It was one of the worst moments of my life. On a beautiful morning just days ago, my 12-year-old daughter Charlotte and 7-year-old son Julian were playing on a swing set in a friend’s backyard. My son went inside to use the bathroom ... seconds later, I heard ear-piercing shrieks coming from the house. As a mom, the sound of kids screaming is a familiar one, to say the least, but I knew immediately that these cries were different. I jumped up just as my son ran outside with blood streaming down his face ... more blood than I’ve ever seen. “I just tried to pet the dog,” he sobbed.
The next moments are a blur: My daughter’s howls (“Mom, is Julian going to be blind?!”), the 911 operator insisting the dog be “contained” before the paramedics arrived, the police walking pulling on blue rubber gloves as they approached the house ... the EMT in the ambulance giving my son a little stuffed dog to hold, to remind him that “not all dogs are mean.”
“The dog isn’t a mean dog, just old and cranky,” said Julian. His words broke my heart. My stomach twisting itself into knots, all I could think was that if I never saw another dog in my life, it would be too soon.
Here’s the thing: My son was right; the dog that bit him isn’t a bad dog. The dog is even used to being around kids -- we’re not sure what set him off that day. Which is what terrifies me. Because the truth is, even the most seemingly domesticated animal can never really be trusted, and to think otherwise is borderline foolish -- isn’t it? I’m not even sure anymore.
I never thought I would feel this way ... I was never afraid of my own dog, which was half pit bull, or any other dog, for that matter. But even though my son is perfectly okay, by some miracle (the bite was horrifyingly close to his eye, but seven stitches later, he’s on the mend), I doubt I’ll ever feel completely comfortable around any dog ever again. Am I overreacting? Will this fear fade in time? I honestly don’t know.
Has your child ever been bit by a dog? Did the experience change the way you feel about animals?
Image via José Carlos Cortizo Pérez/Flickr