Tuesday, July 21, 2009


So I was thinking the other day; it's a good thing I've been eating sleeping and breathing all this house stuff and we don't have a ton going on that I'm missing out on recording here.
The kids have been awesomely cooperative and for the most part have been able to be shooed outside or playing well on their own. We've had random playdates and been on the go go go, but nothing of too much interest or too pressing or out of the ordinary to report.

Although Sawyer decided to change that up for me yesterday.

My friend Joy called me up and offered me some kid-free time to get stuff done; they were spending the morning outside, and my kids were welcome to hang over there. Of course my kids had a great time playing with their two friends and the dog; more fun than me ignoring them with a paintbrush in my hand. Great fun until I came to pick them up after lunch...

When I got there Joy had Sawyer upstairs in the bathroom cleaning up a big five-inch gash on the back of his thigh. It was ugly. He was brave though and four band-aids later, and lots of hugs and kisses, he was back to playing.
But that's not all.

These friends have a very laid-back 85lb yellow lab who has always been great with the kids... they have their own three year old and one year old who are by no means gentle, and Cody has always been great with them, no worries. I have to admit they leave their kids un(der)supervised with that dog more than I would be comfortable with, but I've seen the torture loving that toddler has put that dog through and he takes it all in stride. My own kids are completely comfortable with Cody; we're at their house regularly and they live close so Cody's visited us here and hung out in our yard with the kids just as often. Great dog.
But combine the unpredictability of kids with the unpredictability of animals... and even the greatest dogs do not put me at complete ease when there are kids involved. I think I'd become a little lax on that and yesterday reminded me of it loud and clear.

Cody was laying near me when Sawyer came up and straddled his back. I've seen Sawyer do this before, with no problem, though I've reminded him always not to sit on the dog. Cody was looking a little agitated this time and just as Joy said, "I don't think Cody likes that right now Sawyer", I heard just a hint of a growl from the dog. At the same time, Sawyer got up to get off of him. I don't know if he kneed him wrong or if he stepped on his tail or if he just wasn't getting off fast enough, but suddenly Cody snapped around snarling

and bit Sawyer right in the face.

It all happened so incredibly fast... yet so painfully slow. The crazy thing is both Joy and I were basically within arms' reach and yet both of us were essentially helpless, it happened so quickly. I think when we realized what was about to happen/happening, Joy did speak out "Cody!" and I really think that saved this from being a real bite. Even though he had his mouth completely open and actually had Sawyer's nose mouth and chin in his mouth... he barely drew blood. I think having us there refrained him from actually biting. Maybe he wouldn't have anyway. Maybe he knew and had complete control and was just giving a serious warning. As it was, he had his teeth on him and gave just enough pressure to bruise and barely puncture... I honestly shudder to think how it could have been different if Joy or I were not right there.
I cannot get the image of my child's face in a dog's mouth out of my head.

Sawyer was, of course, a wreck. I don't think I've ever seen him so upset. Ever. It didn't start bleeding right away, so we didn't think he'd even broken the skin. Until a minute later when I picked Sawyer's head up from my shoulder to look at it again and there was blood all over my shirt. There were two little perfect puncture marks where the bottom canine teeth were... right on Sawyer's chin. I sat with him for a long time with a wet paper towel on his chin, trying to calm him down. He was a strange upset... not the usual owie crying... he was just so scared and I think shocked. I hated feeling that he was feeling that. I was powerless to comfort him. He just kept saying he wanted to go home and he wouldn't let me put him down.

We sat for a bit longer, letting Sawyer get calmed down and making sure it wasn't worse than we thought. We finally went to head out about 20 minutes later and before leaving I tried to get Sawyer to say good bye to Cody. The dog was laying calmly by the front door and I tried to get Sawyer next to him with me so he could say sorry to Cody for scaring him and for Cody to "apologize" to Sawyer... I think this was completely one of those situations where you can't really blame either of them. Just have to learn from it. At any rate, I don't want Sawyer to be scared of the dog. He needs to be cautious and aware... a healthy fear of animals, but I don't want him to be physically scared of Cody from here on out.
Sawyer would have nothing to do with it though. He started crying again and said he just wanted to go home and he wouldn't let me put him down.

