Teaching Your Kids To Stay Away From Strange Dogs! (Why Is This So Hard?)
When Cute Animals Attack!
(What You Need Your Children To Know!)
Danger can lurk, even in the sweetest of faces!
(It only takes a second to turn!)
I was going to take a mini ‘Blog break’, for the day, if you will, and maybe try doing a sit up or two, but 1st, this came into my mind, and I felt compelled to write about it, because it is really important, and something that I have been dealing with, with my 5 year old, BIG TIME, in the past year or so, and have some experience with. Talking to your kids about staying away from strange dogs, no matter how ‘Cutsey’, and nice, from afar, they may look. Why is this so hard?
Whelp, I guess nothing attracts a child more, then the sight of a pretty little dog, with a rhinestone collar on, or bow in her hair. Or a larger dog, with crimped ears, loving eyes, and a big ‘ol wag in his tail, but quite frankly, I try and instill in my children, that no dog you see on the street, or in the store even (Petco, Petsmart, etc.), is guaranteed safe, and they need to be more wary then most of them are, and this is very hard for us parents, because no matter how we try and reach our children through words, they often don’t get the message, because they don’t see the bad that can and does happen, as it’s not directly around them, so anything really cute and pretty looking, is going to be deemed nice, and therefore safe, in their eyes, but it’s important for them to know this is not the always the case. Danger can lurk in the sweetest of eyes.
Now I don’t like to peg any particular breed, as any dog can bite and hurt you, but there are certain ones, that happen to scare me more then others, and one in particular happens to be a Rottweiler, and it isn’t because I think they are all bad, I’m sure many of them, are wonderful family pets, but I have a fear, because I happened to get attacked by one myself , so naturally, that breed would scare me, even though I do not blame the dog. It’s just something in my subconscious, I can’t seem to shake.
I was walking, on a warm summer day, on the side walk, when out of nowhere, a very large dog, came from behind, grabbing my arm and yanking at it. The owner, then raced to me, and got the dog off of me, after about 50 seconds or so, and that was the longest 50 seconds of my life. I was very lucky that the dog stayed with my arm, as he was nearly as big as I was, & likely heavier, and could have easily knocked me down, and tore my face apart, but he didn’t.
I was extremely lucky, though I needed a few stitches in my arm, and had some nerve damage for a number of years, I am fine now, but it could have went down another way. This is why It’s so important that people keep their dogs on leashes, not just large breeds like this, but any breed of dog, no matter how confident you may feel about your dog.
Turned out this was not this dog’s 1st offense, so I didn’t take any action, because like I said, it wasn’t the dog’s fault, and I didn’t want him to be put down, so I walked away, with an injured arm, and a new found wisdom, about trust and animals. You see, maybe not in this case, but my whole life, I was quite like my daughter is now. Friendly to any and all of God’s great creatures, and only saw good in everything, and every one. I was like this with people to. Another bad move, but you learn nonetheless. I learned in both cases, but sometimes it’s a high price to pay. Learning from other’s mistakes is best!!
I’ll admit I might be less afraid of a little chihuahua then a big pit bull oo something, but to a child, even a small chihuahua can do irreversible damage, and might not be able to reach our eyes and face, but can reach a small childs, and so all kids should be taught, that danger can lurk in big or small packages. Just because something doesn’t look big, mean, and scary, doesn’t mean it isn’t, or vise-versa. A big dog could be quite the mush, you would never expect via looks.
When I met my husband only months after my dog bite incident, we had met over at the dog park. When he walked in, with his huge Bull mastiff, and I mean HUGE, I immediately, jumped up onto the picnic table that was sitting there, and stayed up there for quite awhile, as he moved his way over to me, with his human sized companion. Now that looked frightening!
I never saw such a large dog outside of the one that bit my arm, but he may have been even larger, and his head was the size of two bowling balls put together, and the face wasn’t all cutesy and sweet looking, as is a little Cocker Spaniel or something, so it spooked me, I won’t lie, but as time when on, and I grew with the dog, and my boyfriend, now husband, I found he was the sweetest dog in all of the world. So you can’t base anything on looks, just like with people, you got to just assume everything in life potentially CAN be unsafe, and look at it like, maybe it is, until proven otherwise, and take proper precautions.
