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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
When a dog is taught to be ferocious it becomes ferocious. But ask yourself -- who is really to blame.

WARNING: Some people may find some of this story distressing dealing as it does with animal cruelty and the illegal practice of dog fighting.

Submitted: June 23, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 23, 2016





He wasn't a pure-bred but some sort of mix. A mongrel with who knew what breeds as parents. But he looked strong. He looked tough. He looked liked the ideal dog for training as a fighter when money was too short to buy a pit bull or similar.


The man handed over a few notes then picked up the dog, a puppy really still, and tossed him carelessly into the back of the van. He was going to have to learn to land on his feet so let his lessons start straight away. If the dog whimpered he didn't take any notice but got into the driving seat and quickly drove away.


There was a small concrete pen waiting for the dog. Just cold hard concrete apart from the bars at the front that had a section which slid up to allow the placing of bowls of food and water.


The dog was dumped unceremoniously inside, a bowl of water was waiting in there but a lot got spilt on his entry. The dog did not yet realise just how precious the drops of water that were soaking away really were. He had no idea how hot it would become in his cell once the sun was at its strongest. He certainly didn't understand that there would be no more water until the following day.


The dog had never been well-fed but the rations he now found himself receiving were totally inadequate. He had no way of knowing how long he had spent in his cell. Nobody talked to him, nobody stroked him. He was never taken for a walk or let out to run. The dog just spent his time laying lethargically in his increasingly soiled and stinking concrete box.


His bones were beginning to become so obvious as he neared the state of physical starvation. At one point he even found himself staring hungrily at his own leg. No matter how many times he licked his food bowl clean there was just never enough food there.


Then there came a day when instead of a bowl of food the man threw a live rat into the cell. It was a large one, too big to be able to escape through the bars. The animals warily eyed each other, keeping as much distance as they could in such a small space. The man seemed to be hanging around, waiting, watching.


And then the rat made its move. It shot forward towards the dog and sank its teeth into his front leg. From that moment on everything seemed to dissolve in a frantic blood lust for both creatures. There was no control or thought in their attack; it was as simple as the fittest and most aggressive would win. The one that excelled best at savagery would get to eat.


The dog won. After finishing off the rat, the dog set to licking its own wounds clean. The rat had not conceded defeat without putting up a massive fight and there were many bites to be seen to.


But after that day things changed. As long as the dog reacted ferociously he would be fed. He was given injections to fight off the infections caused by his wounds. Antiseptic salve was applied where it was needed. But most important to the dog was that he was no longer entirely ignored. His master wanted him to be aggressive so that was what he would become.


* * * * * * * * * *


The dog could feel himself becoming stronger. He was no longer thin. The raw meat he had been fed on had increased his liking for blood and he could now finish off a rat in seconds without even one bite being inflicted on him in return.


And his master was pleased with him. The dog now received the occasional pat on the head, the occasional kind word. He didn't ever remember his life having been so good.


The dog did not know what to expect when it found itself being lifted into the van once more. At least this time he was not actually thrown inside like a bunch of old rags. Had he done something wrong? Was he being sent away?


The journey did not take long. It must have been along country roads as the van bumped along, jolting the dog this way and that. When the back of the van was opened he found himself in open country There was nothing to be seen except for one building, a large shed-like structure, that stood before him.


His master led him to the door and banged his hand against it. When the door opened he found himself being led inside a room that was almost bare. There was a large pen in the centre of the room, and a light bulb dangling from the ceiling.


Some men hung around in groups and as his master led him in, the dog found himself being inspected. He did not like this. There were so many smells that assaulted his senses. One of the most predominant was the scent of blood, both old and new. The other was the scent of dogs beside himself. He had not seen another dog since he had gone to live with his master. He was not sure he wanted to either.


He stood patiently while the man talked. Once his master was satisfied he led the dog over to the pen, lifted him over the side and put him inside. He then produced a blood-soaked rag that he put down in front of the dog. He couldn't help but drool, being reminded of how that very smell had stopped him starving.


But this was no rat that he was facing but another snarling dog, also with drool dripping from his open mouth. The dog did not understand for a moment, did not know what he was expected to do. When the dog leapt at him, teeth bared and ready to bite, the dog finally understood.


The fight was long, hard and painful. The dog suffered many injuries before the pair were parted and he was declared the winner. Thankfully neither dog had died but his opponent looked to be in a very bad way. The dog felt ashamed. How could he treat a fellow canine in such a malicious way? But then he felt his masters hand upon his head, sensed his masters approval, and the dog knew he would do the same again if he was asked.


