(This post is rated R for violence.)
I was on the ground holding the LUNGING dog by the throat. It had charged out of the woods at the Tel Dan Nature Reserve and attacked me (see part 1 of this story here).
Blood trickled from punctures in my leg and hands. "Help." I whispered aloud. All our group heard it in their headsets. They were forced to suffer with me.
I squeezed. The dog gagged.
It was empowering. Could I really kill him? I forced my thumbs deeper into his windpipe. He gagged again. I think I can!
I had forgotten the Reshut man.
Earlier, near the area of Tel Dan's high place, he had observed the dog acting strangely. He pursued it. When he came over the hill and saw me tumble with this Tasmanian Devil, he hollered and waved for the others in the area to retreat.
"Get back! Get back!"
If I was unable to hang on to the dog, he didn't want someone else to be harmed. And there were plenty of someone elses about. On the trail behind our group of students was a mother with two children, a Jewish grandfather, and a guide with another group. All of them had become spectators of the spectacle.
A second Reshut man came over the rise. When he saw what was happening, he climbed a tree! From his perch he safely observed the action. Fortunately he had a phone and punched in a call for help.
I had managed to pin the dog's head to the dirt while laying on my side. Now, I thought, if I could somehow get upright, I could straddle him. Still gripping his throat I slowly worked that direction and, by God's grace, achieved it. From that superior position, I jammed my knee into the dog's torso and leaned into him with my full weight. He compressed like an accordion. For the first time, I saw him for what he was. Mange and bloodied patches marked his body. This was not his first fight. I was determined to make it his last. The stench was overwhelming.
Emboldened by the cessation of the struggle, the first park man produced a stout branch and stretched it over the dog's pinned head just above my grip. Then he stepped on the branch and leaned down. I could see him trembling. He spoke to me directly for the first time. "Hang on," he said. "Shadi's coming."
I didn't know who the heck Shadi was, but I welcomed the arrival of the cavalry of any stripe.
"Where is he?" I panted.
It took another five full minutes for Shadi to arrive. But when he did, Shadi had a pistol.
Shadi came up breathing hard. He was a short fellow, older, tanned. He circled us and assessed the situation. Satisfied, he picked up a rock. His intention was obvious. Fearing a spattering I squeezed my eyes closed and turned my head.
Crack! He clobbered the dog on the head. Crack! He clobbered it again.
Shadi rattled something. The man with his foot on the branch spoke to me in broken English. "I count. When I say jump, we jump away. OK?"
He counted, "One . . . .Two . . . Three . . . Jump!"
We both jumped away. Shadi's pistol barked. The beast arched his back and rolled. The pistol barked a second time. The dog twitched a few times and then was still.
I looked down to assess myself. My pants were shredded at the thigh. Blood was running down my leg. Scratches, punctures, and flecks of saliva and blood peppered the top of my hands.
The guide from the group behind ours came up.
"Do you speak English?" he asked.
"You need to get to the hospital."
"I know," I said. But I really didn't. I wasn't thinking much at all.
Shadi holstered the gun. He carefully picked up the two shells from the trail.
"Get in." He pointed to the green four-wheeler. I climbed in the back.
The Reshut man who had gone up the tree came down to drive. He tried to turn the cart around but the trail was not wide enough. We got stuck. I jumped back out and with the help of the others, we managed to unstick the cart. This time I hopped in front. We rattled away.
At the park office I was met by Ethan, the senior member of the Reshut crew. He told me to strip in the shower and use water and soap. "Run water over your wounds for twenty minutes," he said. "This is the procedure."
"The procedure?" I asked.
"For kalevet, rabies."
"Rabies?" What? The thought had not entered my mind.