Mongolian Dogfighting

My uncle loved dogs. He had this one, it was huge, bigger than most of the Tibetan mastiffs we have in Mongolia. Have you seen those? They look like Rottweilers but with a lot more fur, especially around the neck. Anyway, my uncle, he was kind of old fashioned. He never admitted it but he loved his dogs. He would always say, “Animals are for eating.” He meant cows, of course, and other farm animals, but I could tell he just didn’t want to sound sensitive—you know, he was a macho kind of guy. He thought dogs were strong and he would train them for herding. He had one then two, until he had a whole family of them, all mutts.

Well, when I got a little older he lost some money, I never really found out how or why. I think it was from gambling but whenever I would ask my grandmother she would just shake her head and say, “It doesn’t matter, he lost it.” So, with nothing to his name but his home and his dogs, he had to sell the dogs. He loved them, he loved them because he didn’t have a family of his own. They kept him company and they helped him work. He was really sad when he had to sell them to his neighbors.

All except for one.

It was the biggest one, he named him Evil. He was all black except for his chin and belly where he had a little bit of white fur. My uncle tried selling him but no one wanted Evil. He was mean and very scary. If you tried to call him he wouldn’t come. He could hear you but for some reason he just never listened, he would sleep all day and bite anyone that tried to get near. Eventually my uncle would get angry because Evil was all he had and he wouldn’t listen or follow orders like the other dogs. My uncle also drank, he was upset and angry, he had no money, no family, just this big mean dog that followed him around like a dark cloud in cartoons. Sometimes he would beat the dog for not listening but Evil would fight back. I never liked that he would hurt Evil, even though he was a mean dog. The last time he bit my uncle on the shoulder and it got infected real bad, he couldn’t even get out of bed. About a week later, after I knew my uncle was asleep, I went to his home where he had Evil tied up with a giant metal chain around his neck. I walked really slow so I didn’t scare him, but I was more scared than he was. It was weird. He didn’t care. I got closer and closer until I was next to him. Evil looked up at me but he didn’t bark or try to bite me. I brought him some meat and threw some on the ground in front of him. While he was eating it I slowly took off the chain around his neck. Still, he didn’t move, he finished eating the meat and went back to how I found him. I thought maybe he would like me now that I gave him some food but he just went back to sleep. He didn’t care! I thought he would run away or attack me or something.

I waited a long time just sitting on the dirt watching him. I got bored so I left. I was walking home when I heard something behind me and when I looked back there he was, following me. I turned around and walked to him but the closer I got the louder he growled. I didn’t want to test him so I kept walking forward. Then I walked around a corner and there was another dog digging in some trash looking for food. The other dog didn’t notice us but when I looked down at Evil I could see his ear were perked, pointing straight to the sky. Without thinking, almost joking, I said, “Get him,” and he ran off before I realized what I had said. It was like he exploded from his feet. I’ve never seen any creature run so fast. I regretted it, but I didn’t think anything would happen. I mean, this is a dog who wouldn’t even look at you if you shouted his name. How was I supposed to know this would be the first time he ever followed a command?

Anyway, he was ruthless. You know when dogs bite they usually bite really deep and clench as hard as they can and then they just start jerking their heads side to side, like they’re trying to rip off whatever they’re biting into? Well, like I said, Evil was mean, and cruel. He bit the dog in the alley, but he didn’t just bite once, he bit and let go, jumped back then bit again, and again, and again until the other dog was bleeding all over. I was scared. Evil wasn’t going easy on him, he was still biting into his neck, but this time he wasn’t letting go. I had to grab a big stick and jam it in between the Evil’s teeth like a crow bar. I reached around Evil’s head and grabbed him on the back of the neck to steady him, then stuck the stick through his mouth and grabbed the other end. I yanked back with all my strength, pulling the stick further back into his jaw until Evil’s mouth was stretched wide enough to let go of the poor dog. He tried to run off but couldn’t. He practically dragged himself for a couple feet and then just fell onto the ground. I pushed Evil away from us and swung the stick at him to defend the injured dog. Evil barked a couple times then ran away.

I stayed there with the injured one. It was my fault and he was helpless, laying there in the dirt, whimpering just loud enough to hear over his heavy breathing. The town I lived in had a small lake nearby and I thought maybe if he drank some of the water then it might help him. I picked him up slowly, holding him by his belly. He was scared and almost bit me but he gave up easily. He was in too much pain. As carefully as I could, I carried him to the lake. I must have walked for a couple minutes, but I was trying to move as delicately as possible. It felt like forever until we got to the lake. I took him to the edge of the water and even more slowly than I had walked, I laid him down in as gentle a way as possible. He laid parallel to the edge of the lake and I cupped some of the water with my hand and splashed it on him. He didn’t even try to get up. I decided I should just put him in the water and maybe it would help cool him down, maybe clean his wounds, and he could drink the water himself. I didn’t know this at the time but animals’ bodies are really sensitive after going through what he had gone through. You have to let animals cool down before they can rest and drink water. Even horses, like racehorses. They’re running and running and running, racing, getting really worked up and animals don’t sweat like we do, their bodies work differently. Racehorses have to be walked around a bit after every race so they can cool down. Then after the breathing comes back to normal you can give them water again. I didn’t know that.

I put him in the water, he was drinking it, he looked calmer. I waited for a while, I waited next to him. I closed my eyes to calm myself a little, so I stayed and laid back on the ground next to him. My heart was still racing, I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I was afraid of getting in trouble, of getting caught. I didn’t know what my uncle would do to me when he found out; I wondered if he would even care. Most of all, I felt guilt. It was my fault this dog was in so much pain, I let Evil hurt him, I pushed him to do it. I promised right then and there to take care of the dog, bring him back home with me and feed him and care for him. I closed my eyes for a few minutes and when I opened them he was still lying there. The lake was very quiet. I didn’t want to scare him so I sat still, looking at the reflection of the moon on the lake. It got so quiet, after a while I started to wonder what happened to the heavy breathing I heard earlier. Slowly, I put my hand on the dog but I didn’t feel any breath coming from his body. I kept my hand on him for a moment, praying that he was just sleeping and he would take a deep breath and I would feel his chest lift and fall. I pet his fur hoping he would feel it and maybe lift his head and he would see me. But he didn’t. He didn’t move. He just laid there, motionless.