I didn’t want to kill that man, I only wanted to grab him by his throat, put the cold muzzle of my .45 to his head and scare him to the point of soiling himself.
I also didn’t want for him to be in that house when I burned it to the ground.
As it turned out…he was the wrong man.
He wasn’t the man that shot my dog Moses last Tuesday.
By now, you know that I wear my emotions on my sleeve and until now, I’ve only been brave enough to show you my sentimental side. Which also requires some courage…trust me.
But beyond this point, you will come to understand the “other” side of me, the ugly side of me.
The side of me that regrettably wants vengeance…cold, hard, calculated revenge.
This story is born from the old Cherokee parable about the two wolves that reside inside all of us. After some light research, it seems that its origin has been questioned, but it really doesn’t matter to me where it came from…in my mind, the words themselves are nothing short of pure wisdom.
Now to be clear, the lines that led into this story were only thoughts…scary, dangerous, dark, and unhealthy thoughts…yes, but just thoughts nonetheless.
Most of us have them, the crazy thoughts, the outrageous thoughts, the pathological thoughts, the vengeful thoughts, the intrusive thoughts, but few of us are stupid enough to share them on a public internet post.
Are they normal? Maybe…maybe not.
Are they extremely common? Most likely.
Sometimes I feel like I have more than my share. Perhaps I do, but let me tell you how I’ve learned to process my visits to the lunatic’s fringe, and how “I” starve the black wolf.
It was a beautiful autumn day, one of those days that I just long to be outside. Perfect temperature, perfect breeze, sun shining gracefully through a beautiful palette of reds, greens, golds, grays, and yellows.
I couldn’t help but take Moses with me while I did my pre-winter preparatory work. Things like moving animal shelters, rearranging my watering system, and fencing in the last productive pasture for the year.
I was running my skid steer as Moses circled in my periphery sniffing this and sniffing that. He’s the kind of dog that stays close, he never goes far. Every time I called his name he arrived at my side within minutes. We were working on 25 acre piece of land with another 40 acres of woods to my west, and another 40 to my east.
Plenty of room I thought.
There are however two homes within 100 yards, in both directions, from where we were.
As I was running the machine and intermittently handling logging chains I heard a very close shot. I couldn’t pinpoint its location because of the hills and hollows, and the hum of the machine, but it was very close.
I called Moses but he didn’t come, I felt a little uneasy, but I wasn’t overly concerned because gunshots this time of year are pretty common. I finished what I was doing, parked the machine, and returned to my truck.
I found Moses, he was curled up in the bed of my truck with bright red blood all over his side, hind leg, and backside. I couldn’t immediately decipher what had happened but after a very careful examination on the tailgate, I discerned that he had been shot. The bullet went in about 1.5″ to the right of his anus and came out through the front of his thigh. The bullet had traveled nearly 10″ through his leg.
It was about 6:30 pm, I called the vet to tell them I was bringing him in. They agreed to stay past closing for us.
It was obvious that this man had tried to shoot Moses directly in the anus which is also known as a Texas Brain Shot. It is one of the nastiest, meanest, unethical, deplorable, despicable, reprehensible, shots that you can make on an animal. It literally splatters the animal’s bowels and they die a slow miserable death from infection. Just writing these words provokes the emotions in me that led to the intro paragraph of this story.
I was once again thoroughly disappointed in mankind, I was angry, I was enraged…I wanted revenge.
I knew who it was, or I sort of knew who it was. There was an old man living just down the road in one of those two houses I mentioned. I had heard that he was a grumpy old man and he certainly liked his privacy as evidenced by the gate across his driveway and the “No Trespassing “sign prominently displayed on it.
I did a little digging and found out that he had died just two weeks before, so it wasn’t him. But I knew that he had a son or grandson (I didn’t know which) that lived there too. I had seen him walking around with a gun a couple years back, rabbit hunting, I think, and he was very aloof with me and I got the impression that he was spiteful about my raising animals on the land that he probably snuck into to hunt in years prior.
It was him! I just knew it! That’s all there is to it!
Now, how do I handle this? Confront him? Call the Sheriff? What?
I had zero proof, so all of these options were null.
Why did he shoot Moses? I knew it wasn’t a nuisance problem because Moses lives at the house with us and only goes to that piece of land with me to do chores. So his visits there are very short and he is always near me.
So I festered for a few days…I listened to some outlaw country music for a day or two. You know the kind…lots of revenge type lyrics and heavy base.
It was just what I needed.
Or was it?
It didn’t take long for the emotions go from an inferno to a simmer. As soon as I could see more than just red, I started second guessing my accusations.
