Preface: Father's Day weekend was pretty bad. We were grumpy, sensitive, and caving under the pressure of what I'd hoped would be the Best Father's Day Ever. It absolutely sucked.
I went to work Monday morning feeling exhausted, but hopeful. It was a new week, we could turn this around! At about noon, I received a text from Aaron, asking me if I needed anything from the grocery store. He had a project due for his cultural class ("Cultural Cuisine"....gotta love those elective courses) and needed to pick up a few items. He would love my help, he added, if I was willing.
I was absolutely willing. Anything to make up for the weekend. I brainstormed the entire way home how I could "spice up" our food preparation date.
The evening went along as usual. Dinner, cleaning up, and the youngest went down a bit early. My oldest, being on summer break, was granted a rare opportunity to play outside in the front yard in lieu of showering and getting ready for bed. This was partially because she's a good kid and partially because I wanted to tease her daddy in private.
My glorious plan? I was going to wear my pink apron while kneading the bread he was baking from scratch. With nothing else on. Yay for marital creativity.........and for the movie Empire Records.
Now, this wasn't your typical, I'm-outside-playing scream. This was the unmistakable sound of someone who needed help........NOW. It took less than a second for me to swivel my head and process the scene in my front yard.
Large, boxer-mix dog running full-speed up my driveway. Terrified, frantic child running only inches in front of it.....MY terrified, frantic child.
AARON------THERE IS A DOG------IT HAS NO OWNER------IT'S CHASING-----IT'S CHASING ANYA!
Aaron took about 3 seconds to get out the door. I, however, was wearing a pink apron. And nothing else.
Don't think I didn't consider doing it. That was my kid out there. I certainly considered doing it.
Luckily, the dress I wore to work was still sitting in a pile on my bedroom floor. As I raced out the door, I ran smack into the wild, outstretched arms of my hysterical daughter, who was shaking so bad I thought she might be having a seizure. I quickly assessed her injuries (none), asked her if the dog bit (it did not), and told her to go sit on the couch.
That's when Hulk Mom came for a little visit. I went out of my house ready to take. Someone. DOWN. I swear I could feel my biceps growing like Popeye.
Aaron was near the top of our driveway, staring at the dog, who was barking, stiff-necked, no tail-wag, back hair on end. I started to scream at the thing. I was so angry, I just screamed. KNOCK IT OFF! NO! QUIT! GET OUT OF HERE! GO HOME, STUPID! SHUTTUP!
No more than 30 seconds later, a woman came around from the back of a house two doors down. She calls for the dog. I'm screaming again.
IS THAT YOUR DOG?!? IS THAT YOURRRR DOGGGG!!!
*loud sigh as she keeps walking towards her truck* yeesss.....
YEA WELL MY KID JUST CAME FREAKING SCREAMING UP THE DRIVEWAY, TERRIFIED AND CRYING BECAUSE YOUR UNLEASHED DOG CAME RUNNING INTO OUR YARD!
(woman says nothing, just keeps walking)
THE NEXT TIME I SEE THAT DOG RUNNING AROUND HERE WITHOUT A LEASH I'M CALLING THE FREAKING COPS!
*another loud sigh* alright, alright.....
YOU CAN'T LET THAT THING JUST RUN ALL OVER! WE HAVE KIDS AROUND HERE - YOU CAN'T LET A CRAZY DOG LOOSE WHEN WE'VE GOT KIDS RUNNING AROUND!
(Still not looking at me, just walking away) .....eh, she's harmless.
OH YEA? OH YEA WELL IF SHE'S SO G****MN HARMLESS WHY IS SHE BARKING HER A** OFF, BARING HER TEETH, AND SENDING KIDS RUNNING INTO THE HOUSE IN TEARS!???!? CHAIN YOUR DOG!
I walked away, loudly cussing her out, being a real gangster with my terminology. Aaron, who hadn't uttered a word this whole time, just looked over at me and said, "I shoulda let Zeus out."
Zeus is our Doberman. I adopted him for protection. He's gentle, shockingly unintelligent, and completely aggressive with other animals.
Aaron's comment got me thinking. What would happen if Zeus were to attack that dog, assuming it was unleashed and in our yard?
The owners of offending animals are rarely, if ever, protected. Some states, like mine, have dog bite statutes. This essentially means a dog owner is liable if their dog causes injury, regardless of how the injury occurred or if the owner did anything wrong. Apparently if someone comes onto my property and has reason to do so (garbage man, mailman, campaign solicitors), they are protected in the event my dog bites. I would be liable for all medical bills, damages, etcetera.
The golden loophole? In the state of Illinois, the injured party must prove lack of provocation or trespassing (510 Ill. Comp. Stat., § 5/16). In my case, the unattended dog was both trespassing and provoking with aggressive behavior.
But what about other situations? What happens if we're out on a walk and an unleashed dog comes at Zeus? It's happened to us before... luckily the owners were right behind the animal and Zeus' aggressive behavior squashed the poor little thing's curiosity.
Many of the attorney sites I visited stressed one major thing: keep your dog leashed. It significantly bolsters your defense if you are operating lawfully and have no history of non-compliance. Sure, the fine in my area is only about $50 for an unleashed animal, but if a child is accidentally (or purposefully) bitten, the owner can be charged with, at minimum, a Class 3 Felony.
HA! Shoulda screamed THAT little nugget of information when I confronted Ms-Don't-Care.
No matter. Now I have a plan.
I practiced this afternoon. This is war. I secured a reinforced wire lead to our front porch, measured out enough to allow Zeus approximately 3 feet from the end of our driveway, and observed his behavior while the kids played out front. He was amazing. He just stood there, holding his stance, looking around. He sprawled out a couple times, only to bounce back up at the sound of a distant bark. I'll need to stay out there for a while until I can really trust he'll be ok with minimal supervision. But it's a start, and I'm feeling better already.
It pays to know the laws in your area, both in regards to your legal rights as a pet owner and as an individual susceptible to the bad decisions of others. Had Aaron let Zeus out without a leash, we could've ended up with two hefty vet bills, or worse, a date in court to settle a property loss claim. Cuz my dog's a boss.
Click here to learn more about the Illinois Animal Control Act
Click here to see dog-related statutes in your state