Bow wow ow.

Hey, wanna hear my Awesome Mama moment of the day? Prepare yourself, because it’s really pretty awesome.

We went to an outdoor latin music concert at the art museum, where there were lots of kids and dogs. Robin saw a smallish dog he liked and zoomed straight over. “We don’t know that dog, honey,” I said as I began dragging him away by the heels. “Oh, she’s a sweetheart,” the owner assured me. The dog let go of the bone she was chewing on and wagged her tail. I let Robin pet her. The dog snuffled his face and wagged some more. Robin reached for the bone. “NO, baby,” I grabbed his wrist. “Doggies don’t like that.” “It’s fine,” the owner said, “we actually trained her to be okay with that by taking her food dish away.” I was mollified, but still thought it was a bad idea for a kid to grab a dog’s bone. Robin pet the dog again. The dog snuffled him again. Robin reached for the bone again. I was about to go for his wrist – more slowly, because it was just a matter of teaching Robin that this was generally a bad plan, not a safety concern – when the dog growled, lunged, and fucking bit him. In the face. So fast I couldn’t prevent it.

At first I thought maybe the dog hadn’t actually bitten him, maybe it had just snapped very close to him. There was no visible blood, and his face was so red from screaming that I couldn’t see whether there were any marks. Then he opened his mouth to latch on (I offered him a boob for comfort) and I saw that his gum was bleeding a little. Not a whole lot, but clearly contact had been made. Later, after he had calmed down – which actually happened surprisingly quickly – I could see red marks where the teeth had closed on him, on his cheek and above and below his mouth. He’s really fine, and the dog owner was shocked and very apologetic, and followed after me to make sure Robin was okay.

The way I see it, this incident was really my fault. I fucking knew better than to let him go for the dog’s bone, and I stupidly listened to what the owner said instead of trusting my instincts. Of COURSE the dog bit him. When the owners take the dish away, well, they’re the alpha dogs, and what they say goes. But my kid? Not an alpha dog. Not even a beta dog. Probably not even a pack member. And I have owned four dogs in my lifetime and I KNOW these things.

Like I said, Awesome Mama. Robin’s okay, and learning experience blah blah blah, but I still feel pretty shitty about it.

11 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Mahala said,

    I know that feeling well. It’s hard, but don’t beat yourself up over it. And the owner of the dog? Sounds like a real dipwad.

  2. 2

    julie said,

    Hugs to you and Robin.

  3. 3

    Wow, that’s scary… glad to hear Robin is okay!

  4. 4

    Annika said,

    Well. Yes, you should listen to your instincts. But that dog’s person is a real tool if she thinks that she gets to dictate what behavior is and is not safe for your kid, especially when she clearly does not know her own dog’s behavior well enough. Even if that dog had been perfectly safe (which is was not), what kind of lesson does she think she is imparting if she lets your one-year-old believe that it is safe to take food away from any dog he encounters? People really need to leave parenting to parents.

  5. 5

    Nora said,

    Holy Fuck. Glad Robin’s all in one piece. I’m with Annika– dog owner may be in fact a very nice person but definitely a tool.

    Maybe this means Robin will find within himself a little extra care around strange dogs in the future– not a bad lesson to learn, although with toddlers you really never know. And as you say learning a lesson to trust your instincts is good too– sucky though it may be– it must be especially challenging to trust your instincts in the care of your children sometimes when parenting is something that basically everyone has an opinion on and a whole lot of people have no problem dismissing a mother’s authority. You really do have to be strong enough to follow through on your own instincts in spite of others. And sometimes you mess up a little. Be proud of when you do listen to yourself and learn from the times you don’t– it’s the best you can do.

    I definitely think that cats and dogs look at babies and toddlers as less than sentient. The people I used to live with in college were convinced that their cat didn’t like their kids as babies because they thought they were just hairless cats, and only cozied up to them when they were bigger. And in defense of the cats and dogs– most of the encounters they have with little kids run something along the lines of Nice, Nice, Whack. If I were a cat or a dog I’d honestly be anxious seeing a little kid in my vicinity.

    Anyway, what I really meant to say was INSERT HUG HERE. For both of you.

  6. 6

    dp said,

    i definitely don’t think you need to feel so shitty, and i don’t really see the dog owner as a tool, but i’ve also never liked dogs and this is part of the reason why. hugs to you, and i’m glad robin’s ok. every parent has moments where their kid gets hurt and they saw it coming and could have prevented it – it doesn’t make them a bad parent. take robin back out and make sure that he’s still friendly and comfortable around dogs/animals (not SO friendly that he reaches for their food, obvs), and move on. love!

  7. 7

    kathy a. said,

    oh, how scary! glad robin is OK. don’t think you should beat yourself up any more than you have already!

    i don’t remember a particular incident that prompted this, but do remember having a stock response to dog owners who insisted that their pooch was just the bestest and safest around kids — “that’s great, but not every dog is as nice. my kids need to learn how to act around dogs they don’t know, to be safe.”

  8. 8

    gardener said,

    In this morning’s local paper, a newscaster (who’s been writing blog-like essays on her experiences with parenting), talked about what seemed like a safe activity -taking her toddler to the library’s children’s room. And so it was until – thwack – he wound up needing seven stitches in his forehead because he fell and hit a table edge. And she, of course, feels guilty. Short of having one hundred eyes and arms, not to mention the kind of hysterical hypervigilance that leads offspring to the shrink, parents can never be omnipotent or omnicompetent. So glad he’s fine and not even traumatized!

  9. 9

    Red Diabla said,

    Awww, poor baby and momma! I’m sure you’ll both feel better sooner than later.

    Here’s a story I’ll type because I don’t feel like doing housework:

    I had a cat I called the Angriest Cat in the World. She was generally grumpy around everyone, and could not be counted on to be nice to strangers. One time the Dear Husband had a friend over who brought her toddler in tow. Toddler was very curious, as toddlers are wont to do. She found the Angriest Cat in the World sitting on our couch. Angriest Cat in the World didn’t hide, didn’t growl, didn’t scratch…in other words, she totally didn’t act like herself. She let the toddler pet her and pull her tail. I was dumbfounded.

    The moral of the story? Animals really ARE unpredictable!

  10. 10

    liz said,

    What they all said, and extra hugs for you both.


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