Where exactly did that shot come from?
Maybe it was somebody unrelated, and trespassing?
My steam was cooling…logic and reasoning were taking over…finally.
Now, my civilized human thoughts were taking over. Now, I started thinking that perhaps it was his grandson or son and that maybe he was in a really bad place because he just lost a man he loved, cherished, and respected. Maybe everything he remembered about growing up at his grandpas was changing and he didn’t like it so he lashed out at the only thing he could…a trespassing dog.
Perhaps he was crying inside, as I had, over recent losses within the family, and maybe he was frustrated, alone, displaced.
I really didn’t know, but my human side was emerging, so I turned off the Charlie Daniels, Hank Jr., Steve Earle, and David Allen Coe.
Instead, I complimented these thoughts with soft, forgiving, and feel good, music. As the week went on, my anger dulled into mere disappointment, and I was moving on.
I do not consider a canine life and a human life equitable, so an eye for an eye was really was never an option. But for a few days, in my mind…it might’ve been.
Not to mention, I am quite certain that most dogs are better people than a lot of the people that exist in this world.
Four days later…I’m working on finishing the tasks I had started when Moses was shot, this time with no machine noise.
A rifle report cracks the air just behind me…it startled me…and more importantly, it pinpointed exactly where that shot had come from the other day.
It was the other house, not the one that I had thought.
Confront him? Call the Sheriff? What?
No proof…no recourse.
Both of these actions would likely cause a Hatfield McCoy situation that I don’t want to have. Especially considering that I have 3 other very important guardian dogs down there and 40+ other animals.
I had his phone number so I texted him and did a little fibbing, I told him that I was working in the woods behind his house and I was curious as to whether he had an adequate backstop for bullets. He said, “yes, but it was his renter living out back in a tenant house that was doing the shooting”.
Now it was coming together…emotion was finally giving way to logic.
Just a couple days before he was shot, Moses had found a freshly killed groundhog (the maggots had barely started their work) on the property that I lease directly behind this guys tenant house.
I think the renter had shot it.
I now believe Moses went back for more while I was working and was shot either for trespassing or was shot on the property I lease. Both are illegal here.
In Virginia, a dog can only be killed for threatening human life or killing livestock. Moses was shot in the backside from a distance (bullet didn’t expand), and the guy has no livestock.
I was able to reply without accusing him directly by simply asking if he thought his renter would’ve taken a shot at my dog.
He said: “absolutely not…I’d shoot him if he did that”.
I explained briefly how someone had made a Texas Brain Shot on my dog and he agreed that it was “really F’d up for someone to do that.”
Immediately after our correspondence, the shooting stopped for a bit (like they were talking) then the shooter switched from a .22 to something bigger (I believe to sound different).
I passed him on the road yesterday and he wouldn’t even make eye contact with me…he knows something. We’ve always waved to each other in the past.
I think he probably asked his renter about it, and I’m sure the renter denied it, but hopefully, he has put it all together too. I can only hope that he sternly told his renter to never shoot a dog again.
I guess the fact that I wasn’t able to pinpoint the shot that hit Moses that day was a blessing in disguise…I may have been writing this from jail on an assault charge.
So where do I go from here?
Well, since Moses is alive and well (sorry I had to keep you reading:) I suppose I’ll let a little time go by and perhaps I’ll stop by around Christmas time to give him a nice ham, maybe there will be an opening in the conversation to slip some of this dialogue in.
Or, maybe I’ll invite him over for a couple beers around a campfire and explain how important these animals are to my kids and me.
What would I have done if he had killed my dog, or damaged his leg to the point of amputation?
I don’t know…because that didn’t happen so it wasn’t worth putting the effort into resolving a problem that didn’t exist.
I guess if that were to happen, my only real recourse would be to make him famous on our local internet and possibly create enough social pressure to make him move.
Afterall, nobody likes a dog killer.
What will I do if he shoots another one of my dogs? I guess I’ll cross that bridge later if it happens.
Maybe I’ll send him a copy of this.
What I do know for sure right now, is that the wolves are here, inside me, and ready to fight with each other at all times. It’s very important (in my life) to quiet the snarls as soon as they lift a lip.
“I” cannot reward the dark wolf by embracing his actions, “I” cannot allow him to plan, to calculate, to execute. “I” need to always reward my white wolf and reassure him that his adversary is wrong. “I” need to consistently build the confidence in the white wolf and show him how grateful I am that he is there to defend me against all that is dark, ugly, and disturbing…within me.
Which wolf have you been feeding?