Sunday, April 27, 2008

they'd benefit from obedience school

Wednesday afternoon, an animal control officer came to our house to interview us regarding the incident at the park on Tuesday. When I answered the door, the children mistakenly thought he was part of the poop patrol and were quick to inform him "I go poo-poo on the potty!" Because he thought that they were inviting him to a party, I didn't bother to explain the whole thing about me threatening to have my children hauled off to jail if they didn't start pooping in the potty.

The officer assured us that they would be significantly bumping up patrol in the area and if and when the dog owner's were found, they would be questioned and possibly charged with a misdemeanor. He also echoed the feeling that I've felt brewing the past few months. By and large, people do not have any respect for their fellow man or the law.

After some soul searching, I've discovered that the reason I feel like I have such a short fuse with the general public lately, is because I have a zero-tolerance threshold for people that have no respect for society. At least around here, it seems that you step foot outside and you are bombarded with people that have no accountability. They drive like maniacs and put every one on the same road as them, at risk. They illegally discharge chemicals to the storm drain. They sell drugs from their cars in neighborhoods where little kids are skating by on their scooters. They take their untrained dogs to a children's park and let them run free.

They are rude and crude and when their actions affect my family or my neighborhood, I am unable to look the other way and say nothing.

Although I probably should be afraid, I am more angry than scared of what the carpet cleaners that were discharging illegally to the storm drain might do. When I was out one night last week writing down the license plate numbers of the cars that I'm certain are buying drugs from the house behind us, so that I could turn them in to the police, I was infuriated to think that riff-raff have infiltrated our neighborhood.

When I stood at the park on Tuesday screaming at the gang banger who let his animals loose in an area where dogs are required to be on leash, I wondered if a flak jacket wouldn't be a nice addition to my wardrobe and if they came in pink?

Now, I just have to convince my husband not to run over the dog owner's if he sees them out walking on the street. Because after Charlie heard the story on Tuesday afternoon - he drove to the park before realizing that even if he saw the dog handler's out in public, it would be better for the police to handle the situation then him.

The situation.
That whole event that happened almost a week ago and has been keeping me awake at night. Even though I've been exhausted after spending full days with my family - and my sister and I have been staying up until 2 AM talking - I've been unable to close my eyes without seeing the white dog jumping on my little boy. I've spent several hours perusing the internet and although have never been one to carry a weapon, have opted for the key chain pepper spray variety as opposed to the pepper spray bling.

As a child, my family had German Shepherds and for the past 16 years, I've owned Labrador Retrievers. Even though dogs have been a part of my family for the better part of my life, I have a healthy fear of dogs, all dogs, that are not my own. Regardless of how "friendly" or "gentle" someone claims that their dog is, regardless of the breed, the dog could always turn. I know that young children don't know how to read a dog's cues and because I don't want for our kids to annoy Molly - I never leave them in mixed company, unsupervised.

Our children have never shown any fear of dogs - unless - the dogs come running up to them, unleashed. Still, I would much prefer that our kids do not approach dogs that are on leash, or our neighbors dogs through the fence, even though we are assured that they are safe, because I simply don't trust them. I know of two children who on two separate occasions were attacked - unprovoked - by small "lap" dogs and required extensive plastic surgery on their faces.

When I was eight-years-old, my most awesome Uncle Bill took me out shopping for a pony. I'll never forget driving around the countryside in his vintage MGB with the top down. After we visited with one particular farm, we were walking back to the car and a large German Shepherd that I had been patting and playing with for the past hour, suddenly turned on me. Just before I was able to get in to the car, he charged at me growling. My Uncle had to pick me up and hold me high until the owner retrieved his animal.

When Charlie and I had our Lab puppy, Monty, I was out for a walk with our 15-pound ball of white fur when I was chased down by a 120-pound Rottweiler who had squeezed himself out from beneath a slightly ajar garage door. I was able to remove Monty's leash and use the metal clasp to defend myself - by spinning it around and smacking the dog across the muzzle. But the dog continued to trail us the rest of the way home, growling and barking ... and Monty peed all over me because I'm certain he thought he was lunch.

It happened a few weeks ago that I was out for a walk with Molly and all four children, by myself, when a dog that escaped from it's yard came running up to us with it's hair on end and barking. Thankfully, Molly is extremely laid back at 13.5-years old and didn't flinch when the dog ran right up to us. But because I've been around dogs the majority of my life, I know that it is usually a sign of aggression when an unleashed dog charges a leashed dog and the conclusion can be quite unpleasant, particularly if the leashed dog feels threatened and needs to defend itself.

