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Dog Sense

03/25/2013 12:23 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2013

"Where do you live? What apartment? What's your phone number?" said the middle-aged man with a wave of white hair, which appealed to me more as a potentially comfy perch than an attractive human feature. The whites of his eyes spoke of danger. I could smell trouble as soon as he came around the corner.

He approached Maddy, with whom I was taking a walk. Maddy is a beautiful, lithe teenage girl. She has lived in the city for years and knows how to be safe. She's a highly-trained figure skater, pure muscle. Her tone and definition rivals that of a greyhound racedog and, I like to fancy, perhaps even my own physique.

Yet somehow this man's style, his brashness, his attitude, threw her. Within moments, he had Maddy apologizing and offering her address, apartment number, phone number. I could see into his soul. I sensed his motives were impure. This guy was bad news, and he was a professional. So I did what came naturally...

Which is what Maddy was apologizing for. I bit him, or tried to, anyway. As he approached Maddy, I lunged toward him, curled my lip, growled, and took a little nip. I barely got a scratch of the skin, but it served my purpose of keeping him away from his sick purpose with Maddy.
Maddy apologized profusely. Just then Maddy's mom, Lisa, called. She told Maddy to give the man her email address and get out of there, and to keep me and Coco (my younger sister, who was also there) by her side. Lisa knows I can sense creeps. And she knows Coco and I will protect Maddy.

Well, it turned into a bit of a circus. The man, Tom Prior (not his real name), went to the hospital because of the purported "bite." That resulted in me having to go to the authorities and be put under the equivalent of house arrest. But Lisa believes in me. She knew I wouldn't be aggressive toward someone without justification.

It turns out Lisa had coincidentally just seen a movie called Trust. In it, a "professional" sex offender lures a lovely high school girl (who, by the way, has a supportive, involved, loving family) into a supposedly "consensual" sexual relationship. He pulls this off by almost brainwashing his victim with humiliation and guilt. "I thought you could handle this," he says to her when she meets him for the first time, discovering he's around 40 years old but has been posing as a high school volleyball player in their online relationship. "I thought you said you loved me. Now you don't?" The girl, though visibly sickened, apologizes and consents. Clearly, he's a professional, able to elicit that type of reaction with his attitude, style, and brashness.

Aha. Lisa checked the local sexual predator site. Sure enough, Thomas Prior is a sexual predator who recently moved to California from Florida. When she brought this to the attention of the authorities they contacted Mr. Prior, but we learned that no charges could be brought against him since he didn't actually do anything to Maddy. We never heard from him again.

I was out of the doghouse. Not only was I released from house arrest, I was given a citation and badge for my ability to smell trouble, act preventively against an aggressor, and protect Maddy. The next thing I knew, I was riding in the front seat of a police car down the Embarcadero with an appreciative officer. They called it my "Em-bark-adero" citation of appreciation ride.
Not bad for an 18-lb. Jack Russell Terrier. That's me, Snickerdoodles Conte Thornton, age 4 and a half, and my sister, Cocopuffs, 8 pounds, 2 years old.

For more by Lisa Conte, click here.

For more on emotional intelligence, click here.