Brutus started off as a yapper as a pup, holding his head high while trotting forward to challenge anyone and anything that came into his view. This was part of why my buddy Robert liked him and took him for awhile, whisking him off to live with a set of bikers who loved little more than teaching this new young pup to chase other living things.
By the time I got him back, the only command he knew was, “Sic’ em!“, which would set him off chasing little critters, squirrels and other dogs.
Brutus wasn’t a big dog. He just thought he was. So he would charge other dogs as if he was a Big Dog.
Once, when we were living out in Creedmoor, he noticed a couple of German Shepherds lazily trotting down the road in front of the house. Growling as he lit out, he charged the pair of them, snarling and barking as he got closer. They watched this dog half their size running towards them in amusement until he reached them and immediately jumped one, grabbed an ear and yanked his head down to smack his head on the road.
This startled them both so much they ran off, tails between their legs. And again, Brutus figured he must be the biggest, baddest dog of all.
We moved back into town later, and set up residence in a house at the top of a long, steep hill, with a front yard that sloped down to the street as well. From the high vantage point of that front porch, Brutus could watch anyone or anything coming up that hill. At the sight of another dog, he would rise majestically, announce his presence with a loud bark, then trot down the sidewalk, growling menacingly, to challenge the passer-by. I never saw him start any fights this way, but he did chase away a few stray dogs and he kept most other dogs from coming onto our — rather, his — street.
Until one night, several years later, that is, when he spotted a Rottweiller in the front yard across the street. Incensed at this blatant invasion, Brutus barreled down the sidewalk to go after the intruder. The Rottweiller looked up at Brutus as he came charging up. Then, as soon as Brutus got within reach, he picked him up by a front leg and swung him hard against a low stone wall, then dropped him like a rag doll, and trotted off down the street, non-plussed.
I ran over quickly to check on Brutus, and though sore and slow in rising, the only noticeable wound was his pride as he drooped his head and slunk back to his porch.
From that day forward, he was content to issue all challenges by barking loudly from the front porch, almost like an old dog yelling, “All you pups, get offa my block!” But I never saw him charge another dog.
He was becoming an old dog. His energy level had dropped drastically and he mostly just hung around the house and the back yard. When I met Sara and she moved in with 3 cats, he virtually ignored them. And after an initial freak-out, they did pretty much the same, realizing this old dog was no threat.
We moved a block or so away, and now, our back yard dropped off to the grassy ravine of a creek bed far below. Brutus loved that yard, and the proximity of the creek meant we got some “commuter critters” like raccoons and possums that would wander into our yard sometimes, giving the old dog another chance to engage in his old tricks as he chased them away, growling and barking.
Once, though, Brutus spotted a raccoon at the back edge of our yard on the hill. Suddenly, he shot out like a bullet and chased the coon all the way down the hill. From the deck overlooking the ravine below, I could see a tiny speck down at the bottom of the hill. “BRUTUS!” I bellowed at him, “Get back up here!” Looking up, he wagged his tail and started slowly making his way back up the slope.
It took him half an hour to climb back up what he had just run down in less than 3 minutes. That would prove to be his last charge down the hill.
Brutus started to spend a lot more time just sleeping all day, completing his full transition from yapper to scrapper to napper. But watching him while he napped, you could see him still chasing something in his sleep, his legs twitching to his muffled growls.
And you just know that he caught every critter and won every scrap in his dreams.