Sunday, February 24, 2013


So, last Tuesday sucked. I was trying to get some work done when the power went out. I thought maybe we'd just missed the bill... except that Kat has that on autopay, and her account's not dry. After digging out a paper phone book, like in the olden days, we got hold of the power company and got an automated message indicating that they expected to have power up in a few hours.

I'm diabetic, and it went out about half an hour before I was supposed to eat... and there was basically nothing to eat in the house that didn't require a stove or microwave. My car isn't in the best of shape right now, and I can't afford to have it looked at, so I only felt safe traveling on foot.

I thought about walking to a nearby store, but our entire zip code was down. The whole thing was quite the spectacle: the news covered it in this article.. (We were in the very special zone that didn't have power back for good 'til after 9 PM.)

So I dug out the old phone handset and called my friend Mike. I asked to just go over there and play board games for the afternoon. Figured a power outage was as good an excuse as any to be sociable.

I hadn't been to his house for a while. His dad Mac's got this big dog Sadie who... she used to just bark and bark and bark ceaselessly. The last time I came over to his house though, she tried to bite me. They promised to keep her on a leash whenever company was by, but I didn't feel comfortable going there much anyway.

So it'd been a while.

We went to the store first to make sure I had something for lunch, what with the low blood sugar. Then we went to his place.Mike went on ahead so they could get her secured. Tied, I imagined. He came out and waved me inside. As I got to the door, Sadie got loose and charged me on the porch. Mike got knocked down physically, and he's not a small guy. She's a large animal. She bit my leg on the thigh, then got past me. She bit me again on the calf, wrecking my pants.

My hands were full of grocery bags, and even if they'd been empty? I don't carry a gun or a knife or anything. All I could do was kick her. So I kicked her square on the nose a few times. She ran further into the yard.

At this point, I was ready to kill. I yelled at the stupid mutt. I tried to think about what I could use to fight back in the yard - all I could come up with was finding a loose brick or rock to bash her head in. I was good with that. My pants were coming down, though. She tore the right leg on 'em wide open, and they didn't want to stay up.

It's been my observation that action in real life is rarely dignified, but chasing a mad dog in my underpants without any real plan was a little much without even having lunch. So when Mac said to go inside so he could secure her, I went in.

It came out I was the third or fourth guy Sadie had tried to attack - nobody was quite sure. I'm the first one she'd actually drawn blood on, but she went after the UPS guy every chance she could get, and nearly took a chunk out of a moving guy recently. There was a lot of speculation as to why: it wasn't as simple as 'brown men,' because apparently one of the others had been white.

I said that I only wanted one thing. Not money. Not a trip to the ER. Not new pants. I didn't want to make financial trouble for them because Mike and I have been friends since middle school, and I didn't want to saddle them with a big hit over what I thought was just an accident. They're better off than I am, but even a brief hop into the medical system can be very bad.

Besides which, Mac's also very, very ill. As someone who is also pretty sick, I just... didn't want to cause him undue emotional stress.

So I said all they had to do was get rid of the dog. It was clear Mac couldn't control her at all: I was bleeding, Mike was literally bowled over, and we were only lucky Kat wasn't hurt. The situation was plainly not handled, and all I really wanted to know was that neither I nor anybody else would get hurt again.

The best fix for an accident isn't payback or revenge, but to make sure it doesn't happen twice.

I explained that, or did the best I could to. I suppose words like, "I will kill the dog if I see her again" were mentioned. I was shocked and hurt. I did make it absolutely clear that I didn't blame anybody for it. My take was that the dog was obviously more dangerous than they'd realized.

Honest mistake, I figured.

Then we all noted it was lucky that I was the one who got hurt, because I had the presence of mind to defend myself and wasn't going to sue them into the Dark Ages.

The cuts on my leg are not scratches. If I'd gotten knocked down and Sadie had done similar things to my neck, I could've been killed. I shudder to think what might've happened to my hands if they had not been full.


They agreed what I asked for was completely reasonable. The words, "There's no coming back from that," were said to me.

Mac and Merri - Mike's mom - took Sadie to the vet to have her put down. When they came back, it turned out that there's a mandatory 10 day watch on any dog who bites a person to make sure they don't have rabies. We all knew the dog didn't have rabies, but given what that illness can do to people, I guess it's good there's zero tolerance there.

I was in pain, but I figured it was water under the bridge... and I am, unfortunately, no stranger to pain. Simple enough to downplay it with my prior experience. So I sat and played board games and had dinner and generally tried to talk about anything else to let everyone get past it.

We'd all done the right thing, or so I thought.

... then I found out, a few days later,  that it wasn't. Mac's been all over Facebook talking about how awful it is that he has to give up his dog, and finally settled on some crazy scheme to take her to dog school for a few weeks. There was also a lot of talk about how the dog wouldn't hurt anybody innocent, of course. Not children. Nobody who didn't have it coming. Someone in his extended family had the nerve to say I had it coming, something about how 'dogs have great instincts, and it's the idiots who need training.'

Sadie needed to be restrained in the company of guests, not held on a leash by a frail and irresponsible old man, but I'm the one who made a mistake.

Of course.

And I'm no longer welcome in their home. I made it very clear it was me or the dog. He didn't have the nerve to come out and tell me. The matter is just implied. I dropped him a very, very upset e-mail demanding to know how he could do something like that last night, but he didn't even have the good grace to be ashamed for what he did, or what he allowed to happen under his roof.

I also feel horrible knowing that while I can write Mac off - and the last I intend to worry about this is right after I file a police report on Monday morning - a lot of people in his life can't. Mike's stuck there until he can get another job and flee..

And that's really the worst part.

My leg hurts, but it's hurt worse.

It hurts knowing there are people I have known since middle school who can say, without any shame, "It's lucky only John got hurt." I've had worse betrayals.

The thing that hurts the worst is knowing there isn't a thing I can do to keep someone else from getting hurt because Mac Knight can't train, restrain or - in the end - dispose of an animal.

After edit:
Merri should in no way be construed as participating in this. She insisted on paying to replace the pants anyway, and was pretty clearly distraught that something rotten happened to me. Mike's stuck in the middle, with the unwelcome news that a dangerous dog will be returning to his home regardless of what she might do to him or his guests.

This one's all Mac.

Just wanted to clarify that.
A final update:

Mac did write to respond to my e-mail this morning. I'm reproducing a it here without permission because it was decent, and I wanted to try to be fair:
I'm so sorry this ever happened. I did not decide to try to bring her back until I consulted with several behavior experts. She will be getting extensive retraining, perhaps as long as two years. I will have the responsibility of ensuring she is never put in a position again where she could hurt someone.
I know this is not acceptable to you. She is also a member of my family and I had to look into the possibility of behavior modification before condemning her to death.
This dog has been my baby for nearly five years. She has kept me going when I felt like giving up due to my disease. I owed her a non-hasty decision, even according to the vet at the clinic.
I know this is not acceptable to you. I was bit by my back neighbor's dog last winter and I know how it hurts.
I would expect you will stay away while I have Sadie and I understand that. Again, I offer to cover you if you feel a need to see a doctor.
I don't believe there us anything I can say that will make this better, so I'm done trying.
I disagree with this decision because the situation was allowed to get so bad to begin with. I think she's too large and aggressive to handle this way, and that even if it is possible, it should've happened after a close call, rather than an incident.

For what it's worth, if she stays, I hope it works out. I don't want to be 'proved right' or anything else horrible. I don't trust that it'll work out, but I hope it does.

Anyway, I think I'm done talking about it. We've all decided what we have to do for our own peace of mind. Nothing else to do but do it.