a lesson from the Jack Russel

13 April 2005 at 14:29 (General)

look at Sparky. He doesn’t worry about the future. He doesn’t need to iron a shirt, or makes his bed. He doesn’t have strings attached. He normally doesn’t wear clothes. He has one collar, one bed, one room. When it is hot he sleeps under the stars. Just in being, he provides a service of comfort and companionship which, in turn, earns him his tucker. He earns his keep, but he doesn’t really work for it, he does what he wants and receives what ever he can get. He was attacked the other day by a much larger dog, and he currently sports a few scabs but it doesn’t worry him, he just goes on, barking at the birds, eating a bit of grass, chasing moths and sleeping on the lounge.



  1. Deirdre said,

    Sparky the hero. Why did the other dog attack him? Just territorial or something? Poor little thing. The two dogs I look after (neither of them actually mine as it happens, except they’re sort of becoming so) turn into monsters when they run away. They once attacked the dog next door and nearly killed her, for no reason that’s apparent to me. Apart from the fact that the dog next door is a whingey little maniac who thinks she owns the whole road, and we (all three) hate her…

    Maybe Sparky is happy because he has a nice safe comfy life with you? Dogs do seem to live in the present all the time, which must be nice work if you can get it. But then household dogs are quite pampered. If they had to make their own way in the world, they might have as much trouble as the rest of us. They don’t have to iron, though. That’s something.

  2. matty said,

    he’s passed out on my bed again. He looked rather stoned just before, maybe due to the soldering iron fumes?

    My parents were walking him in a reserve near our place when a man with 3 uncontrolled dogs was walking the other way. Sparky has been known to get boisterous in the past but this time he was apparently very passive, he just stood there as the other dogs circled him. The largest dog then came closer to him and picked him up, grabbing the skin on sparky’s back with his teeth and he started to softly shake him.

    Sparky was still on a leash, attached to my dad’s belt but they didn’t know what to do, this dog was large and out of control. thankfully, the other dog soon lost interest, dropped sparky and they continued on their way. sparky who normally walks with vigour and enthusiasm was rather sedate for the next few days and walked slightly hunched, his back legs bent. No skin was broken, but back scabs formed which lead to hair matted with scab tissue sticking up in a few places along his back. Tonight dad cut most of it out so now he just has a few bold spots.

  3. Deirdre said,

    Soldering iron fumes?? What’s he doing? Metalwork?

    Poor little dog, anyway. It’s lucky the two other dogs didn’t join in, or he might have been done for. It’s terrifying when they really get going – they just go berserk. I mentioned my dogs before, and normally they are really good-natured, but in that sort of situation they suddenly click into some sort of maniac-mode. I think you’re supposed to throw water at them, or jam your fingers in their nostrils or something… (maybe I made that last one up).

  4. toto said,

    I don’t think many dog owners can truly claim that they can control their dogs while their dogs are off the leash. Nimeton claims this, regardless of the fact that one or both of his dogs would charge you and jump all over you when you entered his property. Some dog owners are blind to the fact that their dogs aren’t under reasonable control while off the leash. Your dog may normally be totally passive, so is mine, but I’ve seen two normally passive dogs run at each others throats. I don’t think my dog would hurt a human, but I keep him on a rope because I can’t guarantee he wouldn’t hurt another dog or come across another dog that could possibly want to hurt him.

    I often worry about what I should do when confronting a dog. Sparky turns into a total savage when his killer instinct takes over, My dad tried ‘with all his might’ to pry his jaws apart once to release a baby bird, only to see sparky’s teeth sink deeper into his own gums. If a larger dog was to try something like that on sparky I wouldn’t know what to do.

    Richard Ballantine’s Bicycle Book advises cyclist being chased:
    “If you can do it, the best thing by far is to outrun an attacking dog. Often this is not possible, but 99 times out of 100 there is still no serious problem. Many cyclists become hysterical on the subject of dog defence, and recommend whips, car aerials, clubs, and other weapons that will really hurt a dog. This is not necessary. Nine times out of then he is normally friendly. All you have to do is stop, dismount, and face him directly. That’s all. Simply stop. Often he will come up wagging his tail. When you leave, walk away like all “normal” (to the dog) people do, and the matter will be forgotten.