Several years ago, we were visiting a local dog beach where leashes are not required. As soon as we arrived and before we had removed Monty's lead - a dog came bounding up to us. The dog seemed friendly enough, jumping around and nipping the air, but after a couple of minutes, once Monty was running around free, the dog wouldn't leave him alone. When the dog was trying to mount and hump him, I started obviously scanning the crowd to see if I could see his owner. I was asking to the people standing around if anyone knew whose dog this was??

We tried to walk away but the dog was jumping on Monty's back. After a few more minutes, Monty turned around and took a chunk out of the dog's ear. The dog started yelping and almost instantly, the owner appeared beside me shouting that my dog BIT his dog. I told the guy that Monty was up to date on all of his shots and a more responsible dog owner would stop his animal before it harassed other dogs to the point that they snapped.

Just because someone thinks it's great FUN the way their dog jumps all over them or wedges their nose up their inseam, it doesn't mean other people will share their affection - and tolerance - for their furry companion.

Dogs are a lot like children. They both have to be trained and controlled. Parents are responsible for their children, dog handlers are responsible for their animals. Just as I do not entirely blame obnoxious kids on a playground ... I do not entirely blame the dogs that came after my children on Tuesday. Although some may disagree, I believe that how well dogs and children turn out - depends largely upon the the competency of the people raising them.

And well. The people last week needed a shock collar more than their dogs.


  1. Jen,

    Having been bitten by a large unleashed dog many years ago, I remember only too well that terrible panicked feeling. I had terrible dreams for months afterwards. The only thing worse would be to watch it unfold in front of you. Horrifying. Thank God everyone is safe.

    Anne Marie

  2. glad things are okay and that you have enjoyed your time with your family. i hope that they are able to find those people soon...and i hope you are able to sleep better even quicker

  3. I completely agree with on everything you said about how the majority of people don't respect others or the law and I also agree with you about the whole dog thing. We have a shi-tzu and on a few occasions, I have had to pick him up after an unleashed dog charged him, to avoid him getting attacked. I have noticed lately that people around my age (college age) think it's the "cool" thing to steal signs. This really irritates me because signs are put up for a reason and if an important one (such as a stop sign) is stolen, somebody could get seriously hurt. I could probably rant on forever about things like this, but I think I'll spare you. Hope you are having a good time with your family!

  4. Wow! Just read the dog attack story, and how on EARTH could the owners think it was anything BUT a dog attack? What idiots. I hope you photographed your son's neck and face.
    Good for you for yelling at them and putting them in their place, and I hope the police find them. I mean... how far away could they be? They walk at that park, they have to be in the vicinity.
    I hope you do some detective work and that you add your camera to your diaper bag. Next time you see them at the park, without being noticed, take their pictures!!! Follow them home, get their address, and sue the heck out of them. Those people are a MENACE to society. And the nerve of him to threaten a woman with small children!!! What a nightmare! Who could possibly pick up all four of her children at once to protect them from a dog attack! You must have been going out of your mind!!!


    That is just so upsetting!!!


    Man ... I am worked up.

    I hope you give 'em what's coming to them.

    Too bad you didn't break a bone in that dog's body (wait! I know the dog is innocent, but let me tell you why), because then you could have checked with the local vets and they would know how to find the owners. (I hear that's why you always throw a brick through car windows that are racing away with your purse ... yes ... like we have bricks with us at all times ... so the police can find the car easier.) Oooh! Maybe add spray paint to your diaper bag. THAT would mark the dogs so the police could find them.

    And while you are at it. .. how about some kind of spray for that guy? Compassion spray for starters... cuz that guy wasn't thinking about anyone but himself.

  5. I shared this story with Mark and he said he would've snapped that dog's neck if it had done that to Shayna. I probably would've done the same to the owner! I have just come to the conclusion that people are idiots! Have you ever watched Cesar Millan - Dog Whisperer. He rocks! The people he helps should be slapped for owning dogs!

  6. hell yes on the irresponsible owner thing. i work in the biggest animal hospital in canada, and i see this just about every day. people are dumb is pretty much what i've concluded.

  7. I am so sorry you and your family have had to go through this. Sometimes I just don't get what people are thinking/doing. Example: It is almost 11 PM here, a school night, and my next-door neighbor kids are in their hot tub shouting and squealing. Okaaaaaaay. Still, better than a dog attack. I'm so sorry. I hope they find them soon.