* * * * * * * * * *


And the dog was required to do the same thing many times more. Sometimes the opponents would be separated so that both dogs could fight again. Sometimes it was left for one to kill the other to the sound of the men's cheers.


The dog always had his wounds seen to straight away which helped to prevent them from becoming severely infected. If he was lucky his wounds would have healed before he was called on to fight again. If not, the smell of blood seeping from still open wounds would add to the blood lust and bring on an especially ferocious fight.


But the dog kept winning. And while he did that, his master was pleased with him. A lot of money changed hands at these fights and he knew that by winning it was going to his master.


The man knew that his luck would not hold out forever. This was by no means the first dog that he had trained to become so aggressive but its winning streak was probably holding out the longest. No matter how well the injuries were treated, sooner or later their effect would take its toll and then the dog would lose and become no good as a fighter any more. Already he was keeping his eye out for a replacement and this time he had quite a bit of money in his pocket to pay for the best.


The dog had no idea that his master had almost written him off. He did know that his body hurt nearly all the time. He did find that his head swam when an infection was flowing around in his blood stream. He did not expect to lose his next fight.


The men did not spend much time appraising him. It was obvious that he still had quite a few injuries severe enough that most would not even have entered him in the ring. Very little money changed hands and his master was not so kind, so encouraging.


And when his opponent was set free he did not have a chance to attack back.


* * * * * * * * * *


The dog awoke to find himself laying against some bushes in an open field. He hurt so much. Where was his master and the medicine he brought? Where was the soothing ointment? There was nobody here with him. There was no scent of a human anywhere nearby. The dog lay his head back down and closed his eyes in pain. He had been abandoned after all he had done to please his master.


When next he opened his eyes, the dog found himself inside another cell. But this one was bigger and warmer. There was a large bowl of water and some food. What he could not understand was who had dressed his wounds. He was still in a lot of pain but his head was clearer and he could stand without falling over.


There were other dogs around him though. He could smell them, he could hear them. But they did not sound as though they were baying for blood. Some of them sounded sad but not aggressive. He could not detect the stale blood smell of the fighting shed but he feared it was soon to return. He did not think that he could face a fight again. It would be better to just submit to his opponent and get it all over with as quickly as possible.


The first person to come into his cell was a woman. He did not remember seeing a woman at the arena. As she drew near to the bars he backed away, hackles raised. He didn't mean to let out a growl but he was so afraid of what was in store for him that he lost control.


She stood inside his cell but did not approach him. She looked into his face and slowly closed and opened her eyes. He knew this was a signal that no challenge was being made, but could he trust her. She bent down and held out a hand towards him but he stayed in his corner. At least he was containing his growls, turning them into nothing more than a rumbling noise in his throat.


The woman stood, again blinked slowly then backed out of the cell. After the door was closed and the woman had gone the dog walked slowly and warily right up to the bars. No one reached out to grab him. No one launched a kick in his direction. He moved to his food bowl, ate his meal, then drifted into an uneasy sleep.


There did not seem to be any threat in this place but the knowledge that other dogs were near him made him nervous.


* * * * * * * * * *


The dog came to accept the woman. He came to see her as no threat and over time even found himself looking forward to her visits. She talked to him, and once he would allow her to, she stroked him. It was not long before his tatty and torn stump of a tail started to wag at her approach.


The vet was also a woman. Although some of the things she did to him were uncomfortable or sometimes even painful he could sense that her intentions were good. He knew she did not mean to cause him pain. At first he could not suppress the rumbles that bubbled up in his throat but as his trust grew he accepted her treatment in silence.


When they attached a collar around his neck he did not like it. He struggled. He had to put so much effort into stopping himself from snapping. Then once it was fitted firmly into place it irritated. He did not like the feeling of having something around his neck. He scratched at it. He pawed at it, but he could not get it to come loose. It seemed as though he was just going to have to accept it.


The first time the woman brought in a leash he ran to the back of the cell, shaking in anticipation of being struck. How could these people have betrayed him in such a cruel and callous fashion.


But what was she doing? She was putting it down on the floor and backing away from it. He wanted, no needed, to get a closer look. Belly low to the ground he inched his way forward, nose sniffing the whole time. Whatever it was it didn't move to strike him but lay there on the ground in a passive heap. As the woman started to draw near he backed away again, but at least this time he was not shaking. He watched curiously as she picked it up and removed it.


