Sunday, February 10, 2013

2012.02.06 Dog Day


On a day of relative warmth in February I packed Sofia and Nadia into the new-ish double stroller to go for a quick walk around the neighborhood while the sun still mattered. If I wait too late in the afternoon, the same fifty degrees feels more like forty, because the sun isn't hitting the skin in the same way. 

I was still a little timid to get too much exercise because two days prior I'd launched myself into a coughing fit after a game of tag with Sofia in the living room. Bronchial infections stick to a person like that. Instead of the usual two-mile walk around our entire neighborhood, we did a shorter one-mile route that used the hills to my advantage. Because she was interested, I taught Sofia why her shadow appeared only under certain circumstances, and about fire hydrants. Sofia kept trying to wear Nadia's sunglasses, which didn't work out. As we approached the part of the neighborhood where our playground is, which is also the part of the neighborhood where people seem to drive the fastest and stupidest, a car flew by us just before slamming on the brakes. 

From the front side of the car appeared a three-legged chihuahua, hopping away from the scene and looking back at the car as if offended. I pointed him out to Sofia.

"He need be more careful," she said 

"I agree, Sof. He needs to go home."

The three men standing at the end of the driveway closest to the chihuahua seemed amused. I wondered if the chihuahua was theirs. That house has been for sale several times since 2005, and there is currently a for sale sign in the yard again. I think it's been a year since the last time it sold.  I wondered if they were the types to be amused that their dog causes traffic accidents. I wonder lots of things when a house gets sold and bought so regularly, because I'm a jerk. 

The Three Peaches crossed the street to get to the playground. This brought us within several feet of the chihuahua. I looked at him sympathetically. 

"You should go home, buddy," I said with as much worry in my voice as I felt for the poor thing.

I strolled the girls another five feet before he ran up behind me and bit me on the leg. 

I spun around. "HEY! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?" 

He just stood there and stared at me, as if asking me the same thing. It was a chihuahua bite on jeans, so I was fine. The men in the driveway laughed.  I started to walk away, then turned my head and saw him running up to me again. I spun back around and attempted to show him how to fly, using my foot. He got the point and backed away. 

Laughter again from the driveway. "KICK 'IM!"

I walked five more feet and turned to catch him still following. I put the breaks on the stroller and turned and stared. The dog stopped and changed his mind.
"What you doing, Daddy?"

"Whoopin' this dog's ass, maybe. I'm not sure yet."

Sofia giggled. 

We made it to the playground without any more incidents. Then there was an incident on the playground when I didn't do a very good job of keeping Sofia from falling from the rope ladder. To be fair, she didn't do a very good job of following my advice on how to not fall from a rope ladder. She takes after her daddy, who fell fifteen feet out of a treehouse after not following directions. I kept an eye out for the chihuahua the whole time. 

We loaded back into the stroller as the elementary school bus was coming down the street. At the intersection of Chihuahua and My Leg the bus let off a couple of kids who got into cars with waiting parents. The Three Peaches were walking up the hill when one of the cars that had taken off backed up and honked at us. The mother rolled down her window and shouted.

"The bus was going directly to kids' houses because there's a pitbull loose in the neighborhood."

"Oh wow! Thanks!"

We kept walking up the hill. The lady looked at me like something was wrong with me. I'm not sure what she thought I was supposed to do. I was trying to get home as quickly as I could. There aren't any designated dog attack shelters in our neighborhood. Obviously. 

I explained to Sofia that there was a potentially dangerous dog on the loose. She got confused for a moment, since she'd already seen a dangerous dog. "No, a much bigger one, Sofia. One that would hurt a lot more if it bit us."

Once we got home, I started loading the girls directly in the van so that we could go to the grocery store. Sofia was dragging her heels. 

"SOFIA, GET IN THE CAR RIGHT NOW."

"WHYYYYYYY?"

"Because a freaking dog is going to eat you if you don't."

At this point I feel it's important to point out that I don't buy into the myths of inherently dangerous breeds of dogs. However, any strange dog is a potential threat in my mind, and is normally treated as doubly so when I have my daughters. The chihuahua caught me slipping because it's a chihuahua. And because it's missing a leg. And probably because it appeared to have cognitive delays. 

We got in the car and drove to the store. Sofia and I talked about the dogs running around in the neighborhood, which is an occasional problem.
 
"You know, Sof, if I was that chihuahua, and I only had three legs, I would be much more careful. I wouldn't run around in the street, for sure. I would say, 'Hey, if I lose any more legs, I'm not going to be able to walk.' Yeah, if dogs have three legs they can walk, but if they have only two legs or one leg, they can't walk at all."

"Daddy, what if they only have zero legs?"

"Then they just lay there, I guess. That would be terrible, right?"

"DADDY IF A DOG HAVE ZERO LEGS THEY WOULD LOOK LIKE A BOAT."

Jessica says this is more evidence that Sofia has my sense of humor. I think it's more evidence that we are both inherently absurd, since she wasn't trying to be funny. Sofia does say the Doggie Boat Joke sometimes now, though, because she knows it makes Mommy laugh.

The night of the attempted chihuahua punting, I told the story to Jessica. When I got to the part where the dog bit me, she said, "Did it bite you because you tried to kick it?"

I lost my cool for a moment. There has been a pattern in the last few years of people putting me in this weird place where what I say is completely ignored and subservient to the dominant narrative that I'm an extraordinarily awful person. Apparently Jessica thinks I am someone who attempts to kick homeless three-legged chihuahuas BEFORE they bite me and attempt to bite me a second time. This is immediately after Jessica heard the facts. 

1. Poor doggie. You should go home.
2. Doggie bites me. 
3. GO AWAY DOGGIE
4. Doggie schemes on biting me again
5. DOGGIE I AM GOING TO MAKE YOU FLY.

Once I argued that perspective, Jessica was still bothered that I was going to kick the dog. 

I am not a natural dog kicker. However, I am okay with letting you all know that dogs get one chance with me. After that, I protect myself and my kids. If the offending dog looks like it will try again, I'm not giving it the benefit of a doubt. 

The whole trip around the neighborhood has brought up an old memory, and that memory has prompted a serious review of my current stance on an intensely debated topic. More on that when I get the time.