Remember on the “I Love Lucy” TV show, how Ricky would scold Lucy when she messed up? Well, our bulldog Lucy really messed up the other night. She nipped our 10-year-old guest, Gracie. I say “nipped” because I can’t bring myself to say “bit.” In the face, no less. In one lunge she got her right on the cheekbone. No blood, luckily. But an abrasion and some swelling. What the #&*!?
I was completely mortified. I was also flabbergasted. Why did Lucy do it? It certainly wasn’t provoked. At the time of the incident, Gracie was sitting on the floor and Lucy had her back to her. Gracie leaned over to pet her, saying what a good girl the dog was, and Wham! Lucy whipped around and got her. It was instantly over; there was no ruckus to break up. I think we were all stunned for several seconds, including Gracie.
After we’d kicked into action, bringing Gracie into the kitchen and filling an icepack, I tried to theorize Lucy’s actions. I had this need to understand her motivation. Maybe she mistook Gracie for our other dog Wilson coming up behind her (she sometimes lets him have it when he sniffs her). Voicing this aloud only sounded like an excuse (which I did not intend it to), and a stupid one at that. Little Gracie replied, between sniffles, “Why would I want to sniff Lucy’s butt?” My humiliation deepened.
The saving grace was that Gracie’s folks are dog lovers. So they remained very calm about the episode, even thanking us for the evening while they settled Gracie into the car with an icepack on her face. I went to bed in a quandary. Was Lucy getting old and cranky? Did I need to keep her aways from kids? With our neighbor’s Elvis incident not even a week old (and his fate still up in the air, by the way) I was forced to admit that maybe a little apprehension of dogs is a good thing. We pet lovers tend to treat our dogs as part of the family, but the truth is they aren’t even part of the human race. I looked down at Lucy nestled at my feet and wished she could explain herself.
As they often do, things looked better in the morning (the exception being Gracie’s face, which was black & blue as if she’d been in a fist fight). Everyone compared their notes on the scandal and I learned that from my vantage point I had missed some key facts: There was a bone in the picture, in Lucy’s possession. And Wilson was circling, waiting to get his paws on it. Gracie unknowingly reached right into the tense silent stand-off and Lucy’s instincts took over.
Knowing this is a relief. The situation can easily be avoided in the future (no bones in front of company). And I now know that my dog wasn’t behaving like Cujo, just like a dog with a bone. So it’s no longer baffling (if no less mortifying).