Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Officer and the kid

Assiniboine Park was huge and we kids used to go from #3 wireless to the back entrance of the park, especially on the weekend, and ride our bikes all afternoon. It was fun and our one speed bikes were ok because as the saying went: "It is so flat you can watch your dog run away from home for three days." The park had lots of entertainment. There was a huge English style pavillion where you could buy food and drinks. We never did that very often as we were broke most of the time. There was a palm house that had all kinds of tropical plants, banana tree and lots of flowers and such. There was a cricket field where we kids often stopped to watch a cricket game. We never knew much about it except the guys wore knee and shin pads. Also, they used a ball made of cork and other materials with a leather covering that they threw at a peg some distance away. They also had wooden bats (at least I think they were wooden) with which they hit the ball. There was a good sized Zoo for that day and numerous ponds, foot bridges, riverside views and good roads that were built all around the park. Many times we would go on a Sunday and there would be quite a number of black people who would walk across the foot bridge over the river and sing hymns and old Porter tunes that were just great. I never heard any bands but there were individuals who took their musical instruments to the park and just entertained people.

Well, we rode around and just enjoyed the summer days and were happy to be there.

On one particular day when the weather was hot and muggy, the four of us were riding around the park. Harold, Ron, Jimmy and me, Digger. It was getting towards dark and most people had left, except for just the stragglers. We were about to go home when a young guy came riding by with a German shepherd in tow and swore at us because Harold hadn't seen him coming and swerved into his path. The guy went around and then came back. We stopped our bikes and were about to apologize when he got off his bike and, with the German shepherd on a leash, walked toward us. He began to yell at us while the dog barked and growled viciously. We started to leave and he let the dog get more aggressive. We were pretty scared and said: "We didn't mean anything." but to no avail. He crowded us toward a tree and said: "I just have to mention the word and this dog will tear you up." He had a chain in his hand and struck Jimmy and Ron with it. They started toward him but he used the dog in a very threatening way. He then took a whack at me and Harold and laughed like he was enjoying himself. We didn't know what to do but fortunately some people came along and he took off. We were so mad that he could get away with it. We started home and on the way Jimmy said: "We can't let this guy get away with that." Of course we didn't know if we would see him again but were not cheered by the prospect. If we told the police they might watch for him but he was careful and would probably avoid a problem. We talked to a Mounted Policeman we knew and told him of the circumstances. He asked where it happened and had us describe the guy. He asked if we would be willing to help. "Yeh," we echoed, "Sure," but in a meek sort of way. The next weekend we met with the officer and he had a huge dog with him that was not friendly or unfriendly. He stayed by the officer's side and was black and big with a sort of massive look. The plan was to ride around the park, especially toward dusk, and see if we could spot the guy. We rode around and just about dark the jerk showed up with his dog in tow. He spotted us and remembered us and started in with the dog and cussing us.

Meanwhile the RCMP officer had gotten out of his truck and brought his dog with him. When jerk head started to make threats and throw his chain around, that big black dog came around the corner on a leash with the officer closing in on the kid and his dog. The German shepherd must have sized up the situation for he stopped growling and baring his teeth and watched that other dog with keen interest. The kid was trying to hold onto him and the officer said to the kid: "You had better get him under control or my dog will tear him up." The officer shortened his dog's leash and brought his hand down close to the collar on the dog and took a good grip. When asked what he was doing in the park and why his dog behaved that way, the kid tried to turn it back to us and said we threatened him. Since that was baloney, the officer told him so and said he had better come with him. He told him to get in the back of the truck with his dog and the officer put his dog in the front seat next to him. He then told us to go home and he would look after it.

We left and but not before noticing the kid was looking real scared. We started to ride toward the rear gate and went on home. The police station was right next to #3 wireless and we saw the kid there with his dog tied up at the front entrance. Later on we found out the kid was in trouble in the city of St James and was turned over to them to deal with. I still don't know what the RCMP's jurisdiction was but I know they worked with other police departments at the time.

We never did see that kid again and never wanted to. One thing for sure - "my dog's bigger than your dog" - worked pretty good. We wondered what would have happened if the kid had turned that dog loose. We think that German Shepherd would have been worse off and that would have been a shame. The dog was trained and it was not his fault. There are some crummy people in the world and it's best to avoid them whenever possible but if you can't, it doesn't hurt to have a Royal Canadian Police Officer to help out. I was taught a great lesson that day along with my friends. We got a real cold feeling around that creep and remember it sent shivers up and down our spines.


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