Chapter 6 – Cruelty to Animals (Government Property: A Memoir of a Military Wife)

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Chapter Six

Cruelty to Animals

The last base housing we lived in was on Daphne Court. I remembered that street name as I always liked the name Daphne. Daphne Court was a real court with several sections of row houses, six to a set, all around in the shape of a court. Our street did not go through to the base. We had to go to the highway, which intersected Daphne Court and turn right. We would drive down and do a U-Turn and head back up the freeway to the base.

Now, these were excellent housing units. They were for the higher-ranked enlisted men. These were much bigger than the ones the lower-ranked enlisted in the military got and better for the most part. They had much larger rooms and a separate laundry room, which we didn’t have in the old ones. The only reason we were there was that they were tearing our old units down for a huge parking lot for a store they were putting in on base.

We had large screened-in back porches, and we were on the corner, so we also had a side yard as well as the front and back yards. Behind us was another street, and the rears of those row homes faced us.

One of the higher enlisted men had a boxer. He was a beautiful copper color and a powerful animal. The owner, a man with broad shoulders and a well-muscled chest, was so cruel to that animal. We all complained to someone on base at one time or another about the cruelty. We half expected him to kill it eventually. He dragged it around by its chain and lifted it into the air, so it hung on the chain and beat it. Some of the men confronted him, but nothing was ever done by authorities to intervene on that poor animal’s behalf.

We had two mutts ourselves. We kept them in the screened-in porch when we went somewhere as the door would lock from the inside. One day, they managed to get the door open. They broke the lock. They must have headed for the highway and made it across. A workman over there recognized the dogs, and he and a friend brought them back. When they realized we weren’t home and that the dogs had broken out of the porch, they took them back with them and left us a note. We couldn’t keep them on the porch anymore. It just wasn’t safe for them.

We had a mother and one of her puppies. Now the puppy was sometimes put out on a stake and chain. One day we caught the neighbor’s children torturing her. These children were black. They beat the dog and then ran to a few feet outside of her reach. We had no idea how long this had gone on. We stopped putting the dog out on a chain at all, once we found out what they were doing.

Now flashing forward four or five years later to when we were back and living in New Jersey after he got out of the military, we put up a fence for the dogs to be able to run around loose. We hadn’t thought that entirely through. Kennels were so expensive, but we had this fencing, and so we put the dogs out there.

One day I hear a man’s voice yelling, “Lady, lady, please come get your dog.” I was mystified, but then I heard him calling again. I hesitantly looked out the door, and here was the meter reader pinned against the meter by our dog. She was a big dog and hopping mad. It suddenly dawned on me the man was black and the same race as those children who had tormented her all those years before. She was ready to tear him apart and had dug out from under the fence. I finally managed to pull her off and take her into the house.

Now, this wasn’t the man’s fault, but the dog didn’t know any better. The meter reader was black, and the dog remembered the black kids tormenting her, and she never forgot. We had to get a real kennel after that. You can train an animal to be mean. They do remember. Those kids took a friendly dog and made it mean if you happened to be a black person. She was lovable as all get out to everyone else.

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