3.01.2006

A Biting Commentary

My friend's daughter got bit by a dog. Thankfully, the little girl is okay. Her lip required stitches and she will be undergoing some kind of scar therapy over the next few weeks. The dog was put to sleep.

It happened at her sister's house, in front of everyone. That is to say, it could've happened anywhere, to anyone. That's a scary fact to come to grips with as a dog owner myself--the owner of a much maligned breed of dog, no less. The dog that bit my friend's daughter was an American Pit Bull Terrier, as is my dog, Roxie. I know these dogs to be the most people-loving, devoted and tolerant pets around. I also know that their dog-fighting predisposition brings out aggression issues with other animals, but I've never felt any fear or insecurity when it comes to supervised Tolby-Roxie relations. As a smart and innately protective mother, I never leave them alone together, but that would be the case with any dog.

I'm not going to bring up all the statistics that prove a well-cared-for pit bull can be one of the most amazing pets a lucky family could have. To me that's a given. But I would be lying if I said close-hitting stories like this don't give me pause. I'd love to live in my own world, flipping off ill informed media as they go after sensationalistic pit bull stories like crazed cocker spaniels go after nut sacs (cocker spaniels being the most likely to bite, which you would never know from the average newspaper or television story). But it's harder to claim media bias when it happens in your own life. When it happens to you or someone you know, it's not bias--it's reality. It's bloody and terrifying and nauseating and infuriating. But it's isolated. I'm no more prepared to believe that all pit bulls are instruments of carnage than I was before my friend called to tell me what happened and to ask if I could watch her other child while she brought her daughter in for a follow-up with the pediatrician.

But, you know what? In the lingo of the times, I will be more vigilant. I'll watch more carefully when Roxie is around other children. I'll pet her while she eats and take her bowl away from her a little more often so she's not surprised the first time Tolby slinks up and does it. These are precautions I would take no matter what my dog's breed. From poodle to pinscher, all dogs are dogs. They're living, panting, loving, stinking members of families that need us to act in their best interests. I'm up for the challenge. And I know Roxie is, too.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Roxie Carol said...

You're damn right I'm up for it. No one stinks more than I do. How many months has it been since I've had a bath?
Now, where did that snack...er...I mean baby go? Just kidding! Can I have a treat now??

6:04 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Oh so scary. Even my lazy, snoring, farting English Bulldog sometimes plays aggressively enough to give us pause. You sound like you have it well under control. (and hope your friend's little girl is okay!)

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must be a complete moron. Pit bulls bite? You're kidding? They love people! To chew on maybe. With any luck one will gnaw your head down to its puny brain.

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Anonymous Idiot: All dogs bite. That's what those white things in their mouths are for. Just because an animal is physically capable of harm, doesn't mean it's automatically inclined to cause it. To draw a parallel, just because you like to spew garbage, doesn't mean you have the propensity to say anything intelligent.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Hey you got your first ignorant troll flame! You are now SPECIAL! I'm still waiting for mine. Maybe that anti-South Dakota rant I've been saving up will do the trick.

(And whoever Chris is: spectacular.)

10:41 PM  
Blogger Binky said...

Mom-101: I guess my daughter's not the only one hitting the milestones! My little blog is becoming a woman. I'd love to see an anti-South Dakota post, btw. I hope it doesn't come to it, but we might have to charter a momblog bus to Mt. Rushmore and have ourselves a little protest. The wheels on the bus go round and round...

10:52 PM  
Anonymous rhonda said...

The whole dog biting thing is so scary. We once got a shelter dog, had him for about a day or two and he bit my nephew pretty good on his leg. My nephew wasn't even doing anything but standing there. I was scared to death. So of course we took him back. God forbid that would happen to one of my kids. It was horrible. We now have a Sheltie that we got as a pup. And yes, there are issues, but with all dogs there are some issues. Very scary. I sure hope that sweet little girl is okay.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Jene said...

there was a great article about this topic in the new yorker last month. i meant to send it to you, but then i took the magazine to the gym and it go all icky so i threw it away. but it might be posted online.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I'm there if you're there. SD here we come. (Although after today, it might have to be Mississippi)

12:45 AM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

Hi, Mom-101 sent me. I've just skimmed a couple of your posts, but I like your writing so I'll surely be back. :-)

We are the same way with our girls and our cats -- just as we try to avoid triggers that would make the girls fight with each other, we try to ensure that the cats don't get irritated by being approached too quickly by the kids or petted too roughly. And where possible we try to teach both sets of girls (cats and kids) to be respectful of one another.

I think your approach makes sense -- better to be cautious than blind to potential dangers. And I agree, your anonymous troll means you've hit the blogging big time.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Alisyn said...

We have a pit too, Binky, and I couldn't agree more with your post. Pits are wonderful dogs, but they do require extra vigilance, and I know how hard that can be, sometimes. But any pit owner knows that having a pit around (is there a more loving, cozy, family-oriented dog on the planet??) is a payoff in itself. Props to you!

(I'm also happy to report that in the five years we've had Zoe -- 3.5 of them with a kid in the house -- she has been sweet, tolerant, gentle and patient, to our girls and all of their friends)...

10:45 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Never an actual pit owner myself but I've been around them plenty, a dog is a dog, I truely believe it is all in the "parenting" of the dog which creates the personality and demeaner of him or her. But I must ask, was the little girl doing anything? Not to make light of it, but most times when a calm, friendly dog bites it is not for nothing. I have a nice old scar on my upper lip from our black lab... yup going after his food dish, why I don't know, but I remember the snip and the pain VERY well!
OH and Chris, your awesome! you have such a cool way for words, I only dream that someday I can be such a smartass as you! (that's a good thing BTW)

4:39 PM  

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