Hatter Spends a Life

A Very Short Story: Hatter Spends a Life

Sometimes my flatmate and I refer to Hatter as “Catdog.” He acts like a cat. Back when his behaviour was very bad, he’d leap up to the work surface in the kitchen when he wanted to steal food.

More like a cat – Hatter proves again and again he has nine lives: His run off and run straight across Purley Way a number of times. He once yanked his lead out of my hand and ran into Purley Way, just on the wrong side of the kerb, angled toward the road a bit. White car rushed towards him and he turned his head just in time to miss the car with everything but some of his hair.

Earlier today.
A small bit of background: Hatter and I have practiced recall for a long time now, and Hatter generally runs back when called these days. So we (my flatmate and I) allow him a little bit of off-lead time. He walks on the grass near the river and we walk on the path.

Suddenly Hatter drops his ball, starts barking and rushes towards the Wandle.

“HATTER!” I shout, just as the sound of dogs fighting rips through the air.

I fling the bag from my shoulder and run down the bank toward the water. A large mastiff-sort of dog has Hatter by the throat.

Of the couple walking the dog, the man clips his dog’s lead on his collar and pulls back. The dog pulls forward, now tethered to a pivot point. The pivot causes the dog mass to continually fly around in whichever direction inertia dictated.

“Just stay there!” I shout to the man and grab the conjoined dogs, who from the Hatter-side, fall into the river. I try to pull them apart, but the mastiff’s jaws clamp down. I call out: “Come down!” at my flatmate standing on top of the bank.

I push a couple of fingers into a gap in his mouth, towards the back. Little by little I pry and push my fingers through and pull up on the roof of the dog’s mouth — an advantage of it being a big dog, I suppose. The dog’s head moves up and Hatter squeals. I yanked hard at his mouth and finally he relaxes his jaw.

His owner drags him away. He and the woman mumble worries I can’t hear but I and the flatmate say something to ease their angst.

Hatter hyperventilates and coughs while I check his throat for blood. I see no blood. Hatter moves around like Hatter always moves around. I conclude: the big mastiff-type dog had grabbed him by the collar.

I reckon that is life number 4.

That was ealier today. Hatter sleeps soundly on his pillow. I may catch my breath again any time now…