Yesterday was baking day. Around noon Torso Boy wanted out to pee, and we both alerted to a couple of dogs barking in the direction of Landlady’s place where no dog has any business being – and incidentally where we keep the chickens.
I had just started my dough on its first rise and had a few minutes, so I took my rifle overland to the other side of the horseshoe bend in the wash where I could glass the land in that direction. The dogs were still going at it but now it seemed they weren’t near Landlady’s but possibly farther up the ridge in the direction of SurvivalDave’s place. I couldn’t see anything but heard them clearly until they abruptly stopped barking.
I could hunt dogs or bake bread, and I had no reason to think the matter was important enough to ruin my bread so I let it go until the loaves came out of the oven. By then it was near chicken chore time anyway so I left Torso Boy at home – over his objections – and went out to Landlady’s in the Jeep. There was no sign of anything wrong there, or at SurvivalDave’s, so I kept going to a turnaround I seldom visit overlooking a little feeder wash behind S&L’s. And there I started hearing the dogs again. This time they were to the north and further up the plateau.
So I drove to where there’s a little-used road that goes in that direction, with no real expectation of encountering the dogs. Which only shows how wrong I can be because not only were the dogs right on that road but they were in the process of harrying a cow with a very new calf.
There were two of them, of the usual sort – something like a cross between an American Bulldog and some variation on a pit bull. It’s probably some specific breed I don’t know about. One was a dark brindle and the other a light brown. They were nearly oblivious to my arrival: They ignored me when I honked the horn and when I yelled at them out the window, too busy with this hapless cow and terrified baby calf. But they noticed when I stepped out of the Jeep – the brindle broke off and ran away and I saw him no more, but the brown didn’t want to leave his fun. I drew and fired my pistol into the ground, which cost me an expensive round of Hornady Super-‘Splody .44 Magnum when a cheap reload would have done as well, and that lit his afterburners and ended the matter.
And the devil on my shoulder said I should have taken the rifle out of the Jeep because they were easy kills, harder with the .44. But they both wore collars and weren’t skinny strays and I have a horror of shooting somebody else’s dogs. I was surprised at myself for even having the impulse to shoot the dogs.
I mean – this gets complicated. Until only a few years ago there was a pit bull puppy mill on the other side of the plateau, badly run even by the usual standards of such things, and plagues of feral runaways were common. I’ve hunted them numerous times; I’ve buried them and I’ve rescued them, all based on their behavior at the time. It doesn’t have anything to do with my attitude toward dogs – I like dogs, but feral packs are trouble and can’t be tolerated. So yeah – I root them out.
But sometimes local dogs just get rambunctious. We live in Doggie Disneyland, after all – until he meets something that can hurt or kill him, this must be a wonderful place to be a good-sized dog. So many things to chase! I know for a fact that killing a calf was high on Little Bear’s bucket list, which is largely why I couldn’t let him run loose. He very much wanted to be one of those dogs – in fact he wanted to lead the brat pack, and could have. I would not have looked kindly upon anyone who shot him for it.
And I have no responsibility toward the cattle. In fact in general I despise them, though this year’s bunch hasn’t been any trouble so far. So why this authoritarian impulse on my part, to shoot some other guy’s dogs for hassling cattle? I was shocked at myself. The tendency of cattlemen to shoot cow-chasing dogs is an emotional issue with me – but when they do it there’s at least a point. There’s no justification for me doing it, and I was surprised at even a hint of a desire to.
I actually lay awake in the wee hours this morning, thinking about it.
This must be how a cop goes from being the guy who solves the problems to being the problem.