    The tenth time, when a dog still threatens attack: the main thing when dealing with a vicious dog is to have confidence. As a human being you are one of the largest mammals on earth and a formidable contender in a fight. Suppress your fears and radiate the notion that any dog that messes with you will regret it for the rest of his days, if he lives that long. It is only the rarest of dogs that will attack a human obviously prepared for self-defence. Speak to the dog in firm tones, keep your bike between you, and slowly walk away.

    If the dog attacks: an effective defence are aerosol pepper sprays (edit: illegal in Australia) made for exactly this purpose… A water pistol loaded with water ammonia solution will also work, but is a good deal less convenient. If you have neither of these and can’t or won’t climb a tree get a stick or large rock. No? The bicycle pump. Try to ram it down his throat. In any event, don’t cower or cover up, because the dog will only chew you to ribbons. Attack. Any small dog can simply be hoisted up by the hind legs and his brains dashed out. With a big dog you are fighting for your life. If you are weaponless try to tangle him up in your bike and then strangle him. Kicks to the balls and which break ribs are effective. If worst comes to worst, ram your entire arm down his throat. He will choke and die. better your arm than your throat. You can avoid this problem by carrying pepper spray.”

    Sure, this sounds like sadistic advise, but if i seriously have to fight for my life I’ll do it with the gloves off. However, if I have to fight for sparky’s life, i don’t know what i’d do. If i were to intervene I may not solve anything and just put myself at risk. For all I know, sparky could turn on me.

  5. Deirdre said,

    Bloody hell! That’s a scary prospect – fighting for your life against a dog. Fighting for your life against Sparky… (I assume that’s a joke? You haven’t seen him harbouring weapons, have you? Or is that what he was doing with the soldering iron? Preparing something to shock and alarm you?)

    I can’t control my dogs even when they’re ON the damn leash. They’re not often angry, it’s just rampant enthusiasm for anyone they see. They race up to people as though they’re long-lost friends, while I’m dragging along on the end of the leash, cursing them and trying to look invisible.

    Seriously, those dogs with wide jaws (don’t know what they’re called – fat heads like toads) are dangerous and the problem is their jaws seem to lock on to whatever they’re biting. One jumped up and bit the neck of a calf here once, the calf then ran around the paddock in terror and pain (I assume), the owner was screaming, and the dog just held on for ages.

    I hope you don’t get chased, anyway. And best wishes to Sparky the Wonder Dog.

  6. toto said,

    Are the “dogs with the wide jaws” bull terriers? It is messed up that some people breed violent mongrels. Poor calf, was it alright?

    My parents are always telling me that I shouldn’t trust dogs, you can’t predict what they’re going to do. But it’s such great fun to blow air at sparky so he snaps at me or have barking competitions with him or fight over a magazine. I’m certain that he has the ability to understand what play is, but even when he is serious and protecting himself, he is controlled and reasonable. However, when he is ‘on the hunt’ he acts very differently. He acts without reason, not worried about hurting himself. For example, if he senses a lizard, he’ll choke himself on his leash without control or hesitation so that he can’t breath properly for several minutes afterwards.

    I remember once, sparky got hold a hacky sack and we had to empty a glass of water on him because we couldn’t pry his jaws open.

  7. Deirdre said,

    He’s trying to play with a hacky sack and you chuck water all over him?? That’s not playing by the rules, toto!

    I think that little dog deserves his own movie: “SPARKY… goes baaaadddd!!”

    And yes, bull terrier might be the right name. The calf didn’t die, that’s all I know. And the dog’s owner gave my parents a big tray of mangoes, even though the dog had bitten the calf, not my parents. Strange.

  8. toto said,

    hmmm. I wonder what the calf was expected to do with the mangoes.

    Sparky doesn’t play with hacky sacks, he destroys them. Just like he ate the front cover of my library book or the tv remote. But we love him anyway. Making a movie about sparky is a great idea. I’ll keep you posted.

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