Friday, 27 May 2016
Sorry, but children trump dogs. Every time.
I'm an animal lover.
No, scrap that. I'm an animal LIKER.
I think most animals are great (more of a cat than a dog person, can't see the point of hamsters, can live without seeing a skunk in the flesh) and all deserve to be looked after properly if kept as pets.
Before I had kids, I had a cat - Bobbins - whom I loved, almost like a child. At the time, I was struggling with my fertility and this poor moggie became my surrogate baby. I haemorrhaged money at the vets when she was run over at just two years old; and still feel a little sad when now - about ten years on - I think of her.
So I get it. I get that animals can fill a space in your heart. I know you love your dog, OK?
On Thursday afternoon this week, my lovely little boy (just turned four) was walking up the road in my little, safe town, wearing his favourite yellow t-shirt and holding his grandma's hand. I was slightly behind, his sister had run ahead to ring the front doorbell.
Along the road strolled three teenage boys - probably about 16 or so - with two dogs. One, was on a lead, the other - not a breed I recognised, but Labrador-sized with a leather collar - was loose.
My son, standing on the little curb near our house looking both ways, paid no attention to the dog, as it lunged towards him, sinking his teeth in his bottom and the top of his legs. My mum told me later that she was sure the dog was going to continue to savage him.
As it was, his bite afforded him a trip to the doctors; we went and reported the dog to the police (they are having a vet assess him to see if he's deemed dangerous and I'm happy to rest with the decision). I am left with the kind of fear that only a mum who's seen their child in real danger can know.
Yet, when I told friends (admittedly, cyber-friends) about the incident, one commented that there were always two sides to any story and asked whether my child had "done anything."
I'm not an overly protective mum - I think a few cuts and scrapes are par for the course of a normal upbringing. I like the fact that my children enjoy a bit of "rough and tumble" in the garden. Timmy has been knocked down and nudged by animals in the past.
This was an unprovoked, sinister incident of biting.
And left me wondering why it is that we humans seem more ready to defend animals than children.
Why is it, for example - as another, more rational, friend pointed out - that a local charity is rescuing dogs from far flung countries when there are hundreds to be helped closer to home and (in case anyone hasn't noticed) a few thousand children struggling in Calais?
Why does someone of my acquaintance keep dogs so unstable that her best friend dreads her regular visits out of genuine fear?
When did humans turn against their biological imperative and start to love puppies more than babies?
And why are people more inclined to explain away the behaviour of dangerous dogs than try to understand unstable teens?
I'm an animal liker.
But, for me at least, it's children first. Every time.