Espy @ 10 weeks

Espy @ 10 weeks

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

'nobody Touches Me With Impunity' a repost of an earlier entry

That is the warning, in Latin, that is posted over Robert Abady's kennel. It refers to the fierce Bouvier des Flandres guard dogs he raises, but the motto might well be Abady's own.

This is a long article about Robert Abady and his Bouv's.  The article is available at Sports Illustrated archives

Some excerpts: 

The bouvier des Flandres, native to Belgium, the Netherlands and northern France, is a shaggy, bearlike dog with cropped ears and tail and a heavy beard. In Belgium a show 
championship cannot be awarded to a bouvier unless it has won a prize for tracking or as an army, police or guard dog. The male is big, up to 140 pounds, very strong and agile. It is a good jumping breed. A bouvier holds the world record for scaling a wall: 16 feet. Originally bred in Flanders to herd cattle -bouvier literally means cattle dog -the dog is supposed to be of calm temperament. "The bouvier does not have a chip on his shoulder," says Abady's wife, Isabel, an assistant professor of French at Vassar. "He does not want to be nasty. He is gentle and friendly and marvelous with children. He is only aggressive when someone threatens his people or his property. Our kennel motto is Nemo me impune lacessit [Nobody touches me with impunity] The bouvier protects not because he’s vicious, but because he is your dog. He does what is needed."

As an example of the dog's measured response to a situation, Abady cites the time a plumber came to his house a day late when no one was at home. "There were seven dogs in the house," Abady recalls, "and the plumber was pinned to the living-room wall for eight or nine hours. When we came in, he was ashen. The dogs didn’t hurt him, they just wouldn’t let him move even though he was only a foot and a half away from the door. Of course, he should have come the day he said he would."

Then there was the time Abady went into Manhattan with Picot, an untrained year-old male.  "I took him into the Figaro, a coffeehouse in Greenwich Village," Abady says. "You could take a dog in there, eat, drink coffee and play chess in a relaxed atmosphere.  A guy who seemed about eight feet tall and wearing an orange motorcycle suit came in and sat at the next table. He ordered a hamburger and French fries.  Picot was, curled up at my feet. When this guy's order came, he got up and leaned across me to get the ketchup.  It was a very irritating and insolent gesture, as though he wanted to pick a fight.  I did nothing.  Shortly after that, he came back for the pepper and salt.  I did nothing.

As he was eating, he dropped one or his French fries on the floor and kicked it toward Picot.  I kicked it back.  He kicked again.  I picked it up and said, "Don't feed the dog without the owner's permission."  I threw the French fry back at him and, by accident, it landed on his plate.  Get the picture?  He stands up and pushes the table aside.  I stand, and suddenly I hear this high-pitched shriek from this huge guy.  I didn't know what was going on.  The place was absolutely still, and all I wondered was how a big guy, an enormous guy like this, could scream in such a high voice.

"What had happened was Picot had grabbed the guy by the hand. The guy fell over a banister, his hand bleeding, rushed into the bathroom and then shot out of the Figaro.  There wasn't a sound in the restaurant.  Not a sound.  It was eerie.  I didn't know what to say.  Should I offer to pay his check?  The waitress comes over, silently gives me my check, I pay and I leave with Picot.  I didn't know whether I could ever go back, but a few weeks later a friend of mine went in there and he told me, "Hey, there's this legend about this guy who went into the Figaro with a bear!  And the bear tore this motorcyclist guy apart!  The guy was all covered with blood after the bear chewed him up, and they had to carry him on a stretcher to an ambulance."  It tuned out the manager was delighted, because motorcyclists had made the place a hangout and annoyed his customers.


Although Abady has a poor opinion of the showing, he regards attack training as superb sport.  His only difficulty is finding a steady supply of "villains."  A villain is the fellow who serves as the bouvier's object of attack.  He should weigh at least 200 pounds, because a hurtling bouvier can easily knock down a lighter man.  Once the villain is knocked flat, the dog can burrow underneath the protective suit and do severe. damage.  "You find villains anywhere you can get them," Abady says, "Anyone who talks big and thinks he has guts.  We pay $4 an hour, but when a villain sees an enraged dog coming at him for the first time, he wants to raise the price." 

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