A local man used his ukulele to take on an aggressive dog and it was a blow to the head, not musical charms, that drove the wild beast away.
Jose Melchizedek Matos, 22, from Vermilion who now lives in Lorain, was seen cycling through the town while playing the string instrument.
It’s a skill he developed a few years ago on a bike trip from South Carolina to Florida with his brother.
A bike loaded with gear can be heavy, but relatively easy to ride hands-free if the weight is distributed evenly, Matos said.
It’s hard to play an instrument and sing at the same time, he said, so he liked to challenge his musicianship by adding layers of difficulty.
At approximately 3:52 p.m. on August 15, Matos was walking on West Erie Avenue when a dog ran aggressively and started circling and barking at him, according to a police report from Lorain.
“Out of fear of being attacked, Jose hit the dog over the head with his ukulele once,” the report said. “The dog then ran home and his ukulele was damaged.”
Speaking to the owner, Matos said he didn’t want to be violent, but he didn’t want to be hurt either.
The dog “just took me for a threat and then I became one because he was a threat to me,” he said.
Matos called Lorain’s police and an officer also spoke to the dog’s owner.
The man told the officer his toddler son accidentally opened a door and let out the dog, a 7-year-old American Bulldog.
Matos did not wish to lay charges.
He told police he would like to be compensated for the Cordoba-branded ukulele, but the owner will not negotiate, Matos said.
The situation would be much worse for the owner if the dog went out and attacked someone, he said.
As the owner of two pit bulls named Rosie and Boss, Matos said the incident caused him to rethink his own approach to letting his dogs out when they were let loose.
“I don’t think I’m going to take this chance anymore, because you never know how your dog is going to behave,” he said. “It takes someone they don’t like.
“You might think your dog is really nice, but it’s this person they don’t like they’re going to bite anyway.”
As for the ukulele, a crack in the body of the instrument allowed Matos to open it and make a repair inside.
Putting it back together makes it playable again, he said.
While not officially playing, Matos occasionally scratches at Vermilion’s Third Thursday and the open mic night at the Patio Tavern in Mitiwanga.
He also makes items sold at Crystal’s Treasure Box in Vermilion and would like to expand to other craft shows.
As a free-spirited artist, Matos encouraged people to develop their own creativity, and especially to inspire it in children.
“If I had to give someone advice … not even how to live, but advice on how they could get to where they are going faster, is to look inside yourself and yourself.” remember as a child what you loved to do and choose that back up, ”said Matos. “Because a lot of people have buried this stuff, the things they really care about.
“And if they could just pick it up, they would rediscover what made them love life again.”