This is a bit lengthy, but it is a cute story if you have the patience to read it.
Several years ago, my wife’s best friend suggested that we join her and her husband on a neat vacation idea she had – they planned to join a tour group that was going to Transylania for Halloween. We threw in.
None of us had ever been to Europe before, so I did some research. I learned, among other things, that Romania doesn’t celebrate Halloween. No big deal. 50 Americans bearing costumes would be enough of a party no matter where we were. The info that is pertinate to this story is that, unlike America, there are a lot of stray animals in eastern Europe.
According to the what I found, many people carried walking sticks to keep dogs from getting too…let’s say, “friendly”. The dogs, educated by the literal school of hard knocks, were aware of this and always kept their distance unless invited to approach. I’m not much of a dog person. It isn’t that I don’t like them; it is that I am aware of how much care and attention they require to keep them happy. I’m barely domesticated myself – having a dog of my own would be unfair to it, so I haven’t had one since I was a kid. However, there were many in our group who were emotionally activated by the sight of these dirty, ragged creatures. Some went so far as to carry bags of treats to offer the urchins and waifs. This was seldom a good idea. In most cases, the benevolent act soon had the generous human swarmed by a sea of grateful doggos who were quick to take them up on their offer. This left the human feeling terrible – racked with guilt when they looked in the faces of those disappointed when the cupboard ran dry. Perhaps it would have been better to not get their hopes up.
…Anyway, by day four of our trip, gaggles of stray dogs had become a fairly common sight. Also on day four, our bus deposited us in the medieval village of Sighişoara.
Sighişoara is the Romanian counterpart to our Colonial Williamsburg. The city features reenactments of medieval practices, replete with residents in period clothing. The streets are lined with merchant’s carts and souvenir stands. Our group had been shuttled here to watch an open-air performance of a genuine Middle Ages Witch Trial.
In this particular scenario, guards armed with pikes and halberds, forcibly drag an elderly, disheveled woman kicking & screaming to the town square.
The actress who plays the accused wears makeup to look beaten and bloodied. Her clothes are torn and tattered. Her hair is a fright. Her demeanor is a mix of outrage and abject terror as she attempts to resist the guards. And, this is where it gets good.
The woman, knowing her fate is certain doom, is crying out in distress for mercy and/or help, while we just stand there spectating.
As part of the show, the old lady manages to momentarily break free of her captors and falls to the ground as she tries to flee.
And, that is when it happened. Before anyone else could react, a small, scraggly little dog, not much bigger than standard housecat leapt and inserted himself between the woman and her tormentors. He was undernourished, unappreciated, and fully aware of the beating that was to come, but he would not have it. He lowered his anterior and raised his posterior – digging in so he had good traction should the time come for him to pounce.
He bared his teeth and emitted a low guttural warning to the guards, that to get to this woman, they would first need to go through him.
The entirety of the townsfolk, with the exception of yours truly, erupted into spontaneous, hearty laughter. I was too busy standing there agape with amazement at the bravest act I had ever witnessed.
The guard who had been standing directly in front of me, turned around, still chuckling, and said to us in accented English, “That was surprise. Not part of the show.”
The players broke character to assure the little hero that the woman was safe and no harm would come to her. Once mollified, the little fellow was given a sausage and led away. Then, we all stood in line to get a turn petting him.
He couldn’t figure out what was going on but he loved it. Each person who approached he greeted as if they were his newest and bestest friend.