17 February 2010

Teach your children well

The other day, Goldie and I were finishing a walk by the beach in Carpinteria when a family came down the path toward us. Two adults, two kids, two dogs.

Mom called to the little girl, who was all of about 80 pounds with a 50-pound dog on the leash "Don't let Tasha come near that other dog."

So she knew. She knew Tasha was vicious.

At that moment, Tasha lunged and bit Goldie. It wasn't the kid's fault. She had no chance because she was too small to hold back a big, angry dog.

We got the dogs apart and the mom was saying "I am SO sorry," when Tasha slipped her collar and attacked Goldie. Full on attack frenzy.

It took maybe 2 minutes to separate the dogs. The dad had to use his whole body to pin Tasha to the ground as she snarled. Once I got Goldie away, my dear dog sat beside the trail calmly as if nothing had ever happened.

I called to the people, "Hey, I need your contact information." Goldie didn't look wounded but you never know what is going on under all that fur.

They were about 20 feet away, so I thought maybe they didn't hear me, and I asked a passerby to go get their info.

She soon returned. "No. They said no."

They started to walk off.

I used the Big Voice. "HEY! DO NOT WALK AWAY!"

Dad came up and got right in my face and started screaming, red-faced.


I was incredulous. They knew their dog was vicious. It escaped its collar and attacked Goldie. And somehow it was my fault?

The people took off toward their car and I followed them.

The mom started screaming at me with the same theme as dad. It was my fault. For having a dog that got attacked.

I got their license plate and called the police, but the people had taken off, screeching down the road.

With their kids in the car.

Their kids that have ears to hear and eyes to see. Kids who have now learned that the way to deal with something that is your responsibility is to deny it, to lie and to run away.


When I was a kid, my mom was a smoker. She smoked while she was cooking, she smoked while she cleaned house, while she drove, while she gardened.

I know smoking is a filthy habit and I always hated that my mom did it.

But when Mom smoked in a public place, she had a tiny brass box that she kept in her purse and she tapped her ashes and saved her butts in it, so that she never had to drop trash on the ground.

Fast forward 40 years and I go out with my pockets stuffed with three plastic bags, just in case Goldie poops three times on one walk. It is a rare occurrence, but I want to be prepared.

Because that's what I learned from my mom. Be prepared. Clean up your own messes. She never told me that. I just saw.


Having great parents is such a blessing. My folks have always been hard-working, honest, law-abiding, fair people and if I am any of those things, I have them to thank.

It feels good when I behave like them. I try hard to do the right thing and that brings me real self-esteem because I know myself. You could sit me down in a room with an uncounted pile of hundred dollar bills and I know I wouldn't be tempted to steal even one, even if no one would ever find out. Because we don't take things that aren't ours.

Because: great parents.


One of my favorite sayings is "Everyone teaches, and teaches all the time."

I hate seeing what those people taught their kids. I hope the children grow up to be good people, despite who they have to live with every day. Of course I worry that they won't and that, as adults, they will be my problem - that they will be the world's problem.


Goldie got a big gash on her shoulder, under all that fur. For those of you with a high tolerance for gross, there's a photo on my flickr set. $356 at the vet so far. I will take the people to small claims if I can track them down, though law enforcement has been no help (animal control can't search license plates and the sheriff can't get involved in animal issues unless a human is injured).

She is fine, though. Bouncing around like her usual self. Dogs are amazing. Unlike some people.


Mir said...

OMG!! I'm so sorry Goldie got hurt. :( And I'm sorrier that assholes like that are allowed to own a dog, much less breed themselves. Jesus.

Peeved Michelle said...

Private detective? Maybe those kids need to see the end of the lesson: the consequences of running away from your responsibilities.

Lawyerish said...

Oh my gosh, this makes me SICK. I'm absolutely enraged on your behalf. Not only did they not properly apologize, which is the LEAST they could have done and what any normal dog owner would do, but to scream at you and REFUSE to give their info? Gross. Just gross.

This sort of thing makes me crazy, when you have functional adults who won't admit fault of any kind and blame everything on other people. That does not make for a civil society.

