Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Dog in the Stroller

While in the post office the other day, there was a woman behind us in line with a dog. This dog, a pomeranian, was encased in a pink stroller.

Okay. First? Dogs can walk.

Although I guess dogs aren't allowed to walk into a bank. But apparently if your dog's feet aren't touching the ground, you're allowed to take your dog wherever you want.

Jack and Quinn were thrilled to see this little dog. They were quiet and gentle, but they got right up close to the stroller. The woman asked them to step away because the dog was nervous, which was a perfectly reasonable request, so I kept them away from the stroller.

Except when we were leaving, the woman held the door for us and Jack bolted ahead and crouched in front of the stroller to say hi to the dog again. The dog started barking and Jack backed off.

I was about to apologize when the woman started to lecture Jack. He was backed up against a wall and she was leaning into him saying, "You were smiling. Why would you do that?"

I assume she was trying to communicate that a dog might see a smile and interpret it as an enemy baring his teeth, but this is not the way to give this information to someone else's kid, let alone my Jack.

By this point, he had his hand over his eyes.

"Ma'am," I interjected, "I'm not going to let you discipline my child."

"But he needs to learn this," she insisted.

"I'm sorry, ma'am. But you cannot discipline my child," I repeated.

But she continued. "Why would you smile?"

Oh. My. God. She wouldn't stop. Every sentence I said, she clipped off and came back to the same point that she seemed to feel was imperative for him to learn. Right now. From her.

"Ma'am. He is autistic. Please stop."

I had to tell her several times to stop. She finally spit out, "Be that way!" and stalked off.

In all my years of parenting, in all my terrible public moments, I have never had another person get that in the face of one of my children. I absolutely accept that he had been asked not to get near the dog and shouldn't have. But it is not her place to discipline my child, especially if he is visibly upset by it and I am telling her to stop.

I feel bad that I invoked Jack's autism to make her stop, because his autism was really not the point. I think any kid would have covered his face. But Jack is absolutely not prepared to take in information in the way she was throwing it at him.

I do feel happy that I was extremely courteous. I'm glad that I kept my cool, even when the woman with the dog didn't. Because I'm likely to fly off the handle when upset. I'm pretty amazed and proud that I didn't throw the f-word at her.

Jack seemed to be okay after I chatted with him a little about what had happened. Quinn, however, was really mad that we couldn't bring the cute dog home with us.

But really, a dog-napping would have been a terribly bad idea at that point.


  1. Good job keeping your cool -- I think I might have lost it if some cranky pooch-pusher got in my kid's face. Sorry you and Jack had to experience that.

    I think it's hard for any young child to resist saying "hi" to a dog, esp. a little one.

    And don't get me started on people with dogs that they treat like dolls/accessories...or children. (Although it sounds like this "lady" likes her pomeranian princess more than she likes humans.)

  2. Ooh, that burns me. She obviously couldn't just let it go.

    Good for you for handling it so well.

  3. I commend you for keeping your cool. I don't think I could have.

  4. Wow. People are really stupid. Children come before dogs, Jack is YOUR child and he was not doing anything any other child might do.

    Good for you for being so civil - sounds like a lot of us wouldn't have managed that.

  5. I can imagine myself in the same situation. And I would like to think I would have handled it the same way you did instead of trying to appease the (excuse me) bitch and join in the explanation of why her dog may not like smiles. Obviously this woman didn't have that much experience with children...I mean "why would you smile at him?" Even I might not understand what she was talking about!

  6. Good job you keeping your cool like that! And polite! And not turning puce in the face.

  7. Wow, that was totally inappropriate of her! You handled it much better than I would have. She should have left the dog home anyways. I doubt it had any business to attend to at the bank.

  8. Gee, I can't IMAGINE why a kid would smile at a dog in a stroller. That is just SO impossible to imagine.

    You kept your cool, I probably would have made her need to travel in a chair with wheels.

  9. I'm totally with flutter! WTF????? OMG! Is it wrong for me to be outraged on your behalf? 'cuz, really...let me at her!

    Reminds me of a batty old aunt I have (and love dearly, but OMG she is a piece of work!) who used to paint her toy poodles' toenails. If she'd been able ti find a double pink stroller...perish the thought! Of course, she would have absolutely adored having the boys fawn over her precious pups...

  10. I'm really glad you didn't haul off and hit her cause that's what I would have been tempted to do. Lady, you don't want people talking to your dog, then don't bring him into the bank!!! And to take it out on a little boy, whether he's autistic or not, is just being a bully! Poor Jack. I'm with Quinn - the dog would be much better off with you. To begin with, he wouldn't have to ride in the sissy stroller!

