Attack on Dad proves the value of a dog’s bark

The stranger’s voice on the other end of the phone instantly raised uncertainty. The number displayed on my phone was from my father, however, it was not his voice speaking through the device. The stranger began relaying the circumstance of her call while I quietly listened to her explanation. My father had been assaulted around 3 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24.

My mind raced as she described the incident, I was perplexed, wondering why I was just hearing about this two days after the fact. Dad celebrated his 78th birthday on Monday, Aug. 22. Since he lives in Montrose, my middle boy and I went down to visit him on his birthday. Dad intended to come to Grand Junction the next day, so we made dinner plans to include the whole family on Tuesday. We enjoyed a fine meal and good conversation, saying our goodbyes early in the evening so that Dad would not have to drive in the dark. 

Apparently, he was assaulted in the wee hours of the next morning. My father owns a small trailer park on the outskirts of town. There had been some personal turmoil with one of his tenants that resulted in the attack. The man forcibly broke into my father’s house and commenced to beat him with closed fists on his face and head. He then pulled a knife and shouted, “I’m going to kill you!”

Thankfully, the man’s girlfriend intervened and the maniac jumped off the bed. He smashed Dad’s cellphone and ripped all of the cable lines out of the wall. Before the duo fled into the night, the man grabbed a substantial amount of money and a gun.

Another renter noticed Dad had not emerged from his house the next day and went over to make sure everything was OK. When he saw the door had been damaged, he went in and found my father beaten and bruised. Law enforcement was contacted and Dad went to the hospital to assess his physical damage. While there was no evidence of head trauma revealed through medical testing, the left side of Dad’s face was grossly discolored and swollen.

The reason I did not hear from anyone until Friday was because of the smashed cellphone. As soon as I hung up from the conversation with the strange woman, I called my kids and we headed to Montrose. On the drive down, we speculated on what we would discover. My oldest son, deep in thought for a few moments, abruptly blurted, “This never would have happened if Grandpa had a dog.”

Some of you may remember that Dad lost his faithful canine friend, Ellie, a couple of years ago. They were inseparable for 13 years. While he spends his days now with a fat, black cat, Dad has admitted that he isn’t ready for another dog. However, I agree with my son. If there had been a dog in the house that night, the animal undeniably would have barked at the intrusion.

Dogs vocally communicate through barking. While large protective breeds have a deep, robust alarm system, even small dogs readily communicate disturbance. Their size or temperament may not be aggressive toward a stranger entering their home, but a dog will usually bark at an unusual commotion. I would put a dog’s natural, built-in warning system up to a computerized security system any day.

I went down to Dad’s a few days later and was again shocked at the sight of his face. The swelling was subsiding but the coloring had taken on a deep purple and green. As we talked, it was evident that something was wrong with his speech.

My father suffered from a stroke last summer that compromised the area of the brain that controls speech and writing. He worked hard regaining his speech, improving daily through the help of a therapist. I suggested Dad contact his doctor. He went in early that next week and additional testing revealed no obvious brain injury. However, the doctor did agree that something had caused his speech to malfunction.

They still have not caught the intruder, which continues to haunt and frustrate my father. We discussed the possibility of him getting another dog the last time I was down there. Dad agrees it is probably a good idea, but he wants to build a fence around his house so the dog will have a nice yard.

I guess the kids and I will be heading to Montrose to build a fence. I know I would feel a lot better if Dad had a dog.

Charlé Thibodeau has been a passionate pet caregiver for more than 30 years. If you have a pets question you would like Thibodeau to answer in her column, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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