The hanging dog

Alfi and me at a photoshoot circa 1995

It was a rainy day outside, and I was about to take my dog Alfi out for a walk. Alfi was a pekinese, the first dog my family owned, and we loved him. He loved us back, as he would often appreciate us by licking our hands for hours. He had a temper though… Whenever Alfi didn’t like something, he would bite, and bite hard. He bit me more times than I could count, but I learned to deal with it.

My usual routine was to take Alfi out for a 15 min walk just before school started. I used to live in a 10 story building on the 10th floor and the elevator was only running up until 9th. Alfi didn’t appreciate short walks, and he would strongly oppose climbing the stairs to the last floor. During the years I have developed many methods to get him upstairs… Some of them weren’t the most humane (which might account for his temper), but later on I found that he couldn’t bite through my dad’s skiing gloves so I would run up, put them on, run back down and carry him to the apartment.

That day I put my coat on, leashed Alfi, and we walked down the stairs to the elevator. The leash was one of those retractable kinds, but it had knots everywhere and it didn’t retract all the way in. The elevator was old, orange, soviet era style, painted with black markers. To enter the elevator cabin you had to go through two sets of doors; a big outer door, and small flapping doors in the cabin itself . We walked into the cabin, I closed the doors and pressed “P” to get to the ground level. What ensued was pure horror.

I first noticed that Alfi’s front legs were going up, and then his whole body started to pull to the flapping door and up. He was being hung by the leash that was stuck by a knot in the outer elevator door. I remember him looking at me in terror as the elevator descended, forcing him upwards. There was a button to immediately stop the cabin from moving but I panicked. I pulled him tightly towards me, as he was already at about 1.5m height. The knot gave way, and I saved my dog. I cried a bit, and he licked my hand in appreciation.

We did a a 15 min walk, then I carried him up the stairs wearing my dad’s skiing gloves.

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