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Dog Attack

06102014Two days ago my dog was attacked. Out for a walk on a route we had walked hundreds of times and nearly home, a French Mastiff took advantage of the homeowner’s roommate who had exited the house, allowing the door to close on its own rather than latching it securely, to charge out of the house, cross the street and attack my dog. Mallory didn’t see it coming. Yesterday, Mallory had surgery to repair three puncture wounds where the Mastiff bit her before running off. One went through two layers of muscle, the second penetrated one layer of muscle and the third was stitched up. Today she is in a great deal of pain, confused, unsteady and likely wondering what the heck happened. My veterinarian said it was a very close call.

The roommate asked me to let them know how my dog was. Last evening I reported on the surgery to the dog’s owner, advised her that I would be bringing her the bill and that I would be reporting this to the police. She was somewhat horrified, insisting that her dog would never hurt a person or child and that he had never behaved like this before. She also told me she couldn’t afford the vet bill that she will be receiving, regardless. The police advised that they would be paying her a visit, that this dog would now be on their radar and that this attack would be noted to provide history should another incident occur. The owner was terribly upset that I would be contacting the police but I can’t consider saying nothing and waiting for another dog to be attacked, possibly in the presence of a family or children walking the dog alone. Despite her contention that her dog would never hurt a child, she clearly doesn’t know that a dog in the midst of an attack isn’t thinking. It is attacking and will have at anything that gets in the way.

Now that the background to the story has been provided, to the point of this post. Your dog is your responsibility at all times. Making the decision to welcome a dog into your life is a big responsibility. If you think you’ll just get a little ball of fluff and that feeding it is enough, you are sadly mistaken. It is constant work. At a young age it is your job to expose your dog to as much as possible – dogs, cats, infants, youngsters, skateboards, shiny floors, things that make noise, vacuum cleaners, music, street noises, people with beards, sirens and the list goes on and on. The idea is to make sure you have a balanced, socialized dog with life experience. The life experience will give them a context within which to make sense of their world without prompting a negative reaction. I hear it so often: “My dog had a bad experience with another dog and doesn’t like dogs and there’s nothing I can do.” There is and it’s your job to properly socialize your dog. The only reason for not dealing with it is that you can’t be bothered. Full stop.

It is also your job to walk your dog. Far too many people think that having a fenced yard or taking their dog to a dog park is sufficient. It is not. You must regularly walk your dog on a leash. Let me be perfectly clear – putting your dog on an extendileash and allowing it to wander wherever it wishes several feet in front of you is not walking your dog. It is your dog walking you. Walking your dog is a discipline and there are plenty of training videos that will show you how to manage this task. The leash is an important component of this discipline. I see a lot of people walking very large dogs in a harness. The most powerful part of any dog is their chest and shoulders so attempting to use a harness to control many breeds of dogs is fool’s play. Talk to your vet to select the best leash for your breed and search for training videos on line to learn how to train your dog to walk properly. Alternatively, hire a behaviouralist trainer – there are a few good ones locally and it’s money well spent. The bottom line is that dogs are pack animals and they should look to you as their leader to guide their behaviour. If you fail to establish yourself as the pack leader, the dog will instinctively take over that position and listen to very little that you have to say.06102014-2

Back to the Mastiff. The owner tells me she has had him for two years. Until the other day, I had never laid eyes on this dog. I am willing to be proven wrong, but I suspect the dog is too large and powerful to be controlled by his owner therefore he isn’t walked. I’m told he spends his time in the fenced backyard of their house. Had he been properly socialized to other dogs, he would not hate them to the point of unprovoked attacks. Had the owner and her roommate established themselves as pack leaders, this dog would not have taken the initiative to leave the house. As this dog is young, there is still hope. If the owner cares to provide her dog with a balanced life, she needs to take this incident as a warning and seek a balanced trainer to assist with correcting her dog’s issues and learning how to manage his care, training and exercise. The dog will be happier for it.

Dogs can bring such love and joy to the lives of their families. Mallory is dog #13 for me and my fourth rescue. She was far from being a puppy when she joined my family, so without knowing her history she was assessed before the adoption was finalized. Well socialized to other dogs, cats and loving every human to bits she hasn’t an aggressive bone in her body but she is anxious. She has a bullet in her back leg and unexplained scars so this girl has had a life, however anxiety is not balanced behaviour no matter the cause so we work on it daily. She knows who the boss is, gets excellent veterinary care and, of course, walks and socialization are a constant part of her life. I love her enough to give her the best life I can. I can only hope the owner of the Mastiff can love her dog enough. I hope you love your dog enough, too.


June 12, 2014 - 1:12 pm
In response to your blog post regarding the dog attack. You said that you were willing to be proven wrong regarding the walking. I happen to know for a fact that that dog is walked 6km every day without fail. Walked on a real leash with purpose, she controls the dog he does not control her. I am very sorry to hear of the situation, it is terrible I agree, but for you to publicly suggest that she doesn't love her dog because someone else accidentally left the door open is hurtful. She has feelings as well.
June 12, 2014 - 1:58 pm
Thank you for your comments. I've never seen him being walked nor have any of the people I've spoken to in this area so she may take him elsewhere to walk. Regardless, I'm glad to have you tell me that he is walked. My comment about loving your dog was not meant to imply that your friend doesn't love her dog, but that we all need to love our dogs enough to deal with their issues. This is not always easy. He clearly has an issue with other dogs to the point that he wants to attack them even when he sees them from a distance and is unprovoked. I'd be shocked to hear that his owner finds this to be an acceptable situation but not surprised to hear that she just doesn't know what to do about it. Dogs are naturally pack animals so 'normal' for them is living in harmony within a group of dogs. I can guarantee you that he wasn't born with this issue but whatever happened along the way means that he is not capable of being in the presence of other dogs, which is an issue that should be dealt with. I would prefer that he has the opportunity to live a balanced life so his owner needs to be prompted by this attack to care enough to take on this very difficult issue and do whatever is necessary to ensure that unprovoked attacks will not happen in the future. Keeping him behind a door is not the answer and doesn't work. I'm sure the owner is a lovely person and, yes, she has feelings. None of this is about her or me or even my dog. The fact that my dog was attacked so viscously was given as context for the fact that this dog, and many others, have issues that their owners don't deal with. Little dogs, big dogs, young dog and old dogs can have issues that owners ignore, make excuses for or pretend will go away. We must all be responsible dog owners and that responsibility goes beyond giving them food and cuddles. The price that is paid by the dog and those who suffer because of their issues is often far too great. The consequences for dog owners who don't deal with issues can also be great: police involvement, lawsuits, increased insurance, poor relationships with neighbours and unexpected expenses not to mention living with an unstable dog and the stress of never knowing what might happen next to name a few. My hope is that this particular dog gets some professional help to recover from his issues. Doing nothing guarantees a repeat performance at some point.

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