My wife and I got married in 2016. Shortly after, we bought our dog Biscuit, an Italian Greyhound, from the local pet store. He was still a puppy at the time, and grew to be an affectionate dog that was friendly with strangers and children, especially our 4 month old baby. Being extremely docile, Biscuit was easily frightened by loud noises and never bit anyone or acted aggressively in any way. He was easy to groom and very obedient – for several years, he was the dream family pet.
We had been feeding him a popular pet food brand ever since he could begin to eat solids, which we bought from the supermarket from our weekly shopping trips. Around sometime at the beginning of last year, the shopping trip habit stopped as our lives became busier and focused more on our careers. My wife was a fashion designer who dreamed of releasing her own brand, and I was a manager with an equally busy schedule. We started grocery shopping online more, and soon we stopped visiting the supermarket altogether.
The pet food brand we usually bought wasn’t available online, so we began buying a cheaper brand that was. It was called Dog-EZ, and had the typical minced beef look of dog food. Each large packet had a happy Labrador on the front, with the slogan ‘YOUR DOG WILL LOVE YOU FOR THIS!’ in bold red letters, and apart from having a bit of a sour scent, nothing seemed out of the ordinary about it. We didn’t understand much about pet food and figured the grimy brown stuff was all the same anyway, so we were just glad to be cutting costs on that front.
Biscuit didn’t seem to like the new brand at first. Initially, he was very reluctant to even touch the stuff, and we considered changing brands if he didn’t adjust in less than a week. But after two days, he was wolfing it down, leaving no leftovers in the bowl. After a week, his bowl was constantly empty, and he would sometimes scratch on the door of the cupboard we kept the dog food in. We thought his sudden change in preferences was odd, but at the end of the day, it was rather convenient for us. We were forced to get a lock for the cupboard door when one day, we came home and found it open, torn paper bags and meat crumbs all over the floor, with a week’s supply of Dog-EZ having been eaten in a day.
He began craving the stuff like a smoker craved cigarettes. It’s difficult for greyhounds to gain weight so I figured it wouldn’t do much harm to buy a few more packets every week, but even that didn’t seem to please him. For the first time, Biscuit began to act irritable and aggressive, especially when he wasn’t eating – barking at us and other dogs or people in the street when we took him on walks, as if he couldn’t stand to be deprived of food for a mere hour. He seemed to always be hungry and trying to eat everything, smelling and nipping at my fingers more often. After I caught him sniffing around the baby’s cot, I insisted we moved the baby’s room upstairs for safety reasons, especially after my wife showed me the bite marks on her forearm after she had tried to stop him from chewing one of her pink dresses.
On one Sunday night walk, I finally and explicitly put two and two together. I was alone with Biscuit, walking through the dark woods with the bare and crooked branches of trees overhanging the pebbled pathway. He was irritable as usual, and tugging on the leash, but the walk had to be done. I had airpods in my ears blasting rock music, so wasn’t paying too much attention to my surroundings. Under the dim light of a streetlamp, I made out a family walking towards me, a father, his wife and young daughter. Smiling just before I passed them, I didn’t take much notice until I heard the wife scream, and I saw that the husband also held a look of terror on his face. I looked behind me, and my heart began to race as I stared in disbelief.
There was a dark red patch that ran down the middle of the daughter’s thigh. Drops of blood began to seep through her jeans and onto the pavement. She cried out feebly and stumbled around before falling over, and lay screaming and clutching her leg, her entire body shaking. There was a conspicuously large indent in her thigh, where a chunk of flesh had been torn off. A metallic scent filled the air, making me gag. A trail of blood extended out from where she lay, as if a corpse had been dragged from a murder scene, and my eyes followed it to a spot under the streetlight.
Biscuit sat feasting on a huge and fresh slab of meat, with bloodstained teeth and claws. He was snarling and growling as he tore off long strips of muscle with his teeth, like a wolf tearing the flesh off the bones of its prey. I could still see the blood-soaked denim he gouged out along with the chunk of leg. Then, he looked up and straight into my eyes with bare teeth, as if daring me to do anything about it. He was no longer irritated now – just blissfully calm with full satisfaction.
I took out my airpods and hurried over to the crying girl, repeatedly apologizing and trying to use my jacket to bind the wound and stop the bleeding. The parents called an ambulance, and I insisted I went with them to the hospital. The word ‘shit’ wouldn’t stop repeating in my mind the entire way through the journey. The parents were in a state of shock and reasonably irate, and so was I. Still, I felt a lawsuit coming from miles away.
I called my wife at the hospital and told her what happened. “It’s that Dog-EZ crap, I dunno what’s in there but it’s making him go insane. Just stop feeding it to him, and there’s a chance he might go back to his old self and won’t need to be put down or taken away. I know it’s that shit, I know it.”
“Honey,” she said, “I stopped feeding him that brand last week.”
“I had some time to go shopping last Sunday. I saw the old brand was half price, so I bought some.”
“Can’t be right,” I shook my head, “I’m pretty certain it’s that dog food making him go nuts. What else could it be?“
“Haven’t got a clue.”
“Well… has he eaten any of the old brand?”
There was a pause as she went over to check the dog food bowl.
“Don’t think so. It’s still full.“
We both paused again.
“This might be a stretch… but I think I have an idea of what was in that Dog-EZ.”
Written by Fairly7Local