Author’s Note: This is the second part of a two-part series. Please take time to read “It’s On Like Donkey Kong” before continuing on.
Monday afternoon proceeded as usual. Z sat down to do his homework, the dogs were let outside for the afternoon, and I started straightening and braiding down Effy’s hair so her batting helmet would fit properly. Effy’s softball game was at 5:30. I only had an hour and a half, so I was a little frazzled. The incident with my dog still on my mind, I was rushed and frustrated.
I was three-quarters of the way done with Effy’s hair with 30 minutes remaining until we had to leave the house when Sophie started barking non-stop. After a few minutes, I told Z to go out front and hush her and see why she was barking. From my place in the kitchen, I heard Z open the door, hush the dog, and say, “No, sir, but my mom’s home.”
While I was wondering to whom he was talking, Z came bounding through the kitchen door announcing, “The guy that Sophie bit is outside.”
Oh, crap was the first thought that went through my mind. I quickly rinsed my hands and went outside to speak with him.
He stood at the end of the driveway while Sophie, from the wireless boundary 5 yards away, barked and puffed her chest out to show him who was boss. I had the kids take her inside, so I could talk with him.
I had never seen this guy before. He introduced himself and pointed to where he lived – the opposite direction from the neighbor that I thought my dog had bitten. This wasn’t Her, the flying monkeys’ mother. I had concluded incorrectly. I could tell that I had a meal of crow coming. All indicators pointed to it being bitter and humbling. I reached out my hand, and we introduced ourselves while we shook. I told him that the police had informed me that Sophie had bitten a neighboring gentleman, but didn’t indicate which one.
“She didn’t bite me,” he said. “She bit my 14 year-old daughter.”
My face dropped. My heart dropped. The screaming started in my head, and oddly it sounded much like “I’m melllting…”
He was very hospitable for someone whose child just got bitten. He explained that his wife and daughter were taking their nightly walk past the house that evening and, encountering Sophie barking and running out to the perimeter of the yard before, didn’t think much of her until Sophie didn’t stop at the edge of our yard. She came charging out into the street after them.
I was horrified. “Were they walking a dog?” Realizing that I unintentionally sounded unconcerned with the safety of his daughter and unwilling to take responsibility for the actions of my pet, I quickly tried to recover with “She has aggression issues and will charge other dogs.” As the words came out of my mouth, my head screamed “Blame caster! Blame caster!” I fumbled some more,”Not that it’s alright…”
Thankfully, he rescued me from my own idiocy and explained that his wife and daughter were not walking their dogs. “Sophie came at them, and when my wife yelled stopped, she didn’t stop and grabbed the pant leg of my daughter’s jeans and nipped her, leaving a small scratch on her calf.” Relieved that it was just a small scratch and nothing worse, I was horrified and apologized profusely almost to the point of embarrassment.
Again, he rescued me. “We only called the police because we saw that no one was home, and we didn’t want anyone else to get bit. She tried to bite the officer, too.” My mind was reeling. What was going on with my dog? I knew she had aggression toward other animals, but not people. The entire time he was talking, I was wondering what I was going to do with her. Would I have to get rid of her? Would I have to euthanize?
As if he had read my mind, my neighbor said, “We didn’t press charges because we don’t want to be those people who make someone put their dog down. ” Ugh. The dude was killing me with kindness! He was so considerate even though it would have been well within his rights to press charges, and I found myself intimating that I don’t know if I could have been so forgiving if it had happened to my child.
He also disclosed that he had learned from some of his co-workers who live in the neighborhood (a high number of military families) that our dog is friendly as long as you show her no fear, but if she senses fear, she’ll charge. I was mortified. I felt like the stunned mother who finds out her child is really a heinous serial killer. But he’s such a good boy… To top it off, we had become That Family. You know, That Family who everyone smiles at in public but discusses in private. Oh the humiliation!
As I wrote the first part to this series Tuesday morning, I found that little dog syndrome technically doesn’t exist. Basically, it’s a term used by neglectful dog owners who don’t want to admit that they failed to fully train their small dogs. Another punch to the gut.
I warmed up the leftovers from my crow supper and ate some for breakfast. All the information indicated that Sophie’s behavior isn’t really her fault. It’s mine. Although I trained her in some areas, I was very neglectful in other areas. I have let her be the dominant animal (the pack leader) in our house; therefore, she wants to assert her dominance in the neighborhood, and the neighborhood isn’t having it.
I would like to tell my neighborhood that I am deeply sorry for dismissing my dog’s awful behavior. Although grateful that the incident wasn’t worse, I am very sorry that it happened at all. It didn’t have to. I know that now. I would also like to assure them that while waiting for the training DVDs, I am taking steps to correcting her behavior.
- I have started leash training and anti-aggression training using tips and online videos from Caesar Millan’s website. Even though in three days Sophie has shown progress, we have a lot of work to do. I am asking to encroach upon your patients a little longer. Sophie is 4 years old, which is equivalent to a 28-year-old human. “It is easier to build strong
childrendogs than to repair broken mendogs.” It’s not impossible, but it will take some time.
- Make my neighbor and his daughter cinnamon rolls and apologize once again.
- I have kept a serving of that crow, so the next time I see Her, I can apologize for jumping to the conclusion that she is the one who called the police and who wrote the note.
The last one is going to suck.