Saving My Dog At Age 6

Blog #2

Greetings, and a loving hello.  If you’ve read #1 then this will be a continuation. If you haven’t then I hope what I write will speak to your heart and give you the instruction, comfort, or whatever it is that you can identify with for your own benefit.

When I was very young, I knew I was different than other kids, or even adults for that matter. In fact, I knew as I think many kids do, that our peers and adults in our lives may be unwilling or unable to see the world in the beautiful, simple, natural way that it is.

My dog, a lively and loyal friend to me, was indeed my best friend. Our bond was unique even above the bond he had to my other family members, who also loved him, as he was a family pet, not “my dog”. With two parents and 4 siblings, several times I said that Prince (his name) was partial to me over anyone else. Cruel or not, we would be in the living room together and all simultaneously calling his name. Without fail, he would always come to me, and stay with me. Of course I felt superior, I was only 6 years old.

Prince used to sleep with me in my bad, which my mother hated because of the pet hair, but I kept sleeping with my dog, night, after night, after night for a year or so. Prince, like all dogs, followed me wherever I went. He was my constant companion.

A DARK TURN;

Two terrible and unimaginable things happened to me by people I should have been able to trust. The first was my own father. He was a hard worker, and had a good sense of humor, but I saw first hand his incredibly evil dark side more than my siblings could ever imagine, even to this day.

The first event happened on a day when my mom was at work, my siblings were off at friends homes, and I was home alone with my dad.  I didn’t know it at the time as a 6 year old, but my father resented me beyond comprehension. What happened next will chill your blood, and to this day, gives me shudders.

My dad had ordered the septic tank service to pump out our septic tank. The guy shows up, takes the heavy concrete lid off, and placed his hose into the sludge. In only a few minutes, he was done and told my dad that the tank wasn’t even a third full, that my dad could have waited another 6 months or more. My dad paid him, and he left.

Then my dad told me to drag his ladder from the side of the house and bring it to him. It was all I could do to drag that heavy ladder, but I did it as told. The he placed the ladder into the square hole and told me to climb down inside the septic tank to make sure the man wasn’t lying. Even I could see there wasn’t any sewage other than maybe a few puddles on the floor, and I made the mistake of saying so.

My dad (who was fond of scolding me for things I hadn’t done) said if I didn’t climb down and look as he told me to do, he would throw me in. I complied, and climbed into the septic tank. The stench of sewage was overpowering. I looked up at the little square patch of light where he stood, and said yes, the man got everything possible, “can I come out now?”

My dad pulled the ladder out, grinning ear to ear like a madman. He hollered down to me “I hate your guts, I have always hated your guts, so now I’m going to put the lid back on. Pretty soon you’ll be out of air, and since nobody is here, I have a sewage guy to say he saw you and that you were fine. This tank won’t need pumping again for at least a year or two now that its empty, and by then there won’t even be a body. You’ll get sucked into the truck with the rest of the shit where you belong.

Then he placed the lid on. I was in total darkness, overwhelmed by the smell, and when I was almost to pass out, suddenly the lid came back off, the light blinding my eyes as I looked up. He put the ladder down and said for me to climb out. I did. He said if I ever told anyone, that he could think of a thousand ways to be rid of me. He told me to go bathe in the garden hose so I wouldn’t stink up his house. He stood holding the hose on my naked body while I soaped and rinsed and soaped some more and rinsed.

The second event was even more terrifying, and happened only a month or two later. In those days, nobody gave a second thought to young kids walking alone by themselves, and because I was always trying to escape the cacophony of my quarreling siblings, I would often take a walk to the candy store 4 blocks away, or to the waterfalls also only 4 blocks away.

Because of my oldest brother’s penchant for setting fires, my mom decided that while she and my dad were at work, she should have a neighbor lady (with a daughter my age and a son who was 13 or 14 at the time) babysit us kids. The daughter (Pam, her real first name) and I made a friendship. The brother (Joseph, his real first name) was pure evil incarnate. On the very first day of being “babysat” Joseph took me to their dark barn which housed a huge bull so I could see it “up close”. Joseph (who they called Larry) shoved me into the stall with the huge animal, which became instantly annoyed with me.

Larry cackled “now he’s gonna eat you”, followed with an evil laugh, and like my dad had done a month earlier, he left me alone in the dark barn, unable to open the heavy wooden door, which he also locked from the outside.

When my mom came to get us over an hour later, and I was nowhere to be found, Larry said “I think I saw him going into the barn”. So, to the rescue came his mother and my mother, and of course I was terrified and ratted him out; I told them everything he did and said.  Larry’s mom laughed it off saying it’s just a teenage boy being silly. I didn’t buy it for a second. I pleaded with my mom to let me stay home alone than be around Larry. It was a fruitless plea.