And then the whole rest of the day, Sawyer would randomly say (and be on the verge of tears while he said it) "I don't ever want to go to Hannah's house ever again!".
Poor guy. It was a rough morning.

So now he's got almost a perfect circle of teeth marks around his face... two bigger bruised puncture marks on his chin and a little trail of slightly red bruised spots all the way up around in a circle around his mouth. It's lovely. I actually cringe when I look at him. It's really not all that bad, and I'm sure you won't even be able to see it in another day or two. But I see it. I see those little bruised dots and I see the jaws of a big dog on my little boy's face. I also see what it could have been. If Cody had actually bit down or if he had torn the skin... I see how things could have changed in that split second. And that makes me cringe. It makes me sick to my stomach actually.
I'm just so glad it is what it is. So thankful.

Now matter how well you think you know your dogs... no matter how much you think you can trust them OR your child... please be aware. And be right there. It only takes a split second.


jenny said...

oooh! poor sawyer! you do have to be so careful - you never know.

my brother-in-law was bit my his grandma's dog when he was younger and he still has the scar on his cheek. glad things weren't worse for sawyer! hope it heals up quickly.

Mom said...

I'm almost speechless!Thank God for his protection.Praying that you can all quickly get past the scarey memories.xoxoxoxoxo

K.M.L said...

Oh my goodness! Heather I am SO glad he is okay. Hope he gets better soon!

Nicole said...

YIKES! That is sooooo scary. Case point #1 why I NEVER feel safe leaving my kids alone near any dog. ANY dog. If something like that can happen in a split second with parents so near, its unthinkable what could happen when kids are unattended. Our neighbors (we love them, we do!) always let their 2 kids run around outside with their dog, and even bring her to our house. If Porter is out playing alone and they come over with Tinkerbell, I make him come inside until I can be out there with him. She's a great dog, but I don't trust any dog. (Or my kid, for that matter!! Just the other day we were in the kitchen and Ramsey snapped at Porter... Ramsey... the dog with patience to the moon and back.... and I turned around and Porter said he bit her ear and that's why she snapped at him!!! GRRR).

Despite the stories I tell about Porter and the animals, we try really hard to drill in respect for animals.... not being mean, treating them nicely, paying attention to cues and signals and their body language, asking people if you can pet their dog rather than just walking up to strange dogs, etc...

So sorry this had to happen to Sawyer! I hope he can overcome his fear of Cody and see that it was a freak accident and that Cody was just trying to warn him that he'd had enough. My sister was bit on the face when she was 3 by a lab at our babysitters... she had to have stitches by her eye and mouth. She likes dogs still... if that helps any :) It left physical scars but didn't scar her love of dogs.

Anonymous said...

Same thing happened to L last week. She was laying near our relaxed, do nothing ever dog (he sleeps with her)and she hugged him too tightly around the neck, he didn't like it and snipped at her. She didn't have any puncture wounds but she had three "rub" marks from his teeth under her eye. Could you imagine if he had bitten her there, her eye could be gone. Lord both of our children are so incredibly lucky.

Christina Gent said...

I am so sad looking at that sweet face with those bite marks! I always say no matter how well behaved a pet is it's still an animal and therefore completely unpredictable. I was bit as a kid and it was so scary I fainted! At least Sawyer stayed conscious!!

Debbie R. said...

Poor Sawyer! Yes, dogs are a-n-i-m-a-l-s! You can never trust them completely. I am glad Sawyer is ok, but I hope he will eventually grew to love dogs again and have just a healthy fear of them and not be totally freaked out with every dog. Give him a big hug for me! He is going to have a great time with his cousins beginning tomorrow!
Love, Grandma Sanders

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