Sun | Jun 20, 2021

Beware of the dog

Published:Saturday | June 23, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Tony Deyal, Contributor

The newspaper headlines read 'Dangerous Dogs Act'. I know about Lassie and Rin Tin Tin but, I thought, this is ridiculous.

When I was growing up the cinema was divided into three seating areas - 'pit' or the section in front the screen where the worst-behaved patrons sat; 'house' for those of us on an elevated plane and separated by a barrier from the roughnecks in 'pit'; and then 'balcony', where you took your girlfriend if you had the dough or promised to take her if you wanted mo'.

Could they be speaking about 'pit' bulls in a cinematic sense, I asked myself? But it couldn't be, so I figured that maybe because several governments in the region were threatening to take action against pit bulls, their owners were teaching them how to act as if they were loving and playful. That would not last for long, I thought. It is like the riddle, 'What do you get if you breed a pit bull terrier with Lassie?' A dog that would bite your arm off and then run for help.

Some dogs can act even better than Lassie or Rin Tin Tin. A man was about to enter a bar when a dog tugged at his pants fold and said to him, "Hey, pal! You want to make some quick money?" The man couldn't believe his ears. He said to the dog, "Can you talk?" "Yes," replied the dog, "and that's how we can pick up some easy money. You take me into the bar with you, pretend I'm your dog, and bet everybody I can talk."

The man thought that was a great idea, so he took the dog into the bar, set it on the counter and announced to everyone that the dog could talk. The other patrons didn't believe him, and it wasn't long before several thousand dollars had been bet.

Finally, after all the bets had been placed, the guy said to the dog, "All right, go ahead and say something." Nothing. He told the dog again, "Hey! All the bets are placed! Say something, for God's sake!" The dog just looked at him and whined. He asked again and again, but the dog wouldn't say a word. Finally, the fellow had to pay all the bets, scooped up the dog in disgust and walked out.

Once outside, he screamed at the dog, "You just cost me way over a thousand dollars! You got anything to say before I seriously boot your mangy tail?" "Take it easy, pal! You're not thinking straight," the dog answered. "Tomorrow night, we'll be able to get odds of a hundred to one."

unenforced laws

Some politicians can act even better than pit bulls. In several Caribbean countries where rampaging pit bulls are attacking people, the governments developed legislation to deal with 'dangerous dogs' but never put them into effect. One of my friends says that in this context the term 'act' is entirely appropriate. It is an act.

In one Caribbean country, after pit bulls made mincemeat of several people, a Dangerous Dogs Act was devised, took extremely long to proclaim, then when it was due to go into law, was withdrawn for further study ostensibly because pit bulls are not the only dangerous dogs in town.

There might be other dangerous dogs, but throughout the world increasingly the pit bull is recognised as truly dangerous.

An old friend from Trinidad sat in a bus shelter and was killed by pit bulls. He was a soft-spoken sportsman from my hometown and I don't think anything ever happened to the dogs or their more vicious owner.

We have three dogs, but they're all lapdogs. That is because of the speed at which they lapped up their milk when they were little. Now they're 'foo' dogs - not the stone creatures that guard the Chinese temples but one word, 'foodogs', because of their appetites. They threaten and snap but they're so small that one loud shout will make them scamper. They're very smart - they only chase parked cars.

Not so with pit bulls. The first prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Eric Williams, once said, "When I talk, let no damn dog bark." All well and good for his time and for what one of my friends term his 'pothound' sycophants, but now dogs like pit bulls are bred to be silent when attacking. Fortunately, I am not but, even so, no amount of shouting can come between a pit bull and his dinner, especially when you're the dinner.

doggy tricks

Recently, I heard a story about something worse than the worst pit bull, and I asked, "You talking Rott?" It was not a Rottweiler. According to the story, after realising that the arms race would end the world, the US and Russia decided to settle the Cold War with a dogfight. Each team had five years to breed the best fighting dog in the world and whichever side's dog won would be entitled to dominate the world. The losing country would have to lay down its arms.

The Russians found the biggest, meanest pit bull bitches in the world and bred them with the most vicious Siberian wolves. They selected only the largest and strongest puppy from each litter and gave him all the milk. They used steroids and after five years came up with the most fearsome dog the world had ever seen. Its cage needed steel bars that were five inches thick. Nobody could get near it.

When the day came for the fight, the Americans showed up with a strange animal. It was a nine-foot long Dachshund. Everyone felt sorry for the Americans because they knew there was no way that this dog could possibly last 10 seconds with the Russian dog. When the cages were opened up, the Dachshund came out and wrapped itself around the outside of the ring. It had the Russian dog almost completely surrounded. When the Russian dog leaned over to bite the Dachshund's neck, the Dachshund leaned up and consumed the Russian dog in one bite. There was nothing left of the Russian dog.

The Russian president came up to the Americans shaking his head in disbelief. "We don't understand how this could have happened. We had our best people working for five years with the meanest dogs in the world."

"That's nothing," the American president replied. "We had our best plastic surgeons working for five years trying to make an alligator look like a Dachshund."

Tony Deyal was last seen saying that pit bull owners should breed their dogs with retrievers so when one of their dogs bites off their leg, it would bring it back to them.