Parenting

A dog bit my child in the face!

Jennifer’s daughter was bitten by a neighbour’s pet. Now what?

Gillian's dog bite.

Our new neighbour moved in last May. Another year-rounder (unlike many of the seasonal residents on our road), she is a lovely young woman that my kids adore. And I adore her because she is an earth-loving, environmentally aware person who truly cares about the critters and plants that surround us — even offering up a chemical-free way to kill all the poison ivy on our waterfront.

However none of that kindness has worn off on my neighbour’s dog. An irritable old hound that isn’t used to children, especially toddlers, has bitten my daughter in the face.

Frighteningly, it’s not the first time.

Last week we went to visit our neighbour to take over a few extra muffins and daffodil bulbs — a goodwill gesture since she’s going through a tough time right now. We were chatting about the fall colours when Gillian followed the dog into another room and started laughing. The noise of her laughing must have startled the dog, because all of a sudden Gillian screamed and fell over backwards. Bleeding and crying, she ran to me. Completely in shock, I went through the motions of checking her over. Her cheek, lip and chin were bitten, with her chin being the worst — a shallow puncture mark that I am sure will scar. Our neighbour shooed the dog into a corner then gave me a first-aid kit and I cleaned up her wounds while Gillian hiccuped and whimpered. It’s a scary scene that has stuck with me for a long time.

Since then, I’ve replayed those few minutes over and over in my head. Like I said, it wasn’t the first time the dog has bitten my toddler — on two other occasions the dog had drawn blood on her face, but this was by far the worst. Should I have asked the dog to be locked up while we were visiting, or kept my toddler on my lap? Should I have reported it to the the vet or township? (I didn’t.) Should I have punted the dog myself?

Most people I’ve told this story to said they would have the dog euthanized (not true, pretty much everyone who is a parent insisted that nothing short of a bullet would make them feel better). I’ve avoided our neighbour and the dog, ignoring well-meaning text messages because the whole situation makes me so sad. I’m not sure how to move forward, especially when our neighbour is so wonderful but her dog just happens to be a jerk.

Has this happened to you? What did you do?