Essay From the New York Times

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It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Sat Jun 8, '13 12:30pm PST 
Who can count the red flags in this story??? For what it's worth I wrote a scathing letter to the editor. Repeating the obvious...children under five cannot be unsupervised with a dog. If a dog has an aggression history it cannot be trusted around children period...

‘The Dog Bit Me’
Published: May 31, 2013

Three years ago my son was attacked by a dog. Otto was 2 at the time — a towheaded slip of a boy with bright blue eyes and porcelain skin you could practically see through. He was instinctively drawn to dogs, and we didn’t see any reason to discourage him. Of course I knew they could nip, and every once in a while break the skin. And I had heard the horrific news stories of those seemingly devil-possessed dogs who leapt on unsuspecting neighbors, inflicting actual, permanent harm. But regular dogs, I had no real fear of them. Not having seen a dog attack, I was completely ignorant about how bad it could be, how, in five seconds, a dog could tear the flesh off your bones. Or worse, the skin off your child’s face.

It was dumb, really. I knew the dog, Zeke — I rescued him from St. Croix a number of years earlier. I realized Zeke was not a family dog after my first son, Zane, was born. I could see him looking askance at the baby in my arms and, after a couple of pointed growls, Zeke was put on a plane to my father’s house in North Carolina. (Thank you, Dad.)

So what was I thinking when, a few years later, while I was seven months pregnant with our third boy, we went to stay with my dad, and of course Zeke, for a family wedding? Well, I thought what I thought — that it would be manageable. That “normal” dogs didn’t do serious harm.

Otto was all over him from the minute we walked through the door. Zeke minded, he made that clear, and my husband and I would quickly intervene, loosening Otto’s tight little grip from Zeke’s tail or ear or whatever body part he’d decided needed a swift tug. Zeke growled, he bared his teeth, he air-snapped (that’s the technical term, I now know), but we always got there in time.

Then one morning, while I was taking a shower, it happened. My husband had gone back to New York, and my dad was watching the boys. This time, when Otto did what Otto had been doing and my dad couldn’t swoop him away fast enough, Zeke tore into Otto’s face, biting through his nose in two places, through his upper lip and ripping a two-inch gash into his right cheek.

I heard it all from the bathroom. The yowling, yelping, growling and thrashing noises of a dogfight and the desperate cries of a toddler, unable to protect himself from this wild animal unleashed. By the time I made it down the stairs, Otto was covered in blood, my father was screaming and crying and Zane, then 6, was cowering in the corner of the room, shaking in fear. I couldn’t even tell where the blood was coming from, there was so much of it, but we hustled everyone into the car and sped to the hospital, my dad slamming his hands on the steering wheel and sobbing uncontrollably the whole way there. I tried to tell him it wasn’t his fault, but I don’t think he heard me.

Otto was strangely calm. He just kept saying, “The dog bit me,” which was true enough. I was also composed. I had a job to do. My dad took Zane to Target, and I held Otto down as they injected him with ketamine — the drug, also known as Special K, that the doctor said would keep Otto still as they stitched up his bruised and bloodied face. He stared up at me, completely immobile except for the darting of his eyes, back and forth, across my face, searching for some explanation for why this was happening to him. We flew home that night, and I spent the next day crying in bed.

Otto turned 5 last month. He remembers when Zeke attacked him, in some ways better than I do, and he asks things like, “Why doesn’t Zeke bite Grandpa?” I answer, “Because Zeke doesn’t like kids.” Then Otto asks, hopefully, with that upward lilt at the end of the question, “Will Zeke like me when I grow up?” “Zeke will be dead when you grow up,” I answer, and think: I wish he were dead now. I wish I’d let him die so many years ago in St. Croix.

Every time I see those scars, and I notice them every day, pink and ragged, spread across Otto’s face with the randomness of rage, I well up with anger and sadness. But Otto doesn’t hold a grudge, and I am glad about that — glad, I guess, that he won’t have one more neurosis to take to therapy 30 years from now. He still likes dogs, actually, and we are the ones who have to remind him that dogs can be dangerous. As dangerous as parents who keep their eyes closed to the reality that pets, cute and fluffy as they may be, are animals.

Edited by author Sat Jun 8, '13 12:32pm PST

Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
Barked: Sat Jun 8, '13 2:52pm PST 
The woman is a blithering idiot, and is fully responsible for the bite her son suffered. Poor dog gave lots of signals that he was uncomfortable, and nothing was done to protect him and the child.

I told my mother about this essay when we had lunch earlier this week, and she was outraged, pointing out that even a dog who LOVED kids would not like the things Otto was doing, and would, if pushed far enough, eventually defend himself.

Lenny -The- Wrecking Ball
Barked: Sat Jun 8, '13 3:51pm PST 
Well said, Addy. It makes me so sad to think of how many dogs bite children when they've finally had enough and they take all the blame and often pay for it in the worst way when it's 100% preventable.


tiny...but fast!
Barked: Sat Jun 8, '13 5:00pm PST 
These stories frustrate me. I don't have kids but I babysit and bring my dog. I never leave him with the kids when I am not in the room. I bring his crate or put him in the guest bedroom when I can't watch him. I've stayed with the kids for a week before and still managed never to leave sandy alone in the room with them. Its really not that difficult if I can do it anyone can. On new years eve I babysit for a big party and have 6 kids and I can still put sandy in a kid free place when I have to do something like dishes or shower.

Serious Face
Barked: Sat Jun 8, '13 10:10pm PST 
I also kinda hate that she bluntly tells her son, who wants to bond with this dog even though it bit him, that Zeke will be dead before he is old enough. What a thing to tell a child... not that we shouldn't teach children about death, but I don't think that's the way to go about it...

I\\\'ll do- anything for a- treat!
Barked: Sat Jun 8, '13 10:29pm PST 
What a bunch of crap. She basically wrote a story that could only have had one ending.
It's the same as if she put her child in a car with no restraints and bad brakes and got in an accident. She was completely to blame here and I'm happy Zeke didn't lose his life because of her carelessness.

I feel especially bad for the poor kid who was not taught how to correctly interact with dogs (and really shouldn't have been interacting with Zeke in the first place).
Jackson Tan

Lad about town
Barked: Sun Jun 9, '13 12:23am PST 
That poor child is now scarred for life because of his mother's idiocy. Just .... silenced
Augusta,- CGC, RN

Such a Good Dog!
Barked: Sun Jun 9, '13 1:42am PST 
"randomness of rage?"!!! She rehomed the dog because he was uncomfortable and growled around her baby, then she lets her toddler poke, prod and tug on him in spite of every warning--growls, air snaps? Nothing random about that . . . silenced

Maybe this should be filed under the randomness of obliviousness . . ..
Toto, CD, RN, CGC

We don't do- doodles!!!
Barked: Sun Jun 9, '13 4:32am PST 
Child endangerment, anyone?????

Akita Pals- Always.
Barked: Sun Jun 9, '13 7:08am PST 
...and humans are of higher intelligence? This woman is an idiot. My dogs adore children and I still would never leave a child and a dog unsupervised.
I also taught my daughter from little up to leave a strange dog and even her own when they wished to alone! That poor dog gave them every signal that it could that it didn't like children and was not safe around them,that child was bitten because the adults that were supposed to be supervising didn't heed the warnings. So sorry for the little boy though,he should not have had to suffer because the adults in his life were so irresponsible and stupid.
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