Note: An edited version of this column appears in the 5/6 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/7 issue of the Peoria Times
Wanna know something that is not fun? Getting attacked by dogs.
I say that because last week we got attacked by dogs. What happened was this. My wife and I took our little one and our other little one –- our dog Mac –- on a nice family walk in our neighborhood. As we approached the turn for our street on the way back, I noticed in the distance a woman walking with two big dogs coming towards us. Then, when she noticed us, she moved with her dogs halfway across the street on the median.
Now, with retrospect as a handy guide, this proved to be some serious foreshadowing. Because in moving off the sidewalk this woman was basically saying, “These are not friendly dogs.” So as we began to pass them, Mac, who is 13 lbs but thinks he is a Tyrannosaurus Rex, began barking. The two dogs, boxers, were barking. It was a cacophony of angry barking, the storm before the storm. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any testier, I turned and noticed one of the boxers had escaped his owner’s grasp and was now charging across the street at Mac.
Now, Mac is about as friendly as it gets. Even when he’s barking he just wants to sniff and be sniffed. (Don't we all?) Being optimistic and not wanting to make the situation worse, I let Mac stay. And when the boxer reached him, Mac let him sniff. The split second of relief I felt was interrupted when the boxer -– obviously not happy with what he had sniffed –- pounced on poor Mac.
I had to lift Mac –- who is now going bonkers -– up in the air by his harness and hold him over my head. This dog is now trying to get to Mac through me and scratching me up with his big claws. Meanwhile, the other dog is now literally dragging his owner across the street to join in. It was now officially a party. My wife is just behind us with the stroller looking on in horror and not knowing what to do, though she would later admit that the theme song from “Apocalypse Now” was playing in her head.
It was mayhem, and everything was happening so fast. This woman could not control her dogs. Just as I was debating whether or not I should kick one of the dogs in the head -– yes, I thought about it and yes, it would have definitely backfired -– she managed to corral them to the point where she had their leashes and was being dragged on the rocks. I was then able to get Mac to the corner.
Now, one of the things that really bothered me –- besides being attacked by a dog -– was that this woman displayed little to no sense of urgency throughout the ordeal. Stuck in my brain is her calmly saying, “Down, Jazzy,” as if Jazzy is on his hind legs begging for a treat and not trying to kill a small dog and also a human being. She should have been screaming bloody murder at her dogs, but seemed utterly content getting dragged around like a ragdoll. Besides initially moving across the street, her ho-hum reaction to this attack was, for me, another indication that this had happened before. Maybe she was scared herself or embarrassed, but she simply did not display the adequate indignation that I required of her. Even as I was walking away after finally removing myself from the situation, I heard a faint voice say, “Are you okay?” Am I okay? I would be much better if you weren’t a dog owner, but yeah, feeling great!
My shirt (my favorite shirt!) was torn to shreds and I was bruised and bleeding from the arm. I couldn’t have possibly looked more like someone who just got attacked by a dog. My wife and our little one safely reached us. And thus concluded our least enjoyable family walk ever.
What actually happened was traumatic enough, but my wife, who has embarked on walks before with our little girl and Mac, could not help but imagine what would have happened if she were alone. Now we will walk only to the mailbox and back, and we bring a bat in the stroller. I’m not kidding. Who said suburbia isn’t rough? In fact, while recounting these events to my dad over the phone, he told me how to break a dog’s legs should one ever lock its jaws on something or someone. Armed with that information, and a bat –- neither of which I ever plan on using -- I actually think we’ll just stay inside for a while.
Regarding the attack itself, I realize that protocol is to get the owner’s information, but the situation did not make that possible. Nevertheless I later ventured out in my car to find her and tell her to either walk her dogs in the living room or call Caesar Milan, but could not locate her. No doubt she was getting unwillingly dragged throughout some remote section of our neighborhood.
The thing is, we all love dogs here. Some of us are better equipped to own them, however, and use better discretion when deciding what kind of dog to take in. Just as a hypothetical example off the top of my head, if I’m a 60-year old, 95-lb woman, maybe I’m not taking in two humongous and angry boxers. Because those who cannot control their pets pose a constant threat to everyone around them. And to those people I say: There are other pets.
Fish, for example.