Formerly Proactive Progressive Participation. Join the resistance! My idiosyncratic and confluent bricolage of progressive politics, the collaborative commons, next generation cognitive neuroscience, American pragmatism, de/reconstruction, dynamic systems, embodied realism, philosophy, psychodynamics, aesthetics. It ain't much but it's not nothing.
Sunday, June 18, 2017
As I approached, he bared his teeth and growled. I nearly pissed my
pants right then and there. My olive drab green uniform shirt stuck
to my flesh like a fly on shit in this sweltering, south Texas
morning. It was our first day of training.
on, get in there with him, Richards," Sergeant Baker said. "What
the fuck are you anyway, a pussy?"
right Sarge," I said. "This mother wants to eat me alive."
out of the way," Corporal Boyle said and pushed past me.
just walked right in on Harvey. Boyle's got a set of balls on him,
I'll give him that, but he ain't got much upstairs. The instant Boyle
was within reach of his chain, Harvey lunged at him. Boyle tried to
jump back, but he wasn't quick enough; Harvey bit into his highly
polished right boot and jerked him off his feet, dragging him into
me for Christ sake!"
grabbed Boyle's outstretched left arm and pulled. Me and Harvey were
playing tug of war, and I swear I saw Harvey smile. The Sarge and
Wilson ran over and it took about a minute before all three of us
could wrestle Boyle away, but Harvey held fast to his boot, pulling
son of a bitch," Boyle said. "Look at him just chewing away
at my good jump boot."
looked up, burped, then went back to ripping apart the boot.
shouldn't have been so stupid as to wear your good boots to
training," said Wilson.
you," said Boyle.
that's enough, men. Get back to your own dogs now," the Sarge
we all lined up in front of our assigned dogs in the kennel, an
orderly drove up in a jeep. He screeched to a halt and the dust that
had been trailing him caught up and enveloped the vehicle. He started
unpacking large, steel bowls full of a mix of dry and wet dog food.
The dogs started barking like the hounds of hell.
a bowl and feed your dog," Sarge said. "After they've been
eating a minute, walk in slowly while talking nice to them. Pet them
if you can, but take it slow. We don't want nobody getting bitten the
first morning. There'll be plenty of time for that in a couple a
weeks during attack training." Sarge was the only one laughing
at his own joke.
took my bowl of food and approached Harvey. He had the sole of the
boot completely tore off. He smelled the food and threw the boot over
in front of his wooden house. He looked at me real peaceful like and
I thought maybe now we'd be friends, so I bent down and pushed the
bowl in toward him. He walked over to it and started to eat, paying
me no attention.
looked right and left to see how the others were making out with
their dogs. Most all of the guys in our squad of eight were already
petting theirs. I was still pretty scared from my first encounter,
but I figured I'd better get moving or they'd think I was a real
wuss. I stood and took a tentative step toward Harvey, who growled
without looking up.
came over and said, "You still ain't it with him yet? The other
guys are doing ok. What's your problem, Richards?"
saw what he did to Boyle. He ain't like the other dogs here. This one
is crazy. You go in and show me how, Sarge."
pulled out a pack of Lucky Strikes from his shirt pocket and lit one
up with his Zippo lighter, an emblem of three chevrons on it
indicating his rank. I smelled the lighter fluid as he clicked it
shut and blew out a cloud of smoke."Fuck
no, I ain't going in with that monster," he said. "That's
your job, not mine."
me?" I asked, lighting up one of my Marlboros with my own Zippo.
My lighter had engraved on it: Yours is not to question why, yours is
but to do or die.
you're the biggest one here Richards, so you get Harvey."
bigger that me Sarge." He had me by at least two inches and
I'm not assigned to Harvey, you are."
what's the matter with him anyway. He should have been trained by
now. How long has he been in the army?"
dropped his butt and stomped it out. He took out a fresh one and lit
it up. "According to the Lieutenant, Harvey's seen four tours in
Nam as a tracker, and now he's retired here to teach young
peckerwoods like you how to survive in a war zone. He's killed more
gooks single-handed than most Green Berets. Count yourself lucky you
got him, cuz he'll teach you good for when you go over there."
looked over at Harvey still wolfing down his chow.
try it again," Sarge said.
cautiously approached this massive, 110-pound German shepherd veteran
of foreign war. He didn't seem to notice me, so I inched closer and
closer until I was within arm's reach. I extended my right hand,
closed in a fist like I was taught so I didn't lose any fingers, and
just about laid it on his head when he leaped for my groin. I flew
backwards and fell on my ass in a cloud of dust. Everybody looked up
and laughed, Sarge the loudest.