I know of no other way to avoid getting hurt, then assuming anything is possible, with any of God’s creatures, large or small, and I’m not saying you should be, or have your kids be, walking scared, no no no, but when my daughter chases and runs right up to anybody walking a dog, won’t listen to my commands for her to stop, and the word NO means nothing, and even at times tries grabbing leashes from people, something has GOT to be done. Sometimes a little bit of fear needs to be instilled, in such dramatic cases as this.
Take last night, and I think something has FINALLY gotten through to her. We went for a mother/daughter walk, and we passed by a school yard. There was a dog in there, I couldn’t tell the breed at first, but I said, right off the bat ‘Mikayla don’t even think about it, remember what I said. Stay next to me’. What does she do next? She B-lines it, jumping over a small fence, and luckily I didn’t have the stroller with me, because I had to literally throw myself over the fence to catch her, but she’s already merely inches away, as the dog was real close to start with.
It was a boxer. Very cute dog, hyper, but pretty. I like them, but I didn’t know this dog, nor did she, and they aren’t tiny dogs, especially to a child, which meant she would go up to ANYTHING, with a collar attached to it, and most times people even egg her on to come on over, it’s alright, which I HATE, because it goes against what I am trying to teach her. So, this charade was not good, at all, I thought, as I scooped her up in my arms.
It turned out the dog inside of the collar was a nice dog, but hyper, and just because a dog is nice, doesn’t mean it couldn’t inadvertently, knock down and harm a child, in some way. So no matter what, kids must be careful, even with their own dogs at home, because they have sharp nails, and teeth, and instincts even, and aren’t always ‘trying’ to do harm.
So, while you don’t want your children shaking in their boots, over every animal that they see, you don’t want them running to them..PERIOD! Even a nice dog can get scared to, and seeing a stranger come racing towards them, may bring out a nip or worse, and it isn’t the dog’s fault, as long as the owner has their dog on a leash, it is OUR fault, so last night I knew we needed to talk…one FINAL talk, to hopefully end all talks.
I had thought I had broken through before, but then the next shiny coat she saw, she has tried to run to. I understand the temptation, but kids need to understand the danger. It’s very real. It was fate actually, that led me to run into someone last night, who could get through to my daughter. The chances of this meeting occurring, during an early evening walk, were pretty slim, but it was a really good wake up call for her.
We were on the last leg of our walk, when she spotted a little girl getting out of a car, and spinning around in the front lawn of her house. Of course that little girl caught her eye, and she screamed out, ’HI’ to her, and walked me closer, to be near to her (As usual). My boys were way more shy as children, and didn’t do such things, (Well, very unoften, and they listened to me better), so this child has opened up new situations, and worries for me, with animals and with strangers to. No matter how much I talk to her, she still scares me, as she can be way too friendly, but I digress.
I see the young girl’s mom, emerge from the car with a few shopping bags, and she smiled and said hello, as did I, which prompted Mikayla to only get closer to the little girl, so I made small talk with the mother, as the two girls chit chatted, asking each other’s name, etc. It was getting dark outside, so it was hard to see, but pretty quickly I noticed a large scar, actually, worse then a scar, almost what one would refer to as disfigurement, if you will, on the left side of the woman’s face. It was quite large, and very noticeable, but I didn’t want to look, if you know what I mean.
She was young, about my age I’d reckon, so quite young , and I didn’t stare, I’m very conscious about things like that, and the superficial has never meant anything to me, as I had my own tough times during my younger years, and battled Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and very poor self esteem, so I don’t believe in comments, staring, or acting strangely, to anyone who might look a bit different. It’s the inner person that truly matters, but nobody wouldn’t have noticed this, in passing. I felt very sad for her, but was happy she seemed quite content & bubbly, as I like to believe I would be as well, despite such awful circumstances.
I didn’t ask, it wasn’t my business, and I didn’t even wonder, about what happened to her. I just talked, and she happened to have moved into the neighborhood recently, which I was thinking, this is terrific, maybe Mikayla could have a new friend nearby, and that would be good.