  11. Wow! Good for you for keeping your cool because I probably wouldn't have been able to, therefore setting a really bad example for my kids when I told the lady off.

  12. Wow. That was completely unnecessary of her! Props to you for being able to hold your composure and not letting her push your buttons!

  13. As the son of a Veterniarian who grew up in the back of an animal hospital I've had a lot of experience with the type of people who carry dogs in strollers...

    Jack, despite his tender years, is probably already better at human relationships than that lady ever will be :)

  14. Wow, good job keeping the cool. I think my comment would have been something to the effect of "lady, get your dog out of this public space." But then, if it had been my kid, Joey would have been screaming, "DOG! NO DOGS!!!" at the top of his lungs, anyway.

    Also, something about "it is natural for children to smile at dogs" would have been upon my lips. A cat may look at a king; a child may smile at a dog.

    If your dog is so ill-tempered, keep it away form the public. You are liable if it bites my kid.

    You did a much better job of it that I would have done.

  15. How horrible. What is it about Old Dog Ladies, anyway? Seems there are a lot of them out there and they're mostly the same. Ugh.

    So glad you stood up for your kid!

  16. I would have grabbed my child's hand, walked away and loudly said something like "it's okay, some dog people are crazy".

    Dude, smiling? WTF? That lady has problems. It's not you.

    Way to keep your cool.

  17. 1. That lady would have pissed me off too.

    2. You handled it very well.

    3. Am I stupid or what was she getting at with "Why would you smile?" Seriously, was he supposed to snarl and spit at it?? Smiling seems like a nice courteous thing to do, even if it's at a dog in a stroller. Heck, I probably would have laughed my ass off at that.

  18. First sign that the lady is nuts - SHE HAS HER FECKING DOG IN A PINK STROLLER! Good GOD! And I am with Paull Young ... Jack has more social skills in his PINKY than this lady will ever have.

    Good job on keeping your cool. I don't think I could have done it.

    And some diarrhea vibes to her and her little dog too!

  19. OMG, any woman who pushes a DOG in a STROLLER does not have kids of her own (and let's hope she never does). I would have been livid.

  20. You, my friend, are a classier broad than I am. I would have told her to stick the Pomerian where the sun doesn't shine.

    Why is he smiling? Why shouldn't he be smiling? Seeing a dog in a stroller....strollers were meant for HUMAN babies. Clearly, the woman had a screw loose.

  21. You done good. Better than I would have. I probably would have suggested that if she didn't want people smiling at her dog she probably shouldn't be pushing him around in a little pink stroller.

  22. This really pissed me off. "Why would you smile?"??? Is she for real?

    She really thinks that people aren't going to come up to her attention grabbing pink stroller with a cute little dog in it and NOT smile?


    That's not even getting into the fact that if your dog hasn't been properly socialized to know that snarling at people or being nervous in public isn't acceptable - then freaking leave the dog at home!

    I'm so impressed that you kept your cool. I'm not surprised, but I am impressed as usual.

  23. You did a great job keeping your cool. She was totally inappropriate and IMO beyond the pale for arguing with you about whether she had the right to discipline your children. If anything, she should apologize for having her irritable dog out in public. Maybe if she was able to teach it manners...

  24. First of all, pomeranians are obnoxious little beasts. My grandmother had one, and we have neighbors that have them, and they ALL snarl and snap at children. Ugh.

    Second, if I can't bring my well-behaved labs into the bank, it pisses me off that people can stick their poofy dogs in bags and carts and wheel them around. No fair.

    Third, she was WAAAAYY out of line. She knew her dog was snappy, and yet she still held it out to your children!!!!!! All children smile at dogs. Well-trained dogs are not threatened by this. Normal dogs are not threatened by this. Skittish dogs who are forced by their irresponsible owners to interact with understandably excitable children that they are frightened of act like that.

    She behaved like that to your son because she was embarrassed about what her idiot furball had done, and wanted to make it look like it was your son's fault. There's no way she should ever have spoken to him like that!!!!!! Or you!!!!!! WTF?!?!?! I can't believe that she kept on talking, especially when she should have been apologizing her A** OFF.

    I'm so impressed that you didn't totally curse her out. I probably would have done something totally passive-aggressive like pulling him away while loudly explaining that crazy old ladies who dress up their dogs make it so their dogs are crazy, too.

  25. Good on you for handling it like a mature adult and not resorting to a low blow about her dog, the stroller or her idiocy. (like I would have done for sure)

  26. Um, maybe she could keep her precious pooch at home? And maybe understand that smiling is a natural behavior while a dog in a pink stroller is just plain silly. Now who was one the one misbehaving? Not Jack, that's for sure.

  27. I'm jumping on board and agreeing with everyone else...because collectively there is clear consensus.

    You did right, kudos


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