Sunday, June 22, 2008

It's my blog and I can bitch if I want to

I put this post up a few days ago, then took it down because I didn't want to offend "Lola." Well, guess what... This is my blog, and I'm not going to edit myself anymore. If you don't like it, don't read it.

Stay tuned for my upcoming treatise on how the baby boomers are all completely insane, and have screwed up hundreds of years worth of social and cultural progress in just one generation. For now, here's the original post. Names have been changed. Unfortunately, I can't get the original poll votes or the comments back, but I encourage you to vote (early and often) and to leave comments telling me how you would handle the situation I describe. Maybe Lola will read them and get her rectal/cranial inversion fixed...

Here's the post. Goodnight, kids.

I am being given the silent treatment by someone very important to me. We will call her Lola. Lola has a dog, we'll call him Charlie, who is about 14 years old. Charlie has been mean his entire life. He has bitten dozens of people. He bit Mary Grace when she was about 15 months old. He's blind and has a host of health problems that have only made him more and more vicious.

When Charlie bit Mary Grace, Lola and I agreed that whenever Mary Grace (and subsequently, Claire, of course) was around, Charlie would either be muzzled or put in another room. Considering that I knew Charlie's history, I really should have insisted that Lola put him down, but I didn't want to break Lola's heart.

We were at Lola's house, recently, and she had Charlie sitting under her feet. One of the kids came near her, and she shooed her away. "Doesn't he have his muzzle on?" I asked. "It was irritating him, so I took it off, but he's fine, I've got him." "He wasn't half as irritated as I'm going to be if he bites one of my kids," I replied.

I gave myself some time to calm down, and a few days later I called Lola. "Look, Lola," I said, "When Charlie bit Mary Grace we agreed that he would either be muzzled or put away when the girls were at your house, and we've* gotten pretty lax about that. I want you to understand that if you take the muzzle off of him when we're there, again, we will leave, and we will not come back until he is dead," (whether by natural causes or not isn't my choice).

(*Notice that I said "we" and took responsibility for my own complicity in the situation.)

Lola said that she had control of him at the time, and that he was no threat to my kids. I reminded her of two times (that I am aware of) that Charlie has bitten adults while he was in Lola's arms. She said, "That's different, they provoked him," I said, "You don't think my kids could provoke him, too? You don't think that it could happen so fast, that there's nothing you could do to stop it?" Then Lola got offended that I would accuse her of putting my children at risk. I said, "I don't think you're doing it deliberately, but I think you have a big blind spot when it comes to Charlie." This went on...

I finally said, "Look, the bottom line is that BJ and I have discussed this, we're their parents, and we will not risk this. We would have to live with ourselves if something happened, and we don't want to have to try to do that."

Lola hung up on me and hasn't called me since.

As it stands, now, Lola and I have had it out again (both in e-mail and on the phone), and I have told her that we will not be returning to her house as long as Charlie lives there. She said that she'd put him in the upstairs bathroom, and that she doesn't understand what the big deal is.

Lola, if you're reading, I just want to reiterate - the big deal is that you have not acknowledged that you were wrong to take his muzzle off (especially without consulting me, because you put my kids in danger. And you did so after I had made my wishes on the matter crystal clear). If you simply say,
"I'm sorry, I was wrong to take his muzzle off. It was not safe. It won't happen again," then I can trust that you understand my point and will respect my wishes. Until you do, I won't feel safe in your home. You are welcome to visit us here.


Katie Kermeen Swisher said...

Lola, if you're reading: GET A CLUE! You're lucky that dog hasn't been forcibly put down for biting a child already. You should be doing EVERYTHING in your power to keep people safe around your dog and avoid a lawsuit.

Amy, I would be surprised if you find anyone who DOESN'T agree with you...

Megan said...

The fact that Lola has developed a solution to keep the dog away from the girls shows that she indeed knows that it was not a good idea to take the muzzle off.

a long time friend said...

I had a dog that bit me, my husband, and both of my kids. Every time we made an excuse because we loved the dog (who doesn't love their dog). He bit my husband a second time, then growled at me for no reason whatsoever. I consulted a dog trainer for this serious problem. I tried and tried to remedy the problem but the dog continued to show signs of dominant agression. We made the sad decision to destroy the dog. It was tough, but when kids are involved, NO DOG NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU LOVE THEM OR WANT TO BELIEVE THEY CAN BE A GOOD DOG IS WORTH THE RISK OF HURTING A CHILD. NO MATTER WHAT. The dog needs to be put up, and that is that. Maybe if it was treated like a dog and not a spoiled child in the first place it wouldn't be behaving this way... believe it or not, sometimes as hard as it may be to accept, it IS the owner's fault.

Jenny said...


What a sad situation!
I think you have done everthing right on. We should never have to beat around the bush when dealing with our friends or family, when incidents like one of these pose concerns for us. I feel mutual respect is crucial, and given the fact, it had to be uncomfortable for you to feel like bringing this to her attention, seeing as how she didn't feel the need to handle it properly after the biting of your daughter.
I have been in similar situations with close friends, and it isn't easy to have a conversation when you know it might lead the other person to feel on the defence.
You have every right to be concerned! When animals get old and crotchety, they tend to lack patience and therefore bite, growl, etc., and add being sick or other various health problems, well, it's common sence for the owner to take precautions, more so when kids are concerned.
The fact is, she doesn't have the proper perspective and lack of respect for you.
It doesn't matter if we, the owner of our pets think we can anticipate what the pet will do, the fact is we can't and shouldn't.
We can't
expect someone else, be them close friends or not, to just understand that everything is going to be fine, and the animal won't lash out. Too many owners have been severely injured by their own animals because of this same issue.
It is more humane to just put the animal out of its misery. You know the animal is suffering from pain, so why turn a blind eye to that fact, and risk injury and loss of friendships.
I love my dog, but I would never allow a situation like this to play itself out the way this woman has. If I were her, I would have never let my dog around you or the girls, because I would know what feelings it would envoke in the kids; to see the dog that bit them free to roam around them. Kids have great memories, more so when they have been hurt by someone or something. They remember and log it in, and are apprehensive when put back in a similar situation, or the home where it happened. "Mommy, is this dog going to bite me again."
I would see those scenerios play out in my mind, after the first time something like that went wrong, and never allow that poor baby to feel those feelings.
Shame on her!
Shame on her for not respecting your feelings on the matter.

