At some point I will be able to write about how 2 easygoing/aggressive dogs attacked me and Mr Stix from behind on our daily neighborhood walk without warning or provocation in November 2021. Suffice it to say that the dog attack was terrifying and traumatic. Yes, we were both injured. Yes, charges (or whatever you call them) have been filed.
In what my personal development coach calls “Empathy Tourettes,” many people say things that don’t help and actually make things much, much worse — especially when the trauma is still that fresh. The list will likely grow longer over time, but here’s what I have so far for things NOT to say after a dog attack.
5 things you should definitely not say after a dog attack
1. “It could have been worse.”
Perhaps intended as an expression of gratitude. The statement comes cold and dismissive of what happened. I assure you the situation was/felt worse than you can even imagine. Do not downplay the lived experiences of others. It’s rude and makes you look like a shitty friend.
2. “I feel sorry for those dogs.”
nope Not allowed. Do you think so? Fine. tell someone else Fine, but DO NOT tell the person who was attacked or whose dog was attacked. You wouldn’t express sympathy to a human being accused of a violent assault or attempted murder, so don’t say it about vicious dogs.
3. “You should have…”
STFU again. Don’t tell people what they should have done (or tell them what YOU would have done). You’re in survival mode with an attack like this, and a quarterback in a chair doesn’t help.
This rule includes that you do NOT bring pepper sprays or walking sticks or anything else that you think people should take on walks.
4. “Have you spoken to the owner?”
OMG!!! For what other crime would you expect the victim to contact the offender?
I understand that people assume that the owner of the attacking dogs will call in or apologize or whatever, but that doesn’t always happen. Asking about it only adds to the trauma of the attack and injuries, and reinforces the negative effects of the attack that goes completely unacknowledged.
5. Finally, a dog “fight” is not the same as a dog attack.
It is not a “fight” if the victims have NO hope or chance of defending themselves – due to the size of the attacking dog or the number of dogs. Calling it a fight is the mutualism of the canine world. It implies it was a one-way street, although it isn’t. A one-sided fight is an attack. Period.
Anything else to add about a dog attack…?
If you and/or your dogs survived a dog attack, is there anything else you would add to the list of things people should NOT say?
I start digging Dog bite statistics and research. Holler if you know good sources for dates and such. Thanks very much!
FYI – I recently wrote this post over a couple of days of severe, ongoing trauma – tears, shaking hands, racing heart. Physical injuries along with the emotional trauma from the dog attack affects many aspects of daily life and it really sucks!
The list goes on… find out 6 more things NOT to say in a later post.