I don’t currently have a dog, but I had one growing up and like to consider myself a dog person; for the most part I trust dogs and am comfortable around them. This is an attitude I’d like to pass on to my kids, even if we’re never going to own our own dog for various reasons. (Reason #1: I’ll never again knowingly bring something into my house that is going to wake me up at five in the morning. No matter how cute it is. Got fooled twice on that one already.)
So when I was attacked by a pack of dogs at the park, more than anything my feelings were hurt.
It was a weekday afternoon and the park was mostly empty; just me and what appeared to be a drum circle waiting for the guy with the drums. Their dogs, five or so, were playing around them unleashed. As I passed, the dogs headed toward me. This would normally not concern me except the owners not only smelled like a Phish concert but were also not paying attention.
I should clarify my comfort level with dogs is directly proportional to my comfort level with their owners. I don’t think twice about a friend’s dog just like I hope they don’t worry my kids are going to lunge at them and gouge their eyes out with a My Little Pony comb. But I do get slightly nervous when I see a German Shepherd being walked alone by a fifty pound eight-year-old or an unleashed Rottweiler bounding toward me while his owner is on the phone scheduling their next neck tattoo.
As these particular dog owners were otherwise engaged in a deep a debate over what’s more anti-establishment, hacky sacks or those juggling sticks, their dogs formed a semicircle around me and began growling and baring their teeth.
I slowly started backing up, doing my best to appear calm and not show fear while yelling, “Hey, come get your fucking dogs!” It was one of those moments where the local paper headlines about you flash before your eyes. “Man Mauled!” “Lunch Hour Dog Attack!” “Local Man Not As Cool With Dogs as He Thought!”
Finally, right as one of the them jumped for me, an unemployed Janis Joplin impersonator hopped up from the circle and called off the pack, “I’m so sorry, they are never like this.”
Bad opener. Subtle victim blaming is not the best approach to take with someone your dog has just attacked. Unless she was going to follow that up with, “You must be one of us,” and then induct me into their gang of hippie undead Lost Boy-style.
But much to my chagrin she did not. Which meant she was really just saying, “Why is your negative energy bumming out my dogs?”
Shaken, I headed back to work. It wasn’t until then that I realized one of the dogs had actually scraped me and drawn blood. This led to one of the more awkward office bathroom exchanges as a co-worker walked in on me with my jeans rolled up, wiping blood off my leg. “How’s it going?” “I was just attacked by dogs in the park.” “Mondays. Am I right?”
I then spent the next hour at my desk self-diagnosing rabies.
Worked into a panic I went back to the scene of the crime to find the owners and ask if the dogs had their shots. Sure enough, the drum circle was still there. Still sans drum. Janis Joplin assured me all the dogs were very “well taken care of.” Which, of course. What is she going to say, “Oh, these dogs? No, they’re totally illegal. Here, do you want me to call the humane society or do you want to just put them down yourself with this rock?” Still, I felt reassured.
I ended up not getting rabies (yet), though my doctor did have me come in for a tetanus shot. I still like to consider myself a dog person. But I am definitely more wary of drum circles. Especially those without drums.