3 years ago

Do you know what your mama bear voice sounds like?

Watch one of your toddler family members get attacked by a dog and you’ll find out real quick.
Let us backtrack…


Oh my gosh, yes Carolyn, you’re pregnant and due super soon. WE KNOW.

Okay but lest ye forget, I basically haven’t had the drive to do much but sit all day long for the last 30+ (+++) days and anything which falls to the ground I regard as dead to me because bending over is just– no. Nope.

But. I have children and they’re little so I have to do some stuff.  One of those things is visiting Aunt Kate and her three same-aged children because Lexington crafted in his wee head that as soon as Spring comes, we must bring a Costco cheese pizza to her house and eat it there and play outside. He’s reminded me of it daily since the first day of Spring.

So we did that this week.

There we were, having eaten pizza and fruit and juice, now doing the go-outside-and-play part, which involved Katie and I being the good observing parents from the lowest level of their beautiful porch/deck setup, sitting in chairs and enjoying a 65 degree temperature and sun bestowing it’s glorious shine.

Kate’s back yard is lovely. The perfect amount of trees lines the perimeter of the yard, which meets the fenceless, large, green back yards of her neighbors, and there’s a solid half acre+ for the children to run their little legs to exhaustion. Which I was super encouraging of because an exhausted toddler equals a quick fall-asleep come bedtime.

“Run! Run more! Show me how fast you can run!”


Property of Carolyn Svellinger

So Kate and I are sitting there, discussing the woes of getting older and how Kate has been recovering from a minor ankle injury, but is mere days away from running her first adult 5k (We were both track & field runners in high school: hurdlers, hold some school records, a healthy amount of gold, silver and bronze medals between the two of us, basically high school Olympians, no big deal –okay glory days, shut up.) —and a yellow shimmer catches my eye–

I look up and see my niece being pounced upon and pinned down by a 75lb+ black Lab, her sweet, golden Princess Belle dress flashing alarmingly in the reflection of the sun.
The dog doesn’t get up, but is hunched over her, head down, mouth obscured by the fabric of Sienna’s dress, pawing and pinning and moving in a jerking manner as if it were mauling her.

The next thing I know, Humpty Dumpty is running faster than I realize behind Kate, who’s booking it in her bright pink Nikes to the end of the yard.
Still running.

We couldn’t get there fast enough, and the fear of what we would find when we got close enough to see the dog’s face and mouth, and my niece’s slight little body was sucking the breath from my already struggling lungs.
Sienna was screaming.
I caught up to Kate right as she powerhouse kicked the dog’s butt, startling it to back off.

And Kate and I were screaming- screaming at the black lab who’d crossed its electric fence to pin down my niece.
The problem is that there were TWO black labs. Large ones.

The attacker now snarled at Kate as we continued to scream in Mama Bear man voices, hoping to frighten them off enough, maybe raise awareness from the neighbors.
Nothing. Nobody noticed.

My niece stood up, seemingly unharmed, and ran inside with the other 5 children. But Kate and I kept man-voice-mama-bear screaming at the animals who were now barking back at us. Bears vs. dogs.

I literally have no memory of actually forming a comprehensible word, but just going at it with a lot of “ARRRGH! HAYYYY! NAHHHH!!!!” but I did catch Katie man-hollering “YOU DA(RN) DOOOOOG!”  And there was mama bear arm flailing and spit flying, which I now envision looked more like something you’d see on Maury. Team Black Lab stood down.

After deciding it better to call the police than risk marching through the neighbor’s yard to man-yell more at the neighbor, we hurried inside to make sure Kate’s little girl was completely okay.

Praise God, she was not harmed nor bit nor even scratched, and that I’m able to share this story with some humor.

The dominating manner in which the dog had pinned her down (literally on top of Sienna, instead of a playful posture: standing to the side, perhaps licking her face like a playful dog might)  was not playful. That nightmarish image will never leave my mind.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger
This photo is of Sienna last summer. What a sweet beauty.

Still shaken up while waiting for the police to arrive, yet relieved that Sienna was alright, Kate and I had a few moments of hysterical laugh-crying as we bewildered over hearing the deep man-voice bellow coming from each other’s vocal chords, and how on earth it took us so long to get to Sienna, or so it seemed. She was about 40 yards away but it felt like 200.

We further puzzled over why Katie, the un-pregnant and very much more fit runner, was merely 2 or three paces in front of the personified nursery rhyme character while en route to kick the crap out of that dog, almost more than how shocking it is that the dog never bit Sienna.

That night I realized I must’ve run harder than I felt like I had.
Recounting the story to my mom, dad, and Craig, I remembered running with my legs flapping hilariously outward but I think what actually happened was I’d forgotten I was pregnant and tried to do what any mother bear: DESECRATE THE ENEMY.

And so, now I can barely walk.

And this morning my groin and legs were so sore that I have a limp and need to hold on to furniture to get through the house.
Kate texted me, she’s sore too.
Sienna’s doing great, praise the merciful Lord.
All my boys can talk about are the dogs (they witnessed the whole thing), and Collin is more petrified than ever of them– which is good, he’s allergic.

So there’s that for you.

Have a blessed Easter Triduum and a gloriously beautiful Easter!  Hopefully you won’t hear from me until the Noob has arrived.
Instagram will tell the tale.
Facebook won’t because I gave it up for Lent and forgot to tell you all …except Instagram does share some of my photos to Facebook, so whatever.  Oopsies.


  1. What a scary experience! Glad to hear your niece came out unscathed!

    When we lived in an apartment complex after my first was born, I went out to get the mail and this big dog came running full speed at me while I was holding my child. The dog came running because she had made some sort of squeaky noise. The owner noticed the dog right before she got to us and called her back, but I was ready to KICK that dog across the parking lot. I had turned, wrapped my arms around my little one tightly, and positioned myself to punt that dog. It was the first time I noticed the ‘mama bear’ instinct — I will do ANYTHING to protect my little one. (I would never normally feel inclined to kick a dog. ;))

  2. Oh my goodness! That is so super scary! My brother was attacked by an aunt’s dog when he was about 6 and was not quite as lucky. It was terrifying looking over and seeing his face gushing blood. I’m so glad your niece was unharmed, and I can imagine I’d have the same bear cry if any animal got near my boys. Happy last days of being pregnant – can’t wait to see pictures of the newest sweet Svellinger!

  3. Katie Patterson April 3, 2015, 4:17 pm

    A faithful narrative of all our dealings with that darn dog.
    I love the Maury visual…knee slapper!

  4. Ahhh! I don’t do dogs well. I can tolerate them when I *know* their nice but this freaks me out. And you running while full term. Oy. I’m so glad she’s okay. Although I did laugh at your things falling to the ground being dead to you because…yeah. I hear you.

  5. I was jumped by a black lab when I was five! It was terrifying and I still remember it very vividly. I also remember my parents going into full on bear rage. The owner was like “He just wants to play!” He did not just want to play. To THIS DAY I am still really skittish around dogs :(

    P.S. That backyard looks amazing. I think that’s what I miss most about the midwest!

  6. I am so not a dog person. This confirms it.

    Yesterday I took Sam out to the front yard for the first time this year. We talked a lot about boundaries and not going in the street. Deaf ears.

    He took off toward the main road on two swift little legs while mama bear hoofed it with baby cub strapped to her front side.

    Thank God a sweet little punk skateboarder saw him and nabbed him before he hit the road. Thank. God.

    Mama bears, man.


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