Due to a Shadow-dog related incident this past Monday, mid-morning, this post is offered for the record, in case a very much one-sided confrontation is escalated.
So, as the police chaplain, I have to ask:
During the day the security situation is like this with innocent Shadow-dog:
When confronting a GSD like Shadow-dog, don’t be afraid, don’t be aggressive, don’t be suspicious, don’t be malicious, don’t be scolding, don’t be fake-nice (dogs see through all that passive-aggressive rubbish), just be yourself. This is how it should be when encountering people, right?
Meanwhile, Shadow-dog is ready to play, carrying his fetch-toy wherever he goes on his patrols of the fenceline, always game for gaming. He will ever so gently touch Laudie-dog on her shoulder with this fetch-toy. She will jack up the stakes, gaming his gaming, to his delight.
Shadow-dog likes the playfulness of Laudie-dog, but invites playfulness with the backyard neighbor’s old yet playful and big white dog (possibly some kind of quite shaggy Sheep-dog). The invitation – of course in the form of squeaky barking and hopping around on his own side of the fence – isn’t reciprocated, which is frustrating for Shadow-dog.
The situation for Shadow-dog isn’t much better with the next door neighbor’s therapy pony – not much bigger than Shadow-dog. Cooper, the therapy pony, will munch on the same blade of grass for minutes at a time, egging on the invitations of Shadow-dog to play. When Shadow-dog calms down, Cooper the therapy pony will slightly move a hoof, starting the barking invitations of Shadow-dog all over again.
But here’s the deal: all the neighbors find all this to be entirely humorous, laughing at how Shadow-dog is baited by other dogs and ponies. All are perfectly fine with Shadow-dog’s playfulness and voiced invitations to play. Not only are they not bothered, but they are grateful for his antics. They know that he is the reason for a lack of home invasions in our immediate section of the neighborhood. There are rough elements with equally rough crimes (such as murder and assault) which we are all happy to avoid.
On another level – apart from playfulness -Shadow-dog cannot be baited, but instead does the baiting. Anyone taking a fleeting glance at Shadow-dog knows that he could literally rip any human being to shreds should they prove to be malicious in ripping yours truly apart in front of him. He wouldn’t just let that go. Neither would relatively diminuative Laudie-dog for that matter. Shadow-dog could jump fence anytime with zero effort. But he doesn’t. GSDs are loyal to their human servants and their own well-defined territory of responsibility. Some few human beings are mean to him, even having shot at him, accurately, with a pellet gun a number of times. Laudie-dog was also shot, once with bird-shot of – I’m guessing – a 4.10, and once with a pellet gun. Neither of them retaliate. Laudie-dog is too sweet. Shadow-dog is also good to go, as long as he has his own domain under control, with no one who is entirely malicious to the death inside his environs.
During the night the security situation is like this with innocent Shadow-dog:
At night it’s more difficult to ascertain who human beings are, where they are, and what they are doing. Ask LEOs. They say that nothing good happens on the street after 10:00 PM. Nighttime brings out a whole other population of human beings, many of whom are, in fact, malicious. So many beheadings and murders and burnings of other human beings in the area and region demonstrate the objective malice. Shadow-dog knows this well enough.
Shadow-dog, as a GSD – a kind of wolf – has an upped sense of situational awareness. Far from paranoia, categorically diverse from paranoia – not even on the same spectrum – is situational awareness, which instead looks for solutions of deescalation in any given situation, of escape in any situation, or, if it cannot be avoided, how to fight in any situation, etc.
But Shadow-dog ups this by baiting out and downright provoking a reaction. This is not necessarily what human beings should do in direct encounters with possibly and especially probably malicious individuals. But dogs are spectacularly adept at providing running commentary on questionable circumstances so that they can all the more accurately report how contingencies are playing out. Dogs are front-line operatives.
Shadow-dog is now over three years old, and has mellowed out enough for me to have moved him outside the house 24/7/365. His commentary, wonderfully, is limited to possibly malicious human beings. So he barks rarely enough, even at night. But if it’s at night, I pay close attention.
There was a barking-baiting session at 1:30 AM the other night. I listened intently. I heard the cause, loudly: what had to be a maul-ax smashing of a door for a home invasion, or probably just smashing up branches for a druggie fire as it was a really cold night and they wanted to keep warm, which I’m certainly not going to begrudge them. And Shadow-dog should have barked. The maul-ax strikes were really quite violent. Goood daawwg Shadow-dog!!!
But someone in our little town didn’t like it one little bit…
… and came by the next morning to tell me what a terrible sorry excuse for a Catholic priest I am, letting Shadow-dog bark like that and everything. This person was so aggressive, charging me again and again, and not letting me get in a word of explanation in edgewise, that I just retreated, again, and again and again. This person kept charging, so I ran under that back patio and closed the gate. This person kept berating me so I said that I’m requesting leaving the property. And then many drive-bys by this person took place. One of neighbors came to warn me that this person had circled back to my house like four times in as many minutes. Yikes! I’m happy to have neighbors who are concerned for my welfare.
I disagree with poor Shadow-dog being used by this complainer-person as an excuse for anti-Catholic bigotry, you know, against all the damned Catholics and all their damned dogs.
Was it not at the time that Antony was predicting the result of Julius Caesar’s assassination that we hear this:
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy.
Blood and Destruction shall be so in use
and dreadful objects so familiar
that mothers shall but smile when they behold
their infants quartered by the hands of war,
all pity choked by custom of fell deeds.
And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge
With Ate by his side, come hot from hell
shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
cry “Havoc!” and release the dogs of war
that this foul deed should smell above the earth
with carrion men, groaning for burial.
Ah, yes! Cry “Havoc!” and release the dogs of war.
I’m not going to release any dogs – and they won’t jump fence – but I’m not going to correct his behavior. He’s quiet all night, every night, unless there is something violent going on. And then, as a town manager said to me, mentioning someone complaining about Shadow-dog, not letting me defend Shadow-dog, but instead himself interrupting me to defend Shadow-dog, asking me whether or not Shadow-dog cuts down on home invasions for all my neighbors. Yes, of course, and they all say it, all appreciative of Shadow-dogs efforts to put himself in danger on the front lines and protect us all. All my neighbors appreciate Shadow-dog’s efforts. All of them. — Of course, he said. And that was that.
Getting the State Department involved:
Meanwhile, in recounting this story to a fellow priest, it was suggested to me to make a comment about my best friend in the State Department (retired) being somewhat delinquent in sending treats for both Shadow-dog and, of course, Laudie-dog, whom she wants to adopt. She’s only said that a million times. But, the problem is, Laudie-dog adopted me. And she softens some of the sharper edges of Shadow-dog. ;-) But actually, dearest Charlene always keeps both Shadow-dog and Laudie-dog in good standing with treats of all kinds. They are “rurnt” as they say these parts, “ruined” or spoiled, totally in expectation of treats all the time for any or no reason. Being falsely accused of grave crimes and misdemeanors – such as doing the service of alerting to violent actions – is more than enough reason to load down both Shadow-dog and Laudie-dog with treats. I’ll do that right now. I think dearest Charlene will agree with that pampering of her furry friends.
Dearest Charlene has a blog called the Prodigal Catholic Writer, and she’s written a post about what she says is “definitely the most embarrassing evening of my life,” quite funny about one of her State Department experiences in Tanzania. If you want some good humor in your life – and I recommend this to the complainer described above – here’s dearest Charlene: