I have a son (8) who loves animals. Heaven only knows he didn’t get it from me.
It says something about a neighborhood dog, then, that has intimidated him for quite a while now, because his love of animals generally overrides any fear. The dog belongs to the house two lots down from my in-laws and several times my youngest has turned around halfway to Grandma’s house, come back, and said the dog was being too mean. One day he said to me, “Mom, I know God is real because I asked him to protect me from that dog, and the dog stopped attacking me and went home.” I have also heard him thank God in his prayers for protecting him from this dog. We all know the dog is obnoxious, but it’s not the only one running free on this street. None of us like it, but the county won’t do anything.
One day this past week or so, when school was cancelled, our youngest son was out sledding and decided to go down the street towards my in-laws. I’m always a little uneasy when he goes off that direction because the dog, but I usually chalk it up to me being an overprotective parent and I bite my tongue. This day there were lots of kids out there in the vacant lot between the dog’s house and my in-laws. There were even several adults with them; I didn’t worry too much.
Around 5 o’clock as the sun got lower on the horizon, I started getting uneasy, though. I finally called my mother-in-law and had her holler at him to head home, which he did. Some time later that evening, we got a call from the dog’s owner saying the police had just come and taken his dog, because they said it had attacked a child and broken its neck. He wanted to know if we knew who the kid was.
I didn’t, but I was immediately sick at heart for that poor kid and his family! And relieved (and then guilt-ridden for feeling relieved) that it wasn’t my son–and grateful that it hadn’t attacked him any of the other times he’s been frightened of it. Turns out the toddler had wandered off from the adults and other kids sometime shortly before or after my son left. (This is all heresay–from the wife of one father present, by the way; my facts may be up for debate.) At some point, an 8-year-old girl saw some blood in the snow and followed the trail to where the toddler was partially buried in a snowbank, with the dog standing nearby. That brave, scared little girl picked up the toddler, tried to stop the bleeding on the back of his head, and screamed for help. (He was severely injured—but his neck was not broken, last I heard.)
My son–who is the same age–I’m trying to imagine… would he have kept his head like she did? He has such a tender heart. I’m so glad he wasn’t there to see it all. When I told him what had happened, he got all wide- and misty-eyed and asked, “Can you walk me to Grandma’s next time I go?”
But here’s the real kicker: when I told him the dog had been taken away and would be put to sleep, he really got upset: “Well, can’t they just put the dog in jail? Do they really have to kill it?” He was sure we could find a way to protect everyone from the dog, but still spare its life.