Punching Up

“Run free, Goliath,” his Owner said with fake solemnity as she released him to the wriggling ocean of dogs. It was surprising that the dog park’s thin fence wasn’t knocked down by dozens upon dozens of wagging tails and squirming bodies. Goliath’s Owner leaned against one of the only trees in the park as she watched her little French bulldog make friends with the butts of innumerable larger animals. At barely a year old, the pup could win over even the largest of Great Danes. Comfortable taking her eyes off Goliath for the time being, his Owner pulled out her phone and was checking the news for the tenth time that day when a sharp growling sent a chill through her. Startled, she looked up to a standoff: two packs of dogs faced one another, taut as rubber bands, swathes of bristling hackles straining up as if electrified. The other Owners stood by, some looking unsure of what to do while others filmed it on their phones. 

At the join of these groups stood a huge, mean-looking poodle. Foamy drool coated its snarl and tainted the beast’s groomed perfection. The Owner couldn’t see who the poodle was threatening until she sidestepped the tree and made her way over to the end. She gasped. There stood little Goliath, glaring up at the poodle with his little forepaws straddling a grimy dog toy. His Owner recognized it as a beloved toy of one of the park’s regulars, an ancient, sweet mastiff named Daisy. Sure enough, Daisy was cowering behind Goliath, her toothless maw pressed into the grass. Goliath must have seen Daisy’s toy be stolen by this fluffy fiend and decided it was up to him to make things right. He clearly didn’t stand a chance—the poodle was easily four times his size. The poor, brave bulldog would get seriously hurt. But he didn’t seem to be backing down, and neither did the poodle.

Goliath’s Owner stuffed her phone in her pocket and started to make tracks towards the scene when something incredible happened. Tired of waiting, the poodle darted towards little Goliath. Faster than a blink, Goliath dove under the big dog and used its own size and momentum to flip it onto its back. By the time his Owner had reached the group, Goliath had his teeth around the poodle’s neck and stayed there, waiting. From her time training the little dog, his Owner knew what he was waiting for, and finally it happened: the poodle inhaled deeply, then let out a long sigh, relaxing into a submissive state.  

“David!” The voice burst out from the crowd and an older woman rushed towards the cluster of animals. “Oh, David, what has this awful, mangy thing done to you?”  

As if on cue, David the poodle let out the world’s most pitiful whine. Anyone who hadn’t just seen the big dog for the bully he was would have felt terribly sorry for him at that moment. Seeing his job was done, Goliath released his tiny jaw from its hold on the poodle’s neck and nudged the slobbery toy over to old Daisy. Then, he trotted over to his Owner, nose high and tail waving like a victory pendant. She swooped him up in her arms and cuddled him close, not minding that he smelled a little like poo.  

“You were awfully brave, but don’t scare me like that again, okay?” She held him up and looked into his face. Goliath panted back with a look that said, I make no promises.  

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