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.