Friday, November 20, 2009

When good dogs go bad ....

Ask my mother about some of my defining features and eventually she will likely mention, "Oh, and Lynn loves dogs and always has."
True, but my first-ever dog bite on Nov. 19 has left me shaken and caused me to realize canines aren't always so nice.
I was out running at about 9:20 p.m., as I have done for some 26 years, taking my same route as for the last 20 years too.
I thought I heard some loud dogs in the distance, but kept going, feeling for the first time in months, my asthma was absent.
Then, suddenly about 600 yards from home, two dogs --about 65 pounds each -- appeared as if out of nowhere.
They were growling, barking and on the attack.
I stopped running, believing that would provoke them less. I walked about 100 feet, but could not watch them both at once and finally one lunged in at me and bit my left leg at mid-calf.
It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would, but it did make me mad. I was now going on the offensive and I chased after that dog. Both dogs seemed to realize they were now in jeopardy and ran toward what I hoped was their yard, about 100 yards away.
They ran into a dark back yard and I went to the front door and rang the doorbell.
A man answered and acted liked his dog was in the house.
Then, when he realized I had been bit, he fessed up to having two dogs "who jump the fence sometimes."
He finally apologized, but my concern was for others, particular children, who might eventually be accosted by these 2 dogs.
If my attack had been on the owner's property or near it, I would have been better able to accept the dogs' aggressive behavior, but I was a good block from their yard.
My wound didn't appear that bad in the dark and it hardly bled at all and so I figured I didn't need to to go the doctor.
At home, I noticed how deep one of the dog's teeth had gone and knew I'd need to see a doctor the next morning -- which I did.
When Davis County Animal Control came to fill out their report, the officer said, "It would be nice if you could go around your neighborhood and be safe."
She agreed that carrying pepper spray would be a wise idea.
I now know the dark side of dogs first-hand.
The 2 dogs roaming together made them likely have some sort of pack instinct.
Why the owner felt a 4-foot chainlink fence was sufficient is beyond me. Why he didn't know there were gone, when I heard them barking earlier in my ran also re-enforces to me that the owner doesn't take care of those dogs.
I could not tell what kind of breed of dog they were in the dark.
Animal Control will now put them under quarantine for 10 days.
The owner should at the least be worried about possible lawsuits. Not from me, that is unless his 2 dogs have had lapses in their rabies vaccinations.
(I can't believe how many attorneys advertise for dog bite cases!)
These are quite mean dogs and if he's going to keep them, he must have a better fence or dog run.
I'm glad I live at the other end of the subdivision.
In years past, I used to run with my dog, but now his pulling on the leash makes my legs too sore. That's actually probably why I haven't been bit already, with all those years of running at night. Other dogs have went for my dog, not me in the past.
Still, if my dog would have been with me this last time, he'd of been attacked and I would have had to see a vet.
A doctor visit, prescription and new sweat pants will set me back about $35 or so. My leg will heal, but the attack will forever taint my ultimate perception of dogs gone bad.
And, as an update, 2 weeks after I wrote the above. I have now had a second, separate encounter with two other loose dogs:
On the night of Dec. 7, about 9:20-ish, I'm out walking with my dog and 2 big dogs come out of nowhere, about 200 yards from where my first attack happened. I immediately get the pepper spray out, but a wind and snow seem to disperse it more, but finally the more aggressive of the two dogs backs off.
My dog and I chase them home and continue on our walk.
Once again, this is a case of a homeowner thinking a 3-foot chainlink fence (and no dog run) can contain his large dogs.
I was quite paranoid when I met these latest dogs about getting bit again.
As i suspected, the worse damage from my first attack is mental.
I also see that I need to carry a stick or retractable pole as a backup too. Pepper spray is fine if there is just one dog, but not to handle two dogs.
-As an update months later, I have now encountered a total of 7 loose dogs in my neighborhood the past 4 months. That's one every 2-3 weeks. Only the first 4 were aggressive, but the others were a nuisance and followed me home.

(NOTE: Photograph above is of the actual dog bite to my left leg.)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lynn,

    I am sorry to hear about your irresponsible neighbors.

    I have found carrying an empty soda can with a single penny or marble inside is a good safety precaution. While walking with my dogs if threatened by an aggressive dog, I first try to speak in a calm reassuring and friendly tone, (I have never been bitten, however that may just be luck) saying things like, "Hello, we are just walking by, everything is alright." You can say almost anything as long as your body language and tone are relaxed, non-threatening and you maintain a constant friendly banter as you pass a hostile dog.

    If that fails and you believe you and or your dog may be in danger, pull the empty soda can with a marble/penny and throw it as he charges you. (Note: I will have already picked up my dog in my arms to protect him from a possible attack.) Throwing the can will instantly startle the attacking dog making him forget why he wanted to attack as well as turn him away from you and run. This will also not hurt a charging dog, (even if you hit him with the thrown can) but it will scare him away from you and your dog. Which will prevent an irresponsible owner from taking you to court for any real or imagined harm.

    If you continue to encounter the same dog(s), frequently, (even if you have to use "the can" more than once) eventually, the hostile canine will associate you with the terrible noise and not want to come near you again.

    In effect, you (we) are doing what the irresponsible human living with the poorly trained dog is not doing. Training the dog that his behavior is not appropriate. Which can also help anyone else who may be on the receiving end of his aggressive behavior.

    Please remember, dogs are not bad. People are bad. Dogs who behave badly are a product of the people who are "supposed" to taking care of them. Supposed to teach them how to behave around others. Many of those badly behaved dogs can be controlled for the safety of others or trained how to behave appropriately with others.

    Walking with my dogs is a highlight in my day. A relaxing time with healthful side effects. I hope this helps.