That was my introduction to the shepherd mix puppy who I would eventually come to know and love. Doug was a troubled teen who lived with a family on my street, and he had gotten a puppy. He was no more ready to take care of an animal than he was to become a brain surgeon. He was irresponsible and callous from a dysfunctional upbringing, but he was trying to turn his life around.
As I stood in the driveway of the house where he lived — playing with this lovable bundle of energy — Doug kept talking. He told me that he was going to get the puppy’s ears pierced soon and start taking her to someplace where there were “fighting dogs,” so he could make her tough and vicious. I knew from talking to my vet that any dog can become mean if you treat it in mean ways. I was very troubled, but there was nothing I could do.
For awhile, my only contact with this puppy was when she would (frequently) get herself wound up in the rope that tied her up in the guy’s back yard. I would hear her whimper sometimes as I walked past and I’d find her completely tied up in knots, unable to move. When I’d tell Doug, he would seem unconcerned.
I can’t remember how long this went on. Doug seemed to lose interest in her. She never got the piercings, because he couldn’t afford them. He seemed disappointed in her, though, because his plan wasn’t working.
“I’m trying to make her a fightin’ dog, but she won’t be mean,” Doug said. “She don’t scare no one.”
More and more, I visited her in the back yard where she stayed tied up. She wasn’t getting much attention and she was getting no training. So I started trying to teach her to walk on a leash and learn basic commands. I didn’t ask Doug. I just did it. I’m not sure he even noticed.