It's been over three years since this incident happened and yet when THIS happens, it feels like it was yesterday. The experience will follow us both forever. Dear dog owners, please BE KIND and do this one simple thing.
. . .
It's happened more times than I can count.
The statement is always said with such carefree assumption, as a dog runs ahead, the owner shouts...
Don't worry, he's friendly!
I feel my daughter step behind me, so close her body is up against my back leg. I wrap my arm behind her and pull her even closer. I tell her, "I'm here."
We both hold our breath as the dog rushes forward and circles us with excitement. As we wait for the owner to catch up, my mind snaps back to that moment.
I'd been trying to say goodbye to my neighbor for over twenty minutes. We'd migrated towards the entryway of her bi-level, but every time I'd try to shuffle the girls out the front door she'd start up a new conversation.
Seizing the moment to play with the dog "just a few more minutes," the kids would run back upstairs to the family room giggling.
Her sudden scream
"Are you ok?"
Running two steps at a time up the stairs
Seeing her curled up in a ball shaking
Her tiny hand holding her face
"Did he bite you?"
Picking her up off the floor
Pulling her hands away from her face
"Are you ok?"
Blood streaming down her face
Confusion in her eyes
I run past the neighbor
Rushing my baby to the car
She asks, "Is she ok?"
As we drive to the ER, I tell myself this isn't happening.
We know this dog.
He knows us.
Through the tears, she bravely agrees to a shot in the face to numb the area.
She closes her eyes and lays still.
My husband holds her hand as they stitch the deep wounds on her little face.
The doctor tells her she's doing a great job as she winches.
My heart aches and I look away.
I notice my phone is vibrating nonstop in my coat pocket. I step outside the room and see ten missed calls from my neighbor. I text her back, "She's ok. We're ok."
But her words keep repeating in my mind, he's friendly.
And so I ask, my dear friends who are dog owners to remember that...
You never know what someone is going through. Be kind. Always.
When you are with your dog in a public place like a park, or hiking trail, or beach, or a sidewalk...
BE KIND — Keep your dog on a leash.
Even if your pet is super sweet, the energy of an excited dog charging forward unleashed can be overwhelming for young kids and parents who don't come from a household with cute canines.
(Plus, you never know what someone is going through.)
We thank you for your empathy and understanding.
P.S. When the worst of the ER visit passed her sister crawled into the bed to snuggle her. As we waited for the release papers, my little patient asks me to take a photo of her green "spirit day" hair. And so we have this bittersweet moment captured below...
One last thing! I do want to mention that despite this experience my little lady still LOVES dogs, which is wonderful.