I commanded Harvey in a strong, deep voice, jerking him back hard on
his leash, just the way Sarge told me. He said you had to let the
dogs know who was boss or they'd walk all over you. Or in my case
with Harvey, eat you.
retreated backwards to my left side as I walked around the parade
area. I was doing pretty good controlling him now after two weeks of
obedience training. Once you got the choke chain and leash on them
they were easy to control if you followed the instructions. I'd
learned to wrap the leash around my left hand to only allow about of
foot of space in it between me and Harvey. Any time he went to bite
me I jerked him back, which tightened the choke chain. Sarge said
their necks were their strongest muscles and you couldn't hurt them
there, unless of course you choked them too long, in which case
they'd be dead.
gained confidence, keeping Harvey in line with the leash and he
sensed it, so he played along and obeyed for commands on the leash.
Today we were going to try commands off leash. It was pretty simple:
you unhooked the leash and told them to "sit," "stay,"
and then walk away. After ten or so paces you stop and face the dog
and say "come." Nobody had any problem with it, but now it
was my turn.
reached down to unhook the leash from the choke chain and saw my hand
trembling pretty bad, but did it anyway. Since Harvey was already
sitting, I just said "Stay!" and gave him the hand signal
that went along with it: left hand palm down in his face. I walked
away with my back toward him thinking I'd feel his teeth sink into me
any second. But I got ten paces away and I was still alive. I turned
and Harvey was staying!
I commanded, slapping my left side at the same time. Harvey trotted
over to my left side. "Heel!" He heeled! This was too much.
I felt I had triumphed, was ready for combat.
Sarge said, "Good. Tomorrow we begin attack training."
whole body trembled.
I commanded to no effect.
him off," shouted Sarge.
jerked with all my might, but couldn't get Harvey to let go of the
padded arm-guard on Boyle's left arm. I yanked harder, and the
combined force of me and Harvey pulling on Boyle brought him tripping
forward onto his face. Harvey smelled a kill and went for Boyle's
throat. He got Boyle's shirt collar in his mouth and shook his head
violently back and forth. Boyle was crying like a baby.
ran up. "Get him off, you fucking asshole, before he kills him."
was so scared I ripped up on the choke chain and pulled Harvey away
from Boyle. Harvey was suspended a few inches off the ground gagging
for air. I felt sorry for him and let him down and he immediately
went for Boyle again, who was just getting to his feet. I pulled on
the leash and Harvey snapped back inches short of Boyle.
damn it Richards, I'm getting tired of your fucking up. You either
learn to control that dog or I'm shipping you out of this unit, you
I did everything you told me to. What the fuck else can I do when he
won't listen? It's not my fucking fault." I was angry, but also
almost on the verge of tears.
pathetic," Sarge said. "You'll be dead inside a week when
you hit Nam. Go on, take your dogs back to the kennel," he
ordered all of us. "Get the fuck out of my sight."
had to proceed, and this was the day for off-leash attack. I never
did figure out how to get Harvey to let go during on-leash attack. I
just had to wait till he got tired enough to pull him off. Sarge was
frustrated too, because nothing he instructed ever worked on Harvey
either. I'd learned from the Lieutenant that this was Sarge's first
training with Harvey and Sarge had never had a problem with any dog
before. Sarge blamed me for the whole thing, ragged me constantly.
Even Boyle started to feel sorry for me.
Sarge came up with this brilliant plan to get Harvey to let go today.
As Harvey was ripping the antagonist to shreds, I was to yell "Out!"
at the same time Sarge threw a full canteen of water at him to shock
him out of his frenzy long enough to obey my command.
stood in the distance in the full-body padded attack suit. Boyle had
done it for the rest of the dogs, but refused to do it for Harvey. He
said it was too hot in the suit and he needed a break. Yeah, sure.
was at heel on my left. "Watch him," I whispered, giving
the alert command. Harvey's ears perked up and he gave a low growl. I
could see Sarge standing off to the side with the canteen in his
him go," Sarge said.
reached down and unhooked the leash. "Attack!" I yelled.
Harvey took off at a gallop and covered the twenty yards to Wilson in
two seconds. He leaped into the air and landed on Wilson's chest,
knocking him to the ground. Harvey was at Wilson's face, but Wilson
had his arm up in defense, Harvey tearing into the arm guard.
shouted Sarge and let the canteen fly.
