Dogma. Part II: Bad mama jama.

My dog Brisco bared his teeth to protect me a few times, but he never bit anyone. I, on the other hand, was a menace to the neighborhood. I was a rabid doggie mama. No one was allowed to mess with my dog. I was overcome with rage and lost all reason at the slightest hint of threat to my little Brisco.

There was the woman who never kept her Weimaraner leashed, even though he lunged regularly at other dogs, children, and joggers. The dog bolted across the street one morning, growling and heading straight for Brisco. I stepped into the street, in front of my dog, and grabbed the Weimaraner’s collar. I called the woman an idiot, her dog a beast, and continued ranting until the school bus behind me honked for me to stop holding up traffic.

Brisco and I walked hassle-free for the remainder of our time in that Jersey City neighborhood.

The dog and I relocated when my husband B and I were dating and moved in together. A new neighborhood meant possibly having to re-establish my role as one bad-ass mama. B knew about my past exchanges with people and their unruly pets, and offered to walk Brisco. B walked him in the mornings, and every other chance he got, under the guise of keeping me from being overburdened.

I was on to him, but the walks gave the two male loves of my life time to bond. I also had to learn to trust that B would care for Brisco as much as I did.

They returned much delayed and too quietly from one morning walk. I went into the kitchen when neither of them came to greet me in the bedroom as they normally did. B was getting four dog treats from the jar, though we always gave Brisco two after his morning walk. Brisco was wild-eyed and panting. I noticed the fur on his left haunch was very wet and mussed.

“Eww, it looks like someone slobbered Brisco’s butt.” I went over to smooth the fur.

“He’s fine,” said B.

I stopped and stood straight up.

“What do you mean he’s fine? Did something happen?”

“It wasn’t anything.”

B avoided my eyes. Brisco looked at us both, desperate for the four treats.

“Don’t be all evasive and lawyerly with me. What happened?”

There had been an unleashed dog in the park. It approached B and Brisco, and became aggressive. Luckily, the owner arrived right away, leashed the dog, and they left without incident. Nothing to worry about, just something to forget about. And boy, it really was time to move along and get to work.

“Tell me who it was,” I demanded.

“You wouldn’t recognize them.”

“Try me.”

“I mean, I didn’t recognize them. They’re probably not from this neighborhood.”

“Don’t. Lie. To. Me.”

B looked right at me.

“Nancy, you get a little crazy…”

“Crazy? I do not get crazy! I get even. I’m going to find out who did this. Then I’m going to bite them and their dog. That’s not crazy.”

I set my alarm to ring before B’s for two weeks, and walked Brisco in the park every morning. I watched him for bristled fur, a change in breathing, a reluctance or hesitation – any indication that the culprit was nearby. Nothing. I made a note of every owner who let their dog loose in the park. The information might be necessary if I decided to report any of those flagrant transgressors of Jersey City ordinances.

“It’s okay buddy,” I would whisper in Brisco’s ear. “B’s not around. Show me who tried to hurt you.”

But Brisco wasn’t giving up the info, either.

Men, I thought.

I never did find out what dog went after Brisco that day. It’s ten years later, Brisco’s been gone for almost seven, we’ve moved from that neighborhood (not because of me), and B still won’t tell me. Maybe he’s afraid I would return to that park, and carry through on my promise to bite both dog and owner. I’m a bit mellowed by age, so it’s not likely that I would bite. I would certainly scowl, likely mutter curses – and possibly report them for violating the city’s leash law.


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