06 June 2010

“You think that’s funny?”

We went to the vet this morning. We go to the vet unfortunately often. Luckily, everyone at our vet office loves T2—and I mean loveslovesloves them. So when we go to the vet, even though some unpleasant things may happen there in the course of the visit, the affection, the fawning and the endless treats they get along the way make it more like a visit to their own personal fan club than to the vet.

We don’t usually go to the vet for emergencies, so usually our trips are fairly uneventful. But today when we approached the vet, we came upon a massive
line of people (three and four deep in some places) that began at the doors of gigantic high school on the block and wrapped around the corner. When we turned the corner to get to the parking lot, we could see that the line wrapped around the next corner, and if it wrapped around the corner beyond that (which we couldn’t see) it would soon become a perfect city square block of a line. It was a mixed demographic—mostly youngish adults; some older adults; all shapes, sizes and colors represented; and a certain style among them. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but when I learned from the vet staff that the line was for auditions for the new Transformer movie, it all made sense.

At any rate, as I waited for the line to part so that we could drive into the lot, I decided this was the kind of crowd in which someone was certainly going to make a big deal out of two pit bulls hopping out of a jeep. It would be similar to the reaction I might get tossing a leash around Cerberus, the mythical multi-headed hound who is said to guard the gates of hell, and taking him into the vet for his annual vaccines. So I let T2 out of the back hatch and ignored the commentary I could hear starting among the crowd closest to us. I “excuse me-ed” our way through the line to the sidewalk, smiling at the few people who made eye contact so they could see that a nice person like me probably has nice dogs, regardless of how intimidating they may appear.

And then it happened. I almost thought it hadn’t, because I really couldn’t believe anyone would do it. But it did.

One of the young men closest to the path we had just cut through the crowd barked at Toni and Téa. Not a friendly, “woof, woof, doggie” like we sometimes get in the park. A loud, abrupt, startling bark.

As I turned and processed that Toni was (not surprisingly) completely freaked out, tail between her legs and tucked against her belly, which was nearly on the sidewalk she was crouched so low, I also realized I was watching this ignorant, immature young man snigger about it with his buddy.

I think years ago I might have been the kind of person who would have kept walking, steaming on the inside but afraid to confront them for fear of being rude. I probably would have told my friends about it later, wishing I had had said, “(insert clever, cutting comment here).” But since Toni has come into our lives, I’ve become the kind of protective mama bear that you have to be if you have pit bulls in the city. I will say something when people disparage the breed or my own dogs to my face; I will tell people to step back if they are acting inappropriately toward my dogs (for instance the crackhead who tried to rile Toni up as if we were about to go into the fighting ring, but only succeeded in getting a stern talking-to from me); and I will not let some ill-mannered idiot terrorize my dog for a laugh.

“Who did that?” I said it loudly and aggressively. Even if I hadn’t seen them laughing, it would have been so obvious who the offenders were—they were the only ones who weren’t looking directly at me by then. “Who did that? Who freaked out my dog?” Bent heads like ostriches—as if I couldn’t see them eight feet in front of me. “You. You think that’s funny? It’s not.” I had everyone’s attention by then. “It’s not cool. And everyone here knows it but you.”

Okay, so it wasn’t the clever, cutting comment I would have liked. But based on the looks on their faces, their body language and the way they turned their backs to the glass windows of the reception area when they saw T2 and me enter reception from the exam rooms, I think I got my point across.

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