Dog Tales
Published in

Dog Tales

Reiley’s Fight

Photo by Tadeusz Lakota on Unsplash

Dear Sasha,

The previous letter I wrote from the campground. This one I write from home and I’ll explain why. You know how I said dogs live in the moment. I was beginning to think we were permanently ensconced in the fabric tent. We’d moved once, then again, why not a third time?

The days were long and hot. We would rise early, eat around the campfire (the children gave me crusts of fired toast!) and head for the water.

There is a large body of water with sand at the edge. The mother would set up her chair on a blanket and sleep. She was very unwell for our first few days, but seems very much improved now. I have news about that too!

At lunch the mother went back to camp and the children tied me to the post of the playground until she called them to eat. (Tuna is a delicious fish!)

The medium sized terrier barking at everything and pulling its owner behind it like a kite flails its tail caught my ears from the other side of camp. My hackles raised higher and higher as it came nearer the playground.

I knew I wasn’t allowed to bark so I postured and bared my teeth. I wanted that thing to know it had no authority near my family and it had better back off. My growl said everything I wanted it to.

That thing just kept coming. It didn’t have any brain to give it manners. The only thing it knew was anger.

The children stopped their play. I barked once at them to stay back and I think they understood.

We postured for an instant and then that vicious thing launched into me. Its owner pulled at the leash and yelled to no effect.

It all happened so fast. My teeth grazed the wretched thing’s scruff as the mother of my family grabbed mine and pulled me back. The other dog lashed its canine teeth into my shoulder muscle. I yelped and tried to sink my teeth into its jugular.

The father grabbed my leash, yanked savagely, and yelled at his wife to get back and what was she doing getting herself between fighting dogs in her condition? (She hissed back to be quiet. She didn’t want the children to know yet.) He spoke more civilly to the other dog’s owner, but I could tell he knew who had started the fight.

The children cowered around their mother’s legs. In their eyes I saw the same expression as when we were packing up our furniture and belongings at home. You know, Home home.

The other owner barked back. A man in a uniform who we’d seen making things happen around camp drove up in a truck. The father spoke very sweetly to him, saying that he had just arrived in the country and where he came from dogs like that terrier were ‘put down’ by the authorities. (They don’t fool us, do they? We know where ‘down’ is.)

The other owner continued barking. I don’t need to mention that the other dog never stopped.

I cowered behind the father. My shoulder stung and I wanted to lick it, but I also had to keep an eye on my assailant.

After a lot of yelling, the man in uniform decided that we all had until the next morning to leave the camp. The children cried quietly. They hugged me and told me they knew it was not my fault. They were all very quiet around the campfire that night.

I got a good lick at my shoulder. Two neat puncture wounds. I will keep licking them to keep them clean. No one noticed me, which I was glad of. Naturally a dog takes responsibility for their actions and I felt shame for not finishing that ugly character off. The distress of my family weighs heavily on my shoulders (wounded or not).

I will never again mistake the scent of a pregnant woman, it is so distinctive. I also know the signs of sleeping and weeping. The poor mother weeps more now since their camp was cut short. The father alternates between trying to console her and yelling at the children (and me) to be quiet. The children hide in their rooms and colour many pages in books. They stare at books too without colouring them, though I can’t tell what they get out of them. Safety from yelling fathers is a pretty good thing to get out of them, wouldn’t you say?

With gratitude for your sympathetic ear,


Dear Reiley,

Oh you poor dog! Fights are desperately disturbing! Owners of such dogs as you describe should be ‘put down.’

The dog is a noble breed of a noble species. We have exquisite taste and decorum. Yet the human interference with our breeding patterns have created unmanageable specimens. When an overbred animal is matched with an owner who does not understand our niceties, who is ignorant of communication and education, disaster strikes and the innocent are harmed.

I am so glad that you and your family were not harmed. I hope your shoulder is healing well. Licking gently so as not to enlarge the holes is best. Eventually, the children may pick off the scabs from your hair and all will be well again.

Congratulations! You are expecting a new member of your family! Human babies are infinitely helpless and then they become a veritable nuisance. Very trying to a patient, well behaved animal like you. You are at the right age for the responsibility. Stay close to the mother and let her stroke your fur. Keep an eye out as she loses track of her feet and can’t see you under them.

Thank you for your update and please keep them coming!

love, Sasha.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Nicola MacCameron

Nicola MacCameron

Are you creative? Everything I touch turns to art. Visual art, written, aural, tactile, you name it, I love it! Author of Leoshine, Princess Oracle.