I used to work in a hotel. A hotel for dogs. You can watch your dog on camera.
Dogs are pretty cool customers. They just enjoy life. They never complain or want a refund. They never want to call corporate to whine (heh!) about the store not being open on Christmas and they never try to put an evil spell on your store.
They want to jump in the pool, they want you to pet them, they want to smell butts, they want you to pet them again. They want to eat other dog's poop and run and run around until they pass out.
Those are their positive qualities.
There is only one downside to working with dogs. And this negative quality would f-you over EVERY TIME. EVERYDAY. Somewhere, deep inside every dog, from the Chihuahua to the Greyhound, is the howling, elk killing, den-digging, saber-tooth-tiger fighting, dire wolf. It is this single drop of World-Star inside an otherwise peaceful domesticated bacon-lover that makes working with dogs stressful. Any of the dogs, any size, at any time could snap into this were-frenzy, and as the “alpha” it was the employees job to stop them, and put them in a “time out.” (Seriously it was called a time-out. And it went on their report card. Because dogs can read.)
There are lots of stories I could share about fights and the other unpredictable events that come with working with people’s bebes. But this particular incident chaps my ass or rather, puts holes in it.
Enter GOLDEN ANGEL BABY or “GAB” because I can't remember this jerk's name. Not like I want to protect his identity as a sex-offender. GAB is a doe-eyed, flaxen, Golden Retriever, the last dog you’d expect issues from. I have patience for every dog, but there is something about GAB that is NOT RIGHT. If people can have mental illness, than so can dogs. GAB had/has something for sure. Somewhere a screw is loose and that made/makes GAB into a dog-Dahmer capable of gleeful, excessive violence. GAB has been kicked-out of this daycare and the daycare across the street MULTIPLE TIMES for bad, bad, behavior. All of this long before I was employed with this company.
So demonstrating some incredibly poor judgment, my management decides he can have a stay to test his insanity levels. “Don’t worry, it's No Big Deal,” we’re briefed, “HIS ISSUES ARE WITH PEOPLE! NOT DOGS!”
So I'm in my pack. Sitting on my play equipment and getting loved on by the 80 or so dogs in the enclosure. GAB is enjoying pets from me and in my head I'm like “M'KAYYYY no issues from psychopath dog so far…” When GAB takes a nibble of my squirt bottle.
Now, the squirt bottles are the first tier of behavior correction we have as humans. Being shifty eyed and smelling poop that isn’t yours? That’s a paddl- I mean that's a squirt. I know you’re going to gobble that log-pile up right when I turn around. Sniffing the butt of the dog that is thug because it spent its whole life on the street? That’s a squirt. Don’t start something with hood dog you can't finish.
So if you nibble on my squirt bottle and violate my space I'm going to squirt you.
“NO!” I say firmly and I squirt GAB in the face.
This only delighted GAB. And if I remember correctly he thought, GAME YES I LOVE TO BITE AND GET WETTTTT! So he went in and tried to bite my squirt bottle or me or something. AGAIN.
At some point I stood up so I’d have more control of this situation. I probably tried one more squirt and said louder and firmer, “NO GAB! NO BAD BAD DOG! GO AWAY! GET OFF!”
But I had opened Pandora’s box and there was no stuffing this evil back in.
After I stood up I realized GAB had become fixated on my squirt bottle. I raised my arms to try and keep him from biting the squirt bottle/my hand. I'M STILL CALM. I know my way around dogs and I WAS NOT and NEVER did anything with a playful or angry energy. But the object of his obsession now out of his reach made GAB INSANE. He leaps on me trying to get his plastic love. I STILL CALMLY try to turn myself away and say “NO GAB! BAD BAD DOG!” But I had unleashed the fury.
Unable to reach his fixation GAB settled for biting me and shaking me ALL OVER MY BODY. At one point he chomped my elbow, ripped through my hoodie and broke through to the skin. This whole time GAB is filled a jovial madness. He thought that biting me and getting squirted was the FUNNEST GAME EVARRR!
Inside my head I’m all, SHIT IS GETTING REAL. So I look around our dog-concentration camp desperate for relief. I’m too far from the hose to power blast this butt-nugget in the face. And my coworker in the next pen must be outside because I can't see her OH GOD WHERE IS SHE???
The single most horrifying detail is that coming down the aisle of crates is a family of four. Company policy states that I should PROBABLY be yelling for help at this point. But look here now. I'm trying to be a good employee. I'm not going to start screeching SHARK! SHARK IN THE WATER EVERYBODY OUT! IT ALREADY ATE MY ARM! I don’t want to scare the two children and I don’t want to turn the parents off of boarding their sweet bebe at our fine facility where safety of dogs is of utmost importance, but employees… meh.
At this point what is there to do? I’m being EATEN ALIVE. So I figure. I’ve gone vertical, perhaps my next move should be horizontal? I have to disengage this play behavior and act like another dog would by walking away. So I turn on my heel and head for the outside door. Obviously dear reader, normally this would not be the solution. But normal does fly with this dog.
