You should know that I came perilously close to turning sour on Thornbury. No, it wasn’t because I couldn’t afford anything at the diamond store. Instead it was the result of a traumatic incident – the details of which I will reveal to you presently (that’s about all the Charles Dickens I have in me so the rest of the story should read relatively normally).
My wife and I took possession of our condo in August. We moved in on the hottest weekend of the summer (lots of sweating; no air conditioning). The evening after we moved in I decided to explore the neighbourhood with Reilly. I ventured down a street by the Beaver Valley Community Centre. This proved to be a bad move. I noticed a couple of kids playing on their porch. Their dog was with them and he was tied up. We passed on the far side of the road and I had a feeling that the dog – a 90 pound boxer – was not horribly impressed with Reilly.
Maybe it was the heat or maybe the dog was just nuts but he charged full tilt off the porch, snapping his choker collar off his neck, and ran straight at Reilly. Both of us froze. I guess I hoped that the dog would just take a sniff and run back home. Instead the boxer dove teeth first into Reilly’s shoulder and a scuffle ensued. I got tossed around like a rag-doll as I clung to the leash and simultaneously lunged at the attacking boxer. The boys ran from the porch and, within a few seconds, were ushering their dog home. I went straight to Reilly. Other than a gash on his shoulder, and a bit of a freaked out look on his face, he was in decent shape.
Meanwhile I was a mess. My futile attempts to wrestle the boxer off Reilly took place on pavement. I had scraped my knee, elbow, and hand pretty badly. However, priority number one was to see if Reilly had sustained any damage that I wasn’t able to spot on my own.
I rushed Reilly home and we called the Blue Mountain Veterinary Hospital. They just happened to have staff on hand because they had hosted their open house that evening. They told me to bring the dog over. They spotted some additional bruising and tended to the gash on Reilly’s shoulder. To be honest, the vet seemed more concerned about the scrapes on my knee, elbow and hand than she was about the dog. My wife shared the same sentiment. Both insisted I go to the hospital, which I did, only to be turned away because the emergency doctor said he had seen way worse scrapes than the ones I had. In fact, I didn’t get past the admitting desk. The doctor and intake nurse looked at me from across the counter and told me to put some polysporin on the wounds with the look on the doctor’s face suggesting, “You are a pathetic wimp!”
Nothing says ‘Welcome to the Neighbourhood’ like a good old-fashioned dog attack followed by a doctor’s wholesale dismissal of my health concerns. Two days into our weekender adventure and both Reilly and I were traumatized.
However, wounds healed and lessons were learned. I never went down that street again. And Reilly became a lot more cautious when larger dogs came toward him. In a sense he lost his innocence that day. He learned that you can’t trust everybody you meet. It’s probably a lesson he needed to learn and a lesson that I should probably pay attention to as well. Sometimes it’s important to be extra cautious before you get too close to some people.
While I could have claimed the attack was a ‘bad omen,’ I decided to use the situation as an opportunity to ponder how truly unpredictable life can be. One wrong turn down a certain street can introduce you to an unwelcomed encounter. However, there’s bound to be another encounter, with a much different outcome, when you take a different turn onto another street.
And so the two of us stoically survived our brush with the dark side of Thornbury. Fortunately more walks and many friendly encounters kept us from turning sour on the town.