Hope had a medication change about a week ago, and it’s really messing with her sleep patterns. All week, she’s been getting up somewhere between 2-5 am and staying up until 9-10 at night. As you can imagine, we’re all exhausted. The doctor says that she should adjust in the next week or so, but until then, we’re kind of in survival mode.
We’ve been trying to get lots of fresh air and exercise to see if that will help her regulate her sleep patterns. So, at about 8:00 this morning, Hope, Gray and I set out on a walk. We walked our neighborhood for about a mile and then ended up at our local park so that Hope could get a little more energy out.
We had taken about 5 steps into the park when a dog came running from the other side, barking his head off. And it was not a friendly bark. We stopped, hoping he would go by but he started circling us, baring his teeth and growling. It was really frightening.
I should explain that Hope has always been very afraid of dogs. She’s not good with unpredictable motion and out of control excitement. If they jump on her, she gets very, very upset. So while it was a frightening incident anyway, it certainly has an extra component.
A woman came running over saying, “Sorry, sorry, sorry!” as she attempted to get control of the dog. She couldn’t. The dog eluded her grasp and continued circling us, growling and baring his teeth. But now, he was even more excited and out of control because of the chase. This woman had absolutely no ability to control her animal and she had let him off leash in a public park, not a dog park.
We stood there for several moments, other dog owners (their dogs also off-leash) started joining in the chase. Eventually, the dog got so upset about the chase he forgot about us and we were able to get to the playground and get the kids on swings so they could keep their feet up if he came back over, and I called the police.
As we waited for the police, the dog chase continued with about 5-6 people joining the chase. The owner was literally face-planting in the dirt and grass as she was hurling herself at the dog to as she attempted to catch it. It was insane! The dog managed to escape them all for about 15-20 minutes until he got so tired his owner was able to capture him.
Then the owner started walking back to us. I asked her to keep the dog away from the children, and she said she wanted to apologize. While I appreciate that, I was quite vocal over the fact that the park has leash laws to protect innocent people, and that her dog should never have been off-leash. That she had been very irresponsible and that she was lucky no one was physically hurt, but that she had set my special-needs child back quite a ways. Hope was really traumatized, and my Mama Bear came out.
We were approached by an older woman (we’ll call her Motor Mouth) who said to me, in a sickly sweet voice, “She has apologized. The Christian thing to do would be to forgive her.” What? This woman wasn’t even involved! Why was she getting into the middle of this? Nevertheless, I mentioned that there are still consequences for breaking the law. Just then, an officer from our local police department arrived.
I told him what had happened, and Dog Owner confirmed every point. So we were in agreement. And Motor Mouth stood off to the side telling me that I was overreacting, that I was definitely not a Christian, that I clearly need therapy and that we should have been on the other side of the park anyway, because that playground is better for special needs children. WHAT! And she finished it off by saying, “My goodness! You need mental help! You must be on your period!” In Jesus’ name.
At this point, I asked the officer if he could make the person who wasn’t involved, but was attacking me anyway, leave. Motor Mouth and her husband, Park Overlord, voluntarily stepped to the side, but not before her husband told me that this was HIS park, that he’d been taking care of it for over 20 years, and he had more authority than the police. Charming.
Can I be clear? My children and I were the victims here. We had a reasonable assumption of safety when stepping into a public park with leash laws. I have every right to be upset about being cornered by that dog. We (and, frankly, Dog Owner) are lucky, because that dog was clearly out of control and easily could have bitten one or all of us. I make no apologies for standing up for my children and myself.
And also to be clear: the way to win people to your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is NOT to get involved in something that doesn’t involve you, and then to hurl INSULTS at the person who has been wronged. I am a Christian, but if I wasn’t, I sure wouldn’t be interested after spending time with Motor Mouth and Park Overlord. I spoke to the officer for a while, then took my leave. As I was walking out, Motor Mouth, Park Overlord, and Dog Owner were praying in a little huddle. Which was quite the charming testimony.
And let’s talk about “the Christian thing to do.” Personally, I think Jesus might have had some strong words for them. He took a dim view of law breaking and people who hurt children. Something about a millstone? Anyway…
By the way, the officer did confirm that leash laws are in effect in this park, he took Dog Owner’s information, and if there is another incident involving her dog, she will be cited. The Humane Society is also going to be patrolling the park regularly and trying to shift the dog owners to appropriate city dog parks instead of letting them run free in the public park.
For the record, I don’t blame the dog, I blame the irresponsible owner. I like dogs, but I’m aware that they are animals and aren’t always predictable. Leash laws are there for our safety, and for the animal’s safety. That poor little dog was so upset, he could easily have run into the busy street adjacent to the park and been killed. God forbid, he could have caused a car accident. I don’t want that anymore than I want to be cornered and bitten by an unpredictable animal.
As we were walking home, I burst into laughter when I realized I was wearing my Pride and Prejudice t-shirt with the words “Obstinate Headstrong Girl,” printed across my chest. I’m just imagining what I’ll be referred to by the other players in this little drama! But don’t mess with my kid’s safety and their ability to be out in public. I am NOT having that!
Both of my children were shaken up, but they’re going to be alright. Sweet Gray told me that he would have dived in front of us and taken a bite if he’d had to, because he didn’t want his mom or sister being bitten. I’m very grateful it didn’t come to that!
But I’m angry. Hope is upset, and I doubt we’ll ever be able to get her to go to that park again. So now, the only neighborhood park within walking distance is off-limits for us. Because someone thought they had control of their animal and didn’t need to obey leash laws, but they were wrong.