Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How the Avon Lady Killed Our Cat

When I was in jr. high school, (and my freshman year of high school), we lived in Chino Hills. As the name implies, it was a very hilly area. We lived in the specific area of Carbon Canyon which I wasn't allowed to tell anyone. I was only supposed to say that I lived in Chino so that I wouldn't sound like an over-privileged white girl who came down from her mountaintop to visit with the peasants.

Our driveway had the steepest incline known to the western world. And it was long. Like maybe a quarter of a mile. Sometimes it seemed like half a mile. After walking up and down that driveway to and from the bus stop every day, I was finally able to complete the required running in P.E. tests. If I had that driveway now, well, first it would be impossible where it snows, but second of all I would probably be in the shape of my life. People would stop hiking the butte and just show up at my driveway.

My friends' parents refused to go up it. They would drop me off at the bottom and just let me walk up. I guess they just assumed that I made it to the house okay. I was like 75 pounds, who would worry about a kid like that? Since it was windy, they couldn't even see the end. I could have been attacked by a lizard or a coyote on the way up.

For some reason, there was a gate at the top of the driveway. There was a fence around the whole property instead of just the back yard and the gate could be locked. I seriously worry about the people that lived there before us that they thought they needed an obstacle course and layers of security to get onto the property. I really don't think the peacocks on one side or the 70-year-olds on the other side posed any kind of threat.

The only time we closed the gate was when we were gone to keep the dogs inside. The rest of the time it was open because we had English bulldogs and they're not really highly motivated to wander off if they know their food provider is nearby.

Remember how nobody but us drove up it? Or my parents, since I was 12 and didn't drive, and really, thank goodness I didn't learn to drive on that driveway because I probably would have killed us all. Well, the one person who ever drove up was the Avon lady. She must have really, really wanted that pink Cadillac to risk the Most Treacherous Driveway Known to Man.

Now, our dogs were no longer used to seeing anyone but us since nobody but us ever made the trek. Also, they could probably smell her desperation. So they barked at her. I can imagine she was frightened because most people have an irrational fear of bulldogs, but by golly, she was going to get that pink Cadillac even if she needed an artificial leg to drive it with.

By the time she got to the door the dogs were in a near frenzy. They didn't trust her, they didn't like her, they wanted her to roll herself back down the hill. So when my mom opened the front door and our kitten went darting out, George, the only boy dog, grabbed the kitten in his mouth to defend her from the evil Avon lady who obviously would stop at nothing to get to us with her overrated makeup and cheap perfume.

Bulldogs were originally bred to fight. They were bred to fight bulls, hence the name. They were designed to clamp down on the neck of a bull and hold on until they brought the bull down. It all sounds very violent and ugly and inhumane, but this is the strength that came down on our poor little kitten. And I'm sure it looked very violent. The Avon lady screamed. My mom screamed at her to leave. The Avon lady screamed and said she was sorry (because she knew it was her fault). My mother told her that the best thing she could do would be to vacate our property immediately as she had done enough damage and to never, ever return again.

Of course as soon as she was gone, George released the kitten. He was only protecting it from her. The poor boy didn't realize what he had really done because he didn't realize how strong he was. He just reacted. With the best of intentions, of course. His jaws of steel crushed our poor little kitten and we lost her in a matter of minutes. The damage was too great, there wasn't even time to rush her to the vet.

George was not reprimanded. We cried because it was sad, but we knew he was only trying to protect his family. There was nothing even to forgive him for. Besides, he was never the smart one and it was clear that he was confused by our deep sadness. He was sure that he had done a Good Thing like a Good Boy.

I have never bought anything from Avon. I never will. I've never been friends with anyone affiliated with Avon, as far as I know. We blamed that woman for her stupidity and her insensitivity. We blamed her for the death of our little kitten.

I wasn't sure what the moral of that story was until recently. For the longest time it was just that Avon and stupid Avon ladies aren't to be trusted. But I think if that incident happened today, there would have been far more serious consequences for us and for George. Sure, she ignored a steep driveway and stepped onto a property despite the warning barks of dogs, but I bet today George would be blamed for what happened that day. In today's world he would be seen as a vicious animal and vicious animals are removed from their homes. We would have been devastated had he been taken from us. We loved our dumb George. And we knew that he was only protecting us, his family.

And this is what happens in the vast majority of the cases we hear about. Dogs are being dogs. Protecting their families, their territory, acting out of a sense of responsibility and often fear. We need to remember this. Respect a dog that's barking. Respect his boundaries and pay attention to his body language. Dogs can't talk to us in our language, but they are yelling at us to get our attention in theirs.

Still, I think the second moral of the story is that if you sell Avon, bad things will happen to you.


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