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.
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