Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Beware of Mama Bear!!!

It has been a while since I have posted!  Life is a whirlwind!  I have lots of things to write about, though, so I hope to do more blogging soon.  This post is about something that has been on my heart for several weeks.

A couple of months ago, I had the blessing of getting visit my beautiful younger sister and her family in the gorgeous mountains of North Carolina near Asheville.  I was super excited because my sister had just given birth to her first child, a precious little girl born at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day!  I was able to bring my sweet 9-year-old girl and my little 17-month-old (at the time) Jedidiah.  My older sister was visiting as well, and brought her 9-year-old daughter to visit as well.  It was a wonderful weekend.  We enjoyed the time together, the beautiful scenery, and spoiling that sweet little baby! 

Everything was perfect until right before dinner Sunday evening (we were scheduled to depart on a Monday morning flight back to Texas).  My sister's neighbor brought something over to the house for us to see, and we all went outside.  The neighbor's Golden Retriever was tagging along as well.  Jedidiah LOVES animals, especially dogs.  As this was a Golden Retriever, I foolishly trusted it to be sweet with my baby.  We let him approach us, and his tail was wagging.  I let him sniff at my hand, and then I began to pet him, and all the while his tail was wagging.  Jed was holding my hand, and I asked him if he wanted to pet the doggie.  He slowly reached his hand out, and then the unthinkable happened.  This Golden Retriever attacked my baby.  He bit him in the cheek and then after Jedidiah fell to the ground, the dog went back after him, biting him on the back of the head.  I screamed and quickly scooped up my baby, as the frantic owner of the dog pulled the Golden away.  I ran inside, holding Jed, who had blood streaming from his face and matting in his hair.  We rushed him to the nearest hospital, where we then waited for a rather horrific 10 hours before finally having the wounds treated and the face stitched (an entirely different story in itself!).  The wound to the cheek was very deep.  BUT praise God that all Jedidiah ended up with was an inch-long scar right around where his laugh lines will eventually be.  It is purple right now, but when he smiles it looks like a large dimple.  I praise God every time I look at that little scar on his sweet little face, thankful that the bite wasn't a little lower, where it could have severed his jugular vein.  Upon arriving home, I called my trusted friend and dog trainer who has worked with my Boxers.  I described to her some of the previous aggression this dog had shown prior to the attack (which I found out after Jed was bitten).  She said we were lucky we ended up with stitches instead of a coffin.  All of this fueled a fire that had been growing in my heart from the moment of the attack. 

Jed after stitches (on the way to airport)
I experienced some rather ugly feelings that I didn't even know I was capable of feeling!  I wanted the owners to call me and apologize (which they never did, though a few days later they did call my sister to see how Jed was doing)!  I wanted revenge!  I wanted the dog to have to be put down!  Instead, the owners were granted a 10-day home quarantine.  I wanted to make sure that dog never had a chance to bite another little child in the face or worse (namely, my niece)!  I felt like a mama bear protecting her den of cubs.  Anger welled up inside me, and I could think of nothing else for days.  I spoke to my sister many times on the phone, in the process upsetting her because of my anger and insistence that I should do something about this (sue the owners, demand the dog be put down, etc...).  I wasn't really proud of my angry and vengeful feelings, but they were there nonetheless.  My very wise husband counseled me to let this go, to pray and move on.  He said we could be thankful and not worry about it anymore--the dog is far away from us.  I have been praying about it, and the Lord has shown me so much in the process.

Ironically, about a year ago, our female Boxer had shown some major aggression after having given birth to a little of puppies.  She nipped a friend of my son's (in the stomach through his shirt) who ran by the whelping box only a couple of weeks after the pups were born, and we all gave her the benefit of the doubt and attributed it to the hormones due to the puppies, and the fact that the boy was running so close to the puppies' box (even my friend whose son was bitten gave her the benefit of the doubt).  We should have gotten rid of that dog right then.  Unfortunately, several months later, when we thought her behavior was under control again, our dog bit a woman who was walking by our property on the back of the leg.  We did get rid of the dog at that time. We called and apologized to the woman, who was very gracious.  We offered to pay any expenses she might have, which she said was not necessary (there really weren't any).  I think part of my anger came from the fact that we did those things, and the owners of the Golden Retriever did nothing.  They were more worried that their dog was going to "be in trouble forever" than that a 17-month-old baby had been attacked in the face and head by the dog!  I wanted to control their actions and reactions, and I could not.  I had to just give it to the LORD (which has been very hard to do)!

Praying through all of this, I have been able to let go of the anger, for the most part, and hold onto the thankfulness that I feel for how blessed we are with the outcome.  I have been very humbled remembering what happened with our own dog, Cocoa.  I have also been able to see that it's not all bad to have these Mama Bear feelings.  God has made us mothers to love and nurture our children and, when necessary, to protect them.  I have seen in myself a very dim reflection of God's feelings for us, His children.  He hates our enemy, the devil.  He would do (and has done!) anything and everything to protect us from this enemy--it is just in our hands to accept that!  He has shown me that I can overcome unholy anger and turn it into rejoicing.  He is in control.  He knew that this would happen, and when it did, He was not surprised.  He had His angels guarding my Jedidiah, more than I could ever protect him on my own (I was even standing right there)!  I have a peace about it all, and I see that I am Mama Bear, and that's okay--even good.  Balancing that, though, is the trust I have for God's plans, for the portion with which He fills my cup. 

Psalm 16:5 "LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure"