When I was 7 years old, I went with my mother to visit her friend. I heard a dog bark when we knocked on the door. I love doggies! "Where's your doggie?" I asked. "I put him out back. He's an old police dog and isn't used to kids."
"Stay away from him," my mother warned.
Despite her warning, I went in search of the doggie and found him chained to a stake in the ground, head down, dark eyes, staring as I approached. He didn't bark, blink, growl, wag his tail, nothing. There was a silence between us I couldn't stand. I smiled at him and thought, he just needs a hug. He needs love.
My inexperienced mind couldn't comprehend the danger of getting too close. I reached my tiny hand out to pet his soft fur. He didn't move, stood still as a statue. He's not a mean doggie at all, I thought. He is just sad about being tied up and outside alone.
I moved close as I could, bent down, face to face, wrapped my arms around his neck, and gave him a big hug. In a Polaroid flash, he bit me. My feet got tangled up in his chain as I tried to run away and I fell. Blood gushed everywhere. I screamed; a loud, panicked, piercing yell. My mom came running out and rushed me to the hospital where it took her and three nurses to hold me down while the doctor sewed my lower lip back together. I still have the scar.
I like to think I learned my lesson to heed warnings and keep my distance when uninvited, but the naive child within me still thinks a hug and love will make everything okay.