Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mama enraged

A scary thing happened to us in our neighborhood yesterday. We were out taking the doggie for his afternoon walk, Sister holding the leash and me wheeling Bean along in her stroller. All was lovely--the weather was warm, Sister and I were chatting, Bean was contentedly cooing at the spring flowers. I looked up to see that there was a man walking his dog in the middle of the street, about 25 yards away and heading in our direction. Then I noticed that he wasn't walking his dog exactly because while the dog was wearing a collar and leash, the man wasn't holding the leash. And precisely as I noticed this, the man's dog noticed we had a doggie, too, and came hurtling towards us at top speed, baring his teeth and snarling ferociously. I had just enough time get between the dog and Sister, who was paralyzed with terror. The stranger dog stopped only for a second, during which time I grabbed the leash from Sister and yanked our dog out of harm's way. The other dog kept snarling wickedly, hackles raised on his back and trying to charge around my legs to presumably rip out the throat of our little 9-pound canine.

I suddenly became aware that I was shouting, or rather, screaming at this dog, bending down in his face and screaming at him to make him back down. I was also screaming at the dog's owner who was still STROLLING TOWARDS US CHUCKLING, in absolutely no hurry to come retrieve his dog away from my kids. I was screaming at this man, "This dog needs to be on a leash! Get this dog away from my kids!"

Know what the man does? He points at my dog with a smirk and says to me, "My dog IS on a leash, and you're choking your dog, you know. Look at him! He's almost hanging in the air!" This is true, but only because his goddamn dog is still snarling and circling and charging RIGHT THERE AROUND MY FEET. Bean is by now also screaming and upset, and I am shaking with rage and adrenalin. Sister is trembling, not knowing what to do or think about her red-faced, screaming mama, and worried that our dog is going to be shredded.

I also suddenly became aware of where I was, that I was in the middle of my calm, otherwise quiet suburban neighborhood. There were other children playing down the street. There were 2 guys standing next to their truck, agog at the scene. There were probably neighbors looking out the windows of their houses wondering who was being ripped to shreds outside. I had completely forgotten anything around me but this fucking dog charging towards my kids, and the asshole who refused to stop it. Who seemed, in fact, to find it the height of hilarity. He never DID pick up the damn dog's leash! They sauntered away together, the dog still trailing his leash behind him. I had literally lost consciousness of anything in the world except what I perceived as this threat to my kids.

I told my Husband about this later, told him that I was still seeing red about this guy who couldn't be bothered to get his vicious dog away from Sister and Bean. Husband said something comforting. I told him how upset the girls were, and to this he replied, "I'm sure it was scary to them to see you act that way." I agreed, and told him that I just went into fight-or-flight mode, that I thought the dog was going to hurt one of the girls, and I became animal-mama to protect them. "I know," he lectured, "but I really think we have control over that and you shouldn't have reacted that way and scared them."

I was surprised into complete silence. I know I've got a temper. I know I'm not the most patient woman in the world. I know I could try to cultivate a longer fuse so that I don't get all pissy when I'm short on sleep. But really, this was so far out of the realm of a controllable response. I can honestly say that there wasn't a thing I could've done to control my rage at this attacking dog and its owner. Is that a bad thing? Is my temper really THAT much worse than other people's? I like to think that in this case it was useful, even if the dog wasn't really after my kids, wouldn't really have hurt them on purpose. No, I don't think I will try to control that response in me if something like that happens again. Even if it scares the kids. Even if it scares my husband.

18 comments:

Mama D said...

I was riveted reading that. Warning: I have a lot to say here! I truly believe I would have responded exactly the same way. When it comes to strange dogs, especially big dogs, they cannot be trusted. How were you to know what this dog was capable of. I don't think the owner of that dog could have known for sure, although he obviously thought he did. It was totally inconsiderate of him not to come after his dog when seeing how upset you were. Even if you had been alone walking your dog it still would have been appallingly rude but the fact that you had kids, KIDS and he basically scoffed at your concern. Can you tell my blood is boiling? I have often thought about the situation of being attacked by a dog myself, witnessing another person being attacked or if a dog attacked my child. I truly believe my TaeKwon Do skills would kick in and I would literally kill that dog, risking whatever harm to myself in order to protect whomever I needed to. I am surprised that you didn't receive support from your husband, I don't think you over reacted. Yes, it may have scared them but you probably explained to Sister why you were so upset, Bean has probably forgotten it already. If the situation had been someone accidentally crashing a grocery cart into you at the grocery store or if you witnessed a dog owner not cleaning up his dog's crap and you went ballistic then, maybe then I would say yes, the temper might be a bit much. When it comes to the safety of your children and saving them the horror of watching the family dog ripped to shreds before them - feel free to freak out! Rage on! P.S. If you knew this dog owner you could report him to authorites. THEY would not look lightly on this either.

Mommygoth said...

I'm with Mama d here, and with you. Animal mama just happens, and I'm not entirely sure some daddys understand that until they're int he same scenario. My dad once went all pulp fiction on a guy who ran into me on the ski slope, and I was 15 at the time, not a small child! I think if husband had been there, he would have understood better. Try not to smack him upside his head, which I would have already done if it had been me. See, your temper isn't anywhere near as bad as mine!

Manhattan Mama said...

sugarmama, you did absolutely the right thing.

Yes, Bean and sister got upset because you were upset. But they need to be wary of strange, snarling, running dogs that invade their space. I never let my rabbit near dogs we don't know -- leash or no leash. Dogs can bite. Plus, my two cents? Any idiot who LAUGHS while his dog is acting that way is not helping the dog out either.

Look, would have it been easier for them if you hadn't gotten so upset and could have told them calmly that we need to be careful of dogs rushing at them with their teeth bared while keeping the dog away from them with some nifty judo move? Maybe. And then we would all be on valium living in a halcyon world.

