On October 14th, 2016, I was faced with an emergency that did not relate or pertain to me in any way, shape, or form. As I was walking to the bus stop, around 8:35AM, a stray dog attacked a woman and her two dogs.
I was faced with two options, to be proactive or to be a bystander.
This is my journal entry from arriving at work, attempting to relax my breathing/feeling of panic, and gather my thoughts.
“Now that my morning has slowed down a bit and my mind has stopped replaying the events of this morning over and over, I have decided to confide in my many friends, family, and acquaintances that I have the pleasure of being able to reach out to over social media. [This was originally posted to Facebook]
This morning a woman outside of my apartment was attacked by a stray dog as I was walking to the bus stop. First and foremost, the bus stop (just across the street) was littered with adults patiently waiting for the bus to take them into DC. Secondly, there were multiple individuals walking by and in the lobby of our apartment. The woman must have not seen the stray dog, as her back was to it while she walked her two dogs up the paved driveway/hill. In less than 10 seconds from when I originally saw the dog, I heard a scream and yelp. My original thought was that this stray dog was following its owner, so I did not think much of a dog off-leash. After rapidly rounding the corner, I saw the woman on the ground, rolling down the paved hill with her dogs (2) being repeatedly bit and yanked around by the stray. The woman could not regain her footing to help her dogs and was thrashing around attempting to push him off her dog from the ground. She was screaming for help at the top of her lungs. Immediately, in my tights, dress, and 5-inch work booties, I ran to help her. Using my purse and my chunky heels, I attempted to get the stray to release her dog’s ear while simultaneously trying to allow her to get up and help me. Both of us were screaming for help as we attempted to get the rabid dog off her dog’s ear and off of her legs. I repeatedly swung my open purse at the dog in order to stop him from biting her dog’s ear off and thrashing at the dog’s neck. After minutes of struggling, she caught her footing only to fall down a foliage-covered hill perched up by a rock wall with a roughly 4-5 foot drop. She caught herself on a tree as the dogs took a tumble over the edge of the wall. As I ran down the hill (screaming at a specific passersby who did not answer our direct yells for help right at him, eye-contact included), I attempted to make sure the stray didn’t get hit by the oncoming traffic. It wasn’t until the stray had run off in the opposite direction that I turned around to see a crowd formed around the woman who was still covered in dirt and checking her dogs.
From my understanding, her puppy is doing well and she did not sustain any critical injuries (that I am aware of). I had never met or seen this woman before.
Now I take this moment to beg my peers, friends, family and acquaintances for one thing: DO NOT BE A BYSTANDER.
While there are thousands, millions, trillions of issues that we thrust our energy into everyday –whether political or personal– I beg that we look out for each other… for our neighbors and peers. We have the power to DO, so use that to DO GOOD. In the moment I subconsciously decided to run and help someone in distress, I was unconcerned with myself but with my duty and my responsibility to DO GOOD. There is so much bad in this world, now more than ever, that every ounce of good is salvageable. I am beyond myself in thinking that there were people hearing our screams that did not offer their hand. To the individuals who heard our screams across the street, who physically watched us both take tumble after tumble, I could not be more disappointed and hurt that you allowed yourself to be a bystander at the expense of two lives in danger.
I remain optimistic, as I am not sure what lacks in them that is present in me, but I know full-heartedly that the individuals that I have chosen to surround myself with are abundantly full of those same qualities. Be proactive in your community, that is someone’s mother, brother, sister, child or grandparent. Treat them as you would expect and desire to be treated. Be the good in the world, we need it.
It has been quite some time since the incident, Angee (the woman I helped) has since wrote me a darling letter with a bottle of wine, thanking me and acknowledging the lack of compassion from our peers. I have learned more about her and her dog, Carmen. That particular day, October 14th, she was pet-sitting her friend’s dog, which is why she was walking two pups. Her friend’s dog remained completely untouched by the stray. Carmen (her dog) on the other hand had 50+ stitches (ranging from ear, side, belly, back, etc.) and a drain-bag for a month. Angee had to spend $4,000+ in emergency vet care.
