Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, May 18, 2007

And They Call It Puppy Love

by Kerry Blair

This is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. According to government statistics, man and woman’s best friend bites more than 4.7 million people a year. I think I know the dog responsible.

No, it’s not my pit bull. One piece of bling on Bandit’s designer collar is a silver charm that says: I’m a lover not a biter. It’s true. That’s not to say she couldn’t seriously injure somebody. If a burglar crept into our house at night he would likely trip over her in the dark and break his neck. (Bandit is sound asleep by nine, and nothing -- thunderstorms, fire alarms, cat fights, cat burglars -- rouses her before dawn.) The authorized daytime visitors to our home are equally at risk. They might be smothered by smooches and/or crushed the moment they sit down. (The big galoot passed the lap dog stage more than 65 pounds ago, but we have yet to convince her of that.) So, while it’s true that you take your chances coming here, being bitten is the last thing you need to worry about. Well . . . assuming that the bunny isn’t loose and you don’t smell like bananas.

Sadly, this is not the case everywhere in Chino. A mile or so down the road is a lovely rose-covered cottage wherein resides the sweetest, dearest lady you’d ever want meet. At her feet is Buffy the Vampire. Masquerading as a small, mild-mannered cocker spaniel with adorable pink ribbons on her ears, Buffy is likely responsible for at least half the aforementioned statistic. In the year or so my mother-in-law has had her, Buffy has bitten all the grandchildren, the bishop, the vet, the Relief Society president, and any number of friends, neighbors and people hired to landscape, clean . . . or possibly just provide tender new ankles for the dog’s nipping pleasure. I once tried tactfully to suggest to Gary’s mom that she teach her beloved pooch one simple command. You know, something along the lines of: “Buffy! Take your fangs out of that child!” But so far it hasn’t happened. Now I keep a pair of steel-reinforced galoshes in my car to put on over my flip-flops before I enter the house. That and the fifty-foot pole I use to pat Buffy on the head have thus far done the trick.

But I wonder: what is it that attracts angelic little old ladies to devil dogs anyway? My grandmother never owned a dog that didn't bite. When she died, did I inherit her jewelry? Her antique cedar chest? Her valuable art books? Well, yes, but I also inherited Benjy, the mini-schnauzer from you-know-where. I tried to give that dog a home, I really did. Tried and failed miserably.

After Benjy bit my husband, my children, the mailman (trite, but true), and literally tore the shorts off a neighbor kid, I put a cautiously-worded ad in the newspaper. I hoped to find a home wherein the dog could reside longer than two weeks before being fatally injected. (Not that he probably didn’t deserve the death penalty, what with making Hannibal Lector’s craving for human flesh look benign.) I rejected the first few respondents. Too young. Too old. Too anemic-looking to risk blood loss. At last the perfect couple arrived. They were robustly thick-skinned plus they were rich and could therefore afford as many new clothes and/or stitches as necessary. They were even long-time schnauzer owners. Best of all, they lacked just enough sanity to fall for Benjy’s peculiar charms. (Probably they lacked just a little more than just enough.) When the deal was done and they were about to pack Jaws into their Lexus and drive off into the sunset, the woman turned to me and said – I kid you not – “Does he have any hobbies?”

After a moment’s hesitation I replied, “Well, he does like to bite children.”

The woman nuzzled Benjy, beamed at her husband, and said, “Isn’t it nice that we live so close to the park?”

I’ve often wondered if she misunderstood me or I misunderstood her . . . or if Benjy passed the rest of his days blissfully terrorizing toddlers.

At any rate, for sound advice on how to best approach (or flee) strange dogs this week look here. But the best advice of all: If my mother-in-law invites you over for a bite – don’t fall for it!


At 5/18/2007 2:14 PM, Blogger Jon said...

Thanks for the canin-ical blog today!

If I find a place for it, mind if I use the phrase "I'm a lover not a biter" for my special project? (I love it!)

I did have a friend's dog bite me hard enough to draw blood. It didn't appear to be malicious, though. The dog had a long history of abuse (not by my friend; that was reserved for me!) I just had my hand down at my side, and the dog wandered up and bit me. He didn't seem angry or upset, though.

Our cats do something we call a "love nip" they do often to each other, rarely to us. I wonder if this dog was doing something like that. I had certainly given him a lot of attention during that visit.

At 5/18/2007 5:40 PM, Anonymous rob wells said...

I was bitten twice on my mission, once by a gigantic rottweiler and once by a tiny little maltese. The maltese was the one that broke the skin.

As Annette alluded to in a different comment thread, my editor's dog is pure evil. Most dog owners always play down their dog's meanness--"Oh, he's not so bad once you get to know him", etc. When I met Angela's dog, she quickly warned me: "Don't move! Stay perfectly still!"

At 5/18/2007 7:25 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...


At 5/19/2007 11:52 AM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

When I was on my mission, I knocked at the door of a sweet little old woman. As soon as the woman opened the door, my companion and I heard the pounding of feet coming down the hallway.

With no warning, a huge black mutt of some kind flew past the woman, knocked open the screen door, and promptly bit my leg hard enough to spin me around.

Sure that I would need at least a couple dozen stitches and quite possibly a tourniquet, I looked down at my leg and found . . . nothing.

Well okay, I did find my leg. But there were no marks, no blood, no ripped pants, nothing to show I had even been touched.

I was sure I was about to become one of those mythic missionary miracle stories--or at least a great poster boy for Mr. Macs double polyester suits.

Right up until the point when the woman, laughed, waved her wrinkled old hands, and said, "Don't worry about him. He ain't got no teeth."

At 5/19/2007 12:29 PM, Anonymous kerry said...

LOL! That's seriously the best story I've heard all month!


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