Child Gets Attacked By a Tiny Dog

Our neighbors have a tiny, angry dog.

It appears to be a Doberman trapped in a Chihuahua’s body.

Sorta like this:

from flickr user glenn_e_wilson

For some reason, Brutus, this puppy–and puppy he is, he’s only a few months old–has nipped me before, scratched Child’s back another time (though this was when Brutus was put on the top bunk with Child by the other children who live with Brutus in an effort to help Child overcome her fear of Brutus–but Child is not afraid of dogs, she likes them, she is only afraid of THIS dog). Brutus needs to be held whenever a stranger even approaches the neighbor’s yard for it will fly over and attach itself like a cartoon wimp biting into the Incredible Hulk.

Brutus’s family treats it with this queer kind of awe and permissiveness.  Explaining its poor behavior, saying things like, “He doesn’t like men.”  And, “For some reason, he doesn’t like Child.”

I call bullshit.

But then I’m not really a pets person.  I do not understand how people love pets.  I find puppies to be more tiring than infants, only puppies never learn to talk and can never do cool things like ride subways or go to State College or read books and snuggle or ham it up for the camera.

Here’s a picture of Child’s wounds from Brutus a few days in:

These are on her upper thigh

And I am really annoyed about this.  Maybe I am even angry.

Child is lovely and adaptable as always.  She’s been noticing how the bruises look like a face and enjoys pretending that they are talking.

I am telling myself not to be annoyed and angry.  I am telling myself that kids used to scrape themselves and break arms playing with neighbors and neighbors’ kids and parents didn’t make big stinks about it, and I am nostalgic for a time when neighbors were more neighborly.  So I don’t want to cause a bunch of crap, call the police and force the neighbors to execute their poorly behaved pooch.

But I’m not a litigious sort.

But then I wonder if I’m being an okay mom.  Should I have raised a ruckus?  Am I showing Child that it’s okay for pets to hurt people?  Or that it’s okay for people to let other people’s pets hurt them?  She’s been forbidden from going inside the neighbors’ house at all, and she is not allowed to go next door if Brutus is out, either.

But then I wonder if I am enabling the neighbors to continue to have a dog that’s a tiny menace?  Risking another person’s health and well-being?  If I should have been thinking globally–about the neighborhood–instead of about our so far really copacetic relationship with our neighbors, and at least filed a report with the SPCA or something?

But we had a yard sale the other day, and I saw a pair of people walking their dog, first by our house, then an hour or more later back the other way, and they carried a plastic bag of shit the size of my head.  And they allowed their dog to piss in our yard, in front of the yard sale, as if it’s a perfectly acceptable thing.  Last year, I went to the beach with my mom, and she has this tiny pooch, and it was this whole other sociological order of humans who are beholden to animals, I was and am mystified, and I feel I cannot expect rational behavior from pets people.

What do you think, blog readers?  Instead of dispensing advice about parenting, I’m asking for it.  Or about pets.


Author: April Line Writing

Writing about whatever the f*ck I want.

18 thoughts on “Child Gets Attacked By a Tiny Dog”

  1. I am a pets person. I admit it. I enjoy the company of animals much more than people, generally speaking, and I feel the same way about children as you do about pets. “How can someone want one of those things?” I ask myself.

    Generally speaking when I hear of a child attacked by an animal, I lay the blame at the feet of the child. This after having met many of the dogs which do the biting, and meeting the bitees. Generally involved is some form of sitting upon, tail putting, ear chewing, food messing-with or general assery. Children can be monsters to animals, I’ve seen the bloody results.

    THAT SAID. Having met Child (with a capital C) and knowing the breed of which you speak (tiny dogs are usually the biggest assholes) I’m quite certain this isn’t the case. Some dogs are just jerks. Some breeds of dog entirely are just jerks. It is, though, the responsibility of the owner in these cases to keep Dog from inflicting his assholery upon people physically. I would recommend speaking to the owner and saying something to the affect (or effect?) that unless they take measures to fix Dog’s issues, you’ll be forced to contact THE AUTHORITIES. You shouldn’t be afraid to let Child into your own yard after all.

    1. Yeah–

      You’re right that Child didn’t do anything to provoke this particular critter. She is really gentle with dogs & animals in general. She’s been around pets her whole life. And I’m proud to say that she was never one of those kids who pulled the tails of critters and made them miserable. We had a cat when she was really little (the kitty lives with my parents now), and my mom has a dog, we’ve house sat and visited with loads of people who have pets, and Child is great. I have never had to worry.

      But I like that idea. I can be casual and pleasant about it and insinuate my displeasure without being confrontational. Do you think a good opening would be to ask if Brutus is up to date on his shots?