You seem to have a lot of friends name Jenn, or maybe its just one, so I'll go by Jenny H.

Hang in there,
Jenny H.

Jenn said...

I'd do what you did and just not bother going over again till the nasty little dog is gone. I would feel bad taking my kids somewhere I know has a mean dog that bites and them getting bit,I'd feel bad if they got bit just by some random animal but worse I think if I took them where it was. I had my kind loveable shitzu for 5 years then a month before I had the baby she was kind of getting snarky and as much as I cried we had her put down instead of waiting to see if she would bite the baby when we first brought him home. I figured if she's snapping at us I sure don't want her to bite my new baby's fingers off or something or his little face and she had bit my husband twice already so off she went to doggie heaven! My baby was more important then her!

Have the T-Shirt said...

There's really only one point to consider here.

How would ANY of you feel if that dog took a chunk out of one of the kids cheeks?

There is no going back and it's too big of an issue.

Anytime we feel our children are in danger it is our DUTY to protect them, no matter whose feelings get hurt in the process.

I love dogs, I cannot imagine my dog EVER hurting anyone. She's never so much as grumbled at anyone. And yet.....

and yet, it COULD happen. I'm very careful when she is around visitors to our home, especially those who stand eyeball to eyeball with her.

Heather said...

Amy - I wondered why this post had disappeared a few days back. Thank you for putting it back up.

As to the dog - either "Lola" agrees to muzzle him or put him out of the way (upstairs, out back, in a doggie crate, whatever) for the duration of your visit, or you don't visit. I don't see an issue with this.

Lola - I know where you're coming from. As far as you're concerned, it's YOUR house, YOUR dog, you should be the one who decides whether or not he's around guests, right? Except, see, the thing is that your dog has bitten a child.

Let me reiterate. Your DOG - YOUR dog - has BITTEN - a CHILD.

Everything I've ever read suggests that no healthy dog should EVER bite a child, because they recognize kids as "young", and it goes against their instincts to harm young. Exceptions to this tend to involve either attack training, or inbreeding (which includes mini-breeds), because it screws with the way their brains and instincts operate.

Your dog has bitten a child. If he was attack-trained, then you have the responsibility to keep him AWAY from anyone you don't want to be bitten. (You also need to check and see that it's legal to own such a dog.) If he's been taught that this behavior is okay, he needs to be retrained. If he can't be retrained, or if he is inbred and can't be trained in the first place, you have the responsibility to have him euthanized. Shelters will not adopt-out dogs who are aggressive. If a dog can't be rehabilitated in a certain length of time, the dog is put down as incurable. PERIOD.

Your dog has bitten a child. I want to know if you have done anything about it. Have you taken the dog in for remedial training? Do you own a muzzle or a dog crate? Do you USE them when kids are in the house? Do you use them every time? Is it possible that your dog may have been the result of inbreeding? (Example: When dalmations suddenly got popular, the breeders rushed to keep up with demand, and some of the resulting puppies were inbred.)

Your dog has bitten a child. Don't go getting offended that the mother of that child refuses to come to your house, until you agree to DO something about it, and do it consistently.

Julie said...


I keep expecting Rod Serling to come walking out from a closet to tell me about how we've entered a world of light and shadow, where an animal's feelings are anywhere near as important as a human being's safety -- particularly a human CHILD'S safety -- or even that an animal's feelings are as important as the promise previously made by Lola to you back when the first incident happened.

If the DOG'S widdle fuzzy wuzzy feewins are hurt, then "Lola" should call Dr. Phil or The Dog Whisperer or take the damn thing (and herself, come to think of it) to the nearest shrink for some meds. In the meantime, she must keep this dog muzzled -- not locked in a bathroom or put in "Doggie Time Out" but MUZZLED as per the ORIGINAL agreement -- or Lola should rightly expect you and your babies to stay away.

This dog -- which already has a history of biting, no matter what the excuse given by Lola for the biting -- has already bit one of your kids once, and it's still breathing!! That just shows you're a more patient woman than I am. I would have snapped its neck on the spot the first time, Amy, and you and I both know I'm not in any way using hyperbole. The fact that you didn't insist upon the animal's destruction at that time shows what immense love you have for Lola. Her behavior now is simply unconsionable, especially considering her relationship with your children.

Sure, yeah, Lola has the right to decide that her dog's feelings are more important than your children being safe. (As nauseating as that is for me to write.) It's her house, she can be as wrong and stupid and careless as she wants to be -- at least until the dog bites someone (like if it bit my kid) and it gets her sued right into a poorhouse that doesn't allow pets. But anyway... You have the right, then, to stay far away from Lola's house and her dog and to keep your children away as well. No, I'm sorry... you don't have that RIGHT. You have that RESPONSIBILITY.

I wouldn't lose a second's worth of sleep over it, Ames.

You're right. You're right. You're right.

Lola is wrong. She's wrong. She's wrong.

Repeat as necessary. Love you!