As I look back now, in the fifties we really didn’t have much to get upset about, things ran pretty smoothly. Government workers acted like public servants and other than for a few silly rules such as having to get an education, things were pretty laid back, so we looked for things to get upset about; the neighbors not planting a crop on time or in the wrong phase of the moon or something similar. In fact, generally we were finding fault with what others did that wasn’t done just the way we would have done it.
But there was always a common aggravation and that was a “car chasing dog.” Now I don’t know what a dog would do with a car if he caught it, but I was brought up that for a dog to chase a car was evil and anything that happened to one of them while in the pursuit of an automobile was fine. This hate may have been brought on when the dogs, not having enough cars to chase to fill their day, would also chase Harleys and bicycles and here they could find the only real reaction was when they found a leg among all that metal and rubber.
Whatever it was, talk would always come back to the chasing habits of a particular dog. A dog could rescue a drowning child from a canal in those days and most thought nothing of it, but let the same dog chase a car and he was branded for life. As in all things, we try to justify those things that happen that we do and probably feel some guilt about. But I will tell of a couple of incidents that happened because of car chasing dogs.
My partner and I had a wrecker service that required that we have to go get some rigs at times that would cause a mountain climber concern and it was that one day we were called to go get a rig that had broken down up by a lake, the road to which would take the tread off the tires on your rig in a short time. We had pulled the rig down with our wrecker to the main road and because in those days brake failures were a common thing, we had hooked a thirty foot chain to the ailing vehicle and proceeded down the road at a low rate of speed. Now our route would take us by this predatory animal that preyed on automobiles and of course our thoughts were only on trying to get the rig back to town with all of us in one piece. I don’t know if it was because we were traveling slower than the dog was used to or because he was busy exercising some of the local animals of the area but the dog was slow to make his attempt. He came out from between some shrubbery right on to the highway and before Loyd, who was operating the wrecker, could react, the rig went over the dog.
Now the wheels missed the dog but being a large dog, he was rolled to a fare thee well under the rig and about the time he could see daylight the chain continued this process. The dog was trying frantically to regain his feet and had about escaped the chain when the second rig was drawn over him. I was in that rig and I guess I had to admit that there was some satisfaction on hearing his little body thumping around under the ailing vehicle. I watched to see if the dog was dead and if we would have to go tell his owner, when I saw him looking like a large hair ball, gain his feet and head for the house trailing loose hair and dog snot. This didn’t break the dog from chasing cars but it did break him from chasing our wrecker.
Another time I was driving a car on the old Highway 93 where it wound through the beautiful Hagerman Valley, a dog came busting down over a bank in front of our car. Finding himself right in the path of the car he took off right in front of us and his concern showed that he didn’t like his tactical position one bit. Now there was a turnout that had a place you could pull your car under a pipe of running water and wash it and there was also a spigot you could drink from that some enterprising person had hooked to a spring for those purposes. We were going to pull into that place and with the dog right in front of us we pulled over and stopped. The dog was in a state of panic and ran head- long into the rocked up wall that kept the road bank from sloughing into the road. Much to our amusement it knocked him colder than a wedge. He came to and ran off with a permanent kink in his neck. I believe he was totally reformed from his bad habit; at least he never attempted to go after us again.
The last of these incidents that I will relate concerned a dog in the city limits of the small Idaho town where we lived. This dog chased kids, bikes, cars, horses and old people with canes. Loyd and I were city police at the time and we decided that we would break the dog from doing that, so we drove by really slowly and when the dog attacked I sprayed him with mace. Now for you who are familiar with mace, you know it really isn’t user friendly, and at that time we were using a brand used by the police that also had a nerve component in it.
Well, one pop in the face with this and the old dog reversed himself and headed back to his yard, sliding his head in the grass as he went. We drove by about an hour later and the old dog was still sitting by a lilac bush in the front yard. However the urge to chase didn’t end there, but he sure left our patrol car alone. We were telling about this incident to one of the state police of the area and he told us of a similar operation. He and another state patrolman were going down this back road at a pretty good clip and this dog came out after them. It was a summer day and the windows of the cruiser were down and the rig was traveling at about thirty miles per hour when the dog attacked. The dog made his attempt on the side opposite of the driver and the passenger told the driver that he would break that dog from chasing cars, so he leaned out and with his mace shot a stream of it at the dog. Now the speed of the vehicle over powered the spray and the wind wings were open on the rig and it sucked the spray into the car. The officer, wanting to be sure of a good cure, was quite liberal with the spray and the end result was both officers were thoroughly maced. It didn’t break the dog from chasing the car but it sure broke the officers from trying to teach old dogs new tricks. It also broke some of us from repeating the same program just from hearing about the results.
For those of you that have never come under the influence of pepper spray, let me assure you it isn’t a pleasant occurrence. They tell you that there is no harmful effect from it but I can assure you that you will think that you are attacked by a swarm of killer bees. It almost blisters the skin and all body functions seem to cease while the mind is trying to escape the pain. It is short lived, but I can assure you that once you get sprayed, you won’t repeat what you were doing to come under the influence of it in the first place.
I guess over the years I have either mellowed or look at the car chasing dog with a different view. I have to admire his freedom to chase a car. I also now have some really important things to be aggravated by and most of them deal with the government taking my rights. I am also about as effective at stopping this as I was of breaking dogs from chasing cars.