At the same time, though, the tribe
maintains a guarded, enigmatic distance
from the outside world. Ask the doorman
at the casino to recommend a place to run,
for instance, and his welcoming smile
fades. “You don’t want to run out here,”
he says. “This is reservation territory.” The
women at the hotel reception desk will
tell you the same. “Don’t go out in those
hills,” they say. “There are dogs out there.”
A few months back, on a trail outside
of town bordering the reservation, a pit
bull and a German shepherd attacked a
woman on horseback, severely injuring
the horse and traumatizing the woman.
Earlier, two loose boxers had severely
injured a local veterinarian as she walked
near her home in the area.
Most locals attribute the attacks to feral
dogs running loose on the reservation.
“There are two troubling tendencies con-
cerning dogs on the San Pasqual territory,”
says Deborah Hofler, V.M.D., a veterinar-
ian practicing in Valley Center. “Very few
of them are spayed or neutered, and way
too many run in packs.”
San Pasqual officials deny that claim.
“The only problem we might have with
dogs,” says Allen Lawson, chairman of
the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians,
“is people from the city driving up here
and dumping their unwanted pets on
On this late fall run, nothing bothers
the Garritsons. Less than a mile into the
hills, just out of sight of the school and
casino, the trail widens. As Maegan falls
about 50 yards behind, the four other
runners move abreast, talking among
themselves through the footfalls—about
Richard’s big organic chemistry exam
that’s coming up and Shelby’s training
for the Foot Locker meet. Little Catherine,
their brother Jarrod’s daughter, soaks in
the conversation, running happily in her
aunts’ and uncles’ footsteps.
EVERY RUNNER KNOWS the hair-raising
cues: the chain scraping on the driveway
blacktop, or the bark shattering the silence during solitary dawn miles. But on
this familiar trail, on a sunny afternoon,
Richard doesn’t have any warning.
The shapes emerge out of the bush,
their abrupt appearance stopping the
runners’ conversation instantly: Three
pit bulls, of unexceptional color—
mottled brown and white and gray—and not
especially big, not like Dobermans or
German shepherds. Still, their muscles
bulge at their haunches. Their jaws are
stretched wide as dinner plates.
At first, Richard is more surprised than
alarmed. He’s often encountered dogs in
these hills. They typically bark and snarl,
but lose interest once the runners leave
the dogs’ territory. But Richard hasn’t
seen these dogs before. These pit bulls.
Instead of snarling, they regard the runners with an ominous, chilling silence.
Richard pulls up, perhaps 10 feet from
the dogs. John, Shelby, and Catherine
hesitate for a moment, and then continue
THE FAMILY THAT
Runner’s World (in 1987,
above) and People (in 1988,
right) covered the Garritson
kids as they began to make
names for themselves in
running circles, reporting
as well the training tactics of
their hard-driving dad (in
red jacket, photo top right).
At bottom right, the extended
family on Christmas day