Trying to confront man who beat his dog in London Fields
I’ve just seen a man hit his dog in the park, not once but twice, whacking it viciously round the head.
I’ve not felt this mix of fear and anger since secondary school comprehensive when Clint (the really tall one who went through puberty two years before everyone else and whose family had flirtations with the law) threw a bike D-lock at my head when I refused to give him ten pence at the back entrance to school.
I ducked the lock as it whizzed past my ear but still I felt a wimp for not retaliating. I tell myself now that Clint came to school with a sausage in his lunchbox, I came with nothing but a baby carrot. But still I feel I should have retaliated. I wish I was better with bullies.
The man with the dog was, dare I say it, young(ish) and black, and his dog was, dare I say it, a white staffie (staffordshire bull terrier) on a chain. I don’t write these stereotypes but they seem to walk around here. It was a fairly big dog but it had the floppiness of youth – longish ears, uncordinated back legs. When the man first hit the dog I stopped and watched but didn’t do anything. When he did it again, thirty seconds later and with a nasty swipe to the face I ran after him.
‘Excuse me!’ I shouted with way too much politeness
He carried on walking.
‘Excuse me!’ I said again.
‘WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT!?’ he screamed without turning around.
His stride was long and his grip on the dog’s chain was a fist. Call me an amateur sociologist but I suspect his violent behaviour was not so much to do with the dog as with a long chain of nasty events that receded into his past. Either that or he was upset about the breakup of the Eurozone. You can never judge.
‘Can you NOT hit your dog!’ I said running after him, suddenly feeling like I was about to present him with a very small carrot in a very large lunchbox.
He turned round to stare at me. ‘Is it YOUR fucking dog!? IS IT!???!!!!’ His features were all sharp angles.
I wanted to say: yes it is, we are all interconnected but it would have been like trying to convert a meat eater by gently slapping them with wet broccoli.
‘No, but I don’t want it hurt’ I said.
‘FUCK OFF….fuck off, fuck off, fuck off, FUCK OFF!’ He shouted and then he stormed away, before stopping abrupty and, just in case I didn’t get the subtlety of his argument : ‘FUCK OFF YOU CUNT!!!!’
I followed him down the street some more, at this point crossing that invisible line of fear and risk that I never crossed as a child at school. He snapped round to look at me. I stood thirty metres from him, I had my hands on my hips (like some outraged old washerwoman I’m afraid), but I wasn’t going to move. He stared at me for a long while in silence, seething. If someone had appeared with a flute and played ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ theme tune it would have been extremely annoying …
It was too much for him. He started coming back at me shouting.
I mean, what the hell am I meant to do now?
I had no phone or camera on me, so I couldn’t take a picture of his face for a record and nor could I ring the police. He wasn’t interested in logic and I doubt he wanted to discuss the eurozone crisis.
I walked towards him as he strode towards me, then as we got closer, I turned at the next road junction towards home. I waved at him, meaning to say ‘forget it mate, i’m not interested in a fight, I know there are gangs around here and I’m not in one’ but it probably looked like I was giving him some ridiculous come on, so I then regressed to- as it were – ducking the flying D-lock and I jogged off home.
I now feel I’ve let that dog down and let myself down. But in my pounding heart I doubt there is not much more I could do – steal the dog from the owner? What then? The dog pounds in london are continuously putting staffies out of their misery because no one wants them, would that be better?
I called the RSPCA and they said there is little they could do, but perhaps next time I follow him home and report his address. Yeh, right, or perhaps I could just ask him his postcode there and then
‘E8 1, 2, FUCKING 3 YOU CUNT!!!!’
But I also feel something else, a little more tricky than just that I let myself down.
And what I feel is…. THAT I FEEL.
Previously, I’d have seen this scene and been upset but got over it fairly quickly. Now I’ve seen it, I tried to act and my failure to make a difference has made me feel unbearably sad and ….somewhat guilty. I feel all these things bristling on my skin like a recent nettle sting.
Is this what compassion is?
Does it entail all these other feelings of frustration, guilt, sadness, anger? I thought it was just a warm glow. Is this why I’ve avoided getting in touch with doing anything (or doing nothing) about the suffering of animals, because it’s not particularly nice to be involved.
But something tells me I’m going to be feeling a lot more of these….what can I call them….feelings in the future. I’ll look out for the man in the park.