She liked Cape Cod. It was a place for beaches,
salty air and new friends. To say she was glad when
Steven decided to get away for a few days couldn't begin
to describe her joy at having some special time with
the one she loved. They were relaxed, they were "themselves"
and they were happy.
She had been with him for over a year. By
now, it didn't matter if he spoke one language and she
spoke another. For them, life ran hot or cold, as it
does in Italian households where love lasts forever
and anger seldom makes it through the night. Their hearts
needed this time together. They needed to get over the
recent loss of Jenny, the dog who had been so important
to both of them, after her sudden illness.
"Bella?" he said, in a voice that
meant I'd really like it if you'd come along with me:
"How about a walk?" It was the first of many
She loved their walks. She loved the sound
and rhythm of his words as they rolled from tenderness
to excitement. As he unfolded his dreams, his hopes,
his fears, she could sense them; she could see them.
But she didn't see what happened next: They weren't
the only ones out for a walk that morning. Other tourists
thought it was a nice time for a stroll, too. Some of
them walked hand-in-hand, some walked alone ... some
walked their dogs
There are many different kinds of dogs;
many sizes and many temperaments. Some are Toy breeds
to be fussed over and cuddled, while others are hunters
meant to chase anything that moves. In our changing
society, lines of demarcation are blurred and the talents
for which animals are bred become forgotten. But, Nature
doesn't forget. No matter what laws we write, no matter
how much we try to whitewash and purify our language
as we get closer to a fantasy world devoid of honest,
down-to-earth emotion, Nature makes her own laws and
merits out her own swift punishment.
Mother Nature and common sense tell us not to get between
two dogs that are fighting, but, usually, it's wasted
advice. Few of us can stand by when dogs are settling
their differences with their own kind, especially if
one of them is ours. So it was, when Steven pulled Bella
off the Shih Tzu and she grabbed his pants in the shuffle.
At first, it almost sounds funny (A vacationer in Cape
Cod, struggling with his own dog as she pulls off his
pants). But, what happened next wasn't funny at all.
As the other guy hurried off, a police officer was driving
Did the officer stop because of the fight?
No. The police officer stopped because Bella was being
scolded. "What are you doing, slugging that dog!"
"Excuse me? I was not slugging my dog!" Steven
said, surprised. "I would never 'slug' my dog."
"Yes you were. I saw you slugging that dog in the
face!" Clearly, it was a matter of the vacationer's
word against a hometown cop.
Why was the officer so angry? Why was he
interfering with Bella's training by the one who raised
her from a puppy and knew her better than anyone else?
This is a very beautiful dog of valuable bloodlines.
With her unusual coloring and perfect physical condition,
she is a standout anywhere she goes. Was someone trying
to get her for themselves?
As Bella looked on in confusion, Steven
was written up and told that there would be an investigation.
Two days later, police arrived where he was staying,
and they took him away in handcuffs. He was jailed,
required to post bail, and hire an attorney. One of
them asked for a $5,000 retainer.
Have we gone overboard with laws for animal
All we have to do is look at animals, themselves,
for the answers. Is Bella afraid of Steven? Does she
cower around him? Does she whimper in expectation of
being hit? We don't need laws or courts to tell us these
things. We know them in a heartbeat.
At the time of this writing, Steven and
Bella are home, but they have a court hearing coming
up. If he was such a threat to her - if they were really
worried about a dog being hurt - don't you think Bella
would have been taken away from him? Maybe this isn't
really about dogs. Maybe it's not about animals at all.
There's something strange in Massachusetts.
Why does it need such a law? Why does any place need
such a law? Are such laws being correctly understood
and applied - or have our beautiful animals been used
to get something on the books that hurts them worse
than anyone ever thought?
The court is treating this as a felony -
a felony! Do any of us realize what a felony does to
someone's life - and to the animals that depend on them?
Is this how dog lovers (real dog lovers, not the phony
kind) want laws against animal abuse to be interpreted
and carried out? Bella lacks for nothing in her life.
When her mate, Jenny, was sick, Steven paid thousands
of dollars to save her. Does over-zealous law enforcement
mean we must pay for lawyers, have our reputations smeared,
lose our jobs, lose our pensions and go to prison for
training dogs not to bite? It's true that animals don't
speak our language, but they do learn by example. And,
as anybody who sees a spoiled kid throwing a temper
tantrum in a grocery store knows, so do we.
Animals do not stand alone in our society.
They cannot be born, raised, trained or cared for without
someone who takes on that responsibility. What happens
to Bella now? What happens to a beautiful dog in whose
name such laws were passed if she loses Steven - the
one she loves and depends on - because a law meant to
protect her . . . ends up wrecking her home and destroying
her life instead?
Think about it.