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Making a Toddler Hate Dogs Forever

I’ve started playing ball again at this park across Davie, in Riverland. I take the dogs with me, walk them and then stake them out under a bench while I play. We had only been there about 20 minutes today when two boys who looked about thirteen came skating down the street, with a little girl pedaling behind them on her tricycle. When the skaters hit the grass at the edge of the park they simply hopped off their boards and started walking toward the court. The little girl struggled to keep pedalling and moving when she hit the grass, but it wasn’t going to work. She screamed and yelled and cried for help until one of the boys, her brother, went back and got her, carrying her trike to the asphalt.

It had rained the night before and there were pools of water on the court in a few different places. The little girl “Julie” as yelled at her repeatedly by her brother, ran right to the biggest puddle and jumped in with both feet. Her brother told her to “Get out of the water!” She replied with “No!” The brother’s friend said something like “We should have just stayed at home, she’s not going to listen to you.” It quickly became obvious that the boys were only allowed to come to the park if they agreed to bring Julie with them, by her mother. The brother walks Julie out of the pool pulling her by the arm, a little roughly I thought, and says “Ok if you’re not going to mind me we’re going home.” Julie starts to yell and cry and say “No, No.” She then runs to the playground and starts trying to climb the slide. Her brother yells at her to stop…surprise her response was “No!”

The children have not noticed my children yet, so in a misguided effort to calm the siblings down I say “Look Julie, see my puppy dogs, you want to go pet them?” The boys go right over and start petting the dogs, but Julie is a little apprehensive, she’s not sure what she wants to do. I’m watching them out of the corner of my eye but keep playing basketball. The boys start doing ollies or whatever on the park benches. I see Julie work up her courage and run up to the dogs, who are leashed to a tree. I have a feeling it’s not going to go well, and it doesn’t. Of course my babies would never, ever bite, but they love to jump on you and try to give kisses. Like a developmentally-delayed lioness on the Serengeti, Squeak is poised to strike. When Julie runs up Squeak jumps to meet her and knocks her over. She and Cricket then start licking and kissing her all over her face. They each have about 5 feet of leash and those get tangled around Julie as well. Them jumping on her and the tangle effectively keep Julie from getting back up, Squeak is steady licking and kissing her in the face…and she is screaming, crying, yelling for help. The boys laugh but don’t make a move to go get her. “Pick her up” I say. “Get up and stop being a baby”says her brother. The assault by licking continues unabated, as does Julie’s crying. I jog over and pick her up and carry her out of their reach (as soon as I put my shirt on, would have been creepy otherwise). Julie has leaves in her hair, she’s crying and holds her arms up and goes limp, trying to make me put her down, which I do. I hear her brother say something like “I bet she’ll mind me now.” I wasn’t sure what he meant at the time, but it soon became clear.
I go back to my pickup game, and Julie walks back toward the playground, crying the whole time.
Literally 10 minutes later I hear Julie’s brother yelling “No!” at her again. Julie has exited the playground and is running with a 3-year old’s speed across the baseball field and toward the street. Her brother runs her down, picks her up and starts carrying her back to where the dogs are. I incorrectly assume he is being a good big brother, he is trying to distract Julie, calm her down, entertain her…alas, no. I am turning back to my game when I hear him say “I told you if you didn’t listen to me I was going to make them get you.” Julie is screaming and crying “No, No!” Her brother stops just short of the dogs and says”They’re going to get you, they’re going to bite you.” I look at Squeak, she is standing up on her hind legs, pulling on her harness, trying to get to Julie, yes she just wants to lick her and kiss her…but she is so excited and amped up she looks like she has rabies or something. Julie’s brother is holding her, he holds her away from him and down toward Squeak, who is lunging to get to her. Julie is frantic, crying, screaming. People are looking at them and now at my dogs, so I tell the brother to Stop and Take Julie away from them. After a few minutes I walk over to where Julie is swinging (all alone by the way, unattended, the boys off skating). She seems to have calmed down a little. I try to tell her that Squeak would never bite her, that she loves kids, she just wanted to lick and kiss her. Julie starts to cry again, she says “I hate Sweet. I hate dogs. I hate you.” On that note, it’s time for me and my monsters to leave. I can say with almost absolute certainty that Julie will never be a dog person now, a cat lady maybe. Thanks big brother, for using my dogs to terrorize and traumatize your little sister. Julie is canine-scared and canine-scarred for life…