I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day when I came across something very disturbing to me. There was a photo of a young boy. For privacy, I will refer to the characters in this story as Buddy and Matthew. Matthew was being held in his mother’s arms and had several stitches across his chin and lip with the caption, “I can’t believe this happened…”.
Naturally, the following comments entailed remarks such as:
OMG? Is he ok?!
Text me, I’m here for you…
Then there was the reply that everyone was anticipating, “Buddy bit Matthew”.
I was scrolling through the comments and most of them were replies with concerns of the boy’s health and one that stood out to me, “May I ask, how did this happen with Buddy?”. I did not expect a reply but shortly thereafter the mom said, “Oh you know, Matthew was up in Buddy’s face barking and growling at him”.
My heart sunk. I was irritated, disappointed, annoyed, sad, frustrated. So many emotions ran through my head. I had to hold myself back when thinking about commenting. Because what would I say? How would I not come across as a total B!?
Soon after the initial Facebook post, the mom followed up with the post that brought tears to my eyes, “RIP Buddy, our hearts are heavy we will always love and miss u and never imagined anything like this happening”.
Buddy was a family dog of seven years who bit Matthew after being provoked. As mentioned above, I will not go into details about the family nor the dog. Many of you are probably wondering – was he a pit bull? And no, he was not.
Looking back, I believe this situation could have been prevented. I realize, “Matthew probably always played with Buddy like this and nothing had ever happened before”. But I believe that it is a parents responsibility to teach their kids to respect animals and not to taunt or tease them. Even though a dog may tolerate the treatment, does not mean that they enjoy it and does not ensure that they will continue to tolerate it.
This issue is a very sensitive subject with us and Lola. When Lola was very young we brought her over to an extended family member’s house. There were several little children there who immediately ran up to Lola reaching for her face and then started tugging on her tail and ears. We politely asked them not to do that and they stopped for a moment and then when the next opportunity came along, they were right back at it. Lola was literally clawing at my leg for me to pick her up. At this point it was becoming irritating that the parents were not doing a whole lot besides at best, “oh, stop that please…”. I then just held Lola in my lap and we soon removed ourselves from the situation. Looking back on the scenario, I would have done things differently…(isn’t that always the case?).
Currently, we are still working on rehabilitating Lola’s fear of toddlers and small children. It certainly left a lasting impression on her.
These posters from Sophia Yin are a great illustration of how dogs and children should interact. (You can even print a large poster-size version from her site.)
There are plenty of resources out there – use them, share them. Even if an adult notices the signs, a child may not. That’s how accidents happen. Even if your dog and child have been raised together, it only takes once. PLEASE, teach your children respect and how to properly treat a dog. Even though your dog may tolerate it, every dog has a breaking point.