I often caution citizens not to expect their domestic pets to be effective guard dogs. Folks usually don’t like heavring it, but that’s been my experience after a few decades in law enforcement. Dogs are great alarm systems if properly programed, but are rarely capable of a full-blown attack against a dedicated assailant. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gained permission to enter a fenced-in yard to search for a suspect only to be told by the homeowner that no one could survive their killer canine’s zone of terror. One gentlemen even told me, “if he’s back there, you’re on a recovery mission [rather than a rescue mission].” Several of those times, not only did we find the suspect in Cujo’s Corner but one time (I kid you negative), the felon was actually hiding in the dog house. Still, police work is consistent with anomalies.
Being called to a residential burglary in the small suburb I patrolled in the mid-90s was unusual. In fact, this would be my very first call of an attempted break-in. I knocked on the front door and was greeted by the lady of the house who was very familiar to me. Judith worked at a local business and we were on a first name basis. I’d even stopped to speak with her as she worked in her back yard a few times. I’d often lean over the fence to pet her fat, old dog. “Fred” seemed to be a cross between a Beagle and an Australian Shepherd. He was always docile, but somewhere beneath that affable exterior was a “Curried Wolf,” (an antiquated western term for a man who was well groomed (as if with a Curry comb) on the outside but capable of swift and extreme violence when necessary. Not to be confused with a “Curly Wolf,” who was just a cantankerous and rough man.)
Judith had a four-foot chain link fence surrounding her back yard. There was a dual gate designed to allow for vehicle entry. As I rounded the back of the house, I saw a brilliant crimson portrait of a grim criminal failure. Smeared, bloody shoe prints that even a horror film aficionado would find disturbing littered the sidewalk in an oddly random pattern. There were large drops of blood everywhere between the back door of the residence and the street. The double gate was bent outward and reddened as if it was blushing from what it had just witnessed. There were strips of grass scuffed down to bare dirt. Were it not for the boot print on the back door and the abrupt end of the blood trail at the street, I would have assumed a stray animal had incurred Fred’s previously unimaginable wrath.
From the evidence, I could guess what had happened. The would-be burglar jumped the fence and attempted to kick his way into the house as he’d probably done successfully at other locations without the involuntary plasma donation. One can only speculate what went through this miscreant’s mind as friendly Fred unleashed a fury of angry teeth and claws. The hapless wannabe desperado tried to make it to the fence, but fell short. With his back forced against the gate, he violently worked his heels into the ground. He endured the chomps and scratches until he was somehow able to make a humiliating getaway in his yellow 1991 Chevy Cavalier. Okay, the last part is speculative, but everything else tracks.
Of course, I contacted all the hospitals and clinics in the area and asked them to report anyone who looked as though they’d been spat out of a jet engine. I was never able to locate a suspect. Judith and Fred never had any more trouble to my knowledge. Judith left the crime scene as it was for a while; much like the common practice of the Midwestern rancher hanging a coyote carcass on a barb wire fence as a morose warning to other potential interlopers.
As I took a few final pictures for the report, I turned to Fred to document one of the most disconcerting things I’ve seen in law enforcement. Fred was looking up at me happily panting and deliberately wagging his tail as if he’d just been lazily lying in the yard all day like any other day. He was probably curious why I didn’t pet him as I had always done before. The blood saturating Fred’s furry face, eyes and ears made him a bio-hazard, but I would certainly to make it up to him the next time I visited.
After that day, it was difficult to look at Fred with the same eyes. He’d spent his life peaceably until that solitary moment when it was time to flip the switch. We’ve all come across a Curly Wolf on occasion in human form. In fact, their numbers continue to grow, but the Curried Wolf is truly becoming an anomaly.