Bing was a small German Shepherd or Alsatian as we called her. My dad got her from another service station when he opened his. She was very good at her job – the perfect Walmart greeter during the day and to those who had legitimate business, a holy horror of snapping teeth and bristled fur at night or to those without good reason to be on the property.
When Dad sold the business, Bing came home with us. She quickly adapted to house living, but she kept her principal loyalty to Dad. Mom was second on her list and we kids, well, she liked us all right but didn’t pay much attention to us.
One summer evening my parents were out and only my older sister and I were home. My sister was talking on the phone and I had nothing to do. So I decided to teach Bing to walk on a leash. Well, Bing had never been on a leash in her life and had no intention of starting now! But, out in the driveway, she humoured me or figured the bits of hotdog I was using as bait were worth her putting up with my foolishness.
Dusk started to fall. I noticed a car pull up and stop in front of the house. I didn’t recognize it, so went on with the “training”. Bing noticed it too, and kept one eye on it and the other on the hotdogs. After quite a while, the driver opened the car door and started to get out. A rumble started deep in Bing’s throat. She took off, ripping the leash out of my hands. She flew towards the car, roaring. The man jumped back in, jammed the car in gear and took off, door still open. I stood in the driveway crying and screaming for Bing to come back, which she did, of course, as soon as she realized she couldn’t catch the car.
My sister came out to see what the noise was about. When my parents got home, we told them. My dad’s face went ashen, lips white. He asked for a description of the car. It was light blue – that’s all I knew. My sister had seen it through the window and knew a bit more, it was a sedan and I think she knew the make. Turns out, the police had put out a notice that there was a man trying to abduct little girls in our area. The car they had seen him in fit the description of the one in front of our house.
I don’t know what would have happened to me, a little girl playing in her own driveway, if there hadn’t been a dog there too. Bing had been alert to his presence the whole time, but had been willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until he opened the car door. I have no doubt he was the child molester. She did not react that way to strangers simply stopping to ask directions. Bing saved me that night – perhaps my life, certainly at least my innocence. She got extra pats that night from my dad, I remember.
Many dogs have watched over me, guarded and protected me in many ways. In my childhood and teenage years, my dogs always helped me solve my problems or at least comforted me so that I could cope with them. I guess I never had problems so big that a dog couldn’t deal with them. For that I’m thankful. I’m also thankful for the dogs with enormous hearts with whom I shared those important and often painful years.
This story is for all the kids who have big burdens to carry and all the dogs who want to help and protect them. May you always rely on each other.
May 18, 2010