managed to nip the older of the two little girls on the arm, by the elbow. It was by no means ambulance worthy. Tyson’s attack left the girl with a pin drop of blood that grew into a little stream. Obviously, she was terrified. The parents were becoming more and more hysterical by the second.
Luckily for me, Vascago was coming out of the deli at about the same time the attack had ended. He artfully diffused the entire situation, complete with contact information and addresses. The family insisted on calling Animal Control. We had no platform to oppose them, .nor did we want one. Vascago and I were in agreement that this hound from hell had to go…the sooner, the better. Several times on the way back to the house, we sarcastically toyed with the notion of a city bus greeting Tyson’s desire to be free.
Animal Control dropped by later that afternoon and let us know that the little girl was fine, but that Tyson would have to be quarantined for ten days in case she showed signs of further ailments. The kicker is, they wouldn’t let us transfer Tyson back to Couch. (So, don’t ever try to pawn off your problems to a guy named “Couch”). This meant that we would have this Protector of Hades fittingly confined to Vascago’s house for a week. OK. We can do this.
In the midst of all of Tyson’s havoc, I still believed my bond with animals was strong enough to overcome any obstacle. So I came up with the brilliant idea of having Tyson sleep in my bedroom with me. You know…to become friends.
At first, I just laid down and Tyson jumped up next to me and laid with me on my lower-than-normal bed. A boy and his dog…loving each other. I pet him and comforted him and complimented him until he fell asleep. Tyson loved every minute of it. He fucking loved it!!! Confident that I had gloriously succeeded, I followed suit and called it a night.
WHAT THE FUCK!!!
I was rudely awakened from my deep, peaceful, trancelike slumber by Tyson PISSING ON MY FOOT!!! Four o’clock in the morning and this fucking dog, this antithesis of man’s best friend, had his hind leg hovering over my foot like some poorly conceived UFO dispelling its wrath upon the undeserving humanity below, releasing his radiology upon my dermatology, as if I were a tree in a field in which he never got to run!
Instinctively, I jumped up and started to yell at Tyson as if he were a poodle. You may officially file that under “Bad Idea”.
Tyson immediately started to bark and threaten me. He somehow dictated movement that I was no longer by my bedroom door, as I had been when I initiated audible conflict. To my horror, he eerily positioned himself to where the length of his body covered the width of my closed door. He lowered his head and stared at me with cold intent. He was grinding his teeth and frantically licking his lips at the same time. The most disturbing thing, however, was the way he growled at me. It sounded like a Black Sabbath album played backwards. The intense saliva cause Tyson to intermittently bellow out like a Harley Davidson idling in a closed garage.
I hectically scanned my mind for possible defense moves, all of which could be described as preordained failure.
Then it hit me…and I am still thankful that my mind go my body out of such peril.
I recollected the night before and Tyson’s kennel. My only hope for survival was baby talk. I slowly hunched over and talked to Tyson like an infant. As soon as he heard the first baby syllable, he transformed from the soon-to-be well fed dog into the poodle I thought I was yelling at. I walked over and pet him with one hand while I slowly opened my door with my other hand.
After I cautiously extracted Tyson out of my room, I yelled like a drunk banshee for Vascago to keep that dog the fuck away from me!