Saturday, August 8, 2009

Danger to Self

For sixteen years, our family dogs were Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers: Champers and Britches, to be specific. They were usually walked several times a day.

One morning as I stopped to wait for a light to change so I could cross a street, I heard a choked sound coming from near my feet. I looked down to discover that Champers had a creature in his mouth. I could see four little, furry legs moving frantically and a little head twisting and turning for air.

I bent down and pried Champers' jaws opened, and out popped a Yorkshire Terrier that I had seen being walked on leash many mornings. No sooner had I sprung the Yorkie from Champers' mouth, than Britches snapped him up. As I pried her jaws opened, a young man, the adult son of the Yorkie's owners, strolled up, leash in hand.

"Gosh!", he said. "Hope he's not hurt," and watched as the Yorkie scampered quickly away from my dogs.

I suggested he have his dog examined by a vet asap. Because the Yorkie was moving, the man didn't think that would be necessary.

I did inquire, why, since he had a leash, it was not attached to his little dog.

It had been, he told me. But when the Yorkie had spied my Wheatens almost a block ahead, it had pulled and pulled. "He wanted to come up and say 'hello' to your dogs."

I was speechless.

Champers was more than ten times the poundage of the Yorkie. Britches was about six times the Yorkie's weight. Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are known to be among the most congenial, easy-going of terriers. But they are terriers. And they have been guarding houses and farms in Ireland for hundreds of years. Next time you see a Wheaten, look at its jaw. This is a serious dog.

I walked home in shock, knowing that Champers, Britches and I had had a narrow escape. My sweet, funny dogs had come very close to causing serious injury or death to another dog. Because Yorkies like to challenge bigger dogs. Because Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers were bred to keep Irish farms clean of vermin. Because one irresponsible adult had set up our dogs for tragedy.

Twas ever thus.

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