Today was Saturday, the day I was to take on a temporary canine guest. The Marriott had agreed to let me keep her in my room for a deposit. I had also given some thought to her aggressive reputation over the week, and decided to purchase Lulu a pink collar and pink harness. How could a dog named Lulu with pink accessories be vicious.
Walking into the back room, I looked into the cage to examine the clean white dog that gazed back at me.
“Did you get rid of the fleas?” I asked the tech.
He chuckled and said “yes.”
“Can you dip my car now?” I asked with a small smirk. I had dusted the rental vehicle twice, and was still swarmed every time I entered the vehicle. I appeared to have a severe case of chicken pox, or some other unhealthy rash. I also knew I was probably dying a slow death as clouds of flea powder wafted through the vehicle at every bump or lurch of the SUV.
Lulu slowly wagged her tail, but backed up to the very back of the cage. I was the reason she was here, and she studied me with ambivalence, waiting to see what would happen next, now that I had appeared. The cage was on the floor, and as the technician opened it, tail wagging harder, Lulu bolted forward and knocked him back. She skittered across the slick floor and crammed herself up under a row of cages across the room. I think she had finally reached her manhandle limit.
She really was quite good at evasion techniques. The vet reached under the cages and began dragging her out. All limbs were locked in place, and he pulled hard. She seemed to know the resistance peak and suddenly leapt forward, which threw him off balance. She bolted from the room, and we raced after her. I was beginning to see my future as the small white rump disappeared around the corner.
Lulu headed down the hall and entered a waiting room filled with other dogs. Instincts clashed as flight and fight conflicted. Her ancestors had been created to fight, but she also knew this was probably her only opportunity for freedom. She headed straight for the glass entrance doors, twisting to sing at other dogs as she passed. A woman holding a small ball of wiry hair was opening the door, and quickly stepped back and closed it as Lulu slammed head first into it, managing to avoid the outreached hands of the technician. She turned, and her eyes locked onto those of another large black and white dog seated only five feet away. It was at this moment I stepped in front of her.
I won’t say she was scared of me, but at this point in our relationship I represented an unknown, and she had few options. As I crouched into a low football stance with arms stretched wide, she flattened onto the floor with ears back flat. This was the pause the vet tech needed to grab her from behind, and I watched as the small body relaxed in defeat as he lifted her from the floor and carried her out of the lobby. She did not fight, bite, or react. She just sort of wilted in his arms.
“She is fast he said.” as I walked into the exam room. I just sighed and nodded. This was an animal originating from terriers and bulldogs…speed and strength…a lot of dog.
I handed him her pink harness and collar. Although thin, she was still solid muscle with a block head, and clearly a part of the bull terrier family. As he put them on her, I realized she looked a little silly, kind of like a body builder in a pink string bikini. With a sinking feeling, I realized they enhanced her bullish features rather than minimizing them.
The technician handed me Lulu’s leash and we headed down the hall. I shortened the slack in the leash as we entered the waiting room, and she began pulling towards the other dogs. I was pleased to see her tail wagging, but suddenly that weird singing began again, and the whole room turned. It sounded like one of those old firehouse sirens that starts slow and low, escalating as the handle turns faster. She was locked onto a German Shepherd across the room, and I could literally see her energy rising as the tail wagged harder. My Labrador’s tail wagging had always indicated friendliness. It appeared in Lulu’s case it was simply a sign of desire for engagement (positive and negative), and the faster it moved seemed to indicate an increased desire to engage.
She was strong! I backed up, sliding her across the floor, as everyone in the waiting room clutched their now barking animals nervously. I did not understand her. Was she scared, aggressive, nervous, or just having a little fun at her captor’s expense? With one hand I grabbed the glass door, and with the other I wrenched her through the opening, pulling harder as her nails locked onto the door frame. “Damnit!” I said in exasperation, and thought I heard some chuckling follow me through the door.
I stood in the middle of the sidewalk, sweaty, tired, and with several upper body muscles going to have to be iced. Lulu stood before me with her HUGE mouth open, tongue lolling out, and I swear the biggest grin on her face. She was free, and it was time to move. She did not care where she was going. She was just happy to be free and moving.