Okay, before I start this story, just know that I feel terrible. As much as my dog has been a headache and driven me nuts for over a year now; I assure you that this didn’t go down the way I planned. There are many things that I have “planned” in my life that have fallen apart, in fact. Not that I should have been surprised that this was a bad idea, it falls within my recipe for family disaster as described here or the fact that I am a terrible parent, as described here. Regardless, of my inadequacy as a parent or the broken synapses in my male cerebral cortex, I cannot be excused for this blunder.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a violent guy. I don’t spank my kids (though I believe in spanking), I don’t get in fist-fights on the weekend; and even though she eats poop: I don’t beat my dog. Not that any of that changes the story.
To tell the story; I was shooting a BB gun in the backyard with my son. We were “zero-ing in” the site on a small daisy BB gun during a break in the action of the Super Bowl. Once we had this calibrated correctly, we started shooting old tomatoes off the tomato plant in the backyard. It should be noted that this is one of those “pump action” BB guns that required 7 or 8 “pumps” to penetrate the skin of a tomato. I was almost done with my fun and was about to turn the gun over to my son for him to shoot when I heard loud voices from inside the house. “NO! GET DOWN!” was all I needed to hear. I knew instinctively that the dog had snookered everyone while we were outside and was now inside the house enjoying our Super Bowl snacks. My teenage daughter was doing what she does best: over-reacting and dramatizing the whole event inside the house. The dog retreated to the back door.
Primitive man was not very concerned with reasoning or debate. He saw a problem and he fixed the problem. Often these solutions were not cognitive or cerebral solutions to problems; they were strictly physical. Many great things in the world have come through this primitive male brain; sadly, this event wasn’t one of those ‘great things.’ Here is the thought process as best I can recall it:
I saw the dog in the door.
The dog had been disobedient.
I had a BB gun in my hand.
The dog needed to be punished.
A BB gun couldn’t do any “real” damage anyway. (I saw National Lampoon’s vacation and John Candy made an excellent observation when he said
Lasky: That’s not a real gun, is it Clark?
Clark: Are you kidding? This is a Magnum P.I.
Lasky: It’s a BB gun!
Clark: Don’t tempt me. I could poke an eye out with this thing.
Lasky: You couldn’t even break the skin with that thing.
I would only give the gun 2 “pumps” so it was just like a swat on the butt.
It totally broke the skin. Lasky, the security guard at Wally World, was totally wrong. My dog scurried under the kitchen table. My devious smile immediately faded to a heart-sick grimace. “crap, that wasn’t a good idea” I thought to myself as I scrambled inside to check on the family pooch. I coaxed her out from under the table and tended to her wounded butt. The BB didn’t go in, but there was some blood. I put her on the counter and stopped the bleeding while petting her on the head and telling her how sorry I was. She looked at me with the same dumb expression that she always has, probably wondering if I knew that standing in front of the back door could lead to serious pain in your backside — out of the clear blue sky. My wife walked in the house at this point, she stood at the door flabbergasted. I think she tried to give me the “death stare” that she uses on the kids. It didn’t work on me. She muttered her favorite line “you have got to be kidding me” and moved on. I tended to my patient and moved to the living room with her. I sat with her on the couch wondering how I could make it up to her; thankful that her cognitive reasoning skills would not allow her to connect the dots and know that I was the cause of her pain. I felt like a dork.
The dog was back to normal in about 10 minutes. Sniffing around my bean dip and chips, stealing brownies from the toddler and being a general menace. I was glad that she bounced back so well. As the evening progressed I began to feel a sense of normalcy return and a hope that I could one day forgive myself. About 9 o’clock my 5-year old showed her mom the picture she had been drawing on the IPad. I saw the picture and knew that I wasn’t out of the woods yet and that I might never live this down. Though she never cried about the incident, she obviously wasn’t ignorant of what took place. As i studied the picture, the knots in my stomach returned. Here is her picture.
There are times as a father when you really need to earn your stripes. This was obviously one of those times. My little girl was trying to process her puppy being injured. She played it off as an image of “her and her future husband and how their dog got hurt” she said that Lily died before she got married. “This was TOTALLY another dog.” she reassured me. I was able to see through the charade. I pulled her close, gave her a hug and told her I was sorry for shooting her dog. I told her that I knew it was wrong and that I wouldn’t do it again. She reiterated that the picture had nothing to do with her dog, and she went back to coloring pictures.
I think it will be a long time before I forget the lessons of yesterday. Not that I can promise my decision-making tree will be better vetted or without poor selections. I just know that somewhere, I owe that dog an extra chance. She’ll probably use it up this week, but still. I owe my daughter something too. I’m not sure how to make up those things; I’m not even sure that I can. I’m thankful that there was no class I had to take or license I had to get in order to have kids — I obviously would have failed; but, the thing I am most thankful for is that little kids forgive dumb parents easier than the dumb parents forget dumb decisions. As for dumb dogs… Well… They are dumb, so they love us even when we are dumb too.
I hope with all my heart that the dumb decisions stay minor and that they all stay within the realm of puppies. I hope my kids grow up normal in spite of me; and, I really hope one of them makes the dumb split-second decision to shoot the family dog.