Stryker Strikes Again!
Stryker, of the "Have gun will travel" fame, has struck again. The streets and backyards of Minneapolis are safe once more.
"The only known extant photo of Stryker, taken just after an Omaha, Nebraska, blizzard shortly before he was one year old, circa 1971." - Steve
In the early seventies I was suddenly presented with a Rescue situation when, due to a family situation, a two year old red Stafford named Stryker, had to be rehomed. I had known Stryker since his whelping as well as his sire and dam and the previous generation., so I knew that the dog was the genuine article.
Hardly had the news about Stryker reached me when the telephone rang, and a strong masculine voice intoned: "Man, I need help!"
The caller, one Levi Jones, then informed me that he was calling from Minneapolis where he was having a problem with a neighbor's Doberman which had gotten into Levi's back yard, apparently over the fence, and threatened his three children.
I told Levi that he should inform the police at once and try to get an injunction against the owner.
"I've already done that," he said, "but they say that I can't do anything until the Doberman actually does bite."
"What can I do for you then?"
"I need a dog to protect my children," he said urgently, "especially a dog I can trust with them all the time."
"I'm looking to rehome a dog like that," I told him, "but I need to know that after he's done protecting your kids, you'll give him a good home, permanently.
"If he can do that, he'll be the head of this household!" Levi responded.
So a deal was struck by telephone that if Stryker proved in any way unsatisfactory as a companion and protector of his children, I would refund not only the dog's purchase price but Levi's air freight and return air freight.
Several days later Stryker left for Minneapolis. Hardly had the dog landed when I got a call from Levi: "Man, this dog's too small! He can't stand up to a Doberman!"
"In that case, ship him back. I'll refund your money and pay the expenses."
"Man, I can't do that. My wife and kids already love him. They won't let me send him back. You've gypped me."
"No, Levi, I haven't gypped you. Keep him for a month or two. I'll take him back any time."
Reluctantly Levi agreed.
All seemed quiet on the Northern Front for almost two weeks, and then the phone rang again. It was Levi: "Man, your little dog has really got me in trouble now!"
"Tell me what happened."
"The neighbor's Dobe jumped the fence and made a run for my kids, but Stryker got to him first. Pushed him into a corner and killed him before I could run outside."
"I can't believe it happened that fast."
"Well, it did. And my neighbor's suing me for a thousand dollars to replace his dead dog. What can I do ?"
"Levi, this is what you do: you go to the nearest attorney and tell him the whole story along with names and addresses of witnesses."
"A neighbor lady saw the whole thing."
"Good. Then tell the attorney that you want to counter-sue. He'll do it, too, because the Dobe came on to your property and was about to attack your children. But tell him you'll only pay a flat fee for his services, not a share of a settlement."
"Yeah. Do it right now. Don't wait."
The next day Levi telephoned again. "Man, you'll never believe what happened!"
"After my attorney talked to the police and then with the other attorney, my neighbor wound up offering me five thousand dollars to settle out of court."
"Did you take it?"
"Sure I took it!"
"Well, Stryker's done what needed to be done," I mentioned ever so casually, "so I guess you won't be needing the dog now. Still want to send him back?"
"Now he's solved your problem, my offer for a refund still stands."
"Man, are you crazy? Nobody's ever going to get that dog away from us!"
I left it at that.
Several months later before passing through Minneapolis on my way to Duluth, I made it a point to telephone Levi and then visit his home. During the visit, I had an opportunity to discover the pertinent facts relating to the incident:
- A police inquiry discovered that the neighbor had held some kind of grudge against Levi and had actually helped his Doberman get over the yard fence, and this fact coupled with Mrs. Jones's previous call to the police proved that Levi's sole motive was to protect his family.
- After Stryker had pushed the attacking dog into a corner of the yard, he disengaged from the prostrate form and ran over to comfort Levi's crying children.
- At that moment, the neighbor burst into Levi's yard and began screaming and threatening, carrying on for a full ten minutes before Mrs. Jones could finally persuade him to take his dog to the veterinary.
- The veterinary was willing to testify in court that Stryker had not killed the dog outright in those few frantic seconds but had "blindsided" the attacker which sent it into a state of deep shock.
- If the owner had immediately sought medical help for his dog, the veterinary said, it could easily have been saved, but the ten minutes its owner wasted in shouting and screaming sealed its fate.
- Stryker may not have been selected as Minnesota's Most Beloved Pet, had there been such a title, but he surely would have been a finalist. I checked up on him several times every year until he died of old age in the early Eighties, leaving a bereft family to mourn him.
To me, Stryker was more than "just a dog."