Attack Dog

The Viennese Love Their Pets And Some Put Them to Work In Rather Strange Ways

Columns | Alexander Litschka | May 2008

"For the next couple of weeks he will only get raw meat to eat," the Doberman’s owner told me. "He has to get stronger."

That seemed like a weird answer. I got curious. It is nice that he gives his dog fresh food instead of common dog fodder, which is in my eyes not healthy for dogs. However, why only raw meat? And why did the dog have to be stronger?

I started feeling uncomfortable. The guy was probably around twenty and had already told me he had a wife and a kid. Sometimes I had seen him selling drugs during the day. I slid my hand into my jeans pocket to check the time on my cell phone. It was already past midnight, and I didn’t like standing next to such a  conspicuous troublemaker.

However, my year-old dog doesn’t listen when he is playing with other dogs, and while I was stuck there, the guy continued to talk about his life and how he coached his three-year-old Doberman. Meanwhile the Doberman had flattened my little dog, an Ibizian Hound, and was running toward us.

I noticed an unhealed scar next to the Doberman’s snout. The guy said that he couldn’t pay for a vet; his dog would have to "earn it."

How could a dog earn his own money? Probably not as a kindergarten teacher. Now, I was pretty sure that he let his dog fight to earn the money, and I wanted to know more.

But I was torn. Maybe it was better not to know too much.

The situation solved itself.

"This time he’ll win the three-hundred euros, I am sure," he told me proudly.  "We started the fitness program at six in the morning."

I felt sick: Three hundred euros that you might be able to earn if your dog survives is lame at best. A dog shouldn’t be a fighting machine. My dog is a friend. Sure this guy has financial problems, but a modest life does not have to be all about money. There was one question I had to ask.

"Where exactly do you meet with the others?"

No response. He looked shocked. Then he told me they met outside of Vienna. Minutes later, he had left with his dog. I had scared him off.

I just hoped I would meet the Doberman again, hopefully alive.

Other articles from this issue

  • Handys on Board

    “Ladies and Gentlemen, Please Turn Your Cell Phones on Silent”
    News | Ana Valjak, Alexander Litschka
  • Vienna Lit Celebrates

    Poetry, Performance, and Discussion Unite the City’s English-Speaking Community at the Vienna Lit Festival
    On The Town | Stacy Stutts
  • Anti-EU Pensioners

    Bitter Austrian Activists Over 60 Press Their Government to Retain Military Neutrality and to Exit The European Union
    News | Anna Claessen
  • Merciless Control

    Joseph Fritzl’s Crimes Shock all Austria; What Goes on in the Abuser’s Mind?
    News | Margaret Childs
  • All articles from this issue

    the vienna review May 2008