Update time! Wheeeeee!
Now that daylight extends into the evening hours, we’ve resumed our weekly trysts to the local farmer’s market. This is the first time we’ve gone with both kiddos, and if lugging two small children to an open marketplace brimming with small children and commotion isn’t enough, we also brought the dog along. As a general rule, farmer’s marketplaces disallow all dogs except registered service ones (for health reasons), so it should have been clear to us from the onset. Maybe I thought that the adjacent field would be a fine place to park everyone while we got dinner in shifts. I was mistaken.
Thing 1 happily scurried off to play with her friends, climb on rocks, run around, etc. Great. I can watch her from afar. Wife left to procure food. My mom and I stayed with Thing 2. Lately I’ve noticed something’s happened to the dog. I think he’s reached a tipping point where we can no longer take him out in public. I don’t think he’s a menace to society or anything but he’s certainly not his usual self ever since we had our second. I think his place on the bottom rung of the family totem pole has been cemented.
Dog training is a funny sort of business. It’s a misnomer, really. What it amounts to is actually dog owner training. If you don’t commit to making the changes in how you handle your pet, nothing will change, even if said pup is a star performer in class. Needless to say, ours has always been a good little fellow, even if some issues like jumping, barking at anyone who passes our house, and recall have remained challenges. I suppose those were always things we could live with. So long as they remain in the house.
When we first had the kidlet back in 2010 I noticed a gradual change in the dog. On the whole he seemed to mature, becoming much less puppy-like at home. He certainly mellowed out, and settled into family life. When we’d go out to the park with him and munchkin, though, he was incredibly aggressive toward anyone who came near. Our outings with the dog came to an end when he chased down some poor 5 year old boy who was playing with a ball nearby…driving him to tears. Talk about embarrassing. Then to top it off last year he bit some poor lady’s hand who was trying to throw a ball to her dog at the dog beach. Fortunately it wasn’t serious and the woman was pretty accommodating…but that was the end of doggy outings.
So I have to reiterate to myself, what possessed me to think bringing the dog to the FM was a good idea. It was already clear he was struggling when we got there; his whole body had tensed up and he was literally quivering with nervous energy. I hardly blame him. Kids running amok, shrieking with joy (and anguish), all manner of toys flying to and fro. In other words. Utter chaos. So I kept a pretty short leash on him. But it all got messed up.
As I went to give my mom the dog, something fired inside of him and he took off, yanking the leash from her grip, and trailing behind him in a whiplash fashion as he bolted toward some dog across the green. Caught in the crossfire was an innocent bystander who was all of 5 or 6 years old. The leash, having not fully retracted into its housing as the dog sprinted off, flailed and lashed around the girl’s ankles like a bolas, then quickly unwound and snapped into place. Horrifying. I instinctively left Thing 2 for a second to recapture the dog, then try to soothe the parents and girl. I assured them the dog would not be making any return trips and apologized for the accident. I don’t know if it was enough, but I don’t know what else I could have done. It was sucky to be powerless, and I was also filled with empathy for the parents, who I felt handled the situation very well.
I think it’s fair to say that I spoiled their night since they packed up their picnic and promptly left.
The girl was a mess, wailing inconsolably. I don’t blame her. She had pretty bad rope burn on both ankles where the cord had wrapped and then pulled. No blood, but still enough damage to feel rightfully terrible. Her parents expressed a mixture of concern for their daughter’s well-being and consternation for my errant dog (and most likely his irresponsible owner). As if the guilt of having just inadvertently caused this child’s misery wasn’t enough, just about every parent within earshot fixed a cross glare upon me and my cavorting canine. At that instant, all I wanted to do was get the hell out. Of course, with my family scattered to all four winds at that moment, it wasn’t an option, so I just stood around looking sheepish.
All of this is to say that while I love my dog, and accidents happen, this could have been prevented. I’d be upset if this happened to my girls, but I imagine things of a similar nature are bound to happen at some point and all I can do is keep a first aid kit and soothing voice ready.