For the next month, 6 days a week I was stuck with Larry. I didn’t even risk leaving his own mothers sight for a moment if possible. But if she went outdoors to fetch her laundry off the line,  or to gather eggs from the chickens, he was in the house with me; Pam alone her bedroom. Larry said that he would get even with me for telling on him. He promised that someday, he would kill me, and gut me like slaughtered pig. I believed him.

So  6 or 8 weeks of this daily misery and threats continued when my parents were at work. Pam and Larry’s dad was a hopeless drunk, their mother a ultra conservative Mennonite woman. Larry’s dad was supposed to pick us up from school even though the walk was only 3/4 mile. One Friday afternoon, Larry’s dad got too drunk to drive, so I had to walk home. I stopped at the candy story to get a couple pieces of sour apple hard candy (now known as Jolly Ranchers) on my way walking home.

As I crossed the bridge which spanned the Bessemer ditch, a river sized ditch used by farmers and the steel mill, I heard a cry for help from inside the ditch just under the bridge. The ditch was empty at the time, but was known to be full without notice if farmers needed winter water or the steel mill needed extra water for cooling the hot steel. It was late November or early December at the time.

I hollered out “who’s there?” Because the voice I heard calling for help sounded to me like a child’s voice. From under the bridge came 6 year old Pam, Larry’s sister, crying. She said “I slipped and fell in and if they turn the water on I’ll drown”. Which was true. The ditch is 30’ wide and 12’ deep when its full of water, and indeed that could happen anytime or a week later.

I lay on my stomach on the bank and reached my frail child arms to reach for Pam. Suddenly, Larry ran out from under the bridge, grabbed my arm and yanked me into the ditch. Then he dragged me under the bridge where no passing car might see us. Pam was terrified. I was terrified. Larry used his knife to cut all my clothes off until I stood naked and shivering in the cold air, exposed completely to Pam and Larry.

Larry then put his knife to my throat drawing some blood, and forced me to perform oral sex on him. After he climaxed, Larry then anally raped me with his knife, laughing manically the whole time. Larry gathered up my clothes and shoes, threaded to kill Pam if she ever spoke a word. He was able to climb out himself, barely. He reached down and pulled Pam out. Then he said he was going home to make a fake call to ditch company to have them turn on the water. 

I was hurting, bleeding, naked, scared, and confused: why I was so despised by my dad, and this teenaged man child.  I ended up walking a few miles inside the ditch toward town, and away from any potential water coming. Finally I found a place where the ditch bank had collapsed and had a small bush hanging just within my reach, and was able to pull myself out.

Then I walked two miles back toward my house. Two miles, naked bleeding from my neck and my anus on a cold winter day, a 6 year old child. No less than 2 dozen cars drove past me, slowed, and kept on driving, even though I was pleading for them to stop and help.

When I got home, nobody was there. I knew mom and dad were both still at work, and my siblings would be at Larry’s wondering where I had gone to. So, I went to a neighbor lady, the only adult I knew besides Larry’s parents, and Frank Bates, who wasn’t home. 

I rang her door, she answered, and went from the nice lady I had known to a shrieking crone: “You nasty little boy, you come to my house naked?!, How dare you get away from here and never let me see you ever again”.  So, I went home, sat on the steps outside, cold and bleeding, waiting for my mom. She was quite late, because of course, she had been looking for me. I told her what happened.

My mother called Larry’s mother, and of course Larry denied everything, and Pam was his terrified alibi. So my mom said that I had made a pathetic attempt to get attention. I asked my mom to take me to a doctor since I was bleeding. She said said that since I did it to myself, I could just suffer, and if I bled to death, that was my problem.

I guess Larry didn’t hit any vital organs because eventually I did heal from the physical wounds. But my ordeal had only begun. A month after being brutally raped, my beloved dog Prince disappeared while I was at school. He was nowhere to be found. I searched until dark on every street, every yard, knocking on every door for a square mile searching for my loyal dog. All to no avail. Nobody had seen him, but most recognized me they said. Probably the same jerks who didn’t stop to help me.

After 6 days had elapsed with no sign of my dog, I awoke from a terrible nightmare:  I could see my little dog swimming in deep sewage. I could literally taste and smell the sewage as strongly as I myself had endured only months earlier. I could see my little white and brown dog was black with sewage, only his terrified eyes visible in my dream.

To me, it was unlike any dream or nightmare I had ever had. It was so incredibly real, I was certain that somehow my dog was communicating with me to save him. I knew he couldn’t be in our own septic tank because it had only just been pumped. For some reason, I was certain that somehow my dog was actually in my next door neighbors septic tank. His tank, like ours was covered in 18 inches of dirt, below which was a heavy concrete. Lid.