  2. Yes! It would be perfect, plus it’s something you need to know anyway in case teeth break skin. Maybe ask for a copy of his rabies certificate “for her records” or something. If they get super assy, you can intimidate them with the fact that if they can’t produce a vaccine record, then the dog has to either be quarantined for soemthing like 180 days, or tested for rabies, which means his head will get lopped off and sent to a lab.

  3. I’m a pets person. I had a big dog who was part lab, part boxer, part pit bull. She was sweet, but she was a lot of dog. She never hurt anyone, but she also never had much of an opportunity. When we had visitors, I made sure they were comfortable around her. If not, I put her in the laundry room behind a baby gate. No one in the world loved a dog more than I loved my dog, but she was huge and it was my job to protect her and anyone who was uncomfortable around her.

    Those are my qualifications to say the following: It is a pet owner’s responsibility to make sure their dog does not bite anyone, especially a child. Even the best behaved dog can interpret eye level contact with a person as a challenge. It’s also a grown-ups responsibility to make sure a child is not left alone or in close contact with an aggressive dog.

    Brutus is going to get bigger. Depending on your relationship with the neighbors, I’d give them a chance to get him fenced or kept on leash at all times when outdoors. If he is attacking people only on his own property, don’t go in their yard. If he ever gets into the street or public area, call the police. Think how you’ll feel when that dog eats a kid’s face.

    1. Thanks for the input, Ramona! I don’t know if this little guy will get much bigger. He’s one of those miniature breeds, which probably accounts for some of his misery/aggressiveness. I’ve heard that those hyper-bred designer dogs can be ROUGH. I’ve also speculated that if they named the critter Cupcake instead of Brutus maybe its disposition would improve. Ha!

      I think that Brutus was on a leash when he bit Child. Unfortunately, I wasn’t here, my sister was watching Child. Of course, she felt terrible about the whole thing, and Brutus’s dad gave Child some ice for her wounds. Child’s version of the story is that she didn’t realize that Brutus was out because one of the other children was holding him. She said the other child called to her and she went and then Brutus got down and came after her. The other child is not strong enough to contain Brutus.

      But you’re right–the possibility that somebody’s face might get chewed off, or jugular might get punctured, is what keeps me thinking and worrying about this!

  4. I love animals. I cannot imagine life without a pet. Maybe its because animals have been better to me than humans have. I’m not the baby-talk to them and carry tiny dogs around with me all the time kind of person, I accept them into my life for what they are and make sure that they know that I am in charge. I don’t understand why some people allow their animals to behave badly, especially a dog. Dogs want to please their pack leader(s). If you assert yourself and make it clear that you (and all other humans) are dominant, it will behave well. And it will still be just as loving and affectionate (maybe more), especially because you won’t be afraid of a mid-cuddle mauling.

    That said, it sounds like neighbor’s dog (and its humans) need training. And it is about neighborhood safety. I would calmly try to have a conversation with the neighbor about it. Say most of the things you said above. You are concerned not only for your own child, but for everyone in the neighborhood and he needs to be properly trained and disciplined. If they are reasonable people, they will see this and hopefully do something about it. If they’re not, then maybe it needs to be brought up with some sort of local authority because this dog is hurting people.

    Although, it sounds like there is also a problem with the behavior and supervision of the children. If they put the dog on a top bunk with child, (in this case) I blame the kids, not the dog. Dogs will lash out when they feel cornered and threatened. He was stuck in a small space, up high with someone who was clearly afraid of him. His fight or flight was probably just as active as child’s was and he couldn’t flee. It sounds like there may be over-permissive parenting and excuses made equally for the children and the pet.

    I don’t know if any of this was helpful. I’m sorry about your awkward neighbor situation.

    1. Hey Emmi,

      Thanks for commenting! And it was super helpful! I’m really enjoying all the perspectives and the affirmation of agreement between my friends and blog readers who ARE pet people that I’m not overreacting, and that I need to have a conversation with the neighbors.


  5. Ack, April, I meant to write bolder, not bigger! Brutus is going to do what he is allowed to do, and then some. He’s being taught it’s okay to bite people. That’s not fair to the animal. I’m not litigious either, but a dog with a history of biting is a liability in more ways than one.

  6. I also am a pet person, but I am familiar with these miniature pinschers, and unless that dog is disciplined, this situation will get worse. And the next person it bites may have no compunction about filing a complaint or suing. That would be the best solution. 🙂

    Having said that, I can tell you 1) people get really defensive about their poorly behaved pets, and 2) there is nothing more miserable than having a pet feud with a neighbor. Thus I, like you, try to be mellow, ignore it, and so on.

