oh my auggie

Auggie’s progress with children

First… I disclaimer this post. I am upset about what happened because of the parenting involved, but also upset because I failed to be watching. It could have gone HORRIBLY wrong and I would be (at least partially) to blame. In hindsight, this was not a good situation to put Auggie in. I screwed up and I’m lucky it didn’t end bad.

On Monday, I took Auggie to the mall to have his photo taken with Santa. There was a young boy ahead of us… maybe 6 or 7. His mom and dad were with him. Ahead of them was a guy and his CUTE CUTE dog, I’m not sure what she was – maybe a mix – but she was a pretty good sized dog.
Kid is being a huge pain in the butt. He almost hit the other dog, he almost stomped on her feet and her tail (while the owner has her in a sit-stay), just generally being an obnoxious brat.
“Great,” I think. This kind of behaviour – erratic, flailing, strange movements – is what Auggie doesn’t enjoy from children. To a lot of dogs, particularly herding dogs, they “see” children a little differently. Their weird movements can startle and frighten them. I have no idea what to expect with this kid or from Auggie as we stand behind them, but I’m pretty much prepared for the worst, and keep Auggie back as far as I can.
Auggie sits down next to me, looking at the kid. His tail is wagging and he’s smiling. At first it seems like everything will be a-okay. The kid starts leaping around – this is where he almost stomped on the other dog’s tail – and I expect Auggie to react, and I get ready to take Auggie on the OUTSIDE of the line and climb back over the wall when it’s our turn… but he does nothing. He just sits next to me quietly and watches, tail still wagging, still expecting if he behaves he will get nice pets and maybe a cookie.
See, this is the result of the careful, positive socialization this summer. Children are a good thing. If you see a child and behave well, you will get petted, you will get praised, you will get cookies. I think to myself “Oh! This is some real SUCCESS!”

And then – and this is my fault, I let my guard down – the kid all of a sudden LEAPS at Auggie, and sticks his face RIGHT into Auggie’s face.
HOLY S***. I FREAK out and take a HUGE step backwards, yanking Auggie back with me – I expected Auggie to react. And it could have been teeth right into that child’s face.

Auggie didn’t react at all. He was startled at me hauling him backwards, but he didn’t bark or make any kind of motion towards the kid.
Of course, at the time I was terrified and shaking, but later my mom pointed out how GOOD Auggie did. She’s right – he was wonderful. If somebody had told me a year ago that a small child would leap towards my dog and stick his face into Auggie’s I would have thought the end result would be DEATH for sure.

At that point, I should have gone ahead and stepped over the wall, separating Auggie from the kid… not because of Auggie’s behaviour, but because of the kid’s. But the kid’s dad hauled him back and told him “DON’T YOU EVER DO THAT. Don’t stick your face in a dog you don’t knows face – NOT EVEN WITH A DOG YOU KNOW!!!” He starts telling him that it’s not safe and he could be bitten and not to do it ever ever again.
“Good dad,” I thought, and figured the kid’s dad is watching now, and the kid has been told not to do it. Maybe the kid will settle down a bit?
WRONG. He settled down for a while, and about fifteen minutes later (the line was terribly long) he looks at me, smiles… and then suddenly propells himself forward and LEAPS INTO AUGGIE’S FACE AGAIN.
SON OF A… Auggie, to his credit, doesn’t react again. He keeps sitting.
But get this… the kid tries it a THIRD time, immediately after he straightens up.
This time, the kid lunges straight into my LEG – because I’ve now stomped my leg down and physically placed myself BETWEEN him and my dog. “DON’T do that,” I flatly tell him. I am not about to play nice, this kid has just crossed the line. I was wearing my snow boots, and if I’d stomped down on his fingers with my boots getting between him and my dog… I wouldn’t have felt bed. I was PISSED.
Oh yeah – and that “good dad?” He wasn’t paying attention. Mom hauls her kid back this time (she wasn’t paying attention either, but me stomping down and snarling at the kid apparently got her attention) and the dad scolds him, then goes “Oh, what’d he do?” What you just told him not to do, you big goober!! Dad lectures the kid again.
And then they stand there in line for another, I dunno, probably 30 minutes so the kid can go sit on Santa’s lap. While the kid continues to flail around, kicking the set the mall put up, hanging on things, yanking on things… great parenting at work. Kid does something dangerous, gets lectured on it, does exact same thing TWICE not twenty minutes later, and then gets to go see Santa anyway? Sigh.
Kid is on the Naughty List, I’m telling you.

I moved away from them about ten feet and put Auggie behind me anyway. The people behind me were very nice and understanding about the huge gap in the line.
Seriously, I can’t believe Auggie behaved so well. And I can’t believe how stupid I was to not have trusted my instincts. I could have picked Auggie up and held him, or gone ahead and stood outside the set wall like I thought, or moved all that way back in the first place… and certainly the second time around, I should have done more than just try to move back even further.
I know better. I NEVER trust children around Auggie. I’m not really sure why I did this time – maybe because our socialization was going so well this summer, and because Auggie’s initial reaction was encouraging that I dropped my guard. There was no bad ending… but there definitely could have been.

So, folks… trust your instincts when it comes to your dogs. If you think a situation is bad, it probably is. If you can do something to avoid the situation, don’t wait. Do it.

Hopefully that kid learns his lesson or he’s likely going to end up getting his face bitten off.

REGARDLESS… Auggie saw Santa. Santa loved him. Auggie tried to give Santa kisses. Santa thought that Auggie had been a very good boy (for THAT performance he just gave? He’s a FREAKING SAINT.) and that he wanted a steak for Christmas.
A steak? Well, maybe some raw one way or another.

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