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’
By HOPE REEVES
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
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