Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sticky Kid Friend Situations

I am entering into some sticky kid-friend situations.

Problem #1: Patrick's friend, Seth, is a lovely boy. He's polite, and sweet, and generally pleased to do anything. He even loves our big dogs, and runs around the house playing tag with them and Patrick. Great, right? You wanna know why he's not afraid of dogs? Because his family has PIT BULLS. Why do I know this? Because he came over to me and told me that our dogs were good, but his isn't. I asked him what his dog did, thinking it ate his shoes or something, and he said, 'oh, when you point your finger at it, it bites your finger.' That's when I asked what it was, assuming it was a small dog, since they live in a VERY small townhouse, since he still has all his fingers, and that's when he said it's a pit bull - boxer mix. I am not against pit bulls, or boxers, in an appropriate environment. I think both can be lovely dogs, depending on the breeder and family situation. HOWEVER! Now that Seth has slept over at our house, reason determines that Patrick will probably be invited to go over there relatively soon. There's NO WAY I want him in that house (where, by the way, Seth has been allowed to watch all manner of slasher movies, because he was telling me all about Jason, Freddie and Michael Myers), but how do I approach this? I mean, WE have dogs, so I can't say that we're afraid of dogs. I'm not sure I can say, 'well, your boy told me that your dog bites him, and I love my baby's face, and want it to stay PUT'. What am I gonna do?!

Problem #2: The severely autistic boy down the street, Teddy, who pushed Patrick off of the playset, really likes Patrick. Patrick has been over there since the accident, to play with Teddy's older sister, with Josie. This morning, Teddy and his mother showed up on our doorstep because Teddy wanted to come over. Urm. There are several issues with this. One, I'm not sure I'm comfortable having Teddy here, with his obvious disconnect from cause-and-effect situations. Two, Patrick doesn't like Teddy all that much, for obvious reasons. Three, when I talked to Patrick about the situation, he said that he's OK with being with Teddy at his house, but he doesn't want him in our house because Teddy breaks things frequently by accident and he doesn't want his things getting broken (like our Wii, or, you know, Patrick's arm, which just stopped needing the air cast yesterday). Plus, he's unsure about animals, and it worries me what he'd do if he didn't want them near him (ie throwing things, kicking, screaming, etc, all things I've seen and heard him do from all the way down the block at our place). What do I do about this? I don't want to hurt Teddy's feelings, or his mother's. She's perfectly nice, and our kids do play there, so it's only fair that they could come here. But I will have to follow them around constantly, which to me is more like babysitting than a playdate, and Patrick is perfectly within his limits saying that he doesn't want his things to get broken. Also, I can't really say that his sister can come by anytime, but he can't. This morning, we were honestly on our way out the door, so it wasn't an issue, but I know this is going to come up again. I don't know what to do.

Issue #3: My friend Megan, who lives about a block away, has a large building that has been converted into apartments as a neighbor. One new tenant has a dog (yet another pit bull mix, what IS IT with these people!??!) that has been getting loose and busting through the shrubs onto their property, and getting loose in the alleyway that runs behind their houses, going into other yards as well. It's gotten so bad that her one daughter is afraid to play in her own yard. It hasn't acted aggressively towards the children (yet), but the one time Megan was sitting on her deck by herself and it came over, she didn't know what to do since it was blocking her only exit, and she just held out her hand and said, 'hi, good dog'; it growled at her and left. That doesn't exactly inspire a warm feeling. Our kids play there a lot. Megan's husband has reported the situation to the building's management company, and one of their other neighbors has gotten in the owner's face a little and told him that if it happens again, he's calling the police. Well, it's happened again, but the guy wasn't around. Megan's not a very forceful person, and doesn't want to call the police. I, however, AM, and I would more than happily call the police if I had ever seen it happen. As yet, I have not, but now I'm nervous. I've talked to my kids about staying away from strange animals, but having a strange dog of a breed like that bursting into the yard isn't, uh, optimum. What to do? Thankfully, I haven't seen it near our part of the neighborhood. I'm nervous to be anywhere near there with my dogs now, since a loose pit bull around boisterous labs is probably not a good situation. Suck.

Any suggestions?


AndreAnna said...

Jeebus. This post makes me glad I have a few more years left before having to deal with older children's playdate drama and such.

I'm not much help here because I've never been in the situations, but when it comes to our kids when faced with it, we certainly know how to stand up. I don't know how you'll say it, but I know you won't let your kid around dangerous dogs.

creative kerfuffle said...

take this for what it's worth--which is just my 2 cents. do you let patrick go on sleepovers w/ other kids? if not, you could just tell seth's parents that he's welcome at your house but patrick doesn't go on sleepovers. as for teddy--that's a tough one since his sister is welcome at your house. personally i'd probably avoid the situation as long as possible because i hate confrontation like that, but, in the grown up world i guess the best thing would be to just talk to his mom honestly about it. she might get offended, but, she has a kid w/ issues and i'm sure you aren't the only parent that feels that way. as for the roaming dog--and i hate that i'm even saying this--but if he's a potential danger i'd call he animal shelter. i don't care how nice a pet is, you can't just let them run willy nilly all over the place like that--for their safety as well as others.
ok, soapbox is gone now.

Not Your Aunt Bea said...

Oh, that just makes me all sorts of uncomfortable. I don't have any experience with this therefore no advice. Post what you end up doing. I'll be taking notes as I am sure we will encounter this.

LoriD said...


#1: I would just say that Patrick is afraid of their dogs. There's no way I would let him stay overnight.

#2: You have good reason to be wary of having Teddy around unsupervised. Maybe have them play in the backyard and invite mom to stay for a coffee?

#3: Call Animal Control and explain the situation. They'd probably visit the dog owners and let them know the consequences if the dog ever hurt anyone, which may make them more vigilant.

As an aside, I was attacked by a Pit Bull in front of my old house. This was a family pet and was being walked by a little kid. Luckily my neighbour was out raking and got the dog off me by hitting it with the rake. I got away with only a minor bite on my leg, but it could have been a lot worse. Pit Bull ownership has since been banned here because the breed was deemed just too unpredictable and aggressive.

Sunny said...

OMG!!! I so agree with Creative Kerfuffle on the issues.

Been there, done that myself and alho it sux to have to say no and confront the issues, I did it for my kids.
I never want another dog and I don't like aggressive dogs.
I also have issues with neighbors kids in my house unless they're VERY well behaved which in this day and age very few are..

clueless but hopeful mama said...

I'm with LoriD on all these issues. You're right to be concerned, all of these situations have big red flags flying over them. If you can be braver than me and talk to the parents of situations one and two and be as honest as you can, I can't imagine them not understanding.

As for situation #3, I am a total dog lover. LOV-ER. BUT. I cannot stand irresponsible dog owners and am constantly calling animal control on several of my neighbors. For some reason, here in LA, people think that it's okay to let their rottweiler/pit bull run wild through a neighborhood on a regular basis. So I see fit to call animal control on a regular basis. I have it on speed dial.

Let us know how it goes!

Chantal said...

I also agree with LoriD. Take Care, that's a lot to be worrying about.

Kristi said...

Whoa...these are some seriously heavy situations...i have no idea why people living in a neighborhood would choose to have a pitbull...i know people say they are good dogs, but their behaviour is just too unpredictable for my liking.