The next time the woman brought the leash into the cell the dog was nowhere near so concerned. It had proved itself to not be a threat. Again she put it down on the ground, and again he sniffed at it. She stroked him and talked to him, let him become accustomed to the piece of chain and leather. After they had spent a while together she picked it up and again left the cell.


A few dogs had passed his cell. At first whenever he caught sight of one approaching he would hurl himself towards the bars, colliding with them over and over again. And he would dare them, challenge them to take him on. The sight of another dog could still raise the blood lust.


None of the dogs reacted as he expected. Some were scared and then he felt ashamed of making them feel that way. Some were confused, wanting to know what his problem was. But not one reacted ferociously. Not one launched into an attempted attack. And soon, he would stand quietly at the bars as a dog walked past. He might even give a woof of greeting now he no longer saw them all as threats.


The first time the leash was attached to his collar the dog did not know what to make of it. It followed his every move, dragging along the ground behind him. His initial reaction was to see it as a challenge. He barked, his hackles rose. It did not do anything but follow him so after a while it just became a bit of an annoyance.


And then he felt something he had never felt before. It was a strange feeling, almost the total opposite of the fear he had once felt. The dog felt himself wanting to play. He leapt onto the end of the leash. He put it between his teeth and happily shook his head. And the feeling of joy was so intense that the dog found himself running round and round in excited circles.


* * * * * * * * * *


Learning to play marked a big breakthrough for the dog. It was not long after that that he found himself being led out for walks. He had never been on a leash before so he tended to either lag behind or speed off in front. It didn't take long for him to realise that the most comfortable position to be in was right alongside the woman herself.


At first when he found another dog approaching him he would hide behind the woman's legs, still expecting the presence of another dog to mean an attack was imminent. He would find himself reliving the pain of his injuries and would become so distressed that she would cut short the walk and return him to his cell.


Other dogs would want to know what his problem was. They had never heard of fights between dogs and although lots of them had been mistreated none seemed to have experienced quite such extreme brutality. They would reassure him that he had nothing to fear from them and eventually he allowed himself to mix with them. But trust, no. He remained always on his guard.


During his time in the cell there had been many dogs come and go. People would come and look inside the cells, searching for a dog to take home with them and become a part of their family. Nobody lingered by the dog's cell though. If there was a man there he would find himself growling. Men, he had been taught, could not be trusted. Men meant fighting and pain.


The dog's appearance also worked against him. One of his ears had been almost torn off. He had deep scars all over his face and a small part of his bottom left jaw was missing. One leg was twisted and there were numerous scars all over his body. His tail had been ripped into a tattered stump.


The woman knelt before him one day and put her arms around his neck. The dog licked her face.


Well, it seems your time here is up, boy.” She sounded so serious. “But don't you worry. You are going to come home with me. And I am going to call you Hugo.”


* * * * * * * * * *


Hugo could not believe the total luxury of his new home. He had never seen a thick carpet. He had never seen an armchair. But his favourite piece of furniture was the sofa where he could curl up on in the evenings and let his chin rest on the woman's lap.


He had never known such warmth, such comfort. Hugo was fed the best food, his remaining fur was groomed regularly and he found himself being loved. He could not help himself, he had to trust her back.


They spent many hours together, playing, sitting, learning to read each others moods. They became the best of friends and Hugo could not get over how much his life had changed.


But then it happened. There was a loud crash, banging sounds. Men were shouting, calling to each other. Hugo was terrified. The shouts and the bangs put him straight back into that arena where it was as simple as attack or be killed. And the noise didn't stop.


If anything the banging increased. The shouting increased. Hugo was not Hugo any more but that ferocious dog that would tear and rip anything that was posing a threat to him. The arm he gripped with his teeth was another dog, intent on spilling his blood. The flesh he tore was fur covered. The blood he smelt was canine in his mind; he did not even realise it was human blood that he was spilling.


The woman dragged him off the builder but it was too late. The damage had been done. The approaching sirens were for both man and dog. The man was taken in an ambulance for emergency treatment on his arm. It was hoped that they would be able to save it.


The dog was being removed by the police. It had proved itself to be a dangerous animal and dangerous animals were not allowed to be kept as pets. Hugo would be put to death, humanely at least. But it was not his fault that he had lived through such a brutal existence. It was not his fault that the noises of the building work had plunged him straight back in to the arena where he had been taught to kill or be killed.


The man that had subjected him to such barbaric treatment had done the same to several other dogs since he had dumped him. And he is still free to carry on doing the same thing over and over again.

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