When love bites

During my childhood, my family always had dogs. When I was born, we had Jorge, and after Jorge was Scooby, and after Scooby, Dawson. Dawson was a husky, and huskies are “typical” dogs. Dawson didn’t like too much attention. He liked to be alone most of the time and having his own space. He was not a dog that showed a lot of affection or gave a lot of kisses – the most you would get from him was a tail wag, and even that was rare. I was aware of the fact that Dawson didn’t like or want my affection, but I was just a kid and he was a cute puppy, so of course I didn’t listen.

One night, when I was eleven years old and Dawson was two, it was time for bed and my father and my dogs (my family had another dog named Bailee and she is eleven today) were in the basement, and I went down to say goodnight and to give my dogs kisses. Bailee is a typical dog: she loves kisses and hugs and every ounce of affection she can get. After I said goodnight to her, I went to Dawson, who was sleeping on the couch. When I bent down to give him a kiss, I thought about what my father always said to me: let sleeping dogs lie. But Dawson wasn’t just any “dog”, he was my dog, my friend. So I put my face in his and gave him a kiss.

In an instant, Dawson snapped. It was just a warning – don’t touch me! – but he had a snaggle tooth, and this tooth got caught in my lip and ripped it into two, like a sheet of paper. Although I could see my teeth in between the two pieces of my lip, the cut was so clean and precise that there wasn’t any blood… at first. There was quite a bit of blood later. I ran to the bathroom to look at my face and I was immediately in tears. My father ran into the bathroom, took one look at my face and said: “Oh no! What did I tell you?!”

Dawson was standing outside of the bathroom, his eyes wide and his tail between his legs. He didn’t mean to hurt me. I knew it was an accident, but I still had to go to the hospital to get stitches in my lip and my chin (there was a puncture there as well). In total, I had to get 12 stitches and five shots in my face that night. For an entire month, I couldn’t smile or eat anything hard. It was awful and difficult for me – I love both of those things.

Dawson did not live much longer after that – he died when he was three years old – but during the rest of his life, our relationship was strong because I finally learned the lesson that my father tried to teach during my entire childhood: animals are not toys for our amusement, they are creatures that deserve our respect.