Kizz said...

I did a quick google search and it seems you can look for public records by license plate here: http://www.govdmvregistry.org/?gclid=COymlo_W-p8CFUVn5Qodr28ZVw

Don't know if that will help.

Coincidentally I just got back from walking a friend's dog. He's got a lot of emotional and mental problems and they work really hard with him because when he gets nervous he panics and starts a fight. They've apologized and paid for the vet bills when it's his fault and it's awful. I try to walk him occasionally on the idea that they need a break from the nerves and he needs as much safe exercise as he can get. Still and all they're talking about the heartbreaking possibility of finding him a new home away from the pressures of the city.

That's fucking awful dog walk, I'm so sorry it happened to you and Miss Goldie. I'm glad she wasn't too bothered by it.

SUEB0B said...

@kizzbeth Those searches don't work in CA. Believe me, I thought about it.

I don't blame the dog in the least. Dogs are just doing what dogs have to do. But the owners...

lizriz said...

Poor puppy! I hate that those people were so horrible.

Count Mockula said...

First, I'm so sorry that Goldie is hurt. Second, I'm also sorry those people are so awful. Third, this is a beautiful post, Suebob, and I completely agree with you.

super des said...

I'm glad Goldie is ok. I'm sorry that people are such assholes though. I'm trapped by the fact that a lot of good intelligent people that would raise their kids right, don't have kids. That leaves sooo many people that have no business having children, having children.

(Obviously it's not an absolute rule...)

dede said...

Hey Suebob,
Call your local newspaper and give them your story. In it, say how sorry you are for those kids who had to witness such foul behavior from the f'ed-up parents. Maybe the kids will see it. Make sure you identify Tasha by name.

lagata said...

OH.MY.GOSH! This sort of behavior sickens me. I wish Goldie a speedy recovery!

I too came from great parents and am so thankful for that.

You are right, it isn't the dogs fault, totally the parents. I hope that you are able to find them and take them to small claims.

My son was bitten by a dog at a park. He was sitting on the ground under a ramada when a lady and her dog came over. He asked if he could pet the dog, she said yes, he did. Then was just sitting there when the dog suddenly turned and snapped at him - totally unprovoked.

This lady not only gave me her contact information but also had her vet fax all records to the pediatrician's office. All the while her BF/H/SO (whatever he was) is screaming at her to give me no information at all... Thank goodness she was a person of character - saved my son from having to get a series of rabies shots.

Anyway - sorry for the long comment.

Ericka said...

ah jeez. i'm sorry that goldie was hurt.

i like the idea of a private detective - and maybe small claims court?

SUEB0B said...

@dede Great idea except that I work for the local newspaper as a freelancer. So I'm not really an ideal subject for an article.

CharmingDriver said...

God people are assholes. I'm glad Goldie is holding her own.

Isabella Golightly said...

Assholes. At least if they regularly walk their dog in that park you can bail them up next time & mace them or something... creeps.

mar said...

i am just sick to my stomach reading the whole story, even having heard about goldie's injuries. it's worse to know that they yelled at you for it. not normally squeamish, but i'd probably cry if i went to look at the picture right now. :(

Suzanne said...

I'm glad that Goldie is ultimately OK,but I'm too angry to even address what those people are.

susan said...

i'm new to dog ownership. my greyhound and i just walk around my street close to home because i'm a lol. that was a very scary story.so glad your Goldie is ok and that you are too!

Suzanne Reisman said...

Actually, I think you should put their license plate number up here on your blog along with the make/color of their car. Not that it will lead to anything, but you never know.

Andrea (@shutterbitch) said...

There has to be some way you could find them. I wonder if you could put a Craigslist ad out to see if someone who knows them or has dealt with them before (because it doesn't sound like the first time Tasha has done this, or they wouldn't have warned their daughter not to let her near another dog) and they might be able to point you in the right direction.

I'm glad Goldie is none the worse for wear, but like you, I worry for those kids & what they're learning as they grow.

