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They heard the noise from behind, which grew louder and more threatening with each step of the couple.
Arthur Bouchard described it as galloping mixed with barking. Bouchard turned to see the dogs, eight of them, storming River Road in Epsom on a glorious Sunday afternoon, imprisoning and loading him, his wife, Anne Bouchard, and their golden retriever, Molly.
From there, Bouchard’s account of what had happened last month turned into chaotic descriptions of biting, scratching, kicking, hitting, screaming, and terror. Arthur and Anne fought to protect themselves and Molly during a street fight that was certainly unique in nature.
“I’m a little confused,” Anne recently said on the phone. “I’m not going for a walk this week, I can tell you. I don’t feel safe “
The stab wounds heal, the butterfly stings fade. However, the fear persists longer and refuses to cooperate, a residual effect that the neighbors also feel.
“I feel that way,” said Arthur, “that I always pay my taxes and now I feel like I have to walk nine millimeters with my dog.”
Police declined to publish the name of the man who owns the pack of canines. Wayne Preve, Epsom police chief, said summons will be issued once the man’s vet presents health certificates for the dogs.
Preve said in an email that the dogs were boxers and boxer mixes. To Arthur and Anne, however, they looked more like an undisciplined swarm of teeth and tails.
The two of them and Dan Prescott, a neighbor and Witness, all told the same story. The dogs attacked from behind. Blood was spilled. The unknown man quickly disappeared and was followed by Prescott in his truck.
All three agreed that the suspect said nothing at all and, strangely, did not notice the frightened couple and their blood-stained clothes. They said the man showed little emotion after the attack and he certainly did not apologize.
Preventive measures are easy in this case, the couple said. They wondered why anyone would endanger others by walking eight dogs, strong and athletic, off-leash and, as the Bouchards later learned, limitless.
Prescott said the Bouchards are not exaggerating the encounter.
“Not at all,” he said.
Anne and Arthur, an elderly couple, got married and moved to Epsom 16 years ago. The Bouchards and Prescotts are neighbors and friends.
Anne taught school; Arthur administered the armories in Concord and Manchester. They have since withdrawn.
They found Molly, part of a trash that needed a home three years ago. Dan’s wife Julie often joins Anne and walks her dogs.
Arthur, Anne and Molly walk a lot too. In fact, everyone in the area appeared to be walking their dogs on March 14th, a Sunday. It was such a day, finally relatively warm.
Initially, Anne and Molly wanted to go, but Arthur decided he would go.
They went down the driveway and looked both ways. On the right was a road towards Bear Brook State Park.
“We were going to go to the left, but I saw a couple of dogs there,” said Arthur. “I said let’s turn right.”
So they did.
It wasn’t long, however, before this galloping sound mixed with barking began. It was just before noon.
Arthur turned and saw what he would say later that reminded him of dogs that led the British elite and hunted a fox. He caught his wife’s gaze.
“Anne, wait because these fools are coming after us,” he said and told her.
They rushed. Molly’s leash tangled in Arthur’s legs, forcing him to the ground. “At that moment,” he said, “I was face to face with these fools.”
He got up and struggled.
“I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, but I never used all of these bones and found muscles that I never knew I had,” he said.
Prescott’s dog started howling nearby. Prescott looked outside and saw that the battle was in full swing. And the Bouchards lost.
Prescott said he saw Arthur shield Molly from some dogs with his left hand while throwing punches at other dogs with his right hand.
Anne stood above the mess, kicked the dogs and screamed off her head.
Prescott grabbed a pair of oak poles to help his friends, then stated when he got there, “It was like getting a pea shooter into a shootout. It was a pack of wolves. “
Something jumped out at Prescott: a man of dignity, a great neighbor, had deserved some rest at this point in his life.
“It was pathetic to see a couple aged 78 trying to defend themselves like this,” said Prescott.
Prescott’s memory was far more detailed than Arthur and Anne’s. He wasn’t the target. He had more time to take in what was happening.
In fact, he responded, crashing into his truck and following the man, yelling at him to take responsibility for what had happened and yelling about accountability.
The guy got away. The Epsom policeman who answered the call shortly after the brawl saw the couple’s blood, the fear in their eyes.
He contacted the man and convinced him to come to the police.
Meanwhile, Chief Preve said all eight dogs the city licensed tested negative for rabies. Further testing was required before the man and a woman – who arrived later but were not present at the time of the attack – were summoned to appear in court.
“The dog owners stick,” said Preve, “and it’s unusual for so many dogs to be in a pack.” I’m looking for control of the dogs and that person had no control over their dogs. “
The damage could have been much worse. The battle scars included stab wounds and scratches on Arthur’s chin, right arm, and hand. He was bleeding profusely, said the couple. Anne suffered a stab wound on her hand.
Molly’s ear was chewed.
They went to emergency care – Arthur was bandaged and in need of a butterfly sting. Antibiotics were prescribed for Arthur and Anne. Molly was given to Doggie Downers.
River Road looks and feels different these days. Even three weeks after the attack. Part of the innocence is gone. People are nervous.
“My wife walks our dog down the street every day,” said Prescott.
The Bouchards and everyone else in the field hope that the punishment given to the dog’s owner will keep him and others from behaving recklessly.
You never want to hear strange noises from behind – the gallop mixed with barking. It was her first walk of the season.
“I don’t know if there will be any consequences or not, or they’ll just let him do it,” Anne said. “I’m a little shy. I wonder why he thought that was okay. “