Wednesday afternoon a client emailed me requesting to see a house in Gilbert that evening. It was occupied, so before we went over to see it, I called the listing agent to have him set up an appointment for us to view.
Me: Hi, this is Elizabeth Newlin with Thompson’s Realty. I would like to show your listing on Glade Ave. at 5:30 tonight. Will that work for your seller?
Listing Agent: Yes, that will be fine. They do have two dogs, so I will have the owner’s son either take them out to the dog run on the side of the house at that time or out for a walk. Thanks for showing!
At 5:30 on the dot I pulled up in front of the two story house in my GOV with Jonas in his car seat watching a movie. Between about 2:30 and 6 pm if I’m showing property I will unfailingly have Jonas with me. It’s after school gets out but before Jason gets home. Bennett is old enough to keep an eye on Gray for an hour or so during daylight hours, but adding Jonas to the mix would surely result in a my returning to a smoke-filled neighborhood teeming with fire engines and cop cars 45 minutes later. So if I have to show a late afternoon house, I do it with Jo in tow.
I got out of the car, opened Jo’s door and waived to my client, who had pulled up behind me. She got out, slowly maneuvering her 7 months pregnant belly out from around the steering wheel and extracted her two year old son from his car seat.
“Hi, Iz!” the two year old greeted me as we all trooped up to the front door.
I let Jonas push the button to ring the doorbell and we all stood there, waiting to be let in. There was a lockbox on the front door, but Realtor etiquette dictates if a house is occupied you should always ring the doorbell or knock before using the lockbox in case the seller is home.
After a minute or so with no response to the doorbell, I assumed the seller had taken the dogs for a walk, like the listing agent said they might and I used my ekey to open the lockbox and take out the key.
I opened the door, grabbed Jonas’s hand and ushered my client and her son through the front door.
“So we’ve seen this floor plan a couple of times before, right?” I said, stepping past them and glancing around at a familiar entryway and circular stair.
“Yeah, at least once. I think it’s one we’ve liked the layout of, so that’s good,” my client agreed.
We turned to the left to head for the kitchen, through the dining room, when we heard the soft thump of footsteps coming down the stairs toward us. I grabbed Jonas’s hand and swiveled around, ready to apologize to the owner for barging in on him and explain that we’d rung the doorbell and had a showing appointment.
Instead of a human owner coming down the stairs, however, I was greeted by a pair of canine occupants; one some kind of a lab mix and the other a tiny, fat chihuahua.
I froze in my tracks. The dogs were home! The agent had promised they would be gone, or at least outside. Here we were, two women (one seven months pregnant) and two children under the age of four. The likelihood of us out running the animals like people always manage to in movies seemed zero. I’d like to say that in that moment with my life and the life of my youngest son on the line, my brain and instincts kicked into high gear, but that would be a lie. In that moment of mortality, my mind stalled like an engine given too much gas. I just stood there as the dogs progressed.
The lab, sensing my fear and obviously trained to protect his territory, growled a warning, low in his throat and sped up his pace toward us. The fur in the center of his back stood on end. His teeth were bared.
When the dog was two feet from the bottom of the stairs my paralysis lifted. Jonas, clamped to my right hand, was closest to the bottom of the steps. I wrenched my arm backward as hard as I could, yanking him back behind me just as the lab reached the final stair and leaped, with an angry, barking roar.
His mouth connected with my left shoulder. His teeth sunk into the fleshy part underneath my shoulder blade. The pain was hot and instantaneous. He let go of my shoulder and I dropped Jonas’s hand to swing back around and push the dog back with my hands. His second bite dug deep into the center of my right hand, between the tiny bones that control my fingers. Blood immediately began dripping from the tip of my middle finger and pooling on the cheap faux-wood flooring.
While I tried desperately to keep the lab from my now sobbing son, the chihuahua took on my client. She held her son in her arms, high above the tiny dog’s jump range, but her ankles were bare to his attack. Her legs below the knees were quickly shredded and bleeding from small claws and teeth. Her son was shocked into a stupor; too terrified and traumatized to cry.
Or… OK, the part after we saw the dogs is what happened in my head in the split second after we glimpsed them coming down the stairs toward us.
What really happened was:
Me (heart beating so loudly in my temples and the roof my mouth I can hardly hear anything else, hand like a steel trap around Jonas’s): Uh, we need to go. I’m not comfortable with this.
Large dog pads down the stairs calmly, glancing at us with a lazy disinterest. Tiny dog yips a good-natured hello.
Jonas: Mom, you’re hurting my hand.
My Client: Ok… really? They don’t seem like they’re that bothered by us.
Me: It doesn’t matter. We need to leave. NOW. (The last word whisper-shouted with an equal desire to communicate urgency to my client and show calmness and a lack of fear in the general direction of the dogs lest they sense I’m scared to death and take it as their cue to eat me.)
We made it out the door unharmed, slammed it shut and locked it behind us. But it could have easily gone the other way. Get your shit together listing agents of houses with dogs. Cause I’m working on a lawsuit for heart palpitations caused by fear of dog mauling.