Dog Attack: 5 Things NOT to Say
At some point, I'll be able to write about how 2 loose / 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 terrible and traumatic. Yes, we were both injured. Yes, charges (or whatever you call them) have been filed.
In something 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 so fresh. The list will likely get longer over time, but here's what I've got so far for things NOT to say after a dog attack.
5 Things You Definitely Should NOT Say After a Dog Attack
1. "It could have been worse."
Perhaps intended as an expression of gratitude. The statement comes off cold and dismissive of what did happen. I assure you that the situation was worse / felt worse than you can even imagine. Do not downplay someone else's lived experiences. It's rude and makes you look like a crappy friend.
2. "I feel sorry for those dogs."
Nope. Not allowed. Think it? Fine. Say it to someone else? Fine, but do NOT say it to the person who got attacked or whose dog got attacked. You wouldn't express sympathy for a human accused of violent assault or attempted murder, so don't say it about vicious dogs.
3. "You should have ..."
Again, STFU. Do not tell people what they should have done (or say what YOU would have done). In the throes of an attack like this, you're in survival mode, and arm-chair quarterbacking does not help.
This rule includes NOT bringing up pepper sprays or walking sticks or other things you think people should carry on walks.
4. "Have you talked to the owner?"
OMG !!! In what other crime would you expect the victim to make contact with the perpetrator?
I get that people assume the attacking dogs' owner might reach out, apologize, or whatever, but that doesn't happen in every case. Asking about it only reinforces the trauma of the attack and injuries and reinforces the negative impact of the attack not being acknowledged at all.
5. And, finally, a dog "fight" is not the same as a dog attack.
It isn't a "fight" if the victims have NO hope or chance to defend themselves -- due to the size of the attacking dog(s) or number of dogs. Calling it a fight is the both-sides-ism of the dog world. It implies it was a 2-way street, when it is not. A one-sided fight is an attack. Period.
Anything to add about a dog attack... ?
If you and/or your dogs have survived a dog attack, is there anything else you'd add to the list of things people should NOT say?
I'm starting to dig into dog bite stats and research. Holler if you know of any good sources for data and such. Thanks!
FYI - Wrote this post on a couple of tough ongoing trauma days recently -- tears, hands shaking, heart racing. Physical injuries along with the emotional trauma from the dog attack are affecting many aspects of daily life, and it really sucks!