Saturday, August 9, 2008

For Pete's sake...

We have had nothing but trouble since we moved into this freakin' neighborhood.

Two days ago, our dogs managed to open the screen door on our front porch and dash outside to jump all around these two older people, who I would say were in their early sixties, walking their huskies. People frequently bring their dogs over to play with ours, since there are no dog parks in the area and we all have to basically have playdates with our neighbors instead. There are about ten dogs in a four-block radius that stop by whenever we're all outside to play, or vice versa. Unfortunately, these dogs weren't two of them, and the owners FREAKED when our dogs came running out and started jumping all around their dogs.

By FREAKED, I mean started screaming at the top of their lungs that they were being attacked, swearing VERY loudly, and kicking my dogs, who stopped what they were doing and stood nearby like they had been hit by a car. I had been sitting on the front porch with Patrick, who I think had probably not latched the door when he came out, which is what probably started the whole thing. Anyway, I was right behind the dogs, trying to grab them as the people kicked at them, and asking them to stop swearing and yelling so I could get things under control. The man then started yelling at me that his wife was frightened, and they would swear if they wanted to, to which I replied that I understood that they were upset, but could they please stop yelling 'goddamnit' in front of my 5 year old?! The guy stopped yelling at me then, but as I walked my dogs into the house, they continued on down the road yelling to everyone they saw that they had been attacked. They wouldn't talk to me, nothing.

I know they were upset, and since they were a little older, I would say in their sixties, I knew they were probably scared when strange dogs came running over. I would be uncomfortable in the same situation, probably. My first response, however, would NOT be to kick an animal that wasn't growling, snapping, or acting violent, and simply was jumping around, especially if the owner was right there. Dog fights make a certain, distinct, LOUD sound, which involves yelping, snarling, and snapping of teeth, which I know first-hand because our dogs were attacked by another one last year and Tyler received such an injury to his ear that his entire ear flap had to be cut open and quilted back together. There were none of those sounds going on; therefore, there was play, not fighting. I would also talk to the owner rather than scream obscenities at her. Needless to say, it was totally our fault that the dogs got out, and it turned out that the batteries had died in Baci's electronic fence collar, so what can I say other than it was a total failure on our part. I pretty nearly started crying as they went down the road telling everyone that they had been attacked, because 1) it wasn't true and 2) I felt mildly assaulted, myself. Plus, of course, I felt very horrified and embarrassed that it had happened at all, because I'm a good pet owner. But, no one had been hurt, so I started to feel better after awhile (and after a beer or two), and figured, well, I've never seen those people before, so hopefully I'll never see them again.

Today, when we came home from my nephew's birthday party, there was a yellow paper on our door. It was from the county, and was citing us for having 1)unrestrained animals, 2) viscious or dangerous animals, and 3)unlicensed animals. Of course, animal control was closed when I called, so I'm going to have to wait until Monday to talk to anyone there. I have 20 days to prove that they've had their rabies shots, and get them licensed in the city (apparently they need both county AND city licenses, which we didn't know b/c we only moved into town two months ago- our old house was technically outside city limits, but still in the same county, and it's not like there's a sign or notice sent to people about it).

We went to a neighborhood BBQ tonight soon after we got home, and as the neighborhood children played with the dogs in our yard, plus another dog who frequently visits, our neighbors were appropriately shocked as we tried to figure out who the hell these people are. No one has ever seen them before, although one person did mention that there's a husky breeder a few streets away, so maybe they were the people. I, however, can't bring myself to laugh at it, not yet. I mean, not to be an idiot, but my dogs are like my kids, and what they do reflects on me, so now I feel like I have been publicly trashed by these strangers. Also, anyone who has ever actually met our dogs, which includes everyone who allows their small children to come over here to play, knows that they are certainly NOT viscious. I mean, has anyone ever met a nasty labrador (that hadn't been abused or something)? I don't know if such a thing even exists.

I think I'm upset about more than that, though. I think it's a power thing that must go back to my childhood, a feeling of helplessness as something bad happens that I can't do anything about. There are people out there badmouthing me, and I don't even know who they are. Some invisible person from the county came while we were away and dropped off hate mail, basically, like some Orwellian Big Brother. To make it worse, now I can have the fun of calling the county and discussing this whole thing with someone who probably isn't going to listen, believe me, or care. I find this all immensely stressful and upsetting. Like I said, I take fully responsiblity for the dogs getting out, and for the upset that occured, but seriously, taking the step of calling the county and filing a complaint about viscious animals without even talking to me seems way, way overboard and very, very hateful. I don't wish we had never moved here, because the kids have made a lot of friends, and I have a good friend up the road, but there is definitely a LOT about not having nearby neighbors that I miss. I would rather be alone than be just BESIDE myself.


Anonymous said...

Sheesh. I can't believe they called the county on you. I'm sure it was scary for them, but for goodness sakes, they could have at least tried to talk to you. I hope it all gets worked out!!

d e v a n said...

Those people were way out of line. While it might be scary to have 2 big dogs run up to you, that doesn't mean they are mean dogs or will attack them. Sheesh.
And the kicking and swearing?! Totally uncalled for! I would be really ticked that they called animal control too.

Erin said...

Oh honey. That is an ugly situation. I have been bit by dogs TWICE in my life, and it is completely, utterly different than what you described. It pisses me off, because it also trivializes what a true dog attack is. When I was bit, once by a German Shepherd and once by a Border Collie, the dogs came running out of fenced areas (gates were open both times) and grabbed onto my leg (once my thigh, once my calf) and SNARLED and SHOOK THEIR HEADS and there

Plus, both times I was able to deal with it directly with the dogs' owners. I looked them up (reverse phone book), called them and let them know what happened, got the rabies info. And BOTH times the people were super apologitic, very surprised their dogs behaved that way, and polite. Turned an otherwise bad experience into something that was okay in the end.

I don't know what my point is here. I guess that (1) the dog "attacks" were nothing, nothing like what you described, which doesn't sound like an attack at all and more just dogs being dogs, and (2) I hate it when people go straight to the authorities with issues that can and should be dealt with-- at first at least-- face to face.

*deep breath* I will step off my soap box now. I hope things work out all right for you.

Kristin.... said...

Oh that sucks. Remember when I told you that people are stupid? More proof. I'm sorry for you.

Susiewearsthepants said...

OMG! The kicking and the cursing were both extremely inappropriate. Yet I have a feeling it will be as you predict and you will end up being the bad guy. If I was Italian, I would send an Italian curse to them. Quick, any Italians out there?

Creative Kerfuffle said...

wtf are people thinking to kick and curse like that? and then to call the county on you? that's just insane and so not fair that you have to prove anything about your dogs.
oy vey. and if they are the breeders up the road--what type of dogs are they breeding? cos if they react that way to dogs on the street they are not dog people and shouldn't be breeding anything.