"HELP ME! HELP ME!" These were the screaming words of a woman in our building when she found herself sharing the elevator with me and my two pit bulls...
Normally, my boyfriend and I try not to walk our dogs unless there is a one-to-one ratio- we have found that in our neighborhood it can be difficult for each of us to handle both dogs at once unless it is late at night and no one is around.
Bruno gets very anxious around certain people and when one person can focus on him exclusively, he can be calmed down much more easily. However, if I have both Winnie and Bruno on leash, in the unlikely event that they both get anxious around a certain dog or person, they are not very hard to control per-say, but hard to keep quiet.
Still, once in a while we will walk them both out on the way somewhere and one of us will leave (go to work or elsewhere) and one person will take them both back upstairs.
This is just what happened yesterday- my boyfriend was leaving to work for a few hours yesterday afternoon. We walked the dogs, he left me in the lobby with the dogs, and he left for work. I brought them in to the elevator, which was empty and pressed the button for our floor.
Around the corner, our neighbors' nanny came rushing. They were leaving on a trip and must have forgotten something. I held the elevator for her.
I was wary because we had just seen them on our floor- the whole family with two nannies, two kids, and lots of luggage. The mother had chosen that as a time to tell us how afraid of our dogs she was and we decided to stay back and take the next elevator. While waiting, Winnie jumped gingerly, tail wagging, on the nanny, who replied with a disdainful "Are you serious?" to my boyfriend. (I had been waiting around the corner with Bruno, because I didn't want him to bark).
They had asked how the dogs were with children and dogs and were surprised to learn that Winnie loved children and they were both comfortable around dogs. They entered the elevator and the next time we saw them was loading the car downstairs. Thinking these skeptics were no longer an obstacle, I entered the lobby, said goodbye to my boyfriend and was looking forward to spending the rest of President's Day on the couch.
That's when the Nanny entered the elevator.
Bruno began barking at her instantly. He can sense when someone doesn't like him. People who are dog friendly never bother him- he can ride quietly in the elevator with a whole crowd as long as people don't ignore him or stare at him strangely. Once a person is afraid however, he barks. He could sense the Nanny's hurriedness and barked at her before she even entered the elevator. Knowing her fear of dogs, I was surprised she came in with us.
When she leaned over to press her floor (mine, which was already lit) she began to freak out- Bruno appeared to want to escape his gentle-leader and began squirming behind me.
She yelled "HOLD THE DOGS," to which I replied, I have them, sorry he is barking!" At no point did Bruno get closer than 4 feet away from her, but his barking and wriggling obviously threw her into a panic.
She began screaming at full-volume and crying hysterically and banging at the elevator door, yelling "HELP ME! HELP ME! HOLD THE DOGS" (as if I was going to let them go at her!)
Finally, when the door opened, she ran out, arms flailing down the hall, yelling bloody murder. I have never heard someone scream so loudly in my life- nor have I been around anyone who truly believed they were going to die.
I understood that Bruno was scary- he scared me the first time I met him when he barked at me. I felt horrible that I made her feel so unsafe. I cried most of the day on the couch and was sure the family would complain to the door man and building management.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized- my dog never touched her, there was never a possibility of him touching her as I had him secure on the leash near me in the corner of the elevator. He was only guilty of barking at her- and of course he was just as terrified of this screaming maniac as she was of him. He slept the rest of the day and I worried that he would now be traumatized by strangers and elevators.
I also noticed that the more times I retold my story to friends and co-workers, the funnier it became- everyone laughed at how crazy this woman was. It still really affected me and I am going to be much much more careful with Bruno from now on to make sure he feels safe all the time, but I am hoping that it doesn't have a lasting impact on me. I just look forward to the day when I can have a big yard and not as many neighbors so Bruno can enjoy himself and run around like a crazy puppy.
Has anyone else had to deal with this kind of person, experience or prejudice? I'd love to hear any stories you have and how you dealt with it.