Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Chronicles of an Aging Gheorghie: Dog Bites Man

As a veteran newsman, Dave Fairbank knows the oldest story in the book - dog bites man pieces don't sell. Dog bites kid, though, that's a horse of a different color. 

My dog’s morning constitutional is usually a routine, welcome exercise. Gets us both out of bed. Clears the cobwebs. Makes sure he’s still the master of all he surveys. Reminds me who actually runs the show. Except when we’re at a public campground, with kids and other dogs and a million new sights and smells. Then it’s jarring and potentially terrifying and what little control I believe I have is out the window. Yeah, pretty relaxing.

We spent the weekend at the KOA just outside Williamsburg on a getaway with friends. We rented camping cabins – “glamping” in the outdoors vernacular – because we all like creature comforts, and the fact that our dog tethered to a tent and a traditional, no-frills campsite is untenable.

Not that he’s a bad dog. On the contrary, he’s a pretty sweet-natured fellow, a 25-pound crotch-seeking missile of cocker spaniel-poodle mix named Nappy. But he’s a little neurotic and territorial and possessive. He fancies himself an alpha dog, but that’s an act. While probably not an omega dog, he’s more like an upsilon or maybe a chi. He gets along with people better than with other dogs. He’s given to brief bursts of energy and enthusiasm, followed by lengthy periods of sloth, much like his doggie daddy.

Which brings us to Sunday morning, following an evening of eating, drinking and general goofballery, and dragging myself out of bed for the morning’s unexpected and unwanted adrenalin rush.

I’m walking him up a hill when he spies another dog maybe 50 yards away being walked by his owner in our direction. He starts barking, because that’s what he does when he sees other dogs. Ahead of them, bounding rapidly down the hill toward us, are two young boys who appear to be brothers and are all about my dog, and apparently, all dogs.

“Can we see your dog? Can we see your dog? We have a dog, too,” says the older of the two, who looks to be 7 or 8 years old.

I say, sure, while I pull him up close on my left side and try to get him to quit barking at the other dog. The younger brother stands to my right and starts telling me about their dog. While I’m watching and listening to him, the older brother moves in close to Nappy. Suddenly, I feel the leash jerk and out of the corner of my left eye, I see the older brother leaning in to try to hug Nappy, and Nappy lunge forward.

The kid recoils and slaps his hand over his right cheekbone and says in shock, “He bit me. Your dog bit me.”

Oh fuck. I immediately envision blood and bite marks and scars and pissed-off parents who want to kick my ass and have my dog put down and tetanus shots and lawsuits and Lord knows what else. Dogfight at the KOA Corral. Or something like that.

I’m sorry, I say, I’m sorry. He doesn’t know you. He didn’t know you were just being friendly. The kid’s hand is still covering his cheekbone. Are you OK, I say, can I see where he bit you? The kid takes his hand away, and there’s a tiny pink mark on his cheekbone. I lean down closely to look. No blood, no broken skin. Nappy just nipped at the kid when his face got too close and he reached for him.

By this time, the kids’ dad finally catches up, with their dog alongside, and is about 15 feet away. I say, hey, I’m really sorry, but I didn’t see your son get that close to my dog, he can be a little skittish around strangers, and probably three or four more, I’m sorrys.

The guy earns the Chill Dad of the Week Award. He shakes his head, says don’t worry about it. He says something about their dog and how the kids hug him all the time, and they know better than to run up to strange dogs. He tells his son to come see him so he can look at where Nappy nipped at him. Says, you’re OK and go see your mother. Kid runs off toward their cabin.

Meanwhile, the younger brother is standing there the entire time. Dad says to him, what do we do if we want to see other dogs? We have to ask permission. Younger brother looks at Dad, looks at me, asks can I see him? I say OK, but hold out your hand first. Kid holds out his hand, Nappy sniffs it, isn’t interested. I tell Chill Dad again, I’m really sorry. He shakes his head, resigned look on his face, says don’t worry about it. They know better.

