Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Anger is Secondary

Sometimes it is easier to feel anger then other emotions. When I am not completely absorbed with the anger, I feel horrified and guilty and so very sad. There is a theory about anger acting a secondary emotion, or something that we feel to cover up or protect ourselves from more vulnerable emotions. I've learned about this theory in graduate school. I've used it with patients on occasion. But I have never truly understood it until yesterday. 
Two years ago, my parent's dog wondered into their neighbor's yard one evening when there were fireworks going off at a home down the street. She was 15 years old and mostly blind. A twenty point shih-tzu/poodle mix. My parents have nearly three acres and none of the neighbors ever had any fences because it wasn't needed. But on this night, she wandered into their yard and their three Great Danes attacked her, brutally ripping her apart with their teeth. By the time my father tore them off her, she was in pieces. He was devastated. C came over that evening and buried her for them. The whole family was distraught that such a violent thing could happen. 

With time we moved on. We remained more cautious and less trusting. When we moved into my parent's home last year, with our twenty-pound Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, we kept him on a lead. As he and we became more comfortable, we would allow to run around the backyard without the lead, but only when we were watching. Only when we were also outside. He always came back when he was called, never wandered too far, and was such a good dog. We started to let our guard down. 

Last evening I went outside with him while my mom was finishing dinner. It was a lovely evening, cool outside but too hot to stay indoors. He was in pure heaven running around in the backyard, always returning to me in-between his laps. C came out and began to talk to me about the dinner being almost complete. Then we heard the back door open at the neighbors, and Marv took off sprinting to see what was happening. We called after and started walking towards him. A second later I heard a high-pitched yelp. 

I began sprinting towards the edge of our yard. C was right behind, yelling at them to get off him. I got to the pack first and two of the dogs backed away as I came barreling towards them, but the one dog was on top of Marv and didn't leave. I grabbed his collar and forcefully pulled him back. He snarled at me, but I didn't let go. I turned my attention to Marv, who lay limp on the grass. 

Thank God C was right behind me. He scooped up Marv's lifeless body and as he did, the Great Dane I was still holding lunged at him. I held on tight. It wasn't until C and Marv were walking away that I finally let go of his collar. At the end of this altercation, the neighbor came out of her house to her back deck. "Where were they?" is what she demanded to know, knowing that she would not be legally liable if they were in her own yard rather than ours. She never asked how he was. 

Marv was still alive and awake. We figured out the nearest emergency vet 30 minutes away and I sped there while C held Marv in a towel. Flesh, blood, and sweat have a very distinctive smell. He panted all the way and then we handed him off to the vet. 

He was very lucky, the vet told us on two separate occasions. He had numerous puncture wounds, was skinned across much of his back, and one gash that went through to his muscle. But his abdomen wasn't punctured. His lungs were okay. He will require surgery and an overnight stay for monitoring, but is stable. In no more then thirty seconds of turning our back, this was the damage. My dad was in the house when the same dogs killed theirs, likely only a few seconds from where we were standing with Marv. 

I shudder when I think about taking another thirty seconds to get to him. I close my eyes and the sight of his lifeless body immediately appears in my mind. I can't even imagine the thought of my unborn child one day accidentally kicking a soccer ball into their yard and running in after it. So instead, I think about revenge. How I will be printing off fliers alerting the entire rest of the neighborhood how vicious and horrible these animals and people are. How we will be building an ugly 6 foot fence along her property line, decorating the one side with names and messages of hate while putting flowers along our end. Sometimes, I even imagine more gruesome options of luring her dogs onto our property with some raw meat so we can beat the life out of them with a baseball bat. Because anger and hate is easier than the guilt and horror. 


  1. Oh my gosh that is horrifying. I am so sorry your parent's dog was killed and that yours is now hurt, but glad your pup will be ok. The thing about dogs is (and I know this from being a dog breeder and from owning five dogs) that the pack mentality kicks in and once a dog gets a taste for blood, they will keep going back for it. Have you contacted your local animal control? One of our goats was killed and one was severely injured by our neighbors dogs and animal control required that the neighbor put down their dogs as a result.

  2. That is absolutely horrifying, that these dogs are still there and still engaging in the same behavior. A fence is definitely in order. Or, you know, throw some meat tainted with chocolate, rat poison, anything else lethal to dogs into their yard.

  3. Absolutely awful. Hope Marv is healing well. Will be thinking of you as you recover from this insanity.