Worst Fear Realized: Puppy Edition

Monday, May 19, 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

There is an incredibly irritating song on the radio these days with the refrain, "How'm I gonna be an optimist about it . . . oh . . . how'm I gonna be an optimist about it."  I'm only pretty sure those are the actual words, but that's what they sound like to me, and they are the only lyrics to the song that stick in my head.  The reason those words literally and figuratively resonate inside me is that more and more often I'm faced with situations that, even when looked at through rose-tinted glasses still seem permanently shit-stained; having a needle driven into your eyelid and having your eye sewn shut both qualify under this rubric.

Last Thursday I found a whole new previously undiscovered section of a hellish living nightmare.  Incredibly, the whole situation began with my friend and I lounging on my porch, having a beer; My two pittie puppies on a long lead attached to the fence.

A few minutes later a neighbor and her son came walking by, the young boy riding his small bicycle.  Our puppy, Falcor, is not a huge fan of bicycles.  Also lumped in this category are walkers, wheelchairs, and push carts.  They just freak him out.  But, firmly attached to his lead, I didn't think  much of it when Falc began to bark.  In fact, the mom and son continued along our fence, closer to the house.

At some critical juncture, Falcor felt that this bicycle may be parking its terror in his lawn and he ran at the passerby's, and, yanked back by his leash, still managed to put his paws on the bike/boy's shoulders and mouthed the child's arm.  Not awesome at all.  At this point every adult present was up and taking action.  I was putting the dogs away as the mother comforted her son.  Because a 60 pound pit bull, no matter how cute, is a lot of dog for a small child to handle.

Dogs put away, the mother and I had an productive talk where I apologized profusely, made sure that Falcor didn't break the skin on the child's arm (just a scratch), and volunteered to have a meet up with the dogs later once the boy had calmed down.  Our neighbors headed back to their house and not only was a crisis averted, but I felt we had a really positive interaction that was communicative and productive.

My friend and I took a few deep breathes, the dogs now safely indoors, and we settled back down on our deck chairs to resume our beers.

Three minutes later a police cruiser drove by.    It happens.

Two minutes after that, another cruiser passed.    That doesn't happen.
I don't live on a busy enough street to warrant two cruiser drive-bys.  My friend and I exchanged wary glances.

When the third vehicle came rumbling down the street, we both knew the situation wasn't over, and most likely it was going to get much worse before it got better.

One of the police cruisers had turned around at this point and stopped directly across from my house. The officer rolled down the window and yells to me, "Is this where the pit bull bit the kid?"

"Um . . . not really. I mean, I guess this is the place you're looking for, but that's not what just happened."  

He gets on the radio and a few seconds later I have 3 police cruisers and the town's animal control officer parked in front of my residence.  This is a worst nightmare situation.  How am I supposed to be an optimist about this.

From there began the question asking phase.  The cops asked me what happened.  They wanted details.  They wanted to see "the animal."  They needed to see the child.  I was firm as I told them that the situation had been resolved between the two parties involved, and it seemed incredible to me that considering no complaints had been lodged, that they appeared driven to continue this investigation.

I asked the cops why there had been such an aggressive response.  Apparently, he told me, a car passing by the "scene" called the police to report "a pit bull bit a kid and everyone's screaming!"

I told the officer that there simply wasn't any screaming.  I told him the mother and I had a nice discussion.  He told me they needed to talk to her themselves in order to be sure (since Amherst mother's are renowned for being pretty reserved and keeping silent when their children are attacked by dogs!).

Here's the thing.  The dogs were leashed.  We were pretty much completely on our property.   The kid was completely unhurt, and the fences were already mended.  The only thing these officers could really do was let me know the leash really needed to be shorter going forward.

"No shit Sherlock," is what i didn't say when the first officer told me this.  I didn't even say it when the animal control officer repeated the trope.  However when the next cop repeated this revelation for a third time, I couldn't help but let loose a, "Are ya sure? Yah, I think we established that."

This is when my wife pulled up to the house.  Pretty much the worst possible timing, as it gave me no chance to prepare her for the scene she was about to encounter, nor could I break away from the officers to go fill her in on what was transpiring.  You could see the terror explode the calm circles of her now dilated pupils. My friend began to relate bits and pieces of what had gone down as the cops were just finishing up all of their interviews and story confirmations. As two of the cruisers departed, the remaining cop and animal control officer stayed behind to let us know that, by law, Falcor had to be given a 10-day home quarantine since he had touched a child (it doesn't matter that the skin wasn't broken.)

I asked her if he could go to his puppy daycare, as we would be traveling the following weekend, and also, it's his favorite.  At first she was reticent to allow it, especially in front of the police officer, she remarked, "You're lucky it's just a home quarantine, I could take him with me for the 10 days."

Doggone Right!
I did not like the implied threat in this response.  I gritted my teeth as best I could as dryly replied, "But why would you want to take all of those puppy kisses away from me."

Unfortunately, she continued, "You know you have to be particularly careful with pit-bulls.  They've got a bad reputations and a lot of people . . ."

I had to interrupt her.  I couldn't let her finish that shitty line I've heard so many times before.  Not in this instance.  Not when one of my beloved pit-bulls was being subjected to an entirely unnecessary set of invasive protocols put in motion by some anonymous caller with a false sense of justice and danger. This is, in reality, the very moment it is important to resist those stereotypes in order not to misjudge or prejudge an animal.

I butt in, "A lot of people are wary about Black people, but that's not a good reason to stigmatize them."

Now it was the Black cops turn to interrupt, "HEY, wait a minute!"

I turned to face him, "What?," I asked, forcing him to give a second thought to the actual words I had said, instead of the words he instinctively thought I had said.

*Metaphor sets in*

*Awkward silence*

"So," I forged ahead,  "Where does this leave us?"

The animal control officer said she would be back tomorrow with the formal notice of quarantine as well as our dogs' updated town registrations.  When she arrived the next day, it was clear she had spoken with our neighbors herself, and was now similarly convinced that all of this unnecessary hassle and upset was the irritating result of a misinformed caller.  The driver who could identify the breed of dog as he/she passed . . . and also happened to hear screaming.  Lots of screaming.

The officer was much friendlier this time around, and was as lenient with the quarantine as the law allowed.

This is/was a bully-bread owners' worst nightmare, and while it took a tremendous amount of emotional energy out of me, it is undeniable that these events worked out much MUCH better than they could have.  And, in that moment when the officers are circling the house and the animal control truck parks on the lawn, I momentarily felt that fear of the worst happening; One of our dogs being taken from us, with no reasonable means of stopping the process.  It was a glimpse into the unfathomable reality for those who suffer primarily from a lack of inborn privilege -- who children and pets can be taken away like toys from a misbehaving child.  Forced into the corner with no standing to mount a case in their own defense.  

Frankly, I'd rather the needle in my eye.

No comments:

Post a Comment