So the dogs and I have a morning ritual. (The cats and I do too, but that’s another post.)

I get up. I throw on clothes. Gir looks at me from the bed with pathetic beagle you’re-not-really-getting-up-and-leaving-me? eyes.

"C’mon, beagley-boo, time to get up."

He sighs. I go downstairs, preceded by Ben and Angus. Behind me, I hear the clicking of claws on stairs, as Gir grudgingly follows me.

I put hot water in the microwave to become tea, by which time Gir has come downstairs, and I say "Do puppies need to go OUT?!" in the tones of idiot enthusiasm that come naturally when speaking to dogs.

Brandon the border collie dances wildly at the notion of OUT. Gir gives me the gloomy look unique to hounds, sighs heavily, and approaches the door.

I open the back door. On a good day, both dogs plunge out in to the backyard. On a normal day, Brandon plunges and I have to go pick GIr up bodily and lug him out back.

Once outside, Brandon runs off to do doggy things. Gir stands on the porch and barks at nothing in particular, until I go out and say "GO ON!" and point. He gives me another hangdog look and stumps down the stairs, where he looks at the grass and attempts to retreat.

"GO. PEE."

But there’s grass…! He’s in full beagle-donna mood. Touch all that grass? With his FEET? What kind of monster am I?


He sighs and stumps just far enough into the grass to pee while leaving his hind feet on concrete. (I don’t know how the hell these dogs hunt, unless their natural prey lives in an area with wall-to-wall carpeting.)

This is the normal ritual. Today, however, I opened the door and Gir was gone like a shot, baying hysterically. I assumed that somewhere a squirrel was getting yelled at, and went to go make tea and feed Ben his gooshy food.

The tea was made, the cat fed, and the baying did not subside. Hmm. There is nothing quite so penetrating as the voice of a histrionic beagle. It sounds like a yodelling foghorn. "AWWOOOWOOWOOWOOWOO—WOO!"

I went out back, and discovered Gir standing nose to nose with a very large pit bull on the other side of the fence. The other dog wasn’t barking, he was just eyeing my stupid beagle friend thoughtfully. Brandon danced around, trying to herd the situation, which wasn’t herding well at all.

Now, I quite like pit bulls, despite all the horror stories–I have personally never met a pit bull that wasn’t a fantastic dog, I would cheerfully own a pit bull, although Rottweilers are my great love among dog breeds–but I’m quite aware of the fact that an ill-trained or ill-controlled pit bull is more than capable of turning my buddy Gir into chunky beagle salsa. With pits, what makes them an epically good dog can all too easily make them an epically bad dog. You’re pretty much at the mercy of whether or not they had a responsible owner, and sadly, many don’t. (There’s also a bad dog-fighting problem in this particular county–Kevin’s part of a little local grass-roots organization trying to help stamp it out, but it’s definitely a problem out here.)

It did not seem to occur to Gir that he weighed thirty-odd pounds and the pit bull had to be upwards of seventy. He continued to bay into the other dog’s face.

The pit bull looked up at me as if to say "Do you know this guy?"

"He’s with me," I told the pit bull.

The pit bull looked back at Gir. Gir bounced on his toes, AWOOOOWOOWOOing for all he was worth. The pit bull looked back at me, with "I’m so sorry," writ plainly across his face.

"C’mon, moron," I said, trying unsuccessfully to haul Gir back inside, and finally settling for picking him up bodily and carrying him back. Brandon, terribly excited by everything, attempted to herd us both by nipping at Gir’s dangling heels. We got inside without incident, and Gir was terribly proud of himself for defending the homestead so valiantly.

The cats were unimpressed.

I’m not sure who owns the pit bull, if anybody–he had a faded collar, but no tags–but while I’m generally willing to tackle strays, unfamiliar pit bulls are a bit out of my league. I’ll keep an eye out to see if he belongs to the neighbors (the most likely option) or what.

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