If you’d like to hear how we’re moving forward after this incident, please let me know. The emotional pain has been far greater than the physical, but we’re working on it and taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
Dogs are a man’s best friend. They are the most loyal companions. Sometimes the lines between animal and human can become a little blurred. We very much share a life with our dogs. They live in our homes. They sleep in our beds. They comfort us when life is hard. But the truth is that dogs are not people. Dogs are dogs – animals – despite how integrated they are into our daily lives. Unfortunately, this is typically forgotten or overlooked and that makes things ten times more difficult when we feel betrayed by our dogs. What do you do when your dog bites you?
On Christmas day, I got a hard and fast lesson in betrayal. One chaotic situation, three seconds, and twelve stitches later, I was left hurt, confused, and heartbroken. But my dog is sweet. How on Earth did this happen?
The details aren’t really that important. There can always be an excuse. The fact of the matter is that my dog bit me. And not just a little nip. She tore my nose open, punctured my mouth, and left a gash in my lip. My dog meant business. She meant to hurt when she closed her powerful jaws.
After taking a quick inventory of what was hurt, I knew we needed to get to the emergency room. My well-meaning mother tried to take the situation down a DEFCON level by stating that she thought it would just need a butterfly bandage… Not so, momma.
In those first moments after the attack, there were so many emotions running through my mind. Adrenaline took over first. I remember in the very moments before the attack pulling back as her powerful jaws reached my face. I remember bolting to the kitchen sink with my hand over my face. My first (embarrassing) thought was, *but I’m pretty.* My second thought was, *they’re going to take Sam.*
I remember thinking that she had ripped my upper lip open, and I knew then that I needed to get to the hospital. I remember my parents and husband ushering me into the bedroom to lie down, and immediately wanting to take off my new shirt and to check my new shoes for blood.
I removed the dirty dishcloth that my mom had placed on my face to stop the bleeding, and looked the mirror. It was bad. Maimed was the word that came into my head.
In a moment, I was in the car and my parents with my husband. I remember feeling disappointed when my dad said he was going to stay at home. I felt safe and grateful to have John with me, but in that moment, I still needed my dad.
We arrived at the E.R., and to my relief I was the only one in the waiting room. I knew they had to call the police. It’s state law when dealing with an animal bite. I had been there only a few minutes when a tall Sheriff’s deputy opened the door and said, “‘You have a cold?”
I mumbled that I wished that was the case and he waved us back. He took us to the first empty room and asked me what happened. I gave him the story, and he proceeded to show me a video of his dog, tearing into Christmas gifts. At any other moment, I would have giggled at it, but I was 100% sick of anything canine related. I asked if I was going to be in the newspaper, because all police reports are. He assured me I wouldn’t be. #SmallTownProbz
After hearing that my dog (and I) was vaccinated for rabies, he bid us adieu and that was that. A sudden relief washed over me that I wouldn’t have to euthanize or quarantine my dog. I hated her at that moment, but I loved my husband and I knew he loved us both.
A doctor with zero humor, but immense practical knowledge took me to a small procedure room, and the nurse started prepping me for “surgery”. I heard a familiar voice coming down the hall and I started to cry. Dad came. I immediately felt more at peace.
The nurse continued to go over all the regular things: When was your last tetanus shot? Are you allergic to anything? I was still in such shock that when she asked, “When did you get your last period” I told her November 1st. John quickly jumped in and corrected my mistake – “December 1st!”
I laughed when my dad said, “John’s going *phew*,” as he swept the back of his hand against his forehead. This is what I needed.
A couple of hours later, I was discharged and I returned to my parents’ full home. My mom, all three of my sisters, and their families were waiting. Because it was such a full house, I don’t think I had time to grieve for what I lost until late that night when we went to bed. Prior to that day, my dogs were perfect. I idolized them, in a way. They were sweet, and funny, and “oh, they’d never hurt a fly.”
On Christmas Day, I was forced to recognize that my dogs were animals. While animals are spectacular in so many ways, they aren’t people… and even though they’re thousands of years removed from their undomesticated ancestors, there’s still a little bit of “wild” in their blood. They have powerful jaws, and completely irrational instincts. Many times they allow their domesticated lessons to rule and they cuddle on the couch, turn a blind eye to the toddler teething on their ear, and sit patiently at your feet… but sometimes nature reigns and their primal instincts come out.
There is no amount of training that could have prevented what happened to me. Zero. Many of you are going to roll your eyes at that and at this:
Sweet dogs bite.
Old dogs bite.
Familiar dogs bite.
Don’t use this as a reason to not have a dog. Dogs are amazing in so many ways. They enhance our lives tremendously… but please know that although the lines can be blurred, they are animals with animal instincts and if the circumstances are right, any dog will bite… even their owner. Even if they love them. Even if they “haven’t ever” before.
Don’t mistake this post and these feelings as hatred for my dog. The fact is, I don’t hate her. I hate what happened, but I don’t hate her. Seeing her as an animal and not a human helped me forgive her sooner, I think. She was acting on instinct, and you can’t begrudge an animal for following its instincts.
As your dog ever bitten you? What would you do if your dog bites you?