Black Dog Attacks

I can feel him long before I see him.  He is drawing closer, slowly, stealthily, hiding in the darkest corners, keeping to the shadows.  The muscles in his haunches are bunched and powerful, rippling under his jet black fur.  As he creeps forward he is almost silent but I can hear him breathing.  He begins to pant, gently at first, not through exertion, it’s his excitement that has raised his heart rate.

“I am coming for you” he whispers, I can hear the hatred in his voice.

“Keep back”, I shout, “I don’t want to see you, you are not coming in”.  He withdraws a little but starts to move forward again as he detects a tremor in my voice.  He can sense my fear, the signals passing down the invisible leash that connects us.

“Go away!  leave me alone” I yell.  I hear him moving slowly closer my yells and screams have no effect, he feeds on my fear.  For the first time I can make out his shape, his body a slightly darker black against the blackness of the shadows.  As he looks at me, I can just make out the whites of his eyes, rimmed in red, demonic.  I hear the beginnings of a growl rumble in his throat, I can feel his hackles rise and for the first time I see the glint of his teeth through the darkness.

“I am coming for you”, he says “You can’t run, you can’t hide”.  My heart starts to beat faster, heat rises to my face, my palms start to sweat as I feel panic rising, fear beginning to take over as he says  “Come on let go, one more minute and I have you”.  Suddenly it hits me, knowledge comes to the surface.  Through the morass of fear that my mind has become, a strand of sanity arises, a thread of hope.  I remember!

I have owned dogs all my life and I know that the vicious ones are usually the most cowardly, they feed off fear, they hide their fear behind aggression.  To defeat them you must remain calm, to assert control of them you have to project your authority.  Any dog can be mastered with time, calm and patience.

I close my eyes and breathe deeply, in through my nose and out through my mouth.  In for five seconds, hold for three seconds, out for six seconds.  In for five seconds, hold for three, out for six, and again, and again.  I focus on my breath, on the expansion of my chest, feeling air fill my lungs, feeling calm descend.  I can hear the dog getting agitated, angry.  “I am coming for you” he barks, “you are mine, I have got you”.

I stand taller, calm now, my breathing slow and steady as his anger rises.  I raise my hand slowly, palm out towards him. “Stop!”  I say, my voice firm and steady, calm.  “You only have power over me if I let you have it”.  “No he screams, you’re mine, I will drag you down, tear your throat out and feed on your entrails”.  His anger is rising, I know I am winning.

“Down boy” I say, smiling now as calm spreads through my body, spreading with the oxygenated blood pumping from my heart as it flows through my body.  I step towards him and he starts to whine. “Quiet now, Good boy” I move slowly, looking at him but not into his eyes.  I want him to submit, not feel challenged.  “Here boy” I say tapping my leg. Slowly he emerges from the dark and moves towards me, ears down, tail between his legs, beaten again, at least for today.  He comes to my side, I reach down, scratching between his ears.  “Good boy, now go in your box” I say.  He turns walks to his crate and lies down, his stomach exposed, showing me that he has submitted to me at least for today.  He may try again tomorrow, but for today at least the black dog of my depression has been vanquished once more.

The end.

This post is my response to a writing challenge where we are asked to express contrast through a dialogue.  Having suffered from depression for many years I have discovered that mindfulness exercises really help me.  The key to mindfulness is to try to live in the moment, to accept and acknowledge your feelings, to put them away and to move on.  To be able to do that a form of guided meditation can be used and I find the best route into this is through controlled breathing.  I came across the story of the black dog whilst dealing with a bad bout of depression.  I love dogs and have lots of experience in dealing with them.  Patience, calm, reward and repetition are the tools that work best when training a dog.  The same tools can be used to master your depression.  When you are training a vicious dog, if you show fear you are likely to get bitten.  I have found the same when I feel the black dog of depression creeping up on me.  I have tried to use this exercise to explain how I try to tame my black dog.  I hope you found it interesting, informative and entertaining. 🙂

Black dog image from:

12 thoughts on “Black Dog Attacks

  1. laurabecknielsen

    I like your symbolic relationship to the black dog. Of course we students of Writing 101 might be writing quickly and forgetting to proof read to correct any grammar, punctuation, or simple capitalization errors… I am just as guilty.
    What I wish for is a better use of verbs in about 20% of this story. I think substituting at least some of the “to be” verbs with more powerful verbs could really accentuate this contrast and drama of your story image here.
    I look forward to reading more of your work as we grow with this class.


  2. fantasticbetty2014

    I REALLY liked this one! The tension just kept building and building through the piece. I also enjoyed your idea of having a dialogue with a dog. The end surprised me and made the story much more meaningful and touching. I agree with the comment about the shorter paragraphs; that would have made it easier to follow.
    PS – what a gruesome picture to illustrate too – good choice!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. scrapydo

    To me as a third language reader it is a touching way of shutting down the Black Dog. I also have great love for dogs and can see how your explanation can calm down the depression just as an aggressive dog! Your writing is good I agree with what Victoria says about splitting the conversation up in own paragraphs.I did not feel in the mood to do the dialogue piece!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. iamathinker19

    You have directed many of us to a way that tells how to overcome our fears. This conversation within the mind is powerful. It is indicating that a person is capable of anything, one just needs to think hard and positive.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. vakunzmann

    Thank you for allowing me to read what must be a very private conversation. Having suffered the same fate, I recognized the fear and the sadness in your dialogue.
    “The dialogue is something that occurs in my mind. Do I make it interesting?”
    Yes, it is interesting. Consider completely separating your two voices. Although your voice and the voice of the black dog are both you, they are two different personas. I think splitting them apart so that each has its own paragraph when speaking would give the reader a sense of the difficulty one has when battling depression.
    “I want to describe my struggles in a positive way if possible. Do I mange this?”
    I would have never thought that struggling through depression could be positive. However, yes, it was quite positive. I love your analogy of depression as a snarling black dog. The way you describe how you tame the beast, so to speak, is very positive and encouraging.
    “Is the piece entertaining to read?”
    The piece is entertaining to read. I believe you would increase the entertainment value if you included descriptors of each of your five senses, given that our senses are heightened during such an encounter. However, it did hold my interest especially since how you confront your black dog is completely different from the way I confront mine.
    Thank you for sharing and I hope this has helped. I look forward to reading more of your posts.


    1. The Sound of Summer Post author

      Thank you very much for taking the time to read, understand and respond in such a considered way to my post. I hope that sharing my experiences will help people to understand how depression affects people and that, although it can be tough going, you can win through. Of course I also hope that by posting here I can improve my writing at the same time. When people take the time to respond as you have the hopefully we all gain. Thanks for your response . 🙂

      Liked by 1 person


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