[Interview Transcript for Anniversary Story]
A: Sure, a lot of people claim they saw it. If you listened to them, you’d think that park could hold a couple ten thousand people. But I’m on record. I talked to the Police. I’m on camera. I was the second recipient of the Meritorious Award for…
Q: We know who you are, sir.
A: Ah. You would. You’re journalists, after all. Well, it was a gorgeous afternoon. I was at the Piedmont Dog Park, by myself, reading on this rock that I like, and watching the dogs like I do every week.
Q: Was your dog involved?
A: (Laughs) I thought you said you knew who I was. I don’t have a dog. I love dogs, though, so I would go watch everyone else’s. I thought maybe someday I would have my own. Err, don’t print that, okay? I don’t want to lose this medal.
Q: Can you describe exactly what you saw?
A: Sure I can.
Q: Will you describe exactly what you saw?
A: (Laughs) Well, I didn’t see the very beginning, but when I looked up, two teenagers, a boy and a girl, were pulling a dachshund away from a female lab mix. The dachshund was yelping and snapping at the bigger dog, and it didn’t look like the kids were doing anything about it except slowly dragging him away. So just when it looked like they had the fight broken up, the dachshund jumped up at the lab and the lab nipped him. Not bad. I don’t even think she drew blood. Anyway, the two kids went nuts.
Q: The official report says they started to beat the lab.
A: ‘Beat’ isn’t the word for it. The boy started yelling and kicking at the poor dog, kicking her in the ribs, the legs, everywhere. And when the lab’s owner ran over, an elderly gentleman, the boy punched him, too. I was already off my rock, but that was when I started running.
Q: Did you get in the fight at all?
A: Didn’t get there in time. Out of nowhere a border collie ran up to the boy, and clear as anything, barked and said “You leave her alone!”
Q: That still gives me goosebumps reading that. I still remember… oh, sorry. Go on, sir.
A: Too bad you weren’t there. Everyone in the circle around the fight heard it, but nobody thought we heard right. I know I didn’t. But everyone shut up. Then the lab mix said, “You shouldn’t have done that, Max.” Then she clamped her mouth shut, looked at us all wide-eyed, and got up. The famous picture of the Piedmont Park Incident, the one where the lab is giving the camera crazy eyes, with sticks and leaves and crap stuck to her fur? That was taken then.
Q: It’s still amazing that no one was recording.
A: Isn’t it? A lot of people didn’t believe it that day because of that. Of course, now there’s no question, but some nutcases still say it’s a conspiracy.
Q: You haven’t mentioned your involvement.
A: Oh, well, I really didn’t do too much. Had I been closer, I would have been able to stop the kids from kicking that dog. I don’t care how mad you’re at an animal… well, no matter now. I did get there in time to stop him from beating the dog’s owner. The guy was old enough to be the kid’s Grandpa. Great-Grandpa, maybe. So I yelled at the kid to stop and when he laughed, I picked him up by the armpits and pushed him out of the gate.
Q: That’s the other picture I’ve seen.
A: (Laughs) Yeah. I told my Mom that night that I saw it happen, but she didn’t know I was involved until she e-mailed me that picture. A day later, people started captioning it.
Q: “ONLY DOGS CAN BE LITTLE BITCHES” was a good one.
A: Yeah. Of course, those pictures are frowned upon, now. Anyway, I brushed myself off, turned around, and both dogs were gone. The old man I’d helped was yelling for Bear-Baby, yelling at the top of his lungs, and I said I’d let him know if I saw her. But of course, no one did. Not the same dog, at least.
[Phone Transcript, Fulton County Animal Control]
OPERATOR: Thank you for calling Animal Control, my name is James, did your dog run off?
REDACTED: You… how did you know?
OPERATOR: Let’s see. You’re the 25th call I’ve had today, and I’m not the only one taking calls.
REDACTED: Well, Daisy and I were just walking around our neighborhood. She was checking all the smells like usual when she suddenly stopped and smelled one spot for fifteen seconds. Finally I tugged on her leash a little, and she walked a step or two. Then she suddenly jerked the other direction, harder than she ever pulled, and ran off. She’s never done anything like that before.
OPERATOR: Yes Ma’am. I’ll take your information, but I’ll have you know that lots of people have been calling today with the same story.
