Growing up my father taught me what to do if attacked by a dog. He said, “If a dog you don’t know approaches you. Put your left arm across your belly. Put your right arm across your neck. When they bite, push back into their mouth breaking their jaw or choking them. Don’t pull away, their teeth are meant to hold and tear. When they shake their heads, use the momentum to continue the motion to snap the dog’s neck.”
My father got me a puppy when I graduated college. A lab mastiff mix. He was my blond baby. I named him Yin.
We did a lot of training. First Yin was house broken. Then obedience school. Then training as a service dog, as my health was lacking.
Yin and I walked twice daily; in the morning after breakfast and at night, after dinner. Yin was so well trained sometimes I neglected to use the leash. It was one such night that a man came up to me with a knife.
“Give me your money.”
“I don’t have any money.”
“Give me your jewelry then.”
I fumbled with the clasp of my necklace. The man stepped forward and wrenched it from my neck. I cried out in pain. He turned to leave. My big dog, Yin, leapt from the side, snarling, knocking the man down. Using my cellphone, I dialed 911 as I took the knife away from the panicked man. That night, cuddled in bed with Yin, I understood why my father had gotten me a puppy that would become such a big dog.
A few years later I had a massive stroke. I had been out by myself shopping. When I came to in the hospital, all I cared about was “Yin.” They had no idea what I meant by my dog’s name. Then my father arrived, with Yin wearing his service dog vest from when he had graduated as a half-grown pup. After a long hassle, it was proven that Yin was a certified service dog who had just outgrown his vest. Yin was allowed to stay with me in the hospital. He even slept on the gurney with me.
After my first stroke Yin was allowed everywhere with me. He got a new, properly fitted, vest with a little pack for his paperwork. I am slower now while Yin is still a big dog in his prime. Sometimes I would sit on a park bench and let Yin off the leash to run and play. One day he came back limping, his vest torn, the pack missing. I took him to the vet and called the police. The police wrote it off as a robbery with a knife. The vet was hesitant and told me to watch Yin for any changes.
The changes may have been there but I didn’t see them. Not until the last night we were lying in bed together. Yin was staring at me instead of cuddling like usual. Then he lunged. My father taught me what to do if ever attacked by a dog. Yin was just too close. He had gone for my throat. I got my right hand in his mouth but his breath still touched my neck. I pushed. Yin choked. I pushed harder as tears blurred my vision. Yin pulled his head to my right. I pushed further and there was a crunching sound. Yin fell limp.
My author bio is as follows:
Shana Horn has two bullmastiff labrador mixes, eleven years old now, who inspired this story. One is blond and male while the female has the traditional black fur. The technique in the first paragraph was indeed taught to her by her late father. More of Mrs. Horns short stories can be read on her blog at http://slwhshorts.blogspot.com/.