ste7en fosters granddogter lily with the essay title lily from the book the last alias

So this just happened. .

And I’ll never have to question my bravery (or stupidity?) ever again.

I’m dogsitting for my son. She’s a sweet little thing, a kind of Australian/cocker spaniel mix, only a little taller and much more spry. This little bit of a dog can project herself four times her height in the air at just the suggestion of a walk. So I walk her a lot. I like to see flying dogs.

I live on a circle. And we’re about the 7 – 8:00 part of the circle when me and Lily (that’s the dog) are just walking along minding our own business when, all of a sudden, this HUGE barking noise comes roaring up and a giant copper-and-grey pit bull comes charging out from under the dark canopy of this tree looming large in the yard, previously concealing any sign of him. Then, in just seconds…

Lily charges back. I yell at her. “Lily!” The leash unspools as she gets farther from me. Pit bull’s coming.

Lily sees the pit bull real clear now, immediately changes her mind about attacking him, and high tails it down the street, the leash slack letting her get a good couple yards from me before I snap to and jag the leash, for some reason thinking she’s going to be better off with me protecting her than with a pit bull gaining on her as she tries to bolt away.

She takes the hint when the collar snaps her back and she turns and runs toward me and the oncoming pit bull. (She’s barking now and has been, this whole time. Bull too, his is just lower and larger and hers sounds kind of like Owen Meany.)

She comes toward me and I sling her behind me, the pit bull is coming, and I lean OVER, bending over BARING MY FACE at the pit bull’s level so we can see eye to eye. (On hindsight this seems not such a great idea.)

But this is not hindsight, this is happening now and it’s ALL happening now.

Bent over, something large and from deep within my chest or my lungs or somewhere begins to explode out of my throat and my mouth is screaming in the pit bull’s charging mouth and angry eyes. I yell, in a voice that sounds as though it belongs to some satanic demon or something, “GET AWAY. Get the FUCK away!”


The pit bull stops. Quickly, he shuffles backward, turns around to get further back, then spins around back at me, almost as if he’s realized who’s the bigger force here. 

But whatever it all was, it was over. My loud, demonic shriek echoed up the circle toward the 12 and Lily and I are walking away. Quickly, but we’re still walking. And she pipes up. I tell her to shut up and keep walking. She obeys.

I see my next-door neighbor, who must have heard my hell yell, jogging down the circle swinging a blue aluminum baseball bat. Some gymbot on a bike suddenly appears too and he’s going over to the pit bull to make sure he’s still listening to my order to “get the FUCK away.”

That’s when I find out that this is one of TWO pit bulls this older man on our circle has. The other one is supposedly meaner. The muscle guy introduces himself and tells me that one chased him on his bike one day. My next door neighbor is still swinging the bat and looking like he’s been wanting to do this for ages.

“I’m just looking for an excuse to swing at those dogs. Just one,” he tells me, a little too much happy in his eyes.

The pit bull is loping around his yard and the neighbor’s yard, looking down my way when Lily, now fearless once again, yells at the pit bull herself. She does not use profanity as I did but, still, I tell her to zip it.

I say good-bye and thank you to my neighbors and Lily and I start walking back up the circle to my house and it hits me.

Did I just stare down a pit bull?

Yes. I did. It might not have been the smartest move in the world, but it worked. And I feel a kinda good right now. Standing up a little taller, my eyes sharp and focused and darting around for other dangers.

But there are none. Lily’s forgotten about the pit bull and is eagerly leaping toward the back yard where she has seen squirrels. Lily loves to do to the squirrels what the pit bull did to us. They don’t yell back at her. They just run. But me?

I don’t run.
I stand my ground.


From the upcoming book The Last Alias