I had to watch the time, as now with the sun down, my husband would start to worry, so we didn’t have much longer for chit chat. Mikayla saw the woman’s cat in the door, and asked if she could pet her, which I’m surprised she just didn’t let herself in. I guess I have been making some headway in the manners department:)
Anyhow the woman replied, ’I'm sorry honey, but she is very skittish, and I don’t want you to get hurt’, and Mikayla replied ‘I’m not worried’. This is when I explained the situation to the woman, about what had just transpired, minutes earlier, at the school yard, and how ‘Friendly’, Mikayla is to strange dogs, and she then told me, that she had been mauled as a child, by a dog, some stranger was walking, that to her looked like a nice dog, and after 5 plastic surgeries, this was the best they could do for her face. My heart just broke for her. In that instant, I knew how truly lucky I was to have a simple scar on my arm.
She asked me, if I would like her to talk to Mikayla, and I was like ‘Sure if you don’t mind’, and she brought her over. Mikayla has been taught to NOT stare or look freaked out, when someone appears different, but there have been a couple of times, she couldn’t help herself, and you could see, when she saw the light hit this lovely woman’s face, she was stunned, and stepped back a hair, which was embarrassing to me, I didn’t want her to respond like that, I know how kids are and all, and she saw the look on my face, and was like ‘It’s ok’. She knelt down to my daughter, and looked her straight in the eyes, asking her, do you know what happened here, and pointed to her cheek?
Mikayla said ‘What?’. A dog that I saw on the street, looked really sweet and nice, so I went up to pet him, and this is what happened to me. I will never be the same again, and I wasn’t much older then you are right now.’ I felt so saddened by this poor woman’s plight. It must be awful to have this extreme of a daily reminder, from something so innocent, as a trusting child, petting a seemingly sweet looking dogs head, but it happens, and it was really very (I believe), effective towards teaching Mikayla, the dangers and consequences, that can come from this.
And then the 6 year old daughter chimed in, and said, ’I never touch a strange dog’. Obviously, well taught, and understood in their household. I have a very good feeling, that this woman’s story has scared her straight. I really, really, REALLY, am hoping so! It seemed to have made an impact, as she talked about it, the rest of the evening, until she went to sleep.
Sometimes kids need to see a visual consequence. Even if I had to look it up online, and show her photos of people who have been attacked, at the point we were getting to with this issue, where words weren’t enough, It may have been a very effective thing to do, even if it scared her, because sometimes words just aren’t enough, because visually, most of these animals are so darned cute, but truth be told, I think nothing has been, or could be, more effective, then seeing this woman’s face, and hearing her own words. Her own story. I was very happy to have met her, and now her daughter and mine, have a play date to boot, so it was nice having met her, for more reasons then one.
If you have a child that doesn’t listen no matter what you say, obviously my own story, and a little scar on my arm, wasn’t enough to scare my daughter straight. Then tell them stories about real attacks by plain ‘ol every day dogs, not bear attacks, or shark attacks, common DOGS. They happen every day, and if they need to see a visual, I believe there is nothing wrong, with showing them real photos, within reason, we don’t want to bring on any nightmares, but you know what I mean. Sometimes we can’t get through enough, I know my mother didn’t, because I didn’t learn my lesson until I got bit. I just got lucky prior to that. It can happen to anyone.
Ok, just wanted to share that story, I know I can’t be the only one with a stubborn child, with a big heart for animals. I hope this inspiring woman’s story, could not only help in my own family, but in yours as well.
LET KIDS KNOW…
It only takes a moment, for a dog to go from this…
No breed, no dog, is ever completely immune to the possibility of attacking a human being. Be safe…Be aware!
This is a photo that a child will be able to stomach, and may help you get your point across, if you do need to ‘Go there’. It’s isn’t super grotesque, but may be just enough to scare them, and show them the reality of it all. The dangers are real, and it gets much, much worse then this. Always talk to your children.
Sorry to get graphic. Like I said, I kept it low key, while still making a point, children can relate to. Good luck to all. Parenting is never easy!
Thanks for reading, and have a happy, healthy, and very safe day!