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Thread: Conflict with mom after her dog bit my daughter [long read -- sorry!]

  1. #31
    Platinum Member ThatwasThen's Avatar
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    Feb 2013
    Central Canada
    Our dog used to growl occasionally if someone got in her face too close but she never bit someone. (I'd put her down if she ever did regardless of how much as I loved her... we had a small child... at the very least, she would be muzzled which is cruel to my way of thinking). The dog in the Op bit without provocation. Time to put it out of it's misery. IMNSHO

  2. #32
    Platinum Member RainyCoast's Avatar
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    Nov 2013
    i so strongly agree with Wiseman on this. OP, you are just so hell bent on punishing your mother it's giving you complete tunnel vision in regards to what people are telling you about dog behavior and interaction with ANY dog, friendly looking or not, that isn't your own dog, one that you have personally owned, trained and connected with for a significant amount of time.

    I am a dog owner, a dog lover, a crazy dog mother type if you will. I do not claim to be any kind of expert on dogs, and continue to learn, very humbly, with each dog, even with each situation. I cannot tell you how often i am disappointed, borderline angry, with how dangerously, recklessly self-assured people, dog owners especially can be regarding dog behavior.

    Visits to the dog park are stressful to me. Walkies can be stressful, i try to walk my dog away from other dog walkers. People don't leash their dogs, they let them run over to an unfamiliar dog/person, and even when leashed, their dogs aren't discouraged from provoking or running towards people and other dogs. sometimes they are verbally encouraging the dog to play, even convincing me there's no need to pick up my dog.

    My current shelter dog is behaviorally the most challenging dog i have ever owned, although sweet, funny, and all that. All my previous dogs were just naturally easy going softies, highly social and cuddly, the "whatever makes you happy, Coast" types and needed no special training in that regard, and i was still careful with how they interacted and with whom.

    So i have been humble and careful with the current one, never ignoring his body language, growls, looks, habits. He wasn't too comfortable around dogs and people when i first got him in September, and he showed it. Somewhat subtly at times (subtly enough for people to think he was being cute and playful when he was warning), but to those who observed, obviously.

    I spent MONTHS not allowing him too close to humans or dogs, thankfully he is small and i can pick him up because people are convinced despite my warnings (even in the first days when i got him and kept telling them that, and that i do not know him well yet and do not know what kind of reaction to anticipate so i don't want them, their kids, or their animals within his reach) that it is safe to play with him. I do my best to avoid passing them, i turn and walk the other way, carrying my dog until we are far enough to put him down again, i tell people i don't trust him 100% and they still go "oh but mine is a female! Oh it's okay just let them play!". and they'll sue my ass when he rips nosy Snwoflake's ear off. smh. So that's one thing, don't trust a dog owner is as sharp and responsible as you'd want them to be. Sad but...real.

    He was only recently gradually introduced to my close friends, while i held him, hand always positioned and ready to react should he growl, show teeth or try to bite. I made each person aware i do not vouch that he wouldn't bite, although i will do my best to prevent it, and all involved "agreed to the experiment" with full understanding of this (most of them own dogs or have in the past, and share my views on introducing dogs, and take responsibility when they want to interact with a dog they don't know well) He got comfortable and loves humans petting him now. I still don't let children interact with him. I only let him play with dogs he knows, and i'm still very careful about that. We started with small, submissive dogs that were friends with my old dog, so i knew their behavior, and monitored my dog closely, very gradually upping the proximity and freedom to interact. If all dogs are leashed and all owners responsible and ready to pull away at first warning signs, i let bigger dogs introduce themselves to him, starting at a safe distance, and very careful their leashes aren't too loose and don't get intertwined should someone growl or start digging when they sniff each other. He has recently met and behaved really well around two huge huskies. One new win, but not anything that would let me conclude he can just play with any ole dog (or human). Some may think i'm being too cautions, but i have observed him enough to know he's tricky, and i have observed enough dog and dog owner behavior to not trust ANY situation with them 100%.

    I'm a sucker for dogs and when someone tells me their dog is okay with cuddles, i go all in, please excuse the caps lock but i strongly believe the following is pivotal -FULLY AWARE THE DOG COULD RIP MY HAND OFF AT ANY POINT DESPITE THE OWNERS CLAIM IT WON'T AND I'M WILLING TO TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR APPROACHING HIM/HER.. If anything happens, I'll get my shots and stitches, apologize for having unknowingly antagonized the dog (maybe it's nothing more than a weird smell on my clothing- or my dog's smell on me!), and never in my wildest dreams consider blaming the owner or the dog. I need to be aware of the risk involved in approaching even the friendliest looking animal, and either resits cuddling it, or accept potential consequences. Personally, i take that risk, but never would risk it with a child.

