Hudson the bad dog, part 2
July 28, 2007
You couldn’t really keep Hudson down, or in. One summer day Hudson was seen running down the street with a screen door around his shoulders.
Another time Damon was in his driveway talking to friends when a great crash rent the air, as Hudson jumped through a glass window, “like Superman ” for no better reason than to say hi to me,” Damon says. “He sliced himself all over.”
When a brawl broke out among people at a block party, Hudson leapt in over Damon’s shoulder, knocking down fighters “like bowling pins,” Damon says. “It ended the fight.”
Now, Hudson has always been sweet with people. He knew where all his friends were in Damon’s college town in Morgantown, W. Va. He would knock on their doors with his paw, asking for pizza crusts. Or people would tell Damon, “I saw Hudson at the Arboretum today” ” four miles away and across a busy thoroughfare.
Hudson’s real vice, ultimately, was other dogs. It all started when Hudson met Twelve Gauge, a German shepherd in the neighborhood. Twelve Gauge’s owner opened his truck door, Twelve Gauge barreled out, and the dogs locked together in mortal combat, rolling in the dirt.
After that, Damon might be walking Hudson in the wooded area near home when suddenly Hudson would lift his nose and bolt. Damon would dash after him and invariably find him and Twelve Gauge brawling.
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Damon tried a more remote walking area, and again Hudson sniffed and sprinted.
“I heard all this commotion … Hudson and Twelve Gauge were locked together there in the woods, tearing down branches and trees. I think the owner went out there to get away from Hudson.”
Damon moved to Carbondale, and during one of his first winters, a neighbor, walking her dog, often allowed it to come in the yard and urinate on the tree. Hudson, watching from a closed window, growled in rage. Damon asked the neighbor to keep her dog out of the yard.
“The first day it was warm enough to open the windows, they came along and the dog peed on the tree,” Damon says. “Hudson launched into the yard right through the screen … I had to pay the vet bills, and the police arrested him.”
Damon got a chain-link leash and training collar to teach Hudson to heel. “Along came this other dog he didn’t like. He jumped and the chain just snapped.” Damon sighs. “There was a vet bill on that one, too.”
Damon moved to Emma, where Hudson’s nose was torn off twice, the first time by a coyote (found dead the next day in some bushes) and the second by a 40-pound raccoon (whom Hudson punted over the fence). The vet sewing it back on called it “the miracle nose.”
Hudson even fought fireworks, pouncing with intent to destroy: he’d stand shaking a Roman candle, sparks flying out of his mouth.
Hudson’s real mission evolved as this: to guard the perimeter. If he ever heard something on the hillside, he’d burst up in a “wheelie bark,” his front legs off the ground, baying with ancient purpose. Within his neighborhood, he was known as the Dogfather, creating a hierarchy that included Pico and Rukus, a pit bull and Rottweiler. When a new dog entered the perimeter, Hudson sent a captain to inform him of the boundaries.
This spring, Damon looked forward to taking Hudson, now almost 14, back to a reunion of his college friends, in Idaho.
He returned a little disconsolate. “They didn’t think he was so badass,” he said. “They took pity on him!”
“He’s so old,” they had said.
“Yeah, well, how do you think you look?” Damon retorted.
Hudson retired from fighting a year ago. At a recent barbecue, he took no part in any of the attendant dogs’ scuffling. He walked the yard slowly, like a lion, rolling his shoulders.
Damon said, “See, look at him, he has nothing to prove.”