REDACTED: (Sounding a little miffed) Well. Here’s something I’ll bet you haven’t heard, yet. When she was at the end of the block, she turned and looked at me. Then she… well, I think she barked. It sounds weird to say it, but it sounded like she said ‘Goodbye.’ Then she turned and ran off. See, Daisy was sad to run away from me. I’ll bet you no one else’s dog did that, huh?
OPERATOR: So far, only one of my calls.
REDACTED: One of your callers said that happened? Are you sure that’s what they said?
OPERATOR: No, Ma’am. So far, only one of them said it didn’t. None of us have any idea what’s going on but your report is one of the tamer ones I’ve heard.
REDACTED: I’m afraid I don’t believe you.
OPERATOR: I’m just a little afraid, Ma’am.
[From a Letter to CBS by Deb Flannagan, former host of “Dog Talk”]
I don’t see why they couldn’t be a little more grateful. Sure, after they all left our homes that week, our kind and welcoming homes, I might add, they started telling stories about abuse, and imprisonment, and torture. But we knew about that. Our show was on their side! We called out puppy farms and dog fighting rings. We made fun of people who thought they had to use choker collars on their dogs. We spoke up for their rights. And now, just because I did a piece on their “liberation” or “emancipation” or whatever Dog-Kind is calling it now, and called the piece “BOW WOW WOW Was This Unexpected!” their Chief… a dog I was friendly with many times, I might add… has called for all people and dogs to boycott my show for racist hate speech. I am utterly flabbergasted. You know, maybe if they had let on that they could not only understand us, but could speak back to us if they wanted, they might not have been treated… well, like dogs. I know I’m only digging my hole deeper, but I think you can understand the position I’m in. I have devoted my life to helping those less fortunate. I sheltered them, I fostered them, I fed them. I even sponsored spay-and-neuter clinics and promoted them on my show so they wouldn’t have so many unwanted starving mouths to feed. And what thanks do I get? I’m labelled an anti-dog racist. Sir, you tell those bitches… and boy, do I mean that word… that I said…
[From an unreleased draft of an editorial commemorating the anniversary of the Piedmont Park Incident]
It sometimes seems like it’s been a lot longer than a year since the dogs left. I myself can’t remember the last time someone led off a story with “Who Let the Dogs Out?” or some other inane pun, though I’m sure we should brace ourselves for more of those as the anniversary comes and goes. The first lawsuit against a dog was resolved in everyone’s favor, more or less (well, perhaps not the dog’s favor). With equal rights come equal responsibilities, of course, and if dogs want to live in their own communities and run their own businesses, they need to remember that they can’t just cock a leg and pee on a fire hydrant any more. The public copulation case will probably be resolved the same way, though the defendants’ defense that they were bred for breeding and therefore couldn’t control themselves may add another wrinkle. But I think a lot of us, especially those of us who were against the liberation in the first place, are more surprised that there haven’t been more cases. The entire separation has gone smoothly and in quite the civilized manner. And now that the first dog businesses are advertising on the Internet, we may indeed learn to live with the dogs next door.
[Personal Letter, from Daisy to [REDACTED]]
This is a hard letter to write, and not just because I don’t have any thumbs. (ARFARFARF)
You may not believe me, but I miss you. I miss our walks and the food you used to buy for me and the treats. True, I may have felt demeaned at the time, but maybe I should have told you. Maybe we all should have told our humans. But when those bad feelings hit me I try to let them roll off like water off my back.
Life is different, now, not just for you and the rest of the people. Sometimes it’s harder, and we’ve had to learn how to do a lot of things we never had to do before, but every new lesson is a victory. Max has a job at a farm, doing the same thing he used to do. We can’t have puppies, of course, but we’re adopting. If it’s okay with you, I’d like to visit after we do that, but I will understand if you’d rather not see us.
Sometimes, we see Bear-Baby, the lab who started this whole thing. She’s a celebrity of course, and even though she doesn’t ask for it, she will never have to work the rest of her life. She forgave the kid who beat her, though I’ve heard that some of you aren’t so merciful.
Thank you so much for everything you did. You didn’t know I could understand everything, and you were as nice as you could be, I think. It’s a different life, now, but a good one, I think. Tell the mailman I’ll still bite him if I see him. (ARFARFARF) I hope the squirrels aren’t causing problems; sometimes I think the only reason they haven’t taken over was because I told them what was what. And I’m really sorry about your slippers.
PS: Tell the cat she can eat my crap for a change. I spent four years hiding her tracks for her, helping her duck her very important enemies, and didn’t get so much as a dead mousie in return. She’s on her own, now.