We took a leisurely stroll from the Irving Park beach along the lakefront past Recreation Drive, a route which took us past the big dog beach. And at the big dog beach, we saw…a big dog. Not really just a big dog, but a huge, insanely gigantic fucking dog. A dog that gathered a crowd around it in the same way a traffic accident does. A dog that put the living fear of God into every living creature for miles around.
I think it was some variety of bull mastiff. It drooled a lot, and its head was roughly the size of my torso. But it wasn’t a purebred; it definitely had elements of other breeds in it – a Rottweiler here, a pit bull there, and a heapin’ helpin’ of hellhound. This was a big, scary-ass dog, a dog that if you saw it chasing your car, you would floor the gas and go as fast as you could, fearing that it would catch you, overturn your car, and eat you out of the inside like a walnut. Its owner, clearly recognizing that what he owned was not so much a pet but a weapon, had dressed it in a black leather harness covered with spikes. On most dogs this would seem totally cheesy, but in this dog’s case, it seemed understated. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the dog’s idea.
The dog had gathered a crowd because of what it was doing. Not anything particularly unusual for a dog: it had dug up a stick and was trotting around with it. The thing is, though, this was not just a fallen twig from a tree; it was a huge shoring post over six feet long. You know the kind I mean? They’re big, thick, heavy (about 30-40 pounds) and are used to shore up seawalls or to reinforce gardens or pathways. And this dog was carrying it around in its mouth like it was a rubber ball, making a horrible noise that was halfway between a whine of pain and some kind of Satanic keening. (This was actually a blessing, because when the dog dropped the stick – well, be fair, it was a pole – and barked, it was a hellish, deafening sound in which you could clearly make out the word “KILL!”) Sometimes the dog would drop the pole and then roll it around with its front paws in a disturbingly intelligent way, leading you to believe that at some point this animal might learn to use a firearm.
Lest you think I am exaggerating, observe this picture, in which you can see the hellhound actually prying the pole out of its original location (also note that the dog had to pry it out from behind concrete blocks), and this one, in which you can see the owner attempting to get the pole (which is taller than he is) away from the dog. The pole was heavy enough that the owner had to drag it by one end, which was not a problem for the dog, who was about as strong as the Hulk.
Seriously, folks: this was one terrifying fucking animal. I have never, ever seen such a display of strength from a dog in my life. This thing could take down a telephone pole with no problem. I can’t even imagine what the poor owner’s house must look like; a table leg or a porch support would be like an after-dinner mint to that dog. There’s no question who was in charge in the pet-owner relationship here; I think just after we left the guy went out to buy the dog a porterhouse, always keeping in mind that if his dog ever wanted him dead there would be absolutely nothing he could do about it.
It was really amazing to behold, but I just couldn’t be comfortable owning a dog like that. If you have a pet that can tear up a 40-pound post that’s buried behind concrete blocks and under sand and carry it around in your mouth like a rawhide chew toy, then you have to know that it’s constantly thinking that it could get one of your legs off, no problem. On the way back, we were joking that it was probably named “Buttercup” or “Flower” or something, but I think that was false bravado to banish the terror we felt at having just seen a dog that was capable of demolishing a building inside five minutes.