One of my all-time pet peeves is when people are careless and their dogs escape to roam the neighborhood. I immediately take Evey home whenever we spot a loose pooch on our walks. In fact, I'll even go out of my way to avoid a cat on someone's driveway if it looks mean.
Unfortunately, yesterday my fears became entirely founded.
After the babysitter left at 3:30, I fed Bean and put him in the stroller for our daily walk. It was a gorgeous day, and I knew the pooch had a bunch of pee-mail to respond to.
About halfway around our neighborhood, we heard loud angry barking from a mean black lab, which was contained behind a wooden slat fence in a backyard. From inside the house, we heard a voice yell at the dog to be quiet. (There was a second black lab in the backyard too, although it was not involved in the incident.) As we got closer, I could hear growling and see one of the labs scratching furiously at a weak slat in the fence. I was instantly struck with fear and just as I was about to turn around, the lab burst through the broken slat and ran after Evey, who had started to run away but was still on the leash.
The lab got a hold of my sweet pooch at her right hip. I held the leash while the lab pulled her in the opposite direction. I immediately began screaming "HELP!" over and over at the top of my lungs, hoping the owners would come out. I have never, ever screamed so loud in my entire life -- my throat is very raw today. I was afraid to let go of the leash because I didn't want the lab to get a more severe hold on Evey and do more damage. Meanwhile, Bean was crying in the stroller on the sidewalk, and I hoped the dog wouldn't turn its attention on the baby. As I screamed and held tight, I remember thinking in horror, "This dog is going to kill my dog."
A neighbor was driving by and pulled over (we were blocking the street at that point). "I NEED HELP!" I yelled. He was also scared and unsure of what to do as he approached us, poor man. Fortunately, two high-school aged kids emerged from the mean lab's house at that moment. In the confusion, I didn't see whether the lab noticed his owners and went to them, or if they pulled him away from Evey. Either way, the lab immediately calmed down and the boy took him back into the house. The girl looked frightened and apologetic and said, "I'm so sorry."
I ran to Evey, who was whimpering in the middle of the street. Meanwhile, another neighbor ran out of the house next door. She asked if I was okay and offered to stay and help me, so the man got back in his car and left. My mind swirled with confused panic at that point, leaving me clutching the dog and blubbering, "I need help. I have to get my dog to the vet." This neighbor kindly pushed the stroller (with a now calm Bean) back to my house so I could hold Evey. Evey was obviously hurt but allowed me to carry her without any trouble. I begged God to let her be okay. I figured the hind wound would heal, but I was concerned about the tug-of-war I had with the lab. Will she have any damage from being shaken and pulled like that?
As our vet is located near our old rental house, the neighbor (aka my guardian angel) drove her car to her vet just down the street, with me following behind with the shivering pooch and exhausted baby in my car. I managed to call DH at work, and he immediately left to meet me there.
The vet examined Evey while I tried to focus on filling out the necessary forms. I was starting to calm down from sheer panic, but my mind was buzzing and I had trouble concentrating. My right hand was stinging sharply from the leash burn on my skin. While we were meeting with the vet to get his assessment, Bean smiled happily at him while I bit back tears. They say a baby can sense his mother's anxiety -- and while that was definitely true while I screamed bloody murder during the attack, he certainly wasn't picking up on it then, thank goodness. I guess those manly qualities can set in pretty early.
The vet said she has puncture wounds and bruising around her right hip. He was unable to assess if she sustained any head/neck trauma and advised us to watch her for odd behavior in the next few days. (Other than eating nursing shields, I suppose.) They warned me that Evey will be hurting a great deal and to focus on pain management in the near term. I've been giving her as much medication as they will let me, but the poor thing continues to whimper in pain constantly.
Since we came home from the vet's office, there have been brief moments that Evey's old personality comes out. DH took her on a very short walk this morning, and she was pulling forward on the leash as if to say, "Hurry up, Daddy! I've got lots of grass to spray!" When they came upon a poodle, Evey greeted the dog without fear. That makes me so happy I could cry. I hope one day she'll be back to herself entirely. Unfortunately though, until the pain subsides, she's been periodically crying and hiding throughout the house. I miss my energetic, happy, loving pooch.
The friendly neighbor said that while she is unaware of other instances where the lab has actually bitten another dog or person, there have been multiple problems with the lab breaking the fence and attempting to go after her dog as well as neighborhood children. Because mine will likely be the first report with animal control, nothing will be done. But if it happens again -- and hopefully it won't -- but if it does, then there will be more significant action taken.
DH was my hero last night. He calmly took care of me and Evey, making dinner, feeding and medicating the dog, scooping my ice cream, making sure we went to bed early, and staying up at night with our poor miserable dog. He also went to the lab owner's house and spoke to the son. The kid did apologize and agreed that the family will pay the vet bill. We'll see if that happens... I am prepared to take them to civil court if it doesn't. I've seen every judge show on TV, and I've got the time and the anger to see this through.
I had several guardian angels on my side yesterday, making sure that only one of the dogs escaped, saving Bean from any injury, sending the neighbor out to help me, and seeing Evey through the ordeal. I am still traumatized by the event; I keep seeing the attack over and over in my head. I feel guilty for not being able to prevent the incident or stop the lab myself. And my stomach hurts when I imagine what could have been the worst case scenario. Please keep us in your prayers. I know we will be okay in the end, but the next few days are going to be tough.
I can't wait to have my sweet baby girl back.