His name was Frank Bates (his real name) and although I seldom saw him because of his job, I was best friends with his son who was my own age. Frank and his wife were decent and kind people. I had awakened before sunup. I waited until the first rays of dawn began to crack the darkness and then went next door, pounding frantically, hollering “Mr. Bates, Mr. Bates, Mr. Bates, please answer the door, its an emergency”. My own family were all fast asleep

Frank came to the door, saw that I was hysterical and crying. I told him about my dream. He knew my dog, in fact own his son had helped me search for my dog. I insisted that somehow my dog was in his septic tank. Frank said, “Danny, he couldn’t have fallen in, it has a heavy concrete lid covered in dirt”. I said “Mr. Bates, he didn’t fall in. I think Larry did this.” I said “Mr. Bates, its been almost a week, Prince doesn’t have long to live, please, please, can you look.”

Mr Bates, came outside in his underwear, in the cold while dawn was still breaking. He grabbed a shovel, uncovered the lid, and then lifted the lid and pointed with a flashlight he brought saying “you see Danny, your dog isn’t in here, I’m so sorry”.  But I saw my dogs two little white eyes barely above the surface of the sewage and shouted “Mr Bates, you’re wrong, he’s right there” as I pointed.

After a second or two, Frank Bates saw that indeed, my little dog was in his septic tank. He jumped into the raw sewage which went up to his neck, and raised my almost dead dog for me to lift out.  Frank said hurry home and wake your parents, your dog will die if he doesn’t get a vet immediately.  I ran home, carrying my dog in my arms, pleading with him not to die and leave me with nobody to love me.

My dad stayed in bed. My mom threw on a robe and slippers, and out the door we went to the vet.  My mom had to wake the vet since it was still early. He did his veterinary business out of his own home.  Even the vet couldn’t believe my dog had survived almost an entire week dog paddling in raw sewage with no oxygen. He gave Prince a bunch of antibiotics and fed him fresh water with a syringe. After a few hours, the vet said to take Prince home, and that he wouldn’t survive the ordeal. My rescue, the vet said, had come too late.

Because his fur had absorbed the sewage smell, my mom wouldn’t let me care for prince in the house. My mom told me that it was okay to comfort Prince, but that he would be dead by tomorrow.   I found a cardboard box and an old blanket and lay with him for days on end, missing school. Giving him tiny amounts of water and food. After 4 days he was strong enough to let me bathe him. I bathed him in warm water and soap twice a day for another week until he no longer smelled, and was able to finally walk on his wobbly legs.

Prince lived another two years until Larry ran him over with his car.  Obviously, it wasn’t Larry that tried to kill my dog in the septic tank, it was my own father. With two dangerous people in my life I had no control over, and a mother who herself couldn’t believe her own son, I felt utterly and totally alone. I was sure I wouldn’t see my 7th birthday.

My nightmare vision was not unlike something that my namesake, Daniel of the Old Testament  might have interpreted for King Nebuchadnezzer.  At age 6 I didn’t have a concept of God, or Jesus, or Angels, or Demons.  I did have love that transcended everything I myself endured at the hands of an evil father and even more evil teen man, Larry. I did know what death was, and I knew it’s something you don’t recover from. 

By trusting my vision, I sought help. Because I sought help, (even though it was denied me when I was in peril), I still believed in good, and I still believed that good people will help.  Since I was a good kid, and I was a child with a need that I myself could not fix, one man (Frank Bates) listened to God when Jesus said “suffer the children to come unto me”. Because Frank had faith, and knew that while it would have been easier and cleaner to deny that help, with justifiable reasons any adult would understand, he knew that he had to trust God and help me.

In my life, as in yours probably, there are times when it seems like you just can’t catch a break. If you’re  gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and yes, if you’re straight, sometimes you need a vision and you need someone to listen to you, even when it isn’t convenient. Whether you’re Christian or Jewish, or whatever your religion, or no religion, all of us face times of doubt, and times when the people who we should be able to rely on utterly and completely fail us, or worse, actually harm us.

I did not become a Christian at age 6. But I did believe in miracles. I didn’t know it then, but I do now, that the vision I had in my dream came from God. It was up to me to act on it. It was up to Frank to act on his faith.  When I see that most if not all of my problems as an adult stem from my own poor judgement, or laziness to act on my faith, I need only remember that my loving God, is powerful and wise, if I only stop to listen to his quiet calming voice, saying “trust me”, I’ll save you, like I saved your dog.

I hope this true story, that actually happened to me, has opened your eyes to the evil that surrounds us all, but more importantly, to the love that overcomes that evil, and lifts us all from the septic tank of our own sin into the crystal clean, and sinless arms of Christ. I could only scrub my dog on the outside . Jesus scrubs the sewage from our bodies and our spirits and souls that we may stand blameless in the eyes of our loving creator.

My dog and I both endured unimaginable horrors that no human, let alone a child, or an innocent animal should ever happen.  LGBTQI children grow up hated by society and their own families, even the churches that proclaim love and forgiveness, and endure torture and murder merely for being who they are. I proclaim to you all the Jesus loves every single one of us, and the condemnation you hear and see does NOT come from God.

In all love and thankfulness for Jesus,

And in his Holy name, I declare:

It is well with my soul

- Danny

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