Last night I was in the garage while the kids were playing. Sassafras was sitting in the driveway, probably coloring with chalk, when I suddenly heard her scream. It was high, loud, and full of fear. I looked up to see a big black dog hovering over her. I started running, dropping the scissors in my hand. Honestly, it felt like it took me a minute just to react. By the time my feet even moved the dog had bounded away from her while she continued to scream and cry.
I knew where the dog came from. Our neighbor’s dog died about a year ago and they had just gotten a new black one. I wasn’t completely afraid, but for a slip second I considered that it may have attacked her, although I know my neighbor, who has a teenage son, wouldn’t get a dog that would attack. However, sometimes dogs do weird things.
After the second longest 5 seconds of my life (someday I’ll tell you about the longest, which involved a pregnant me, a passed out baby and a grocery store) I reached Sassafras. She was on the ground FREAKING out. I picked her up and she clung to me like nobody’s business. Buddy was in the yard, totally cool, while our neighbor’s kid was chasing the dog around the yard. Finally I yelled to the kids to get in the house. I knew I needed to get Sass away from the action and I didn’t want to leave Buddy outside alone with the dog running around.
Inside Sass cried and cried. She cried about how that mean dog scared her. Why did he scare her? she wanted to know. After a few minutes my neighbor headed over to make sure she was OK. Her son thought we were mad because I yelled at the kids to get in, but I assured her it wasn’t. I know she doesn’t let her dog(s) run wild and she’s always been very conscientious about the kids.
My daughter used to love talking to their old dog Boo from her bedroom window, which overlooks their back porch. Every night they would both tell him Good Night. However, get her actually near a dog, and she would freak out. She did NOT like dogs. We’re allergic to pretty much everything so the only pets we have are the unauthorized ones that we trap. Yet in the past 6 months or so she’s gotten more comfortable. I have always exposed her to animals when we can and when it was safe. Buddy also had an intense fear of dogs and cats when he was her age. I remember when he was a year old and we visited my cousin. He suddenly screeched like something bit him, when their cat had simply walked into the room. On the other side.
Finally, finally, she was calmer around animals, when this huge dog bounds on her like Tigger. Well, he didn’t actually jump ON her, but right next to her. I understand why she was scared. If I looked up and a big dog was standing above me out of no where I would react too. Hey, I jumped across the room the other night when a mouse scurried by, so who am I to judge?
As she calmed down I tried to explain to her what happened. I told her the dog got loose accidentally and it heard them playing and thought it sounded like fun and wanted to see what was going on. I said the dog didn’t mean to scare Princess Sass. She wanted to know if the dog felt bad about scaring her and I assured her he did. She mulled this over for the rest of the night, bringing it up a few times. She I appreciated how she tried to understand the dog’s point of view – that it looked like a lot of fun in the next yard and he wanted to play.
My big worry right now is that she is going to be afraid to play in our yard. I’m sure the next few times she’ll bring up the dog (her memory is amazing – when I put her to bed last night she asked me if I remembered telling her that we – me and her daddy – were going to die – hand*forehead). I really hope she doesn’t let this doesn’t stop her from feeling safe in our yard. Maybe we need to revisit the fence that we plan to put in at some point.