The neighbor’s dog attacked us tonight. Us as in my eldest fur child and myself.
I got home from work to bring the sleepy Coconut outside. She was excited to see one of her humans and presented a toy like always. She wiggled her butt and tail side to side as always. We went through the garage door and to a small patch of grass like always. Coconut was still excited about the rope toy she seemingly rediscovered upon my arrival and oblivious to her surroundings. A naive pup, happy as a clam, like any other day that quickly turned into anything but any other day.
Ray and I live on a corner lot in a quiet, placid neighborhood next to an owner of a demon dog made of pure evil. We’ll call the dog “Evil” to de-identify him.
The first time we encountered Evil, Coconut and I were playing in the yard and Evil started charging ferociously and barking at Coconut right in front of his owner who didn’t do a thing to stop it. Coconut ran away while Evil chased her; Evil was bearing his teeth and undoubtedly trying to hurt her. Coconut ran to me, I scooped her up instinctively, and Evil’s human mom made fun of Coconut for being too passive and just needing to socialize. I walked Coconut inside and made a point that if Evil was outside, we would not be, as Evil’s owner struggled to regain control of her beloved, hateful little horror.
Yes, perhaps Coconut can be timid around some dogs but not always. For some reason she follows Labs and German Shepherds around like a weird groupie, so this doesn’t happen 100% of the time. She’s not hugely social, but she’ll mingle with other dogs that she feels safe with. But then there are dangerous dogs like Evil and the ignorant owners who don’t hold Evil back.
There’s a difference between playing and attacking. There’s a difference between consent and crossing boundaries. There’s a difference between foolishly leaving yourself in harm’s way and knowing when to walk away. Evil’s human thought his pure aggression was totally endearing and playful. It didn’t matter. He crossed the line, terrified Coconut and myself, and Coconut was smart enough to trust her instincts, protect herself, and remove herself from the situation.
Contrary to Evil’s human’s skewed belief, it wasn’t “play” the first time or the next time he charged at her growling. It wasn’t play the third time or when he tried jumping through his owner’s car window to hurt Coconut either. And it definitely wasn’t play this afternoon when Evil sprinted down the street from the opposite direction of his house with no owner in sight, directly at Coconut who was simply sitting in the yard oblivious to the thing about to get her.
I sternly told Coconut to come to avoid alarming her and to get her out of Evil’s way. She ignored my first command and stayed there with her rope toy until I said it again and she turned her head to see Evil running straight at her. She cowered after she saw Evil and ran to me in time to scoop her up before he got to her, but I was too far away to get to the damn door in time.
Evil turned his efforts on me to get to his target. I’ve never had a dog charge at me, so I didn’t know what else to do. He got me backing up as he came at me, as close as a foot and a half away from us. He was growling, barking, and terrifying. I screamed bloody murder at him repeating, “No! Stop! Stay! No!” and felt pure panic as Evil would not leave us be.
Something distracted him. I think he heard something because he turned his head to his house, then sniffed Coconut’s rope toy, and just left. I don’t know why he came at her or why he continues to attack her, but it made something that I have been obsessively thinking about and trying to understand make perfect sense today.
I don’t have a human child, so I can’t say, “I know what it’s like,” but I imagine the same goes for healthy parents and their children: you protect your babies and do anything in your power to get them out of harm’s way. Healthy people don’t hurt people and want the best for their young, other people, and all living creatures, really.
Evil can maul me as I cling to Coconut in my dead lifeless arms before I ever allow him to touch a hair on her head. I won’t let him hurt her. I can proudly say I protect her to the best of my ability, especially when she doesn’t know how to defend herself.
These are things I know, but I have obsessed over trying to figure out why Evil would try to hurt her. Why would you try to hurt another being? Finally, I get it.
It doesn’t matter why Evil exists or whatever made Evil, well, Evil. All you need to know is that if Evil is trying to hurt you, you protect yourself and walk away. Perhaps you shrug off Evil as having a bad day and let it go the first time, but when Evil makes a pattern of aggression and attacks, you walk away and you never look back. No excuses.
I finally get it. You cannot change Evil. You don’t even need to understand it. You never will. All you need to do is protect your babies and protect yourself by knowing when to walk away. If other people chastise you for that decision, they do not care about your well-being.
But you must.