I am Ripped to Shreds by Wild Dogs (Mitch Russell)

I am looking for something to watch on Netflix one evening when all of the sudden, out of nowhere, an entire pack of wild dogs bursts through my living room window and rips me to shreds.

If you have never been ripped to shreds by wild dogs before, let me tell you what it’s like:


Hours later, I wake up in a hospital. A doctor comes in and tells me I am lucky to be alive. She tells me this is the worst attack of wild dogs she has ever seen in her career. She tells me to talk to the front desk about billing.

She leaves the small room, letting the heavy pneumatic door click shut behind her. I struggle to get my sweatpants on when all the sudden a pack of wild dogs bursts out of the supply closet and rips me to shreds.

I’m not 100% sure it was the same pack of wild dogs, but it seems pretty likely.

I tell my wife this story later. She is surprisingly quiet about the whole thing so I (a little annoyed) ask her “what are you thinking?” and she says “oh, I don’t know. I just hope you’re okay!” I say “yeah… okay, well I’m gonna hang up the laundry.”

I walk down the hall towards the laundry nook and, en route, I am attacked and ripped to shreds by wild dogs.

This is my life for the next several months:

I go out for the mail and I am ripped to shreds by wild dogs.

I wave hello to my neighbor and I am ripped to shreds by wild dogs.

I text my mom “How’s grandma?” and I am ripped to shreds by wild dogs.

I ask my wife “Have you ever eaten foie gras?” and I am ripped to shreds by wild dogs.

I wonder if my shirts are shrinking or if I am gaining weight, and I am ripped to shreds by wild dogs.

I wake up from the perfect 18 minute nap and I am ripped to shreds by wild dogs.

I drive out to Lowe’s to pick up a gift-card for my brother in law’s birthday and I am ripped to shreds by wild dogs.

Right there in the parking lot — to shreds.


In a very short amount of time these dogs have come to define my entire existence. Where once I was a man,  I now walk the earth some accursed liminal phantom, either freshly succumbed to the shredding of wild dogs or plodding ever towards it.

I admit as much to my wife through tears, and again she is strangely reticent. I ask her outright “why are you being so weird about this?” and she makes a sort of huffing sound before saying “I don’t know baby…I just feel like if there wasn’t some part of you that wanted to get ripped to shreds by wild dogs you wouldn’t…you know…you might not get ripped to shreds by wild dogs so much.”

I don’t talk to her about the wild dogs or anything else that night.

The next morning I resolve to take control of this thing. I sneak out of my house before sunrise and trek into the woods. My plan is to track down the wild dog hovel and destroy them once and for all.

It is victory or death with these dogs.

Day after day, I beat through the circuitous paths of the forest. Night after night I shelter myself under makeshift camps of bramble and moss. The storms come hard and the wind comes cold.

I am undeterred.

At long last I find myself on a crest of wind blown rock. The air is thin here. The sky is white. Even the birds avoid such a desolate altitude. All around this evil place are the scattered bones of others I can only imagine have been ripped to shreds by wild dogs.

And then there are the dogs.

They are loosely assembled — each dog transfixed by my intrusion on their den. They whine into the hollow air. They drag their claws anxiously across the stone.

I raise myself to full height. I shout “Come on dogs! Come get some!”

The dogs merely blink in my direction. They lower their paws and turn to one another. I fill my chest again.

“Now or never, assholes!”

The dogs give each other the kind of look that says “what is this guy’s deal?” and they resume their aimless meandering.

I pick up a stick and throw it in the direction of the pack.

“Hey!” I scream, my voice now cracking a little. “What the fuck is wrong with you?!”

But the dogs just amble over the barren rock. One dog — I think the main dog — shoots me a look over his mangey shoulder like “what the fuck is wrong with you?”

Then they disappear into the tree line. That’s it. I am not ripped to shreds by wild dogs. I turn around, unsure of myself and of everything, and begin the long hike back home.

I consider what it is to be ripped to shreds by wild dogs. The teeth. The smell. The ribboned flesh and sundered bones. And then, for the first time in what seems like forever, my mind drifts onward and beyond the dogs.

Then it all comes to me like a light, an impossibly bright light, like the first light God ever shone on anything.

Along my path I see a caterpillar inching over the palm of an oak fern. I see amber colored sap leaking out like tears out from a gash in gnarled Maple. I see a golden-crowned sparrow flutter and dive low over a lazy stream which runs through the roots of a tree I don’t know the name of. The sunlight pierces through the gaps in the thick forest canopy and I feel its heat, traveled 93 million miles to rest on my shoulders. I see the tiniest cilium of my arm hairs rise to greet it. I see it. I feel it. It’s all happening now.

Now, now, now.

It is just before dawn when I reach my neighborhood. On every telephone pole there are Missing posters with my face on them. I reach my home and creak open the door. A sliver of crepuscular light faintly illuminates the blanketed figure of my wife who is sleeping on the couch.

I kneel my face down low to hers, I finger a ringlet of hair behind her ear. I want to tell her it is over. That I’m back now. That it’s all done. I want to, but I let her rest. She deserves as much from me. Instead I walk very quietly into our kitchen to prepare some coffee for the day.

The water in our pot comes to a grumbling boil. The ground beans in the filter begin to bloom. The steam rises up through the limp plastic lid of our old Mr. Coffee and the morning sun shines through the steam.


I take a deep breath of clean morning air. I am at home. I am at peace. I turn to grab my favorite mug.

I am ripped to shreds by wild dogs.


Mitch Russell is a wildly famous author writing under a pseudonym. (Don’t tell anyone.) You can read his junk in Functionally Dead and Slackjaw.


image: MM Kaufman