You acted on instinct, you protected your children. Bravo.

Amber said...

I'm going to have to ditto here. I hate dogs. I really do. (Let the flaming begin). Besides the obvious (stinky, hairy, loud barking at 3 am) I've been bitten twice. Both times while protecting a child. Once was as a teenager and a church leader's baby- the second time was my own child and our neighbor's 'friendly dog who would never hurt anyone- so he doesn't need to be on a leash.' Um, yeah. So dogs scare me. This weekend my Mom's 'very friendly' dog nipped my 2 year old. He will not be allowed in the house when we are there ever again. Dogs are unpredictable- especially around other dogs and children. They should always be supervised and ALWAYS be on a leash when not in a yard. You did the right thing- it's a potentially life threatening situation. Freak out is warranted.

Piece of Work said...

I have a real fear of dogs, though I have no idea where it came from. What you describe is my worst nightmare. I can't believe the dog owner laughed at you instead of apologizing. What an ass. I agree with the others: you were protecting your children, instinctively, as you should.

Nikkie said...

I would have reacted the same way. I hate dogs, especially big dogs!

cubmommy said...

I would have reacted the same way. It is what us mama's do. I love dogs but sometimes they can be unpredictable. It is nature. Don't worry you did the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I love dogs...but owners have a responsibility both to keep their dog leashed, and to correct a dog that's being aggressive or hostile.

In your shoes, I would probably make sure my kids got to experience other *friendly* dogs too, just to help them keep perspective. Some of these people who are so proud of hating dogs blow my mind...um, yeah, that's a real virtue there.

Sorry about the bad experience! Sounds very upsetting for all of you.

Amber said...

Sorry anonymous- but beibg bitten the first time and getting puncture wounds, and then bitten the second time and getting bit onthe thigh so hard that my leg was purple for a month (and I could barely walk for a week) I think earns me the 'right' to dislike dogs. Both of those bites were meant for babies. The first was 6 months old- the second was 14 months and he would have gotten her face. I don't consider it a 'virtue' it's a fact. My virtues are much different then my opinions on animals (or foods, or books, or a million other things I have opinions on.) Sorry for hijacking your blog Sugarmama, I'll stop now.

HolyMama! said...

sugarmama, i would have SHOWN my husband 'angry' had he said that to me! i'm not saying that's right, but really you were 'surprised into silence?' I mighta been too, for a split second and then WATCH OUT, because the Self Righteous Mama Anger the leash- trailing dog warmed up would be really hot!

and your kids probably were a little freaked at the chaos - but if they remember it, it will be that their SUgarmama is FIERCE in her protectiveness, and that's not traumatizing at all. It's comforting.

Nancy said...

I would have reacted exactly as you did, Sugarmama -- I think the fight instinct kicks in when there's a chance of your kids being in danger. And the nerve of that man to act that way! My oldest is already scared of dogs, and if someone so inconsiderate happened to be around my kids without control of their dog, I'd call the cops on their ass. GRRRR! I am fuming on your behalf too.

And I bet if it'd been your husband there experiencing it, he'd have been just as mad...

Bobita said...

Sugarmama,

I have reacted the EXACT same way in an almost identical situation. I become Animal Mom...even with people to whom I am normally nice!

My sister-in-law has a big ole' dog who has nipped at a 3 yr old nephew of hers. Because of that, I will not allow my children to enter her house unless the Beast is put away. Even if it is her house and she invited me... it is my JOB to protect my kids.

Get 'em girl!

pie maker said...

I think everyone has pretty much covered the topic - but to repeat, I agree with your reaction. And as you know, I own a big dog and love dogs but I do dislike the humans who decide they want to have a dog and then treat said dog in ways that it then becomes threatening to others. There is a huge list of things these people do, which i won't go into here, but definitely allowing a dog to run freely and approach you and your family with ferocity is one of them. Totally uncalled for and completely unacceptable. And yes, when these types of people end up owning dogs, I unfortunately end up disliking the dogs just as much. Dogs can be unpredictable -even my own. But I realize that about my dog so I take every precaution I can and he has had very strict training from papa. Anyway, I've rambled. . . the main thing I wanted to say is that being aggressive right back to an aggressive dog is the right thing to do - they are usually showing "bully" behaviour and showing fear sometimes makes matters worse. But, again, dogs are unpredictable so you never really know. . .
Tell husband you appreciate his opinion but you weren't looking for it - you were looking for an outlet to vent and some support. It comes with the job.

Dawn said...

You did not over-react. I would have grabbed the dog in hand to hand combat.

I think you restrained yourself well.

The odd thing is you can't know how you will react until each moment - If you have been in a car accident with your child in the car, you find yourself simply focused on calming your child down. Then when she is safely passed off, you puke .

Your husband wasn't there - he didn't see what you saw.

Erin said...

I agree with everything you did. I would have been pissed. I would have attacked the dog. And, if my Husband said that, I'm sorry, but I would have had to rip him a new one. But that's just me. I can be a little violent. ;)

Moonface said...

I have always been terrified of dogs, and reading that has left me quite cold with terror. You did absolutely the right thing.

Queen Beth said...

I would have reacted the same way.

Gurukarm Kaur said...

Yike!! What a horrific experience. I think, along with everyone else, that you acted perfectly appropriately - I'd have been right there with you on the rage meter, in that dog's face. Then in its owner's face - who the hell did that guy think he was, anyway??

And, I'm really sorry to be snarky here, but can I come give your husband a smack upside the head??? He should be SUPPORTING you, not criticizing you!!

OK, thanks for letting a total stranger jummp in. Found you from Dawn's blog, I think.