Since, Angee and I have become friends. Now that Remy is apart of our lives, we have gone to the dog park and spent countless hours in our courtyard letting Remy and Carmen play. Reflecting, I am grateful for Angee’s friendship, as it reminds me of the good that can come from innate goodness. While that sounds counter-intuitive, I sit here reflecting on all of the times that good deeds are inadvertently punished with bad-timing and “bad-luck.” While good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to the good people, there are many things in this world that are in our control.
May we acknowledge and feed from that energy and let that be the motivation we need to change the world!
What brought me to this reflection? Well… my cousin, Thomas, wrote a particularly moving piece about being purposeful in reflection, voice, and thought. As I was reading it (literally like brain crack because his writing is impeccable) I kept thinking to myself that I agree with what he is saying but I don’t feel as though that shows through my actions. I can think all I want and converse with my inner-monologue about my morals, ethics, responsibilities, etc. but ultimately that means nothing to the world. As my very intelligent Daddypop frequents:
Wish in one hand, and shit in the other – see which one fills up faster.
Actions speak louder than words – I’ve been told this my whole life and just now I am starting to grasp an understanding? This must be what my mom meant by being a life-long-learner. This rabbit-hole led me to thinking of things that I have done that are purposeful, good, intuitive, and naturally me. And quite frankly, I am proud of the person standing before me. While there is endless space to grow, I reflect and stand tall. We need more people willing to be purposeful in their actions and grounded in their authenticity. I will continue to work on myself, growing as a woman, adult, daughter (and grand-daughter), educator, lover, and whatever else I choose to be.
“I started teaching Creative Writing at my high school in August. We began with a unit on creative nonfiction, and I quickly realized I knew next to nothing about the genre. I started reading about the art of the literary essay. The form intrigued. Simultaneously thereafter, I became friends with Dan Rather on Facebook (you should friend him too) while Donald Trump’s ascension to the White House began. All three things have affected me in conflated ways.
So much of the essay …is tied up in a desire to make meaning: to be thoughtful, to be reflective, to be curious, and to be vulnerable. I hold these things dearly. I want them in my life. I want to search the walls of my own truths with honesty – hoping that in some way how I perceive the world will lead to a greater understanding for myself as well as those with whom I interact. How terrifyingly ethereal. Cripplingly so. How do you write about that? I’ve thought about trying to post something genuine here on Facebook for a long time, but being truthful without glibness is not how social media seems to work. It’s so much easier to be ironic and judge and respond to complex topics with emojis instead of care. It’s cooler. Less likely to garner a negative reaction or start a conversation that doesn’t devolve into name calling and misunderstanding. More likely to avoid cavalier online judgment. It’s so much safer than trying to be true.
And then I started reading Dan Rather’s Facebook posts. Like, this guy gets me. Here he is, reacting to the news of the day as best he can. His bias is his own, and he states them with care. Nothing is meant to incite, but rather engage. He wants you to think before responding. I want that too. He’s got passions and opinions and topics of personal importance and somehow he makes me read on. The man cares. He’s authentic.
All of this happened under the rise of Donald Trump. There is no other way to say this: Donald Trump infuriates me. His policies have little to do with my ire; it’s his words. They’re vitriolic and without substance. Too many are sound bites that grab headlines instead of explain his beliefs and values. Most of the things I know he’s said are punctuated with exclamation points and confined to 140 characters. How can those shackles equate to thoughtfulness? Perhaps he can make it so. I cannot.
Thus, this post and those forthcoming. Like a good teacher, I want to model deep thinking. I want to act as a model of civility and authenticity instead of staying silent or shouting platitudes and never truly considering the consequences of either. I will be measured.
I plan to be more proactive in my posts, and I hope that it will help me process the actions and words of those around me. I suppose this is a bit of an experiment. I want to make the world a better place. Writing on Facebook can do that too, right? This is all so distressing to reveal. Why is that? Perhaps I’ve outed myself as caring.”
– Thomas Warren, 1/23/17