Jan. 15, 2016
Four years ago my husband and I moved from a condo in London, Ontario to Port Stanley, a little community perched on the north shore of Lake Erie described by residents as “a quaint drinking village with a fishing problem.” We were enchanted by its lack of attention to anything resembling a grid, its higgledy piggledy rabbit’s warren of streets and lane ways and its jumble of house types – working class cottages intermingled with architect designed homes, tucked away in ravines or astride what can only be described as eyries, some on lane ways posted with warnings to drive at one’s own peril, the roadway in question being unstable.
Our street, like many others in Port Stanley ends abruptly. It didn’t use to, but then that portion of it that joined up with the street below, fell into the Lake. In Port Stanley things fall into the Lake. Houses. Streets. One has only to look out to the east, towards Hawks Cliff, to see Erie’s taupe coloured waves clawing at the soft bluffs and the Lake stained the colour of clay all the way to the horizon to realize that this is a landscape in perpetual transformation and that, if there are winners and losers, then it is the Lake that is winning.
Tucked away at the end of our street where the road once was and secluded in a woody glen was a house occupied by a man I will call Lloyd. People on our street are friendly in the way people are in small towns. They look out for one another; they have each other’s back. Not Lloyd. Invited to parties, he never attended and was only seen driving to and from his house in a battered truck, sometimes accompanied by two massive dogs who might have been Italian Mastiffs. These dogs were infamous. Shortly before we moved in, they had savaged a neighbour’s shih tzu; the little dog required extensive surgery and was so traumatized by the attack that, ever afterwards, the proximity of another canine reduced her to a trepidatious puddle. Consequently I took the “Beware of dogs,” sign posted on Lloyd’s chain link fence very seriously, keeping my dogs well away from his property, which I imagined patrolled by two creatures akin to the Hound of the Baskervilles, fiendish, with red, glowing eyes.
Last summer the OPP apprehended a certain Doug Spink at the end of our street -- an American fleeing charges of animal cruelty and dog-napping in the States who had been accidentally released from London’s provincial jail and had made his way to Lloyd's house. They were friends apparently. Had been for years. In addition to being a drug smuggler (he was arrested in 2005 after investigators pulled him over with a load of nearly 375 pounds of cocaine, valued at $34 million), Spink had owned a purported bestiality tourism farm in Washington State featuring dogs and horses and, mysteriously, mice smothered in vaseline and tied up with string, and, in addition to having violated the terms of his supervised release, was suspected of having made off with Genghis, a neighbour’s Boerboel-Kangal mix.
On his website he expounds about about his philosophy vis a vis training stallions: "Are we unconventional in our approach to stallion care? Absolutely," adding later, "We don't wall off sexual energy in our stallions as something dangerous or inappropriate, but rather channel that energy towards positive, safe, appropriate paths. There's a proper time and place for it, and we work towards those sorts of skills rather than fighting un-winnable fights against deeply-rooted instincts."
To which I can only respond, !!!!????
Once apprehended at Lloyd's domicile, Spink was sent back across the border to New York State, only to return, a couple of months later, to Port Stanley to hang out with his old buddy Lloyd.
Then, on the evening of November 14, 2015, when my husband and I were down in Florida visiting our grandson, this happened.
Neighbours saw a fire in Lloyd's house and went to investigate, whereupon Spink appeared, with Lloyd in a choke hold, and warned that he had a knife and that, if they came any closer, he would kill them. Then he released Lloyd and ran to the house of the very woman whose shih tzu Lloyd’s dogs had savaged; she was at the Legion at the time, waiting for the results of the Meat Draw. Spink broke down the front door using his right shoulder, dashed in, then out, letting the terrified shih tzu escape into the night before making his way, yelling, down the road. The Port Stanley fire truck arrived, followed by the Union fire truck, which is told to stand down because there is a weapon. The police cruiser arrives, but cannot get past the Union fire truck blocking our narrow road, forcing the police to get out and charge up what is a very steep hill. Aroused by all the commotion, the neighbours poured out into the street, our house sitter, who had been walking our dogs, along with them.
Before this assembled crowd, the police took Spink down in our driveway. They handcuffed him; he fought back. When the police had finally managed to wrestle him, bucking and kicking, into the cruiser, he smashed out both backseat side windows and bent the cruiser's radar antenna. On the way to the hospital, he kicked the rear door and repeatedly smashed his head on the Plexiglass. He wouldn't get out of the cruiser at the hospital and it took seven officers to drag him in, where he was restrained on a hospital bed, all the while shouting.
Meanwhile, back in sleepy little Port Stanley, an hour-long search by our neighbour Jim and our house sitter finally turned up poor traumatized shih tzu , cowering gelatinous under our deck. As for Lloyd's house, it burnt down more or less. The dogs appear to have been unharmed – by the fire at least – and the word is that Lloyd will now make his home elsewhere. Which, all things considered, is good news.
When we first moved to Port Stanley, neighbours advised us that, during Patty Hearst’s time as a fugitive, she hid out for a few months at the end of our street. They swore it was true, that they had seen her on a number of occasions, out walking. I must admit that I didn’t believe them then. Patty Hearst, in little old Port Stanley?
Now. . . . Well, now I’m not so sure.