BOON Leong comes from a family of dog lovers. He can’t remember when, in his life, he has never not had a dog. Today, at forty-two, he is proud to have had five dogs in his lifetime: Kingsfield the silky terrier, Pericles the Alsatian, Mochi the Shih Tzu and her Pomeranian buddy Bubbles, and Wei Wei the Labrador Retriever, named after the Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei.
All of them have since passed on. His present and latest canine friend is a French bulldog with great black Panda patches on his body and eyes, like a cool mask fit for a Halloween party. His name is Panda.
Dogs don’t really get to attend Halloween parties for a dose of fun, pretend horror. Sometimes, however, their Halloween could be as real as can be, filled with the real deal, not fun, pretend horror. It sneaked up on Panda one evening just as he and his master were making a turn around the condominium swimming pool back to their home.
A bull terrier came ambling along with his mistress trailing further behind, its leash loose and long. The lady’s arms were swinging vigorously back and forth, the leash switching from the left hand to the right, left to right—she wasn’t so much walking her dog as working in some upper body exercise and toning her flabby arms.
Grrrrr! Rrrrrr! Ow, wow! Grrrowl!
The poolside suddenly burst with the throaty violence of the two dogs, rattling the neighborhood. Some of the residents around the pool poked their heads out at their windows, horrified by what they saw. The bull terrier pounced on Panda, Panda pawed back aggressively. Fangs and teeth were on display, desperately out to bite at something. For a moment, both dogs were on their hind legs, freeing up their front paws to spar and slash and draw blood. Like deadly blades, the bull terrier’s unclipped claws went lashing out at Panda’s face and snout.
The lady pulled and tugged at her dog, commanding restraint, but somehow she couldn’t seem to quell her terrier’s terror. Fumbling with the leash, she tried to reel it in, but she herself was in a state of panic. The leash cartridge just didn’t seem to cooperate.
Boon Leong, angry and exasperated, shouted: “Stop your dog! For goodness sake, stop him!” He, too, was tugging at Panda as if he were pulling at the rein of a galloping horse, but the terrier just kept coming at Panda, not letting up even for a second.
In a matter of two minutes, the dogs had worked up quite a bit of mutual damage, though Panda incurred more cuts, even a bruised eye, on account of his smaller size. It didn’t help that the terrier had long been due for a manicure.
Boon Leong was so upset, he scolded the woman: “I can’t believe you don’t know how to take care of your dog, your crazy wild dog.”
“You also,” she screamed. “Why your stupid dog has to walk right in our path?”
The dogs quarreled too with low growls and fiery eyes as their necks strained forward into their collars, giving their growls a menacing, vibrato quality. No one sued each other. They just sent their dogs to the vet, Boon Leong making sure he didn’t step into the same one as that flabby-armed lady.
Chia Xin Yu, Primary Five
For more essays by Xin Yu, visit Xin Yu Writes.
This essay was written in response to the theme, “A Distressed Animal” and two pictures: (1) a man looking shocked, and (2) a dog with black patches on its body and a bandage over one of its eyes