When Trauma Happens

This last Saturday my dog was viciously attacked by another dog.

We had been gone for a few hours and came home to find two labradors (one yellow, one black) running around in our backyard and pond behind our house.  They seemed friendly enough.  Our neighbor called police to come pick them up and I put up a post on our community facebook page with a picture of the dogs and our general location.

We put the black dog on our dogs leash so they wouldn’t run off.  The yellow one eventually did run off and was traipsing around the neighborhood.  At that point I let my dog out in our front yard so he could “go potty” after having been inside all day.  The black dog was leashed in our backyard.

The yellow dog came back and at first was just sniffing my dog.  I can’t remember the exact sequence but very quickly the yellow lab started attacking my dog and chasing him around the yard.  I ran after them yelling to no effect.  I ran around the house and found my dog cowering by my front door with the other dog attempting to block it from going back inside.  I screamed at the dog in my most authoritative voice to scare it off enough to get my dog safely inside.

I didn’t realize my dog was badly hurt until some 40 minutes later.  He had a pretty serious bite wound on his tummy.  I didn’t see it because he is a golden with very thick, long fur.  The wound was about 1 1/2 inches wide and definitely required immediate vet care.  Since it was Saturday I had to drive him 45 minutes away to the nearest emergency vet clinic.  He needed to be put under general anesthesia so they could flush out the wound and stitch him up.  20170514_084321

This was traumatic for me on two accounts.  My Copper is my “baby”.  He is the sweetest, most loving dog you can imagine.  He is my joyful companion on many adventures.  When I need a hug he is always happy to oblige.  He is just a great dog and wouldn’t hurt a fly.  The thing that really wrecked me is that I was the one who (unwittingly) put him in danger.  If I hadn’t let him out this wouldn’t have happened.

I felt very awful and very responsible for the whole thing.

But I slowly gained some perspective.  I had no way of knowing the dog would react that way.  It was a lab!  It showed no signs of aggressiveness up until the attack.

It was awful, it happened.  But I can’t keep beating myself up over it.  My culpability amounted to my being a bit naïve and impulsive.

I’ve thought quite a bit about what I learned from watching the Dog Whisperer; dogs live in the moment.  People often live in the past and get stuck after traumatic events but dogs don’t.  They heal and move on with the right care.

That’s one thing I love about dogs.  They live in the moment.  If the owner moves on, they will too.

I love my dog and he brings a lot of joy to my life.  We are going to move on from this together and leave it in the past.  (well, after we get the vet bill taken care of by the other dog owner!)  It was a painful learning experience.  I’m not going to go overboard but I will definitely be far more cautious in the future.  I did a lot of reading on the subject and dog attacks on other dogs are common enough that you need to have some sort of game plan just in case. 

Carrying a can of mace may seem extreme but if you ever need it, you’ll be thankful to have it!!  A heavy duty walking stick can also work to break up an attack, or defend yourself if you ever get attacked.  I also read that you can pick an attacking dog up by the back legs (like a wheelbarrow) and pull it back, or grab it by the tail, but those moves would obviously involve some risk and require some physical strength.

I assumed the dogs were friendly because of the reputation of the breed.  But any dog of any breed can become suddenly aggressive.  It’s illegal to let your dog wander but dogs do escape and/or have irresponsible owners.  In that scenario, it is better safe than sorry.  Don’t approach a dog running loose, especially if there is more than one dog.  Dogs are more aggressive when they have that “pack” mentality.

Copper is going to heal up and be ok.  He’s been a bit fearful out in the yard but I’m confident that will subside and he’ll go back to his happy-go-lucky self soon enough.  One bad incident isn’t going to sideline us or make us bitter or fearful.

Copper and my son, Michael

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