This afternoon, I became aware of quite a bit of screaming in front of our house. As I rushed to a window out front, I realized part of the screaming was a dog kiyi-ing. I looked an saw the woman across the street laying in the the snow trying to get up and screaming hysterically.
By the time that I got my shoes on and was out the door, a small group had gathered. One fellow was driving down the street in his work truck and stopped immediately. Two of my neighbors were there, along with another neighbor I didn't recognize, The woman who had been knocked into the snow was still screaming hysterically, although by this time, she was at her bloody front door.
Listening to all the hubbub, I managed to sort it out. The woman had been walking her little dog and met a man walking his. Both dogs were on leashes. Without warning, the man's dog attacked the small dog, ripping open its side. The horrified woman tried to intervene, but fell. She has a serious health issue that affects her balance. Once on the ground, she was unable to get herself back up and was face level with a dog fight.
The owner of the dog stood there as if he weren't sure what to do next. When people began to arrive, he turned and began to walk away. My neighbor Connie went after him. "You can't just go," she said. "Your dog has just attacked and caused injury. You need to stay here."
The man said, "Well, there is nothing I can do about it," and began to walk off once again.
Thinking quickly, Connie asked him his name, which he gave to her without hesitation. Then he left.
In the meantime, I offered to run back to the house for a blanket to wrap the poor dog in, but someone else had already gone for a towel. Neighbor Mark was on the phone with the vet. "Yes. I'll drive her. We're on our way right now. (pause) I understand. I've got a credit card in my wallet." He said to me, gesturing, "Help her on the stairs, will you? She falls."
He went for his car as another woman and I guided her down the stairs, one of us under each arm. She was still crying hard and holding her dog (who appeared to be in shock). We led her down the snowy sidewalk and tucked her in the car.
After they were gone, we all kind of stood looking at each other. I have never felt so useless in my life, really. The woman next to me said, "My God, that was awful." The man said, "Unless we're going to call 9-1-1, I'm going to head off then." Connie said, "Well, I'm going to find him," and off she headed in the no-nonsense stride of a former ER nurse.
The man headed for his work truck. The other woman headed for her house. I headed for my own...when it occurred to me that I had sent my friend off to confront an uncaring man with an aggressive dog ALONE. I was horrified. I shot back down my driveway, but I didn't see her.
I felt like such a horse's ass.
I called her 20 minutes later and she answered in her unflappable way. I told her how badly I felt when I realized what I had done. I said, "I wanted to make sure you were okay,"
She was. It turned out that the man walking his dog has dementia issues. His wife was shocked speechless to hear what had happened. Their dog had never been aggressive before. Level-headed Connie gave her the name and number of the other dog owner. The woman called her without hesitation, apologized profusely and authorized any treatment the little dog might need. She told them to give her the bills.
When she disconnected from the call, the rattled woman said, "I guess I didn't realize how bad he had become. I mean, when you live with someone every day, you don't notice."
She wasn't talking about the dog.
Connie soothed her, but said, "No. You don't see it, but really, he should not be out alone. I tried to talk to him. He didn't understand. He has no idea of what to do in an emergency.
I knew that Connie was exactly the right person to be with the woman as the scales fell from her eyes. I know that her soothing tone and practical nursing advice was exactly what the poor thing needed to hear at that moment.
But I also had a sneaking hunch that if 'knowing what to do in an emergency' was the criteria for whether you should wander around unsupervised, I probably would not have passed that test this afternoon either.