I have within me now the unique awareness of being a tasty herbivorous quadruped. I can never go back to my innocent days believing humans are the top of the food-chain. I was one with the universe, one with all things. I understood life and existence and fear and other Chopra shit and my heart was beating and I wanted to LIVE. OH GOD PLEASE LET ME LIVE. I was the zebra on Animal Planet. I had to escape. Escape. Tunnel vision. That day, the sweet 17 year-old vegetarian became the hunted.
GAB bit me right between the legs.
He bit it real good. (Bad???)
Don’t ask how. I don’t know how physically he managed this. He kind of picked me up. He did it. It hurt. If I wasn’t crying before I was crying now. Before or after biting me between my legs he bit my butt. I'm still calm on the outside but on the inside I'm thinking THIS IS IT. I'm going to die laying on gravel and dog logs. Killed by a Golden Retriever. That’s like choking on Apple Pie or getting punched by a Bald Eagle.
That’s no way to go.
It's too un-American.
Maybe God forgave me for not going to church for all these years or Flying Spaghetti Monster rewarded me for social activism or Kamadhenu smiled upon me for eschewing bovid flesh. Whatever or whoever decided I should live that day. After relentless pursuit of DAT ASS something in the pea-sized Golden Brain saw something more interesting. Maybe it was another dog having explosive diarrhea? Maybe that Pyrenees with seven toes on each foot started another fight? Maybe a scary freight train passed by and sent every dog into hiding? Something had just become more interesting than being a canine Jack the Ripper.
The birds were singing the sun was shining I WAS ALIVE! I probably went in the corner and cried out of view of the cameras. WEPT for the opportunity to live in this great nation of freedoms and eat tofu hot-dogs, and watch fireworks. I was too afraid to grab the collar of my attacker and put his naughty bum in time out. That smug bastard and his purple collar.
When I had inhaled a suitable amount of oxygen and regained composure I left the pen to write in ALL CAPS in the company log:
11 AM July 3rd Pen 2 Waitressneedsadvice
GAB THOUGHT SQUIRT BOTTLE WAS GAME. CHASED ME. ATTACKED ME. BIT ME VERY HARD. COULD NOT GET HIM TO STOP.
And I went about my day. And I had the next day off. I remember my friends and I blew up a flower pot with firecrackers. Good, clean, misdemeanor crime satisfaction was had by all.
I came back to work probably the day after next because I show for shifts I am scheduled for, unlike the other employees. (Or maybe they realized that $8.25 an hour isn't enough to deal with a whole pack of Cujos. Maybe I was the fool...)
Immediately upon entering the building I am cornered.
“DID YOU NOT GET THE MESSAGE WE LEFT YOU ON YOUR ANSWERING MACHINE???”
. _________________________ .
“GET IN THE OFFICE”
(LOL so for the record it takes 3 managers to yell at a 17 year old.)
They call me into office and they have a laptop booted up with footage of the crime. We play like the seven seconds of footage and yep it's confirmation THAT DOG BIT ME. ARREST HIM.
OHHH NO but to them it is something else entirely. It is footage of a woefully incompetent employee who did absolutely every possible thing WRONG and THEN did everything short of lighting this bowwow house on fire. And now, NOW they are mad because it's over for this dog. This was his final straw and because he bit me, he cant stay 'n' play no more. Sad face!
But management was FUMED that they had to tell his owner lady she couldn’t be a customer anymore because I had CAUSED him to bite me. This whole time you could tell they were PISSED that he had done something JUST BARELY BAD ENOUGH to get kicked out.
And it was my fault.
All my fault. I had caused this. And all ills in the world. My fault. AIDS, Global Warming, my fault too. That’s what you'd think if you'd heard them yelling. I tried to defend myself you know, but to them the tape was X and what I should have done was Y. They said by squirting him the one or two more times and kinda turning away from him, I was making it into a keep away game.
"DIDN'T YOU SEE HE LOVED GETTING SQUIRTED?"
Yeah. I did. After I squirted him. Clearly the only solution was to teleport. I think I got a write-up for not following company policy or some other such corporate lameness.
Here's the thing though: my training had drummed into my head that I did everything right. Played calm, quiet, and got out of there before anything worse happened. It boiled down to the fact that the only thing I actually did "wrong" was that I didn't scream my head off, which supposedly would have brought help, but may have also escalated GAB's aggressive behavior so technically even that wasn't really my fault.
I don't doubt I would have been fired for punching or kicking him since on the video it just looks like he's jumping on me. (Those seven seconds didn't include his crotch shot or the times when he actually bit.)
Certainly if he was aggressively attacking me I would have been allowed/not been able to stop myself from defending my body by any means necessary. But GAB was messed up because he thought EVERYTHING was a game but he had no sense of how to actually play. Almost like a puppy that never grew up but strong enough to cause bodily harm.
All in all I learned there ain't no policy you can follow when you are the Zebra.