So Much for Serenity
My five-year-old triplets will probably never leave our house again. Ever. They will become recluses, they will let their hair and toenails grow untended, they will never know the warmth of the sun on their skin again. It’s pretty much guaranteed. Why? Because of DOGS.
Today, a white pit bull in a fuzzy blue dog sweater chased them from the corner of our street, past two neighbor houses, and into our garage. There, my three sons continued the bloodcurdling shrieks as they scaled lawnmowers and shop-vacs to reach anti-dog positions on top of our large plastic trash cans. Those were not, however, anti-shriek positions. A neighbor across the street heard the unceasing screams of terror and rushed out of his house as I madly pressed the garage door shut button in our van at the end of the driveway, where I’d been standing when the streaking blurs, both furry and human, raced by me. I was trying to shut in my boys and shut out dogs (yes, there was a SECOND dog with the pit bull, a wire-haired ratlike creature about the size of my left foot), but I wasn’t having success. The door wouldn’t close! It seemed to take forever for it to start slowwwwwly lowering, only to kick into reverse when it was about a foot from the ground because the rat dog tried to race into the garage, triggering the safety sensor. So, UP went the door again, AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! went my kids again, and “Shoo, shoo, shoo” went me, as I abandoned the van and shooed the dogs off the driveway. I then closed the garage door from the inside, shutting myself in with my shrieking children. It was truly deafening.
Somehow I managed to coax them down from the garbage cans and into the house, where they then scaled the couch and the kitchen counter, still screaming. It took me a while to convince them that the dogs could not get in the house, probably because they could not hear my voice above theirs. Then it took another good while to get them to stop babbling nonsensically about their bikes at the corner and the mallot left on the lawn and their insistence that I simultaneously GO RESCUE THEIR BIKES AND MALLOTS NOW but DO NOT NOT NOT OPEN THE DOOR OR LEAVE THE HOUSE!!!
Yes, it was a quandary. Finally I remembered the magical powers of Bob the Builder. Yes, yes, Bob would save us! Rushing to the DVD player, I jammed in a Bob the Builder disc and snapped on the t.v. Oooh. That piqued the boys’ interest. They don’t get to watch DVDs often. Then I rushed to the refrigerator and pulled out a bag of colored mini-marshmallows that we’d bought the other day for a Deliciously Deceptive (and supposedly healthy) fruit dip. Oooh again. Mom was giving them marshmallows? And letting them watch a video? Dog? What dog?
The boys sat and watched Bob and ate marshmallows as if they hadn’t a care in the world. Then, with them mellow and blissful and seeming to have forgotten their near death experience, I put them down for a nap. They were asleep in minutes.
I’ve now talked with multiple neighbors, animal control officers, and my husband at work. All parties are informed, all plans are hatched, and all owner notifications have been made. I hope we’ve got the situation resolved, although I am not confident about that. The two ratlike dogs at the corner house (yes, they have two of those little rat things) get out all the time, so I’m not convinced the owner is on the same page as us. I didn’t know he had a pit bull there, but his immediate neighbor tells us that the pit bull is a mean dog that has caused him to repair their fence three times and that the dog has bitten twice. Nobody has reported the bites, though. (!) Those neighbors now have incident reports and had better darn well report it. Sheesh. What are they waiting for, the eating of an entire limb? Goodness, there are kids living in houses up and down the street. Biting pit bulls SHOULD. NOT. BE. TOLERATED.
Even though my sons weren’t touched, and even though I’m not convinced the dogs were looking for a feast (they did ‘shoo’ fairly easily), I feel badly for my boys. They were already traumatized by that Staffordshire Bull Terrier ”attack” last year in England, and were barely tolerant of any dog. Now this?
So much for playing in front of our house.
Regardless of my sons’ recluse status, I have the animal control dispatch number (which was already programmed into my cell phone, by the way) at the ready, and the animal control officer said to call if any of the dogs is ever loose again, even if it is not chasing or biting. Of course, I know that the dogs themselves are not the real problem, that the bone I have to pick is with the owner. I sure hope that the officer’s lecture to the owner about the financial impact of loose dogs strikes a nerve that hasn’t yet been struck with this uncaring person (oh, I’d certainly be happy to strike his nerve…). As the animal control officer explained, even if the guy’s blue-sweater-wearing-lovey-kissy-pit-bull isn’t violent, should he chase someone merely to lick them like crazy, the victim may run and fall and break a bone or get hit by a car and then the dog owner would be liable. Or, if his dog should stray into traffic and get hit, then the guy’s not only got a dead dog, but he has to pay to repair the car that struck the dog. Yeah, maybe those thoughts will be enough to spur the owner to put a $5 lock on his gate.
Meanwhile, I’ve got three five-year-olds about ready to wake up from their nap. Based on their behavior when even non-threatening dogs just pass by our house on leashes, I am quite sure my sons’ marshmallow-induced amnesia will wear off and they will refuse to let the front door be opened. Clearly, I’ve got some fancy talking to do. Not that I know exactly what to say. Because honestly, I see no reason why they need to be talked out of their fear of dogs. So what if they live a life without pooches? So what if they don’t like dogs? No one worries when a child doesn’t like cats. Or mice. Or worms. I’m quite fine with them not wanting anything to do with dogs.
I am not, however, fine with them being long-haired, long toe-nailed recluses. They must leave this house again. And they must allow the front door to be opened. I’ve got ten minutes before they wake up. I sure hope ten minutes is enough to think of something wise and soothing to say. After all, hairdos and toenails are at stake.