Sunday, May 31, 2009

Authority Figures

This is mostly a rant...with some relevance to my mental health:

I recently moved from a huge farm outside the city to a house in the city. As my husband and I have separated I needed to bring my dog with me. When I adopted my dog as a puppy last year I thought long and hard about the ease of accessibility to a place he could run. He is a boxer; a breed which requires a lot of exercise. The farm was a perfect place for him to run, and run and run in a safe cars, no people, no kids etc., just acres and acres of pure puppy joy.

I never expected my marriage to fail, and staying on the farm was always a longterm plan. Well of course that failed and here I am in a small home, in the city, surrounded by potentially dangerous dog situations: cars, lots of people everywhere, kids running up to the dog, all kinds of things to chase and a difficult environment for a young dog (1 year) to navigate without lots of structure, secure running areas and tons of training.

So I walk my dog 2-4 times a day on a leash; but he needs to run and play and get out some of his energy. So I tried taking him to the dog park. The last three times I did he was either hurt or became severely ill for days after the park with some kind of flu like illness. One of those times I had to take him to the emergency vet to rehydrate him. It cost $1000.oo; too much for my pocketbook.

I began taking him up to this big beautiful park by my place. There are tons of fields and two fenced in ball fields. I took him into the fenced area so he could run freely without getting hit by a car, or jumping up on some stranger, running towards and scaring some mother and child. He ran and ran, played, frolicked, jumped and I was able to do some great obedience training with him. That all ended Friday.

A city bylaw officer approached me in the field. He stood more than 6 feet tall, approached me with the swagger of an angry policeman and promptly told me I was in contravention of the animal bylaws and was to be charged $250.00 for having my dog off leash and $150.00 for having him in a city playing field.

Everything about the situation felt suddenly terrifying and traumatizing. I could feel intense fear, anger and a sense of being treated unjustly well up inside me. That awful feeling that I was going to cry sat in my chest, throat and on my lips overtook me. I felt that on top of all the fines and lecture and intimidation I was about to let him see how much he had hurt me. I felt sick.

He lectured me for about 10 minutes. All the while standing far too close to me and looming himself large over me. I felt like a bad kid. I felt like I did when my Dad was punishing me. I felt scared it would escalate; frightened and powerless.

Eventually he told me he would give me a warning this time, but as I walked away I began to sob. He scared the crap out of me. The fear of punishment, the belief that I would lose $400.00 from my already limited and over-run budget, the anger that I was trying to do the right thing and was to be punished for it anyways was too much. The bullying behaviour of the officer as he asked me why I was in the park and where I lived, and my inability to express my right to privacy, made me so angry at myself. As I walked away from him, head down, tail between my legs...I had a complete meltdown.


Harriet said...

I'm so sorry, there was no need for him to be harsh and scary. He could have provided you with the information in a friendlier way, you obviously weren't trying to do any harm. I hope you feel better now.

Aqua said...

Hi Harriet,
I recognize he may have been slightly authoritarian, but my big problem here is me and how I react to this kind of thing. It feels almost like I am about to be it suddenly IS my dad, angry and looming in front of me, like I am a child powerless and terrified.

I hate so much that I react so automatiocally and instantaneosly to any authoritarian treatment as though I am back to my childhood waithing to be punished again. I hate that I cannot seem to let go of this behaviour.

Handsome B. Wonderful said...

I have a problem with authority too but my instinct is to fight them. To get angry and rant at them, which leads to tickets and jail. So I try to restrain myself as much as I can but I still buck just about any authority.