~ap said...

aw, suebob, i'm all weepy on your (and goldie's) behalf. i'm sorry you had to deal with such human trash, and may they have their own karma to live with.

unfortunately, they probably will have children just like them. how pleasant for them, as they age and need those children to care for them.

and, thank god you have had the teachers you do. your life will always be the better one. *hugs*


Gretchen said...

Poor Goldie, that's so scary - especially for you! Sprinkling table sugar on the gooey part of the gash 1-2 times per day will help it heal with no scar. Seriously - it works and they don't seem to lick at it.

Elan Morgan said...

I am so angry.

Another dog I know was attacked recently just outside my building, and the dog that attacked without provocation will likely be put down. I say Good. It's a vicious dog that has menaced me on occasion.

I'm so glad that you are pursuing this.

flurrious said...

Oh, poor Goldie! I'm glad she's doing okay.

I did a quick check and it appears that you can request the information you need from the Department of Motor Vehicles. General information is here, and the request form is here. I didn't read through it, so I'm not sure what the fee is or how long it takes to process, but it looks like it has to go through Sacramento. If you look at Section D - Permissible Uses on the request form, it lists "Civil, criminal, administrative, or arbitral processing ... including the service of process, investigation in anticipation of litigation." You want to use those exact words on your application. Briefly explain the facts and how you got the tag number, then quote the permissible use.

And if you do end up having to sue these people, be sure to include both the DMV processing fee and your court filing fee.

What a pain in the ass. Good luck.

J said...

Oh, poor Goldie. That sucks. Those parents suck. That must have been so scary! I cannot believe those people didn't give you their information. I hope you get them to pay. I hope that their children learn from NOT wanting to be their parents. That happens often too. It's a more difficult way to grow up, than in admiring your parents. But it can happen.

My dog, my sweet black lab, that I got as a puppy and who would not hurt a fly...who let me climb in her bed with her when she gave birth...who loved everyone...for some weird reason attacked a neighbor's dog one day. A dog she knew and had played with before. Picked it up and shook it like a rag, blood flying. Thank god that dog was OK. If I had had her on a leash, and she had gotten away from me, my mom would have paid the vet bill. But I didn't have her on the leash, even though I knew better. So my mom paid the vet bill, and I paid her back. And the kind people whose dog was savaged? They were as kind as could be. Probably because they knew: that dogs are unpredictable, and that we were decent people.

Your story is different, not only because the adults refused any responsibility, but also because they left a child to hold a dog who was too big for her. But it reminded me of how dogs are dogs, no matter how sweet we think they are. I learned a lesson about them that day, and would never leave a small child in a room unsupervised with any dog. I had my dog for another 13 years after that, and she never did anything remotely like that again. But I still remembered what is possible.

mayberry said...

That is so sad for so many reasons. I'm glad Goldie is doing OK.

Glennis said...

Poor girlie!! What jerks those people are. Although I imagine they were probably acting out of fear.

One of the reasons we chose our new dog, Jack, a shelter find, was because when the handler at the shelter walked him down the rows of kennels to the "get acquainted" place, he walked past all the lunging, barking other dogs and didn't seem to be provoked or bothered.

On our walks now he exhibits play behavior when he encounters another dog.

I wish he could play with Goldie.

Rachel said...

Ugh, I don't like people who "hit and run". At all.

I'm glad Goldie is OK.

Blue House Studio World HQ said...

What Andrea said about an ad on Craigslist or other media asking if anyone in the area knows of other attacks by Tasha and a description of the family and the vehicle.

Lovely post, BTW. Great parents are something to be so thankful for. I know I am.

Debbie said...

oh, wow. poor Goldie dog.

LAME. lame, lame, lame people. and their kids - so unfair to them, to us, to your sweet furry baby.

ugh. I hope you track their asses down and NAIL THEM.

Nana said...

Sorry, but in the trauma of the moment, you probably forgot that you got scratched...
My darling [adult] daughter was badly hurt while pet-sitting, because the owner 'forgot' to tell her that the dog was vicious.
Please follow up on this. Even posted signs at the walk area, "Do you know Tasha?" These people KNOW what their dog does.

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