  8. I never had a healthy fear of dogs in the past. I guess I was just one of those people who assume that most dogs ARE friendly. (You know what they say about assuming, though!)

    But I'm really thankful for your post and for opening my eyes. Just two days ago I was walking with three small children when I heard a thundering bark behind me that literally sent shivers down my spine. When I turned around it was a white pit bull in one of the yards we were passing. It wasn't chained but apparently they use one of those collars/wireless fence systems because it would not leave their yard. Still it was very scary...I was immediately thinking of what I was going to do if it charged at us.

    I hope they do find and charge the owners of the dogs that attacked you guys. Hopefully that would help you sleep better. Oh, and the pepper spray is a great idea! The kind that I have leaves a residue only visible under a blacklight so that makes it easier for the police to identify your offender if they get away, something I thought you might like to consider.

  9. Jen, well put! I'm so sorry your family had to go through that trauma! It really scares me too - especially since we let our kids run all over the large open fields in our neighborhood park, and if a dog took off after them, we might not be right beside to help! Wow, really scary. I hope the Animal police will be able to find those owners, they need some serious lessons on responsibility!

  10. I've been worried about you guys all weekend. And couldn't agree with you more. Stupid people have always annoyed me, but now that I have kids I take their stupidy as a personal attack on me and society. I hate this attitude that seems to be everywhere that says they have a right to do whatever they want no matter what the consequences are to others. It just makes me so angry. What does the asshole who tailgates a minivan plan on saying when he rear ends us killing one of our precious children? It makes me so angry and sick to my stomach!

    I'm so glad William is alright and am keeping my fingers crossed that they catch the idiots with the dogs.

    Triplet Mom in MN

  11. Jen I'm so glad to see you posting again! I've been worried sick about you guys too!

    What a great post too. I totally agree with every single damn word of it. You are one smart lady.

    Pepper spray. Good stuff.

    Not everyone is responsible enough to own a dog. Or have children for that matter. But whaddyagonnado? Hence, you have to try to protect you and yours from the morons as best you can.

  12. No luck on the pink flack-jacket, but I did turn up this, which might not look so out of place in the stroller:

  13. We have just been through training with a trainer for our dog who has been barking at the door. What he said was that off-leash parks are essentially for humans and not for dogs. Dogs are spending most of their time trying to figure out pecking order through dominance. Jumping on your dog, humping, etc are acts of dominance. Essentially, dogs are happier when they know the chain of command and off leash, they have to spend their time figuring out whose in charge (ie alpha dog).

    Anyway, it took us time to get our heads around that, but it makes sense.

  14. Jen,
    I couldn't have said it better myself!

  15. Well said. There is nothing scarier in the world than to see those dogs coming and know that there is nothing you can do about it. If those two pit bulls that came after us had touched one of the kids, I assure you that the dogs would be dead and Greg would be in prison. I'm glad that Charlie couldn't find them. I'm glad you are okay. I'm glad that you had fun with your sister and Dad. Now get some sleep!!!

  16. There was a child in my daughter's Gymboree class who was attacked by the family dog. He had bite marks ON HIS FACE. When I asked the mother if she would be getting rid of the dog she said no. HER OWN CHILD WAS BITTEN ON THE FACE.

    Also, my high school boyfriend's family had a pit bull. The dog was old and sweet and I was never afraid of him. I found out a couple of years later that this same dog bit a little three year old neighborhood girl in the face.

    Why does this keep happening? I've never been bitten by a dog but I find these days that I'm actually afraid of large dogs... especially dogs bred to fight like pit bulls and rottweilers.

  17. Spoken like a true Southerner. We may have our faults, but the culture, the respect, the way of life here is the reason we remain here.

    I'm sorry the rest of the world hasn't caught on to Southern hospitality and manners, and it sucks you're stuck in a place that seems more likely to teach your children to be on the offense than to be accepting.

    And how ironic is it that I just put "Southern" and "acceptance" in the same sentence?

  18. A dog bit the toddler daughter of one of my mom's friends. My mom's friend called the police, and the story she told my mom (and my mom told me) is that the officer who arrived on the scene shot the dog. I don't see how this could be true (the mess! the trauma! surely an officer can't use his weapon that way? surely they bring the animal to be put to sleep?), but I've always preferred that version of the story even if it's not true. I like the idea of the law showing up and putting an end to a bad situation.