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...


  1. "Shots Rang Out" is a sad one David:(
    Poor doggies. Glad that nightmare is over. You're braver than I am. I could have never gone out there to start with to see the damage done.

  2. Debra, Life is often sad and this is an example of that fact. Different cultures hold different values and I wanted to see if the talk was true, unfortunately it was. Thanks for visiting and commenting!!

  3. Thanks for sharing this David, a difficult post but one filled with reality for dogs in some other countries. My daughter in laws parents adopted a dog from Greece. May I ask what were you doing in Kosovo?

  4. Elizabeth I was working with the military on helicopters in support of the U.N. It was an eye opening experience as me and Erin lived downtown with the locals unlike most americans who lived on base. I saw the best and worse of humanity while living there. Thanks for stopping by!! :)

  5. David this is a sad story...I could feel your relief when you returned to Erin and held her..especially after seeing the tragedy of the fate of other dogs within this culture. It breaks my heart.You were an example for those you walked amongst in Kosovos...they could see a different way to be with a Dog and friend. It drives home the fullness of the bond and friendship between you and Erin. How lucky Erin was to have you in her life and to protect her in this place that was not always friendly to dogs...

  6. @Raven Erin and I were the ultimate exception as pets were very rare and one that went everywhere in public...forget about it lol I had to go the extra mile to protect her from menacing dogs and folks with less than honorable intentions. Thanks for commenting!!

    @Corinne It is sad but it's not the worse thing I witnessed while there :(

  7. Thank you David for sharing this with us. I love the way you tell a story! A sad story that highlights your love and bond with Erin even more.

  8. Your post brought back memories of my school days. I remember the shots ringing out at night from my hostel bed. The locals were systematically killing the stray dogs. It used to give me the shivers. Today because of animal rights people are more conscious but they still do sneak up on these animals and kill them mercilessly.You must have been so relieved Erin was with you safe.

  9. So sad for those poor dogs :(. I value dogs very highly as you apparently do and know what incredible hearts they have. I too have heard stories like this occurring in other lands and at times, even in our own. My three dogs are my children to me, and are as loyal, faithful and unconditionally loving as you could ever find. It is hard to imagine people viewing them in such a different way.

  10. People can be so cruel sometimes. But as with many of your posts, I always leave feeling that you and Erin could overcome any type of adversity.

  11. Sad indeed but as you stated different cultures hold different values. Its hard to believe but you witnessed the cold hard truth.

    David, did you notice a change in Erin's attitude while there? They say dogs sense when things are right.

    Thanks for sharing this story with us.


  12. that should have said *aren't right*

  13. @Naomi Thanks for the kind words!! It's a sad story but as always my bond with Erin reigns supreme. Hope to see you again!!

    @Rimly You know exactly what I was feeling that night but you must have gone through it so many times. It was always a relief to have Erin nearby :)

    @Kimberly Dogs are highly valued by myself as well and I could never consider shooting one. Wonder what one thinks about ot doesn't as they pull the trigger

    @Lucy Folks are indeed cruel and dogs in Kosovo reap so much abuse. I saw acts everywhere that make most civil people cringe :(

    @Debbie I honestly didn't sense a change in her attitude or personality. She has always been a laid back loving girl and that never changed, it's doubtful that she could change...Thankfully for my sake!!

  14. "Daddy is here." Every time I visit your blog, there is a similar statement within the body of each blog article you write. It is heart warming and bittersweet simultaneously, because I know your little furry girl is no longer here w/ her Daddy. The situation in Kosovo you described is grim and saddening, that those people exist in such a state of fear that they are missing one of the most vital forms of love that Nature has to offer. I can only hope that in the future, they as a people will begin to morph their concepts and consciousness to embrace animals as pets, rather than a scourge to be eliminated. Perhaps you and Erin planted some lasting seeds that are beginning to grow and bear fruit. That is my hope. Thank you, once again, for sharing your memories with us.



  15. I'm so glad I've never had to witness anything like the blood stained streets you saw from the dogs being shot. Very sad!


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