The Electric Fence

August 22, 2014

It’s been over a month, and I’m still not sure I want to talk about this. I’m not sure I’ll be able to talk about this, not in the way I’d like to, because I’m still too close to it and just thinking about it makes me hammer-hearted and on the verge of throwing up. I still wake up several times every night, sucking air like a fish on concrete.

Then again, maybe talking about it will help me get over it. Okay, I doubt I’ll ever get over it, but at least I might get to a place where I can deal, where I can go through a day without these bouts of panic and regret.

This July, I almost lost my younger daughter, Miss M.  I almost lost my little white dog in the bargain, too, but it’s the near loss of my child that keeps me up at night.

It’s an unthinkable thing, the loss of a child, and now I can’t do anything but think about it. All the time.

I think about how it just took a second, just a wink of an open door, a flash of tiny white fur barreling down the street, to almost change everything.

Ack, I’m dancing around this and now it kind of sounds too dramatic, so I’ll just tell you what happened.

Miss M. and I had taken the Mozz-man for a late afternoon walk. It was a walk full of bunnies and birds and flowers to sniff and cut grass, ripe for rolling in. In short, it was full of all the things a puppy loves best.

When we got to the front door, I opened it and said to Miss M., “I’m going to get the mail, okay? You can take off his leash but shut the door, okay?”

And then I turned my back and walked to the mailbox.

Which was the bigger mistake? The way I mixed up the order of things by telling her “take off the leash, shut the door” or the way I turned my back on them before checking?

I don’t know and I guess it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that excited puppies are very fast and frantic 8-year olds are very fast and middle-aged women in flip-flops aren’t nearly as fast.

They shot across the street, and as hard and as loud as I hollered for M. to stop, her panic over the loss of her puppy rendered her deaf, and when he darted under a small opening under a fence–a fence facing a VERY busy street–she wiggled under it, too, hot on his heels.

I, of course, was far too big to wiggle under that fence. I ran to the next house, but they were fenced in too, and so was the next, and as I finally rounded the half-block, I saw a small white dog and a bare-footed little girl dash across that busy street. A street full of cars and screeching brakes and blaring horns. A busy street with 5pm rush-hour traffic and there wasn’t anything I could do but watch it happen. I had to watch it happen and I couldn’t do anything and just like that I almost lost them both.

“Please don’t tell Daddy,” she sobbed, limping home on bloody feet. “I’ll never do it again, IswearIswearIswear. Please don’t tell Daddy.”

Of course, I immediately went into the house and called Daddy, crying and keening like a lunatic. And then I called Mama, knowing she’d understand, because when I was a little girl, I darted in front of a car, too. The driver barely stopped in time and she was horrified and furious, and Mama threw me over her shoulder, beating on my backside the entire way home.

I never forgot it.

I’ll never forget this, either, no matter how hard I wish it away.

The day I almost lost my daughter (and her little dog, too), I called about an electric fence for our yard.

It’s taken a few weeks, but the fence is in, and now we begin the arduous process of training Mozzy not to cross the fence. We try to train him not to cross the fence before we activate the sucker, so hopefully he won’t have to get zapped much. Even though it’s not a high-voltage zap or a dangerous zap, it’s still sorta sucky for a dude to get zapped, so we’re trying to do things gently.

Although if I’m honest, if it prevents him from ever running into the street again, zap away. Zap him until the cows come home, as long as I never, ever…

Well, you know.

If I’m scarce around these parts, you can find me in the backyard, with a leash and a bulky shock collar and a little white dog.

Me, a dog, and my lucky, lucky life.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Abby August 22, 2014 at 6:46 am

Well, I just basically had an anxiety attack reading your account of the event, so no wonder it too you a couple of weeks to recover enough to share. Thank goodness everyone is okay and lessons learned, but still…

On a much smaller scale, I can relate. We had horses, which means we had electric fences but still had horses that once or twice tried to escape-including a foal that broke through and ran down the road. Not fun. And I also saw a dog get hit by a car and the image still haunts me today. But with that said, lessons learned. XO


Dana Talusani August 22, 2014 at 7:56 pm


I saw a Chevy truck mow over a golden retriever when I was seven years old. It was a really old truck with smeary red paint and rust around the wheels. The driver didn’t stop. Nobody knew what to do, but I don’t think anyone who saw that was ever the same.


alexandra August 22, 2014 at 6:57 am

I’m crying.

This was too close.

This is trauma.


You have every right to wake up in the middle of the night breathless.

Who ever catches their breath from that??

I am so sorry. I’ve had close calls like this, and I blame myself 100 percent for them. I understand. And it’s the club of motherhood

Oh, my dear friend. How I wish I could be there to tell you my stories.


Dana Talusani August 22, 2014 at 7:50 pm


I think you never catch your breath. Maybe you’re not meant to; maybe it’s God’s cruel reminder that things are too delicate and fast to hold onto. You think you have it in your hands, but you don’t, do you?

Wish you were here, too. With the stories.


Pamela August 22, 2014 at 8:11 am

I am having a hard time breathing just from reading this. What a horrifying day. I am so glad you are all ok and still I can’t imagine having to watch that. Xoxo


Cassy August 22, 2014 at 9:10 am

My heart leapt out of my chest reading this. We had an extremely close call at 29th Street a couple of years ago with the bean and my heart still starts a rapid beat when we cross by that spot. Cyber hugs to you – and hopefully a real, live one super soon!


Dana Talusani August 22, 2014 at 7:58 pm


I have to go on that street to go anywhere–to take the girls to school, to go to the grocery store, to get on the highway. I feel like I can’t ever find my breath.


Dana August 22, 2014 at 10:54 am

Oh my gosh my heart is beating a mile a minute just reading this! A parent’s worst nightmare :( I’m so relieved that it all turned out ok but OMG what a scare.


