To begin, lemme clear this up. His Royal Schwanschtucker, AKA the new backyard neighbour’s Staffordshire Bull Terrier, AKA the Muscle-bound terror-re-er, AKA Elvin, is actually called ELVIE. I got the hunk o’ canine’s handle wrong because Angela, the new neighbour’s adorable three year old with a pretty mop of golden curls, told me the chained-up, brindle, snorting monster’s name.
You may recall that Elvie has a deathly fear of crying babies. You may also recall that, two days ago, when Angela’s baby brother was crying, Elvie’s fight or flight response kicked in and Elvie took off like a rocket to escape the noise. Escaping for Elvie means pulling at the chain that keeps him in yard and launching himself, repeatedly, at the fence between my yard and his. Elvie throws himself at the fence until he gets his paws over hooked on the top of the cyclone fencing and then pulls himself over. Then, busted chain trailing behind him, he’s in my backyard and still desperate to get out, to run free, to flee from sound of shrieking baby.
Friday morning, while my li’l Rat Terrier, Budman, was inside going bonkers, Elvie was outside going bonkers, snorting, panicking, leaping like a clumsy weightlifter doing ballet. When Elvie did an impressive Houdini and snapped his chain, vaulted over the fence into my yard, and then managed to get over my side gate, Budman went into hackles-up mode. His territory was being invaded and, dammit, he was going to protect it. Unfortunately, his fear makes him aggressive. And my fear makes me stupid. Without thinking of my own safety, and ignoring the fact Elvie might bite the shit out of me, I decided to be protective AND save the day. Budman may have been safely inside, but images of my dog being torn apart by Mr Dog Muscle meant I went out to grab Elvie. Before I could, he took off over the gate and ran to freedom.
This morning was a little different. My fear was nearly realised. Budman was in the yard takin’ care of some naturely business when the baby started crying. Within a few seconds, Elvie went nutso. Budman went nutso. Elvie was over the fence. Shrinky was down the back stairs and I…was in the shower. Once I made it outside, in a towel, the new neighbour was yelling, Shrinky was shouting, and Budman was barking like a good little faker who’s all noise and no action, just before shooting up the back stairs between my dripping wet legs. Elvie had his rump balanced on top of the gate when Shrinky grabbed him. In my saturated state, and full o’ blood-soaked fear fantasies, I expected snarling dog, snapping jaw, teeth clamping down on my husband’s arms, but Elvie didn’t struggle. In fact, he sort of, well, snuggled up in Shrinky’s arms.
And what a good place to be. I know what snuggled up with Shrinky is like. While’s he not a facial-hair sculpted Hispanic Dog Whisperer, and Budman pays very little attention to him when I’m around, Shrinky’s arms can have a calming effect. That’s Shrinky, that’s the nature of his cuddle power. But you know I’m biased when it comes to my Shrinky.
Anyhow, things did not go as I had feared. Elvie was not interested in Budman. At all. The Staffy was completely focused on escaping. He had tuned out everything but his freedom and getting over that gate. I think we were lucky this time. Despite a decidedly non-bloody outcome, the next Elvie in the backyard dog match might not turn out that way. My writer’s mind will continue to churn out vivid scenes of vicious dog fights and painful bites.
Even though Elvie’s quite the Steve McQueen of backyard escapes, and my new neighbour continues to chain him up in The Cooler, instead of the theme from the Great Escape playing in my ears, I keep hearing the word mauled.