When I was six-years-old, a Doberman Pincher nearly chewed my face off before my mother grabbed it by the throat and hurled it across the room. Why did I get attacked? Because I sat down next to the dog very quickly and startled him. I was in his personal space, in his home, and he was not my dog. So one thing I’ve tried to stress to my son is please, PLEASE respect any animal’s personal space no matter how friendly you think they may be.
I felt the need to write this post, after reading yet another story on Yahoo News about a small child being mauled by dogs. It was a toddler who had tried to pet some puppies at their grandparent’s house, and the parent dogs attacked. It was their instinct to protect their puppies. In this instance, the toddler lost their arm, but I’ve read too many stories where the child doesn’t survive. Either way, it’s a horrible experience for the child, the parents, and the dogs involved. And it’s a totally avoidable experience if people just understand that family dogs can act like wild animals too.
The dog that attacked me was a friend’s dog, and one that I had pet many times. I’ll never forget the shock and feeling of total betrayal as I plopped down to pet him and then he turned on me with a growl and proceeded to repeatedly bite me in the face. My mom was the closest one to me and she pretty much flew across the room and yanked that 80 lb. dog off me like he was nothing. Then she scooped me up and ran to the bathroom while pressing a rag to my face.
They didn’t take me to the hospital because they were afraid the dog would be put down for the attack. My mom just slathered my face with Neosporin ointment and sent me to school with one side of my face bloody and gooey and looking like Freddy Krueger. I recall kids asking me if it was real, and beyond that I seemed to have blocked most of it out of my memory. But it taught me to ALWAYS be cautious around animals, because no matter how well-behaved they may seem, they are still animals with animal instincts.
You may wonder if that made me afraid of dogs after that, but no, just afraid of that particular one. I still loved dogs and badly wanted on growing up, but after that my mom would never get me one. We now have an Australian Shepherd, who is as friendly as can be, but I’m still stressing to our son to respect his space. And most of all, to respect other people’s pet’s space. Because I never want to have to go through that terror again.