Declan has finally returned home from his summer visit with his mother and we have spent the last couple weeks working our way back into a daily routine.
He has been filling me in regularly in regard to one adventure after another he experienced. I have been doing my best to make being grateful a priority, he is getting time with his mother. I think any parent can relate though, regardless the situation, if your five-year-old child is celebrating the 4th of July anywhere but right next to you, you're going to worry.
Thankfully he made it back with only tall tales of "ginormous" exploding firecrackers and without a single injury a result of the holiday.
Earlier this week, unfortunately, when I inquired about a mark on his cheek, he pointed at three locations, on his face and forehead, where he had been bitten by a dog during his visit. The wounds, on his forehead, cheek below his eye and bridge of his nose, are healing nicely and were so small I hadn't even noticed them until he pointed them out.
Again, I think any parent can relate with the frustration a discovery like this creates, especially in this manner, however that is a conversation for another time.
This discovery was particularly frustrating to me at the time because I had just finished a story about a McCook dog owner who recently received his fourth vicious dog citation. To top that off, the night before my girlfriend and I were at Norris Park letting our kids play when I noticed the owner of a Doberman pinscher playing with his two kids at the park.
At the time I looked at him and it made me think of the dog owner in the repeat vicious dog story, initially because the dog owned by that pet owner was a Doberman as well. I was thinking to myself how easy it was for me to be critical of the repeat offender while writing the story earlier that day. For all I knew this could be him, no different than I, simply wanting to get some time in with his kids at the park.
Almost as quickly as the thought crept into my mind, that perhaps we as a town did not need to be stricter on repeat irresponsible pet owners, I was reminded of the one big glaring difference between this park visitor and I. He had a Doberman with him.
An elderly man was walking circles around the park and eventually the sidewalk led him to pass by the pet owner. The pet owner had a bicycle, belonging to one of the two young girls that were with him, upside down on the sidewalk. He was next to the kid's play area and appeared to be attempting to repair the chain. The elderly walker was actually moving at a slow pace, not the fast step you expect from most exercise enthusiasts. As he casually passed the leashed Doberman that was sitting next to the upturned bike it attempted to bite him. It wasn't a playful nibble, it snapped at him as if he posed a threat and luckily for everyone involved the man walking just happened to see it coming and jumped away from the dog before it made contact.
Even more concerning to me than the dog's action was the response of his owner. The elderly man made a comment to the younger, shorter but much stockier owner of the dog, expressing his disapproval with the dog trying to bite him by saying it was akin to cow manure. He slowed his pace only as long as it took to jump from the dog's reach and stated his frustration looking back as he continued his walk.
The pet owner didn't apologize, he actually became visibly upset, hefted the girl's bike over his shoulder and charged after the older man. I instinctively started to move toward the two, thinking for a moment I was going to have to pull the younger man off the older.
Fortunately the pet owner cooled off after a few paces and slowed down to a normal walk, which made it much easier for the two young girls and dog, who were in-tow, to keep up with him.
The group continued walking straight ahead though and left the park headed down First Street. I spoke briefly with the walker to see if the dog had made contact with him and he was thankful it had not.
My family had a Doberman for many years when I was in grade school. I have often said and still believe it was the best dog we ever had and would love to own another. But this incident quickly reminded me that ours was a wonderful dog, as I believe most any breed can be, largely because my parents were such responsible pet owners.
We had only one experience in all my years growing up and all the different breeds we owned; pit bull terriers, Dobermans, Rottweilers, where one of our pets even attempted to bite another person. That incident was arguably not the pet's fault, as he was very old and merely attempting to protect his fenced domain from the tyranny of the Montana Power guy. Who, incidently, was physically unharmed but startled our neighbors for miles away. He screamed at a pitch Lady GaGa would be envious of as "Buster" proceeded to eat the clipboard he attempted to shield himself with.
I am uncertain if the owner of the Doberman I witnessed at Norris Park was the same as the one I wrote about the day before, but I am confident they are both irresponsible pet owners.
I truly believe that dogs that are of an aggressive lineage require an above average owner. Maybe Spiderman's aunt said it best when she said, "With great power comes great responsibility."
I think the McCook City Council took a step in the right direction last year when they raised the vicious dog citation from $50 to $500. Hopefully a fine of this magnitude will get the attention of irresponsible pet owners and prevent them from casually racking up three or four of these tickets in the future.
I also know that when I inevitably cave into my son's repeated requests for a new puppy, I will take into serious consideration the breed that the puppy is and the amount of responsibility that comes with it.
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