Meantime, Nappy still hasn’t evacuated yet, and I haul him in the opposite direction of the other folks’ cabin. He drops a hand-warmer and we quickly circle back to our cabin. I glance over at their cabin and I see Mom on the front porch swing in some state of agitation – gesturing, pointing, head bobbing, arms moving up and down. Dad’s standing in front of her, chill and still, dog on leash at his side. We scoot inside and I fully expect a knock on the door at any moment.

Doesn’t happen. I feed the dog and climb back into bed to try to sleep a little more. That doesn’t happen, either. I’m wide slam awake and still expecting a visit from Mom or Dad. Nappy, meanwhile, goes sideways and sleeps off breakfast until everybody starts moving.

I find out later that our friends, who also brought their dog and were in a nearby cabin, had a similar run in with the same kids. Our buddy takes his dog for a walk. The kids rush the dog and want to pet him and get close. His dog, a rescue who’s quieter and younger than ours, just kinda cowers behind him. We depart without further incident or confrontation.

To all of you who juggle kids, pets, and kids and pets, you have my undying respect.


mayhugh said...

Elegant use of "hand-warmer".

We have a cat, with claws, that used to top out a shade under 30 pounds. He gained 15 pounds while being caged up as rescue, and he was a rescue because he couldn't get along with the kids in his original family (and subsequent foster family). We did not know how much he hated kids until he Zorro-ed the forehead of a 3 year old who got too close. Always happens in a split second, and you always feel like the worst pet owner in the world.

Danimal said...

any chance of gtb presence within the lovely Newark airport this afternoon? Stuck for several hours (2nd time in 3 days) due to delay. Drinking. Please advise if so.

You may have seen from last comment in previous post that a group I was with was fortunate enough to do hobknobbing at the Friar's Club last night. I wish I could write like one of you's.... what an experience.

To a colleague of mine who is a golf purist and Golf Professional, used to work at Pebble and run Shadow Creek in Vegas, I asked...if given the opportunity to join Augusta National or the Friar's Club today, and only one of the two with no opportunity to join the other ever again, which would you choose? I bet on ANGC. Without hesitation, Friar's was given as his answer. I got some good pics and vids....will make an effort to post in some time.

rob said...

it seems inappropriate to root against something from manchester right now, but i hope we're all pulling for ajax in the europa league final this afternoon. except tr, that soulless bastard.

Squeaky said...

I'm sitting in the ATL airport on a delay as well. Need to find a bar stat.

Danimal said...

watching one seems to give a shit though. assuming ajx is the underdog?

rob said...

ajax is a very young side, and given the talent on man u's roster, ajax is probably the underdog. they've got some talent, though. if they win, it wouldn't be a giant shock. they're playing like headless chickens at the moment, so that might make it tough for them.

TR said...

Jeez, Rob. Go ahead and support ISIS, why don't ya?

rob said...

my bad.

if you're looking for the dmv hipster population, it's all here at this bon iver show.

rob said...

us u20 men's national team beat senegal today, 1-0, to move to the top of their group at the u20 world cup. a tie or better against saudi arabia later in the week ensures advancement.

zman said...

Horse meat is delicious.

rob said...

mini concert review:

the bon iver show i saw yesterday was as interesting in terms of both music and song progression as any i can remember. the first 7-8 songs were all from the band's new record, which is experimental, mixing a lot of electronic, auto-tuned elements with justin vernon's unique vocal style. tons of lighting and other visual effects combined with the ultra-electronic sound. as the show progressed, the songs got less produced, less technical, and more spare. the show ended with vernon solo on a beat up old metal-bodied guitar singing 'skinny love'. it was definitely a laid-back vibe, but it was musically fascinating and cool.

rob said...

has anyone used american home shield or something similar? looking at a bunch of potentially high dollar home repair expenses over the next 3-4 years and wondering if that's a good option.

Whitney said...

I think we used to have it about 20 years ago. Can't remember if we liked it, that was back in my drinking days. Maybe ask my first wife.


zman said...

Since when were your drinking days "back"?

rob said...

tribe lost greg malinowki to transfer today, making three total transfers this offseason. odd, for sure, and from a practical perspective, we're gonna stink next year.

Whitney said...

Just saw the Grateful Dead documentary at the local indie movie theater. Fucking awesome.