Monday, October 4, 2010

"Here's Where You Decided If You Want To Do This For A Living"

I was hanging out in the guardshack waiting to do turnout when I looked out the window to see 2 trainers jumping the fence (these were 9 foot fences) into AJ's kennel. I took off running because I knew that this had to be a bad fight if they didn't take the time to use the gate. The compound guard was right behind me.

When I got to the turnout pen I saw nothing but a massive, seething pile of dogs and they weren't making any noise. Anytime you have a dogfight where there is no noise it is bad because that means the dogs are busy killing something - not just barking and growling and wreaking mayhem! AJ was standing off to the side holding a dog back and screaming for help. Her brand new helper was just standing there in shock, not moving, but that is actually a common reaction for somebody seeing their first dogfight. I didn't hold that against him.

The 2 trainers that had jumped the fence were each holding 2 dogs back and there was no one else left to help. I knew at the bottom of that pack of dogs was some poor dog who was dying. I started to grab collars and just pull the dogs back and literally throw them behind me one after another. I could feel the dog, at the bottom of the pile, flesh ripping as I pulled each dog off of it. But I had to pull each dog off because there was no other way to stop the fight. I couldn't SEE the dog on the bottom, I just knew it was there. As I threw the dogs off the guard was behind me trying to hold them back (by intimidation) because as soon as I threw one back it would charge the pile again. This went on for 10 minutes (we figured out the timing later)

Finally I got the pile of dogs down to where I could see the dog. There were still 4 or 5 dogs latched on to that poor animal. It was in shock, it could not move, it had quarter sized holes all over it that made me think of spots on a dalmation. The only thing that I could do at this point was to drag the poor animal to the gate of the turnout pen. I dropped it behind the gate wedging in between the wall and the gate. Then I just went crazy screaming and kicking and hollering using the gate to keep the other dogs off the poor thing! It was awful. Finally I was able to pick the dog up (it weighed about 60 lbs) and carry it to a crate.

I put the it in a crate and I went back out to AJ. She was standing there crying. I told her I would watch her dogs while she went in to tend to the dog's wounds. I looked over at her poor helper who was still standing there staring. I asked him if he needed help and he slowly shook his head. I looked him in the eye and told him, "Here's where you decide if you want to do this for a living. I think AJ could use your help inside now."

He went in to help AJ. (he quit the next day)

Then I saw my boss pull up to my kennel. I told the guard to go get him because he was a trainer with over 30 years experience and all of us together in the pen that day had about 5 years between us. Bob came over and helped AJ nurse the dog (it had to be put down). Then we went over to our kennel to do turnout. I couldn't help because I was covered with blood from head to toe. It caused the pack instinct to kick in my dogs and they wanted to attack me and each other. I had to go home.

That fight left me with a bad case of post traumatic stress syndrome. Thankfully even though I helped break up several fights over the years, none of them were anything even close to that magnitude. When I went back to the guardshack that day the guard, who was a Vietnam Vet, told me he would follow me into battle anytime. I consider that a huge complement. I went to work at other tracks after that and when I went back to TriState years later, they were still talking about "THE fight".

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