Biz August 22, 2014 at 12:10 pm

I am thrilled of course of the happy ending, but isn’t it just crazy that one decision could lead to possible disaster?! Hugs!


elizabeth August 22, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Well, that was a terrifying story. I’m glad both Mozz-Man and Miss M are OK, but I’m shocked she didn’t end up over your shoulder much like you ended up on your Mama’s. It does prove that Miss M is more fearless than she realizes. :)


Dana Talusani August 22, 2014 at 8:06 pm


maybe Mama was on to something.


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me August 22, 2014 at 5:52 pm

My heart about stopped reading this – first because OMG (which doesn’t nearly cover it) and thank God they – and you – are here tell the tale. I need to breathe. Wow.
We had a shockingly similar incident with Kidzilla this summer only instead of a 5PM busy street, it was a moron speeding through the library parking lot as she “galloped” across the library yard and into that street. (Strangely, there were dogs – we were there to read to the therapy dogs group.) I beat myself up for days – and the Hub while I was at it – because all either of us could do was stand frozen in our spots screaming for her to stop stop oh please God let her stop. I felt sick to my stomach that I couldn’t make my legs run after her. Thankfully, she did stop just in the nick of time, as did the speeding moron. And would you believe he leaned out the window and laughed at us screaming like idiots???
It’s terrifying, this exuberance, this lust for life, and this damn impulsiveness that comes with the ADHD that, when all wrapped up on one, are this perfect storm of carefree joyfulness in her and terror for me every day. Ugh.
I am so so so glad you are all OK. Kinda makes me want to apologize to my mom for all the things I ever did that may or may not have given her momentary heart failure. Come to think of it, I did when I finally screwed up the courage to tell her the story – like a month later!


Dana Talusani August 22, 2014 at 8:08 pm


He laughed? That is justifiable cause for murder.


Barbara August 23, 2014 at 5:00 am

My heart was in my throat reading this. All of us who are parents know exactly how you felt…terror. Thank God she is safe, such an important lesson for her to learn; she reacted to save her pet with no thought to herself.
Being a parent is truly the scariest thing we do and we can only take one day at a time. I hate to tell you it never ends. Now that mine are grown, the terror is the phone ringing in the middle of the night. Geez, it never ends.


D. A. Wolf August 23, 2014 at 7:40 am

Oh God, Dana. This is every parent’s worst nightmare – miraculously avoided. My heart is in my throat just reading it – and I’m right back to the car accident I was in 7 years ago with my then 15-year-old, as another car barreled right into us at an intersection going 50mph and I felt the impact and all that went through my mind in slow motion was that somehow my son would be alive and okay.

Electric fence sounds just fine… We never forget these moments. They’re lodged in our bodies somehow, a cellular memory. And perhaps, somewhere, for our children, too.

Thank God she’s okay. It will take time for you, my friend. Time.


Phoo-d August 23, 2014 at 1:31 pm

I think this will always haunt you. Thank god it will be a permanent sense of panic mixed with relief instead of something else. The stuff of worst nightmares right here. So sorry you had to live through it. So very glad it ended with everyone safe. Electric fence, brick wall, shackles, ;) whatever you need to do is justified in my mind. xoxoxo


S in AK August 23, 2014 at 2:50 pm

I tried to comment yesterday but someone (who shall remain nameless) rudely demanded the computer.

I don’t know which part was worse, the part where you couldn’t see her or the part where you could.

However, the only mistake I see is the one where you’re wondering which of “your” mistakes was bigger. You didn’t make a mistake, toots. It was an accident: an absence of the experience (you or someone you knew had already experienced something like this) or the imagination (you’d have to have a lot of it in this situation) required to foresee an unusual hazard, coupled with an accidental misunderstanding, coupled with an surprise reaction by the pup and the kiddo. I think you behaved as responsibly as any reasonably prudent mother would. <3


angelina August 24, 2014 at 4:22 am

wow, I just held my breath!

I am so glad it all worked out for you and that they are safe, without any hard done to them.

The balance of life is just one breath away. :)


Alison August 24, 2014 at 11:54 pm

Oh dear god, this is my nightmare. I keep a tight hold of them at all times, but I’m one person (right now, a very large pregnant person), and they’re two small, very fast little people. We live in an apartment which means our carpark is in the basement and it’s a bit of a trek. It’s not busy but who knows what kind of maniac will come speeding through, right? It just takes ONE. Crossing streets etc is just anxiety inducing.

I’m glad everyone’s alright, and I’m glad you have that fence put in.


Erica August 25, 2014 at 10:18 am

My heart is still pounding. Thank goodness everyone is well. Whew.


Sherri August 25, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Very scary. Good reminder that, in a flash, it could happen to any of us. So glad she was OK.


Caitlin August 26, 2014 at 7:52 am

I’m so glad that Miss M. & Mozzy are OK! I had a scare with my dog a few months after I got her. She backed out of her collar in front of Petsmart and started running around the parking lot. I watched in horror as a car slammed on its brakes in front of her and my little baby “flinched” in preparation for the hit. I’ll never be the same. xoxo


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri August 27, 2014 at 10:20 am

Oh, Kitch. Tears in my eyes. I am so glad that all is well. Sending belated hugs. xoxo


Tiffany September 2, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Thank God. I still think about almost losing my boys in a riptide and it makes me want to hurl. It will get better, I promise. But it never leaves you that’s for sure!


Jennifer September 9, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. I hate that sink in the gut feeling. Once when Cady was about 18 months old I looked up from unloading groceries to see Cady step out into the street. Now we don’t have a very busy street, but still, just the thought of “what if” still brings a panic to my heart. I’m so glad that the little girl and the little dog are okay, even if the momma can’t sleep.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: