2.21.2006

It's a Dog Eat Dog Day

First, an update on the newest member of our household. After learning that Brittany was not a Brittany Spaniel, but perhaps a Springer Spaniel, Kristin and I changed her name to Vera so that she wouldn't have to live her life under a lie. If you know how Vera relates to a Springer Spaniel, then you have too much time on your hands...

Anyway, we took her to a vet and had her scanned for a chip. Nothing. There are no flyers posted looking for her. No one we have talked to in the neighborhood knows where she belongs. Short of calling Animal Control again, we may have hit a dead end looking for Vera's home. But, I'm not all that concerned about it. See, this dog is a jumper. I let her out into our yard to play with our dogs (SOOO CUTE! The way they were all playing) I went inside and after a few minutes I heard Oscar and Oliver barking up a storm. So I poked my head out and Vera was in our neighbor's yard playing with HIS dogs. She had jumped the 5 foot fence. Of course, as soon as she saw me she ran up to the fence and started whining, as if she had no idea how she got in the neighbor's yard! I ended up letting her out of the yard myself and back into our yard. The point of this story is that Vera can get out of our yard any time she wants to. So, my thinking on this subject is that if she had a loving home to go to, and knew where it was, or really really wanted to go back there, then as soon as she had eaten and rested she would have been on her way. Instead she has settled into our household and our hearts with a web of steel threads.
She adores Julia, Julia adores her. Vera will lie there with a big doggie grin on her face while Julia pulls her hair and pokes her eyes. Oliver is loving having someone to play with and boss around, and the plants, well, the plants are thoroughly loving being eaten. Yes, Vera is a plant eater. Oh well. We continue in our quest to find the owners, but if they remain unfound, we will hold onto this dog until Lauri comes. And hopefully Lauri will give her a good home. If not, maybe we can convince my mom to take her. Unfortunately we can't keep her long term. Three dogs is two dogs too many. And with her escape artist talents, I don't want the worry of her disappearing. Plus, our dogs could totally escape our yard if they wanted to, or if they knew they could. We just keep them spoiled and content and stupid so they don't. I don't want them to learn bad habits from Vera...

In other dog news...

I was bitten twice by a dog this morning. I had just dropped Julia off at A's house, when I stepped out onto A's walk and began moving toward my car. Suddenly two dogs came tearing out of the alley barking and snarling. I froze and kept my hands hidden. The light brown dog made a beeline for me. I avoided eye contact and kept still and the dog bit first my left leg and then my right. I couldn't help it, I yelled and A opened up her door and the dog took off. I've been bitten, I told her. And she asked if it had broken skin. It hadn't, but had shredded my heavy twill pants.
A told me where those dogs came from, and that they've bitten 3 people recently. So I walked across the alley to the garage where the dogs had run to. There was a woman in a jeep with the dogs and she nearly backed over me. When I told her that her dog had bitten me, she apologized and said that she was having a fence put in, but she didn't offer to pay for my pants. She just kept saying that he was a rescue dog and they were having problems and thanks for understanding. I guess my mild demeanor misled her. I don't understand. Not at all. See, I had a violent rescue dog once, too.

Phooka was a rottweiler/pit bull mix. 80 lbs of pure muscle with a locking jaw. I found her on a rainy night on a country road. She was maybe 4 months old. Had been abandoned. She was a very sweet dog, to me and the immediate family. To anyone else she was a nightmare. It wasn't a big deal when I was living with my parents. They have 2.5 acres, and we had a large kennel to keep her in. But when I moved into a small apartment in the city, it was apparent that I had a HUGE problem. She would try to attack anyone she percieved as a threat. Anyone. Even small children. But she didn't bite even one person. Why? Because I knew my dog, and I kept her on a leash, and when I had guests in my apartment, I put a muzzle on her. I could tell when she was going to attack, and I could pull her back and away. I walked her late at night or early in the morning, when people weren't around, and if people came by I moved with her out of the way and warned children before they got close that she was not a nice dog and they weren't to touch her. Even though I was living in a very bad neighborhood, and for a few weeks I had a peeper that she kept scaring off and she kept me safe and physically unmolested, it was difficult on me, and I worried that it wasn't good on her to be so anxious and trigger-happy all the time. So I paid for private training with a trainer who specialized with overly-aggressive dogs. It was in training that I had the closest call with her.

During most of the training I was the one holding the leash and giving the commands, since the idea was to get her to listen to me. But maybe during the third session, the trainer took the leash from me to work with Phooka himself. He gave her the command to sit, and when she didn't (she hated to sit) he corrected her. And time slowed down as I saw her rear up on her hind feet and thrust her face, lips pulled back in a snarl, every tooth exposed, into his face. I forced my muscles to go limp and somehow I managed not to gasp or call out. I knew that if I demonstrated any fear or stress at all, that she would take that as impetus to complete her attack and rip his throat out. We all stood there for a minute as she continued growling and holding eye contact with him, her teeth millimeters from his jugular, and then she decided that she had made her point and backed off. He handed the leash back to me and called an end to that day's lesson. He told me to put her down, but if I didn't she needed to be muzzled during lessons. I didn't put her down. I continued to work with her for another year. And during that time the only person she ever bit was me, and that was because I jumped in the middle of dog fight.

I say this so that it's clear why I don't understand why that dog was allowed to run free and bite me. That woman is not doing that dog a favor. By not keeping it on a leash at all times she is going to create a situation where the dog will be ordered destroyed. There are a lot of children that play in that alley, and it's just luck that they haven't been the ones bitten. So, I called Animal Control and reported the bite. I'm sitting here at nearly 11 am, finally getting something to eat for breakfast, with my favorite pants ruined, a bruise forming on my leg, and my bloodsugar all wonky. I hope they don't destroy the dog, but it can't be allowed to run free and bite people, even if it has emotional issues.

I'm not posting a picture of my bruise because I didn't shave this morning and I'm embarrased at my stubble.

Posted by Trista @ 8:43 AM

Read or Post a Comment

come on I wanna see the bruise!

Posted by Blogger Merr @ 12:06 PM #
 

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Posted by Blogger Sublime @ 1:02 PM #
 

-About Vera- That pic of Julia playing with Vera's face is SO CUTE! and I'm glad you are keeping her warm and loved at least untill you find a better place for her.

-About alley dogs- OMG I can imagine how scary that episode was!! The only time I've been bitten was when I was 5, we had a bull terrier and I put my hand on his food plate while hi was eating, need I say more?

-About bruise- Show it! LOL

Posted by Blogger Sublime @ 1:03 PM #
 

Okay... I have rescued dogs forever. Mean ones, nice ones, dogs that scared the crap out of ME. I have put dogs down before because this is unfortunately a world where a dog MUST confine to the standards we hold. If I could let these dogs loose on a deserted island, it would be another thing altogether. But as much as I hate saying an animal should die for being, well, an animal... it sometimes needs to be done. And sometimes an animal just cannot be tamed. And sometimes the owners just don't give a shit. That owner needs to either give the dog to a REAL rescue, that will work with it and at least keep it confined, or she needs to get off her ass and do it herself. Or she needs to have the dog put down. There is no shortage of dogs in this world unfortunately. And some dog has to die. So do we rehabilitate this dog, who obviously does not have a caring owner, and destroy another sweet tempered dog? Or do we put down the dog that is obviously a threat to people and save the sweet dog? I am being a cold hearted person here (which you know I am not) because the dog has to have a home. And the open spot in whatever home can be filled by this dog (who might go on the be a great pet and never bite again, BUT... not likely) or it can be filled by another dog with no behavior problems.
As a rescue (way back when... I miss it) I could NOT place a dog that bit. Ever. I just couldn't do it. No matter why the dog bit, the animal HAD to be put down. I hated it, but a rescue (or a shelter) just can't do that. The exposure is too big. If a dog had bitten me or anyone else, and I homed that dog, and it bit again, I was liable. Not only was the rescue liable and would stop, but I personally would be liable. And financially it could be devestating, but the bad press would also be horrible. No one would want my dogs anymore if they knew I placed dogs that bit.

If one of my dogs bites me, then I deal with it (they never have). If they bit another person, I would deal with it. But if one of my rescue dogs ever bit someone, I would put the dog down. Because I am gonna fill the home with a dog regardless. And since some animal is going to die from a lack of home (I was minimal kill, but if I was full they would be put down at the shelter)... well, the cold hearted part of me says it needs to be the animal that cannot be trusted with people. I don't think dogs that bite are bad dogs. but the way society is set up... dogs that bite just cannot live with people. Unless it's a pet that suddenly started biting, I would not try to rehab. And even if it was one of my beloved dogs... if Splash or Wally suddenly started biting without warning or provocation, I would put them down as well and cry my eyes out. They are not chihuahuas. Both of them could easily kill me if they wanted to. And I wouldn't risk it.

Holy fuck I think that is the longest comment I have EVER left on a blog. I think I was just trying to comfort you. If they dog is put down, it is NOT your fault.

Posted by Blogger Estelle @ 2:09 PM #
 

Wow. You did the right thing. Sorry you were attacked. How scary.

S's brother's dog is violent as well so they keep her on a muzzle leash, away from all children, are ULTRA careful with her, and have taken her to behavior specialists. My point being, I respect that you too are a responsible pet owner. It is tragic that many folks are not, for the dogs and for us humans.

Thank god you knew what to do to minimize the attack. I wouldn't have known what to do.

Posted by Blogger charlotte @ 2:27 PM #
 

Estelle's point is so well taken. There are SO many animals that need homes. Should a "well-socialized" dog be put down because someone is spending eons rehabiliting a biting dog instead of adopting the already-socialized one? I don't know, but it's the owners who are responsible for making bad dogs. I wish there was a way we could punish them and save the dogs but apparently putting down bad dog-owners is a no-no. We here have a cat problem. Too many. Something grim will probably need to be done. But Trista did the right thing for sure, reporting that dog. Those kids aren't as replacable as pants. Cheaper, sure, but not as mass-produced.

Posted by Blogger Nik @ 2:38 PM #
 

Estelle and Nik made good comments. Much as it pains me, there are just so many good, sweet, perfect dogs in need of homes that it's hard to justify trying to rehabilitate a dog who attacks. On top of which, there is no excuse for letting a dog run loose unless you have excellent control over it -- which this dog's owner obviously did NOT. (Or unless you're way the heck out in the country without, you know, people and cars and other dogs and stuff. And even then, a loose dog is gonna find a skunk sooner or later.)

Vera, on the other hand, is just melting my heart more with each picture! It's a good thing you aren't a couple thousand miles closer with that pup, because I would be sorely tempted to steal her away from you. (And then I'd be sorry, because a fence-jumping dog should not live two houses away from one of the busiest streets in town.)

Posted by Blogger Anne @ 5:52 PM #
 

oooh, vera and julia are adorable together. so cute!

people who let their dogs out offleash when they don't have near-perfect control over the dog should be kept on leashes themselves. and not allowed to have dogs, either. (this is why my dogs don't go off leash. they are both pretty friendly, and the biggest trouble when they get scared is miss josie pees, but they do run run run run and do not come back when called if they have something more exciting to do.)

Posted by Blogger betsyl @ 9:44 AM #
 

Oh, dear. I'm so sorry! That must have been so scary and awful. You reminded me of the only big run-in I had with a dog. Canvassing one day for The Sierra Club, a big dog came tearing out from around a house snarling and barking and coming at me full speed. There was nobody around, so all I could do was put my clipboard out in front of me (great protection) to block the teeth and start yelling for the owners in the house. You obviously know much better what to do in that situation- good for you. So yeah, I can't stand it when people don't train and restrain their dogs properly- even in their yards, if there's no fence or other mechanism protecting the mailman, or the paper girl, or the canvasser, or whoever... just wrong. In your case, it's completely ridiculous that a dog like that was in public and not on a leash. Sorry you had to go through that. Sorry for the dog, too. -Kate-

Posted by Blogger starevelina @ 6:49 AM #
 
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