Memory of a near miss

I was walking Martha last week when I heard a dog bark and looked for the source. A black dog came running from the street and went straight for her throat, knocking her down. People started yelling, I was frozen in fear. After only a few seconds, the dog let go and ran back into traffic. Martha seemed OK, so I looked to see where the attacker had gone. I saw a woman grab the dog, pick it up, and load it into the back of an SUV.

The dog had apparently jumped out of the window of the SUV.  The owner of dog the came and found me, and apologized, and we made a report to the police department for the record.  Martha was fine, but just to be certain I had her checked by the vet the next day. We found a one inch by one half-inch patch of fur missing on her neck, but no puncture wounds.

The shock of the attack and the speed with which it occurred really threw me.  In the days since, I realize how terrified I was, and how my fear affected my ability to remember what happened. For example, I know that there were other people near me on the sidewalk, but I have no idea how many or whether they were men or women.  I don’t really know how long the contact between the dogs lasted.  I think I just stood there, frozen, but I may have been yelling at the black dog to let go.  After the attack ended, and Martha stood up, all I could focus on was getting the license plate number of the SUV. I tried to take a picture with my phone camera, but my hands were shaking too much, so I typed it into a note instead.

After the report to the police, Martha and I walked back to the office.  I wanted to cry, but didn’t, since I needed to see where I was going and didn’t want to look like a crazy person.

Yesterday I found this article online.  Why Police Lineups Will Never Be Perfect – The Atlantic. The story was about how unreliable witnesses are at identifying criminals.   As a lawyer, I am well aware of the incredibly fragile nature of witness memories.  Any trial lawyer will tell you that the longer you wait to take a case to trial, the worse the memory of the witness.  Most of us probably cannot remember what we had for dinner last Tuesday night.  Add a stressful experience to the mix, and our memories become even more distorted.

I do remember that the photo at the top of this post is of Martha’s foot, her eleven year old toes and nails surrounded by the white hair which encroaches into her shiny black coat more and more every day.  And I remember being very, very relieved that she wasn’t killed or injured by that other dog.  And I treasure her even more because that threat was so real, and I am so very grateful to have her companionship every day.

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