I am increasingly frustrated as this week creeps into the weekend.
As some of you may already know, on Tuesday, I spent five and a half hours in the emergency room with Hank. I was at work, Jim was out of town, and my mother-in-law was at our home with the kids. Hank was out back with the kids next door, and when they went home, as typical 7-year-olds will do, they both left their flip flops in the backyard. Hank decided to return them, and headed next door. The next thing my mother-in-law knew, he was crying and there was a lot of blood. He’s 8. You should never type the phrase “there was a lot of blood” when referring to an 8-year-old.
According to Hank, as he approached the door, Kirsten, one of the 13-year-old twins, came up to it (he didn’t know it was Kirsten though, they are identical twins, he calls them “Kayla-Kirsten”). But before she made it all the way to the door, her dog Max, a German Shepherd that I would guess easily weighs 85 pounds at least, pushed through the front door and went after Hank. Fight or flight is a human instinct. So instinct told him to run. When Max caught him after two steps, knocked him down and took a bite out of his side, instinct told him to fight. So he punched the dog. Max promptly ran away, Kirsten managed to wrangle him back into the house, and Hank ran home. Kirsten apparently also managed to scream and cry loud enough that her parents, who were visiting neighbors just a few doors down, were home in a flash.
My mother-in-law took one look at Hank and put him in the car and called my cell. True story, I was exiting the McDonald’s parking lot with my coffee (yes, I was cheating on Dunkin Donuts, but I was at a meeting in Braidwood and that was all I had available, don’t judge me!). I looked all over as I drove (totally safe) and could not find the phone. It was in my pocket. So as I punched call back, I was chuckling, because well, my butt was ringing, and I couldn’t find the phone. Seems my ass is so enormous that even my ringing cell phone can get lost in there.
Let me tell you a little story: when someone tells you to meet them at the emergency room because they are taking your child there, you panic. You drive like a maniac, telling yourself to slow down. You reason — I mean, she’s DRIVING him, she didn’t have to call 911, it’s got to be okay. What if it was his face? Oh my God, I didn’t ask. How many stitches is he going to need? He’s so afraid of doctors and needles. What the hell happened? Who is up to bat? OH MY GOD I STILL HAVE THE CUBS GAME ON THE RADIO TURN IT OFF YOU ARE THE WORST MOTHER THERE EVER WAS EVER!!!!!!
I had to call my boss to tell her that I was headed to the hospital instead of coming back from my meeting. I think the conversation went like this:
Marney: “Pam… It’s me. Marney. Um…. um… My son, he was bit by a dog. I have to go to the thing. The place. St. Joe’s. I have to go there. I can’t write a story.”
Pam: “We’ll take care of it, go.”
Marney: “Oh, uh… ok.”
Thank God she has three kids of her own, she was able to translate my bizarre freaked out Mommy babble!
I did manage to get my head together in the next ten minutes to call back and give her a little information they needed that I hadn’t gotten done before my meeting.
When I got to the ER, the guy in front of me was travelling through the parking lot at roughly negative 20 miles per hour. “It’s a god damn ER parking lot, hurry it UP!!!” I managed to yell out the window, though I am not sure how loud I was. Naturally, the lot was full. I parked near the front, only to find I was at a physicians only entrance and had to run around the building.
I got into the ER and gave them my name, and saw Hank sitting there with my mother-in-law and George. I ran over and asked him what happened, and got on my knees to give him a big old hug, really happy to see it wasn’t his face. At this point, as I reached out to hold him, I noticed that I had my McDonald’s coffee in my hand. Apparently I wanted that coffee, because I must have grabbed it as I got out of the car. Ha! As Hank started to tell me what happened, I made eye contact with another lady who was sitting there with her son. Dudes, she was totally crying and shaking her head listening to him talk. And she wasn’t the only one. A lot of parents in there with their kids or people waiting for whatever reason and even the obvious drug-seekers spoke to me as we waited. This super packed ER full of sick and broken people were all pretty pissed that my little boy had been bitten by a neighbor’s dog. By the time we got called in, I probably could have organized a small mob to hunt Max down.
Hours and hours later, his wound was clean and was not nearly as bad as it had first appeared. It was definitely gaping, but small. The doc told us that they wouldn’t stitch it, they don’t stitch animal wounds if they don’t have to because of the possibility of sealing in infection. Had it been on his face or somewhere where it would be cosmetically prudent to leave a smaller scar, she said she would have used probably just one or two stitches, so it obviously wasn’t the biggest, nastiest wound ever. In fact, if you look at it, you can see the outline of Max’s teeth. There’s a little puncture where his left canine broke skin, and the bigger wound is where he really sunk his teeth into the child.
So here’s where I get really frustrated. There’s not a lot I can do. Techincally, Hank was on their property (as far as we can tell). Had Max came at him in our yard, that would be a different deal. But this frustrates me so much because the only reason he was attacked in their yard and not ours is because he didn’t run fast enough. I don’t have any real recourse because a charging German Shepherd is faster than a surprised 8-year-old boy.
We called animal control, and they were out yesterday. The process involves getting the dog evaluated by a vet three times over the next few weeks. But that’s about it. He’s all registered and up to date on his shots, which is obviously a good thing. But every person I talk to, including extreme dog lovers, tells me that the dog needs to be put down. That if a dog attacks unprovoked, you have to put it down, because it will do it again. But they’re not going to do it.
They have told me several times now that they are getting rid of Max, but they are trying to find a shelter for him. Just this morning, the neighbor told me she hoped to have him gone by the end of the weekend. But until then we have no options for dealing with things like what happened last night — we sent the boys to the backyard to play, and Max, sitting at an upstairs window (the neighbors were not home) barked and barked at the children. He didn’t stop until I went up to Hank’s room, where his window faces theirs, and shouted, “Hey!” Max looked over at me, and, pardon my language, but I said, “Shut the fuck up.” He glared a little and turned and went away.
I don’t know what to do. Hank doesn’t want to play in the front unless I am out there. Jim would prefer both boys stay away from the neighbors all together. It’s insanely unfair that my children, days away from summer vacation, are banished to the back yard because we just don’t know when the next attack is coming, and we literally cannot prevent it. And Jim isn’t even totally satisfied with that because he’s afraid Max could hop the fence. I want to believe that they really are going to get rid of him. But if they don’t, I imagine Jim is going to pre-spend next year’s tax return on a much larger fence, and one that goes around the front as well.
I’m open to suggestions. I’m just feeling so frustrated.