As we were playing in the backyard tonight, not quite ready for dinner, I heard a child crying. I could see both of mine, smiling and playing in the yard, so I scanned the neighboring yards through the chain-link fences to see where it was coming from.
Directly behind us, in the opposite yard, a little girl, probably not much older than the Bear, was lying on the ground while the family's pitbull chewed on her head. For a second, I just stared, paralyzed. I couldn't figure out how to get to her. There's no gate into their yard, and to get to the house itself you have to go all the way around the block. These neighbors are new, and I don't know their names or their children's names. I called to the girl, asking if she was okay. She sobbed "yes," but didn't look okay to me. The dog moved around to grab her feet, and started dragging her around the yard by her feet.
I yelled at the house to try to get their attention. I'm sure I must have sounded like an idiot - "Hey, you! With the dog! In the blue house! Hey! Get out here!" I picked up a rock and threw it at the dog. It stopped dragging the girl and looked at me, sort of cocking his head to the side in a "what's the matter with you?" sort of way. He stood and stared at me for a few more seconds, and then finally the neighbor dad came out.
He yelled at the dog, then picked the girl up and sent her inside. He didn't even stop to comfort her or check to see if she was okay. I think she was more terrified than injured, but still! He yelled at the dog a bit more, but didn't go grab it. He didn't acknowledge my presence, either as a witness or as someone who had gotten his attention to help. I turned my back and made sure the girls weren't watching. We played for a while longer, but when I could hear the dog yelping as he beat it, I took them inside under the pretext of dinner.
Even inside, though, we couldn't quite escape. Through the open screen door, I could hear the man yelling inside his house, berating his wife for not stopping the dog. Finally, I had to shut the door. I just couldn't listen anymore. I was just sick at my stomach.
As I sat here typing this, I realized that, duh, I should have climbed the fence and pulled the dog off of her. I was just so stunned that I almost couldn't move, much less think straight. If something had happened to her, I would have felt so guilty for not stopping it. What if something happened to one of my girls? Or my students? Would I be able to act, or would I stand there like a stick? Is this just me, or does everyone get the paralyzed helpless feeling?