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The Rotweiler

When folks name their 150 pound Rotweiler, "Killer," you know he didn't earn his name chewing on a rawhide bone. The Cavanaugh family, who brought Killer to the Inn from their home in Jacksonville, FL, were quick to characterize ol' Killer as a "big baby." From the moment I first laid eyes on Killer, the question in my mind was, "a big baby what?"

Killer Cavanaugh had the eyes of a canine sociopath, and after one glance, I feared him more than any dog or human being I have ever met. I came to the realization that I was reasonably safe, only because he 'wrote me off' as a non-player after just one sniff. He was also instinctively smart enough to know better than to attack his host's dog on his host's home turf. "Lucky me," I thought at the time . . .

Believe it or not, in my eleven year tenure at Faded Glory, I have had the displeasure of meeting at least two human sociopaths (want to hear those stories?). It is hard to forget the 'vacant look' in the eyes of a person who has abdicated his or her role as a responsible member of the human race. Killer Cavanaugh made these folks look like kindergarten students!

Even though I don't care much for cats, I was happy that we had none living at the Inn on Friday afternoon when Killer was turned loose on our property. Like any predator, Killer did a 'sweep.' After being released from his leash, Killer bounded from the side porch and broke into a deliberate run toward the wood-line with his head down and his nose barely clearing the ground in front of him. I fervently wished that he would run up on a skunk, but, as luck would have it, Killer overtook, and brought an immediate end to an indecisive squirrel who zigged instead of zagging. Not a pretty sight.

Killer didn't tease or 'worry' Mr. Indecisive as a cat would a mouse. Death for Mr. Indecisive was instantaneous, if not merciful, and Killer, hardly breaking his stride, kept right on running toward the wood-line.

They say that if you encounter a mean animal or a mean child, look next at the parent/caregiver and you will probably find out where the "mean" came from. After meeting Melissa and Mel (Melvin) Cavanaugh, you would have to call that theory "a bunch of hogwash." Isabel was quick to describe Melissa as "sweet, tiny, understated lady with delicate features and a quiet personality." Melvin, on the other hand is a tall, graying, high school science teacher, balding, with requisite horn-rimmed glasses; certainly not your average 'Cujo' owner. Neither of the Cavavaughs would pose a threat to anybody.

So, what went wrong here? How did this mild-mannered couple become the owners of this modern-day Cujo? Are they non-aggressive people who somehow live vicariously through the activities of their psychopathic dog? No; here is your daily lesson in canine culture, pure and simple . . .

Melissa and Melvin somehow failed to establish and/or maintain their "alpha" status with ol' Killer. Although he affords them grudging obedience, he has chosen to reestablish himself as the alpha figure in that family, and if it came down to a tug of war for control, he would probably injure one or both of them in an attempt to retain his alpha position. In short, the Cavanaughs have lost control of Killer, and he is essentially "running the show." Unless he is stopped in his tracks and corrected, Killer's asocial behavior will continue to amplify itself, and Killer will continue to revert to his unpredictable
,more feral, wolf-like instincts until he is stopped.

Less than 15 minutes after seeing Killer dispatch Mr. Squirrel, Micah relayed what he had seen to Isabel. Fearing future problems, Isabel suggested to the Cavanaughs that they place Killer in the new kennel building and personally supervise his runs on the property for the rest of their stay. Surprisingly, Killer went willingly, possibly, because he needed a rest. The Cavanaughs actually appeared to be relieved when Killer retreated into his cage. They seemed to be even more relaxed and happy when they turned up at Isabel's "Guest Appreciation Happy Hour" later that afternoon.

Killer Cavanaugh was all but forgotten until 10:30 p.m. when Melissa Cavanaugh, bleeding profusely from a gaping wound on her right wrist, showed up at the outside door to the kitchen. Isabel retrieved some ice and a dishtowel and fashioned an impromptu compress as Melvin Cavanaugh excitedly described what had happened.

Before heading to bed, Melissa and Melvin decided to put Killer on a leash for one last 'run.' Killer proceeded to do his business and everything went fine until it came time to put him back into his cage. Killer balked and refused to walk into the cage, and as Melissa reached for his collar in order to guide him in, Killer seized her right wrist and bit down - very hard. As Killer momentarily released his grasp on Melissa's bleeding wrist, Melvin, who was situated just behind Killer, gave Killer a shove - sending him flying headlong into the opening and into the empty cage.

At this point, rabies infection wasn't a question, but stemming Melissa's bloodloss was. The bite had evidently severed a vein or artery in Melissa's wrist, and unless compression was maintained, Melissa was continuing to bleed without any letup.

At 11:15 p.m. traffic was nonexistent, and the County Hospital Emergency Room was virtually asleep when Isabel's Lincoln finally screeched to a stop under the ambulance portico. After two Novocain injections, and fifteen stitches, an exhausted Melissa Cavanaugh was released into her husband's care for the 45 minute trip back to the Inn. Although I was not privy to the conversation during their return, Isabel later related to Micah and Louella that this wasn't the first time one of the Cavanaughs had been bitten by Killer. Evidently the Cavanaugh's "big baby" wasn't such a "big baby" after all. It happens in the best of families, folks!

Thankfully, the remainder of the weekend passed without further incident, and Melvin personally took Killer out for his 'potty breaks.' When the Cavanaughs finally left us on Sunday afternoon, the staff at Faded Glory breathed a sigh of relief and returned to business as usual.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the Cavanaughs. They have some very big decisions to make in the very near future.

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