    So, yes, you all are at fault, imo. I'm especially surprised that it never occurred to you introducing a child to a dog who gets exclusive attention from his owner would not trigger aggression out of jealousy, as it is one of the most well know and frequently documented way dogs harm children, not just unknown dogs, but long time family dogs. Your mom's dog, in a dog's mind, had all the reason to feel threatened and confused and reacted accordingly. Moreso if she hasn't been the most responsible of owners and socialized him properly, which is something you claim to not have known. I follow a rule i had to abide by when i worked in a high risk lab. When i can't guarantee something isn't contaminated, i act as if it is contaminated. when you don't know with certainty that a dog isn't safe ( isn't properly socialized) you act as if it is unsafe. Or hold yourself accountable for the consequences.

    Stop the witch hunt. You have made the rigth people aware of the dog's propensity to bite. Your work there is done. Now focus on how you can, and have to, as a parent, do your best to prevent your child's exposure to risk. "We were right there, there was room to intervene" is not guarantee she is safe. You don't get a child within several feet of a (probably unleashed) dog on the first meeting, period. Hold the child in your arms, if she is small enough. Have the owner hold the pet, if the pet's size allows for that, or have them leash it and heel it. Don't just place yourself and the child in the middle of the dog's (!) living room (territory), calmly stand at the entrance or room margin first (or wait for a responsible owner to show the dog you are not a threat), speak softly (hello Chester. hy buddy. We'll wait to see if Chester feels like greeting us, he may be suspicious of us just walking in or fearing we will want his chair, his kibble and toys, okay Maggie? We'll be quiet and calm and see if he is comfortable...etc). If you notice possessive behavior (like the dog going to fetch something and dragging it to his "spot", whipping a toy around while spreading his movements across a large portion of a room ("I'm the boss here and ALL of this is mine"), point it out to the child calmly and do not try to warm up to the dog then. If possible, ask to be introduced outside/ on a neutral terrain (with the dog leashed and no other dogs or loud distractions around). Although to be honest, in your case, unless you have a professional handling it, i think you should just not introduce your child to animals right now. At some point, i feel you should (not this dog, and with more awareness) because it wouldn't help the child if her only memory of playing with a pet was the injury.

    Given the serious bite, i understand why you're so upset, completely. But i feel, in addition to not owning your part of it or handling it well, you have other gripes with your mother behind it all too.

    Please remember that your best bet is working on minimizing risk in the future. It's the only reasonable option that most negative experience in life leaves you with after all. Drop the persecutory attitude towards your mother, or address your underlying gripes with her separately, if possible in counseling, but continuing on this mission to blame the mother and the animal ad nauseam, the obsession with punitive action and classification of the levels of offense isn't helping anything. Just stick to what you can do to keep her reasonably safe, and to help her accept the bad parts of life in a way that won't constrict her future appreciation of life.

    You don't become a saint through other people's sins.
    Last edited by RainyCoast; 02-08-2019 at 03:07 AM.

  3. #33
    Platinum Member RainyCoast's Avatar
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    Nov 2013
    eta: perhaps i'm making it sound like anyone who doesn't succeed in preventing conflict is an incompetent idiot, so to clarify, i mean to not underestimate an animal. I've seen owners introduce dogs that were seemingly happy to meet each other (and otherwise friendly) and in a split second the greeting went from happy to a fight- because one dog's warning was subtle, sometimes a mix of emotions " you're beautiful *heart eyes*, i want to play with you but you're frighteningly big/ smell like the neighbour's scary tractor/what's that noise over there", and the owners missed it while either still greeting each other, talking, or talking to the dogs ("awe she's so fluffy, hi pumpkin!") and the dogs were a tangled ball of fluff and teeth before they knew it. I'd rather be too careful that not careful is what i mean. Replace one of the dogs with a kid, and scenarios like yours are far from unimaginable.

    and also, such is life, that even when you're not testing your luck, you may simply be out of luck that day so i don't think it's excessive to always have some ... respect for the unexpected.
    Last edited by RainyCoast; 02-08-2019 at 03:37 AM.