I hollered, timing it at the same instant the canteen made contact in
Harvey's side with a dull thud.
was knocked over sideways with the impact. He was temporarily
stunned. He got up slowly and turned around to look at me,
associating the command with the blow. I swear, his gleaming red eyes
at that moment were like some kind of demon. Harvey started running
at me and leaped.
turned to the right by instinct and took a step back. Harvey landed,
mouth open, on my left ass cheek, sinking his fangs into my flesh. A
hot, searing pain shot up to my head and I just lost it. I let out a
scream so loud it dazed Harvey enough that he let go. I grabbed his
choke chain in both hands and lifted him off the ground and then
slammed him down onto it, over and over. Then I swung him around in a
circle a couple of times and let him go, aiming at a tree ten yards
off to the side of the field. Harvey hit it broadside and slid down
the trunk and lay in a heap at its base.
my God, I killed him! I ran over to him and he was breathing real
shallow. There was no blood so I felt his side but nothing felt
broken. Sarge and the others ran over to us.
laughed, "That'll teach the fucking bastard to mess with us, eh
that moment Harvey raised his head, saw the crowd around him, and
jumped to his feet. Sarge had the canteen in his hand.
him Harvey," I said. Harvey gave his low, menacing growl.
started to back up slowly. "Richards, call him off, that's a
him," I said again. Harvey started to walk toward Sarge and I
commanded, "Stay!" Harvey quit moving but still growled,
his lips pulling back to reveal long, sharp weapons of destruction.
glanced over to the road ten yards away at his jeep. He continued to
back up. "That's right Richards, excellent control, good job.
Now call him off."
ok, Sarge. Out!" I said, and Harvey sat by me and shut up.
sighed and started to put his canteen back in its belt pouch.
I yelled. Harvey sprang into motion like lightening. Sarge dropped
the canteen and made a mad dash for his jeep. Harvey was quicker and
gained ground rapidly. Sarge got inside and closed the canvas door,
but not before Harvey got a hold of the handle and ripped half the
door off. As Harvey hung by his teeth onto the door, Sarge got the
jeep started and pulled out. After ten yards he slammed on the brakes
and the momentum slung Harvey forward until he slammed against the
front quarter panel and fell to the ground. Sarge gunned the jeep and
took off again, but Harvey was up and took two gallops and jumped up
into the passenger side. The jeep skid to a crawl and Sarge jumped
out and ran back toward us. A moment later Harvey flew out of the
jeep in hot pursuit.
stopped, drew his Colt 45, cocked a round into the chamber, and
aimed. Harvey leaped at the same time I did. I plowed into Sarge with
my right shoulder football style as Harvey hit me. There was a
deafening explosion in my ear as the gun went off.
three of us were sprawled on the ground. Sarge recovered first and
picked up the gun and pointed it at me.
now you're a man, eh Richards? Well now you're going to die like a
man." Sarge looked like a rabid dog.
came from nowhere and pounced on Sarge's gun hand, knocking it free.
Sarge punched Harvey in the ribs with his free hand repeatedly with
no effect; Harvey tore flesh from his wrist.
Harvey!" I roared, picking up the gun.
stopped momentarily and looked at me. He turned to go back to Sarge
and I said in a still louder, deeper voice, "NO Harvey, HEEL!"
Harvey trotted over to my side and sat, breathing rapidly with his
tongue hanging out and drooling saliva onto the ground.
got up slowly and noticed his mangled hand; it was bleeding pretty
bad. He tore off his shirt with his good hand and wrapped up the
gonna court-martial your ass for this, Richards. You're fucking
through, you hear me?"
pointed the gun at Sarge's head. "You are aware that I have an
expert badge in the 45, ain't you Sarge?"
don't have the guts to pull the trigger, you little fucking punk,"
he said. But the words were shaky this time. I never heard that tone
with him before.
it," said Wilson.
do it," said Boyle.
by one the others joined in: "Do it!"
pressed the cartridge release and pulled out the ammunition clip and
flung it into the field. I threw the unloaded gun at Sarge's feet.
grabbed it and the corners of his mouth curled up. "I didn't
think you had the balls. Let's go, I'm taking you in and writing you
what?" asked Boyle. "All's I saw was an accident. Harvey
attacked you after you threw that canteen at him, that's all."
your own damned fault," Wilson echoed.
didn't see nothing," another chimed in.
neither," said another.
you fucking bastards," Sarge said and started to walk toward the
him Harvey," I said.
alerted and growled. Sarge stopped, looked at us a second, threw the
gun down and stormed off to his jeep.
reached down and patted Harvey on the head. "Good boy, Harvey."
He looked up and licked my hand.