Friday, November 4, 2016

Coldcocked by Fear - When Growling Dogs Chase You Down


       I kissed my mother’s cheek and my father’s forehead. I gave my brother the head nod and told him, “I’ll see you later at home. I grabbed my hat and rambled down their porch stairs heading for my car. Good temperature for nine at night on an early November evening, Cool crisp, skies clear and pure, just beautiful.

       I hear a noise very close behind me, the sound of two dogs running and growling. The sound gets closer, inches from me now. The lizard part of my brain screeched a siren that shook me to the core and rang out, sounding like my voice screaming into the night. A fear and then terror in a matter of milliseconds took over. A quick glance revealed two pit bulls behind me. An ancestor of a hundred thousand years ago screamed up through the centuries at me, “You unaware ass, a predator is about to take you down!” My reaction was intense, instant and visceral. I turned and jumped away, the blood-curdling scream brought my brother out of my mother’s house instantly.

       When I jumped out of the way, I was standing in the neighbor’s sloping driveway, and I fell backwards into the street, my back hitting hard. I screamed again, when realization hit me that fending off TWO dogs meant the stakes had gotten excessively high, my vulnerability stabbed at my psyche, and I was on my back in the street about to mauled. The movie the Omen flashed in my head.

       I raised myself still clutching my purse in front of me, a shield, and my arm ready to be raise in defense, the first part of my body I surmised to be torn to shreds. I see him fully now, as he looks at me. In that second, I realized that my scream and the terror I felt was a sure way to trigger a predator to attack. I just released enough primordial fear pheromones, that surely it would awakened the dogs' primordial predatory wolf pack sensory to go in for the kill. Great, I just hung out a sign saying, “Wounded Gazelle, Come and Get Me.” I waited for the first sign of attack.  

        I get to my knee and the dog skips toward me. I realize my fatal mistake. By trying to get up, I was sitting on my legs. My leg was the only power weapon I could possibly use to kick this dog off. I was in a bad defensive position and could be knocked over easily if the dog attacked just them. I had made myself vulnerable again. Everything I did came back to me as a mistake. At the same time, I knew that the other dog might come at me too. I could only scream at the dog in front of me and forcefully as I could, “Get away from me!” And the dog bounded back from the direction he had come.

       Then I realize the dogs belong to my nephew who lived two doors down from my mother. I saw him, and then heard his voice calling his dogs. The dogs were not vicious. They would not have attacked me. But they had come up behind me growling in the dark and a fear I have never experienced took over my whole being.

       My brother came to me as I was getting up. The trauma about to hit, he hugged me and asked if I was all right. All I could say was yes, and then another realization kicked in, I’m wet.  “I have to go” and then whispered in a matter a fact voice, “I pissed myself.”

This is how fucking scared I was. I pissed myself.

       My nephew came up, hugged me too and said he was sorry. I muttered “its okay” got in my car and drove away.

       I realized that my pants were soaked all the way down both my legs and the smell of ammonia wafted up. I  drove with my ass of the seat, my back feeling the strain. My breath heavy, my mind shut down with shock, my adrenalin spiraling slowly downward to a manageable degree. At the next stop light, I get out of the car, take off my new demin jacket, and place it on my seat. I felt stupid and vulnerable outside of my car. But sitting in all that moisture was intolerable. I wonder if the man in the car behind me can see that my pants showed signs of a gigantic piss. I felt consoled that my car seat will not smell like the ‘fucking scared to death piss blend” that of ammonia, embarrassment and humiliation.

       With 20 minutes to drive home, I lift my ass off the jacket as much as can be possible while I drive a car on a four-lane road going 45 miles an hour.  My mind is racing between the memory, the shock of my reaction, the anger – because I have told my nephew more than once that, the dogs are required to be on leash, the fear, the heavy breathing, the adrenalin dump. I calm myself, telling myself that I was never really in danger. Although my body and mind understand the wisdom of that logic, they can’t process the logic, not yet.

       I think about calling my sister. When this type of trauma hits me, I want to find someone to talk me down. But I think, why should I call and include her in my trauma, like I am calling my mother, to help me process and calm me down. She’s not my mother and she might not appreciate me putting in that role. Then I think of my husband and think, shouldn’t he be the one that I go to for comfort. Yes, he should be the one, but if I tell him he will get angry and want to turn this into a crusade of justice, when all I wanted was comfort. I put down the phone and continue the long ride home.

       As I drive, my butt is off the front seat by an inch, my back starting to hurt. Half way through the ride, I break down and decide to put my wet ass on my jacket and break down, crying.  Then yell at myself, “Don’t do this to yourself. You’re okay” And I stop. Then it happens again, the cycle between the passion play revival, and the calm analysis of the objective observer. Nevertheless, I know as I sit in my wet cold pants that as soon as I see my husband, I will become six year old again and react like any traumatized child, quiet until she sees her mommy or daddy and then breaks down in their arms.

         The door was locked which pissed me off. HEY! I AM VULNERABLE OUT HERE. WHY IS THE FUCKING DOOR LOCKED, WHEN YOU KNOW I WILL BE HOME RIGHT NOW. I slap at the windowpanes with frustration and hurt. When my husband opens the door, I fall sobbing into his arms. After a moment or two, I was able to answer his questions.

       “There were dogs”, uncontrollable sobbing, “They were growling”, uncontrollable sobbing, “pit bulls chasing”, uncontrollable sobbing, “I was so scared”, uncontrollable sobbing, “that I fell on my back”, uncontrollable sobbing, “I thought I was going to be mauled” … hyper-ventilating with uncontrollable sobbing.

       I was so beside myself, but I knew I had to pull myself together. I needed to get in the shower. I climbed the stairs still feeling traumatized, breathing hard, and whimpering. My husband can hear me and asks if I need help.  As I run the water, I begin to calm down. I opened the door, give him my pants, and ask him to throw them in the washer. As I am about to get in the shower, I yell down to him to get a drink ready for when I get out.  After 15 minutes, I feel better. 

       I know I will go over this, going over my reactions, marveling at the level of fear, and the analysis of a fear never experienced before. My indignation of the lack of common courtesy or acknowledgement of a neighbor’s sense of well-being and security around two unleashed Heraclians
of  the canine world, triggering a primordial fear of the passion play of death that has existed between predator and prey over milennia.  

I died four times in less than 30 seconds. 
  • I was about to get mauled by dogs, death or disfigurement.  
  • I fell onto the middle of the street hard on my back and imagined I was going to be run over, broken body or death. 
  • I was about to fight for survival, with low probability of success, inadequate survival skill or defensive strength, and the dread of witnessing and feeling that first moment of the dog’s attack, the dread and anticipation of extreme pain and panic. 
  • Then, when it was over, dying of humiliation. Piss and unneccsary, preventable panic.

       This is what happens when someone who doesn’t feel that a leash is warranted or necessary because HE knows his dogs, that the law, this particular law is unnecessary and limiting. Well, I’m here to tell you. It can wreak havoc. It can scare a person to death. It may cause someone to fall into the middle of a street. It can result in injury. It can cause PTSD.  It can create ruin in the mind and havoc to the soul. Leash your damn curious, well meaning, beautiful, playfully growling dog monsters.

       Just imagine if I was not a relative. That I could have gotten hurt or worse. That I called the authorities and had your dogs removed and you ticketed. That I decided to make you pay. I don’t blame the dogs, but the dogs would have been the ones to pay with their lives. It was all so unnecessary, preventable.  Leash them.


Dude, you owe me a year of my life. Can I have it back? No, I guess you can’t really give it back to me. Not cool. Not cool at all. 


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