    But — I think you have to say something. Like “I hate to bring this up because our kids play so well together, but Brutus has bitten Child several times now (enumerate them; let them understand clearly you are DOCUMENTING this). Here, look at this picture of the last time, taken 3 days later. I am concerned for my child, but I am also concerned for your family, because Brutus might bite someone who doesn’t have an affection for you the way I do.”

    Seriously, that biting’s got to stop. If they don’t agree with you or get defensive, then I think I’d have an attorney send a letter to them. Or see what an attorney says; maybe the first step would be to file a complaint. whatever it is, explain to them you’re concerned it will get worse and you feel you must document the behavior. I totally agree with Ramona: a dog with a history of biting is a liability. And they should KNOW that. (Honestly, the more I type the madder I get.)

  7. I love pets. I have 3 cats and a Chihuahua. And I cannot imagine NOT having pets, or raising my children without them, as they teach unconditional love, and if you have your kids feed or walk them (or whatever), it teaches responsibility.
    That said, I would NEVER allow my dog to hurt another person, especially a child. If this dog is acting like this while he is a puppy, when he is an adult, it will only get worse. You don’t have to be litigious to call the police and file a complaint. Show them the picture of Child’s wounds. They will ensure neighbor gets their dog in line. You need to protect you child, April. She’s your first priority.

  8. I see that all of the responders (so far) self-identify as pet people. I am a super pet person. I could not live without the companionship of dogs. I would tell Brutus’ owners that your child has a right to the ‘quiet enjoyment’ (legal term) of her home surroundings, that it is their responsibility to keep their dog from assaulting your child, and that the statute of limitations on the first attack still allows you to press charges. In other words, sound like a lawyer. If you want a real lawyer, I’ll ask John to put this in a letter – on his very impressive letterhead. Go gt ’em!

  9. Has the dog had its rabies shot???
    As you know, I have worked with animals most of my life, from being a shepherd, veterinary assistant, dairy herd manager, chicken keeper, through animal rescue worker. All types of animals, in all types of situations, including stress. (there is no animal more stressed than a Doberman, injured by a car , in the middle of an American City, and I’ve handled that).
    I’m also the mother of 4 children, who were brought up around animals, and brought up to enjoy life in all of its complexities, including eating mud, climbing trees and enduring scrapes and bruises. I’m the grandmother of nine children ; and I am an active grandmother (thus involved often in decisions on behaviour) I’m just putting this at the top to prevent the “But you don’t understand” thing.
    A dog bite is NOT a scrape or bruise.
    A dog bite endangers your child, endangers the animal.
    An animal bite teaches your child to be fearful, instinctively. Fear is the worst smell to give off when dealing with animals, ANY animal…from bull to kitten.
    An animal bite unchecked, teaches the animal , that they can get away with this behaviour, and use it when they want to. (This may not apply to lions and tigers, but it does apply to cats and dogs)
    I love MOST dogs. And frankly, the bigger the better.
    I tend not to like small yappy over indulged dogs who get away with snapping, biting and defecating wherever they choose. And I’ve met them.
    Being bitten by a dog is bad. No matter the size of the dog….Being BITTEN by an animal is bad.
    Frankly, not teaching a pet correct behaviour is cruel, and dangerous. Animal lovers teach their animals, just as kind parents teach their children.
    NOT teaching a pet can be a death sentence. When I worked as a rescuer, If the animal had not had his rabies shot, and broke the skin, the owner had to have it put down for rabies testing.
    Your daughter, I know, has been taught to approach animals and treat animals properly. The owners of this dog must be told to train their dog to behave like a dog, not like a spoilt rotten dolly.
    Where this my grandaughter, I’d be raising the bloody roof! (And i’m not the roof raising type…I usually caution diplomacy…but…in this situation, I wouldn’t muck about.)

  10. Ugh. I am in the process of raising a puppy who is trying to get the upper hand. I think it is a pet owner’s responsibility to raise a good dog, and not doing that is nearly criminal.
    I had tried everything that my dog trainer suggested, and was really not getting anywhere. Then my 6’1″ son came to town for the Fourth of July. He showed me what to do. Grab the pup by the scruff of the neck and get his head on the floor, just as his mother would do to teach manners. This does not hurt the dog, and in fact can relieve the dog’s anxieties about who is in charge.

    I am going to share some resources with you that depending on your relationship with the dog’s owners, you could share with them.

    First, the trainer (I’ll share her name privately if you are interested) recommended the Nothing in Life is Free approach which is helpful:

    A friend of mine sent me some copied pages from an out of print book called Super Puppy about conditioning the pup to you a having physical control of him. I can share those by email.

    But really, you need to calmly let the neighbor know that you can insist that a dog that bit your daughter like that be put down. And it will. I don’t even think you have to go to court for that, but for details, call the SPCA.

    Biting is unacceptable. Don’t let them off the hook. It could have been MUCH worse.

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