  4. #34
    Platinum Member RainyCoast's Avatar
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    Nov 2013
    everyone, i apologize if i'm overposting, at the time i was writing, ENA did not have my undivided attention, and i feel terrible that out of all the things i remembered to extend, i forgot empathy should have been the first on my list.

    OP, i noticed in your response to wiseman you mention having had difficulty forgiving yourself, and that you learned about certain factors that can lead up to an introduction going awry after the incident. i am sorry that you couldn't trust your mother's judgement, or her ability to conduct the meeting safely. it is understandable you don't anticipate everything if you haven't spent a good chunk of your life with dogs, and sad that someone who has doesn't guide you through the event safely. In addition to this particular dog being unsafe, an otherwise "ordinary" dog can become dangerous given the right circumstance.

    You mention your mother is forgetful, she is old i am assuming, perhaps also feels like the dog is her only companion- no excuse to put anyone in danger, but her emotional state, rather than her not caring enough about your daughter's serious injury, may explain her dangerous denial about the dog's behavior. As previously mentioned, i share the frustration of irresponsible dog ownership, and i'm not even the one with an injured kid.

    i think also, that many dog owners feel it is unwise to admit their dog may be difficult in this or that way, basically any way that goes beyond just being "cute naughty". There's lots of owner shaming and breed villanizing going around for a lot less than a dog attacking a child, with the unfortunate result that many dog owners don't share the tricky parts of their dog's behavior that could help others approach dogs with more risk awareness. You mentioned you have discovered how a human's size can influence the outcome of a meeting, and it was one of the things that went through my mind when i was reading your opening post, that i feel, combined with resource guarding tendencies, could negatively affect my own dog's exposure to children, and is why i feel it is too early to introduce him to kiddos (and he wouldn't be considered an aggressive dog).

    Again, i am sorry your mother hasn't done a better job introducing the dog and child, and for your daughters frightening experience.
    I also apologize if i made you feel judged in any way. I understand you simply trusted her.

    I would likewise understand completely if you can't even fathom your daughter and a dog together at this point, but if you would like myself or other ENA dog people to share how and why they they do (or choose not to) socialize their dogs, please don't hesitate to ask if you feel it would help you introduce your daughter to dogs safely, rather than kick yourself.
    Last edited by RainyCoast; 02-08-2019 at 07:07 AM.


  6. #35
    Platinum Member SherrySher's Avatar
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    May 2016
    I absolutely see both sides of it.

    Not trying to guilt you, OP, but as I am a parent too, I cannot for the life of me imagine ever setting my small child down next to a dog. I wouldn't care if the dog were small, big or otherwise, I just wouldn't have done it.
    I was very protective of my child.
    Not saying you're not, but perhaps you didn't think things through.

    I am an animal lover as well, and I understand every point you're making Rainy, and you make a whole lot of sense. You really do.

    But I am looking at this situation from a mother's point of view and to even imagine seeing my baby torn up from a dog like that (my fault or otherwise) I would need that dog destroyed.

    Is it entirely fair to the dog in question? Probably not. After all, he was sitting in his own home, only being territorial as a dog.
    Nonetheless, I couldn't stand seeing my child injured like that and knowing that dog did it and could do it again to someone else.

    The dog would have to be put to rest. The damage has already been done.

    Though I do hope everyone reads Rainy's posts, it will save people from ever having this situation occur.
    Then no child would be hurt and no dog would be hurt.

    Be smarter, be more aware, don't take it for granted that a dog is safe or friendly or won't feel threatened and turn. I too understand that this is a dogs nature , even the most friendliest of dogs.

    The whole situation is a shame. I can understand all sides.

    But as a mother, I would need that dog put down. Right or wrong, that's my 2 cents.

  7. #36
    Platinum Member
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    Mar 2006
    My son is going to a friend's house tomorrow (with my husband) for the first time. The dad told me on the phone yesterday that they have two small/medium dogs who are loud and jumpy but would never hurt anyone -he wanted me to know in case my son is afraid of dogs(he is not, generally and in general gets startled by loud noises as do I). So I told my son that they might be loud and jumpy and that he shouldn't play with them since he doesn't know them but at the same time he need not be scared. My husband will keep his distance and keep my son at a distance and I don't think that means we instill fear in him. I've let him approach many dogs with the owner's consent, my son is very gentle and thoughtful and caring around animals (always been that way) and it's always been fine. But if they're jumpy and noisy and my son gets startled that could be an issue so I'd prefer he keep a friendly distance and enjoy watching the dogs do their thing.

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