When I first sat down to interview Ryan Rodriguez, a firefighter with the Reedley Fire Department, on the afternoon of March 1, I hadn't noticed them.
It wasn't until we had been talking for a few minutes that I happened to glance over at his arms.
There they were; two large scars that wrapped around each arm and stretched horizontally across from one arm, directly to the other.
"Wait, Ryan," I said, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I need to ask you a question, what happened?" I told him as I pointed to his arms.
"I was attacked by our family dog," he said. "I was 13."
Ryan, now in his 30s, said the attack happened to him during a hot summer in July. Doctors believed the heat had affected the dog's brain.
"Most of the time people don't remember attacks," he added. "I do though, I remember everything from the beginning to the end."
I asked Ryan how he felt about dogs following that incident. He said, "I still like dogs," and smiled.
We continued talking about the fire department and the types of calls they run. Ryan told me about his wife, his children, and how he fulfilled his desire to become a firefighter. He said he is a Reedley native and really enjoys helping his community.
I was surprised when he told me he had no ill feelings toward dogs. I know everyone handles trauma differently, and when Ryan told me he decided he would not let the actions of one dog determine his feelings for the rest of loving and kind dogs who are out in the world today, that gave me hope.
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