Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Shots Rang Out
Kapow!! Kapow!! I was startled out of sleep and immediately bolted upright as the shots rang out below my window in the wee hours of the snowy winter morning. The rifle fire shattered the peaceful setting and put Erin on edge as she looked to me for reassurance; "It's okay...Daddy is here." While calming her down frantically I was donning my boots and jacket for a dash into the biting frigid air, shoving a flashlight into my pocket I raced to the door while my companion was close on my heels. She could not be allowed outdoors at this moment for there was a grave threat to her lurking in the darkness so I nudged her back inside while offering some final comforting words then I walked into an eerily surreal situation. Somewhere on the snow covered streets of this Kosovo town were a group of police officers with a sole purpose of shooting and killing the feral dogs that harassed the population and roamed without limitations
Turning on the flashlight to avoid making myself a target the beam was scanned in all directions as I wandered down the pothole laden street. The layer of snow blanketing everything crunched under my feet as the search continued for what I was unsure of though it would be obvious when spotted then the bright red splatter of blood stood out against the purity of snow. There were no bodies and the shooters had disappeared but the damage was evident; pools of blood and crimson streaks leading up the road told me the dogs were hit but not mortally wounded and with the posse in hot pursuit they had scampered away in distress and physical agony. There was nary a sound as I strolled down the street alone in my thoughts; the locals were used to this barbaric act thus lay sound asleep but I wanted to witness it firsthand as this was rarely seen by outsiders. It was sombering to look upon the blood soaked snow as a few minutes earlier the methodical shootings of the dogs had taken place while Erin slept nestled against my chest.
This practice was brought to my attention by the locals who befriended myself and Erin upon our arrival in Kosovo; used as a means to control the population of feral canines who roam in large packs, they often harass adults and attack children when given the opportunity. After surveying the scene I walked the short distance to my apartment where Erin was awaiting anxiously; at the door she remained a statue in anticipation of my return. Inside the doorway I collapsed on the floor beside her in a spontaneous moment of bliss; I was so thankful to embrace her again and to let her know how much I loved her while she doted upon me in kind. The sun rose to shed light upon the land and together we strolled out to see if last night was a bad dream; the blood running the length of the road and into an adjacent neighborhood confirmed that my wee hour walk was indeed very real.
Erin sniffed at the blood doused patches of snow and pavement with curiosity and increased interest; I wonder what her thoughts were as she inhaled the lifeline of fellow canines while glancing upwards at me with those raised eyebrows as if to question what took place here. The locals were going about their normal routine despite the added coloration to the snow and this indifference included people clearly walking through red stained snow; there was no veering around it whatsoever. Folks paid " The American and his dog" little attention as they passed by and when the coast was clear I snapped a few pics as I knew this photo opportunity would never present itself again and it certainly didn't.
There were other evenings when rifle fire broke the silence of the night but never again did our street become a dog kill zone and for that I'm very thankful.
There would be other memorable situations over the course of nine months in Kososvo as Erin drew passionate spirited responses from many folks and while the majority were loving and positive, a few were in a negative nature as they believed all dogs were to be feared, abused, and eliminated. That said we had a great time with amazing people in a war-torn land and I look forward to bringing more stories of love and heartbreak...