I was walking Sammy and Coco, our two Maltese Shitsu dogs, in my new suburb and heading toward my favourite street, a lane that borders paddocks, when they were attacked by two bulldogs that came hurtling out of a driveway, barking aggressively.
I pulled Sammy and Coco backwards, trying to get away from the attacking dogs and shouting for their owner, but no one came. Instead, the bulldogs launched themselves at our small white dogs, who were darting here and there on the end of the leads trying to escape their snapping jaws. To my horror one of the dogs sank his teeth into Sammy’s hindquarters, lifting him right off the ground, and the two of them tore the lead out of my hand as the attacker chased and bit and Sammy ran and was grabbed and escaped and was grabbed.
Little Coco, who is tiny, was seized as well, and lifted off the ground by a powerful set of jaws. And through it all, as I screamed and screamed for help, my crazed thoughts ran from fear that they would be killed, to terror that those teeth would be set on my bare legs too, to amazement that no one was coming - neither the owners nor any neighbour, even though I was screaming my lungs out.
Only the most shocking elements of this experience remain clear in my mind. The rest of it is a blur. I felt as if I’d been screaming for five minutes before the owner finally came out to call his dogs off - defensive, blustering - while I gasped, still trembling, and reminded him that it didn’t matter if his dogs had never done this before - once was enough for them to be considered dangerous!
Eventually his wife came out, and two other women, and they sat with me and Sammy and Coco on the asphalt while we calmed down. The wife apologised profusely - her three year-old had opened the front door while they’d been out the back… We sat there stroking my dogs and soothing them and talking around what had happened - the shock, the regret, the fear, the reassurances, the apologies…
Coco had shat herself and Sammy had hair missing on his lower back and red marks where teeth had broken skin. But they were both all right, to my immense relief. When we could trust our legs, we began to walk home slowly, and I began to wonder why this had happened.
Had I somehow attracted this attack? I scanned my ‘emotional body’ but couldn’t find anything that resonated with it. However a memory immediately came to my mind of my ex-partner’s escape from Melbourne to the ‘greener grasses’ of Bellingen a few years ago. He had thought life would be better in the country, and when he arrived he found that there was the same aggression (vandals) and waste (ride-on mowers going all day somewhere) in the idyllic hamlet of ‘Promised Land’ as there had been in Ringwood.
The lesson came home with a bump! I had been feeling thrilled about my new country environment – the expanses of land and sky, the bumpy green hills, the paddocks and sheep and cattle, the gravelly laneways, the wind in the trees… and then some of that lovely wildlife attacked our precious dogs!
It was such a shocking experience that I had a croaky voice (from screaming) for a couple of weeks and avoided their street for even longer… I also walked warily, not quite feeling safe. So where is the divine order?
I think it is purely and simply in the centering effect. People sometimes think that there’s something nasty about the universe ‘bringing us down’ when we’re too high, but the point isn’t that it brings us ‘down’ per se, but that it brings us ‘to centre’. If we are too high, we are brought down (to centre); if we are too low, we are brought up (to centre).
I was a little too high, too elated and excited, and this was a sobering experience that grounded me. I still love living in the country but I’m less rose-coloured about it now, more conscious of the ‘dark side’.
If you find yourself longing for greener grass, remember to stay conscious of the drawbacks – and check out my new book, WANTED: GREENER GRASS - a novel about love, envy, and a crazy kind of courage. Or read THE HIDDEN ORDER for more insights into that whole dynamic. I learnt so much while writing it.