In case I haven’t made a proper introduction, this is my dog:
Happy little thing, isn’t he?
His favorite things are running, wooing, playing with Kevin, Blueberry treats, wooing, getting belly rubs, steak, cheese, sticking his head out of the car window, and wooing. When he’s not wooing, he’s a quiet dog who just wants to love you and be loved.
Yet for some reason, aggressive dogs see this sweet boy as a perfect opportunity to test their dominance skills.
In an occurrence that took place last Thursday, in what can only be described as something akin to what horror stories take place on The Dog Whisperer, we took Lucas out for a stroll since it was such a beautiful evening. We decided to turn down the little alley that runs behind the homes on our street (where cars also drive). We get to the end of the alley, which spits us out on the next street over, and suddenly a large white Pit Bull jumps off the porch of the home he resides in–uncollared, untethered–spies Lucas, and simply attacked.
There was almost no time to react. When this dog appeared, both Kevin and I said, “Uh oh,” and that was it. He was on our dog in an instant. Kevin bravely put himself between the two dogs and began using his foot to forcibly kick this Pit Bull off of our dog (an Alaskan Malamute/Husky mix, one of the breeds of which is notorious for not being a fighting dog). I stood there in shock, my hands over my face, my eyes wide with fear. I was waiting for the dogs to lock jaws on one another’s faces, which thankfully didn’t happen.
Somehow, the Pit Bull got the message and backed off. It was clear that the fault lay at this dog’s owner’s feet. Completely undisciplined, unexercised, and full of territorial dominance, he followed his canine instincts. His owner came out shrieking at that moment, asking us, “What happened?” When we told her that we were walking down the street when her dog attacked, she acted incredulous and said, “He’s never done anything like that before, are you sure?” Um, yes. Not “pretty” sure, definitely sure you are a horrible, irresponsible owner. She made zero apologies at that point and still acted as if she couldn’t believe her precious angel would attack another dog, unprovoked.
At the same time that she’s making small, ineffectual talk with us, she took a few steps towards us. That was all her dog needed to launch into a second attack on Lucas, proving us right.
The horror began all over, at which point Bad Dog Owner begins screaming, “Damn you, Hercules! What are you doing?” as if logic is going to help us in this moment. Great, his name is Hercules. Because he has no collar or tether on him of any kind and he was a mighty brute, she was completely useless at trying to separate the dogs. In the meantime, Kevin went back to kicking the dog as hard as he could (neither of us were happy about that but what is one to do?) to get him to back off, and thankfully, Hercules didn’t turn out to be human aggressive, so Kevin’s leg didn’t end up chewed up and bloody.
However, I can see that Hercules has blood on his face at this point, and I’m panicking, wondering which dog’s it is. Lucas had been bitten through his paw last year by another Pit (a puppy), whose owner was a responsible person but underestimated her energetic puppy at the dog park. It was a scary trip to the vet and there had been a LOT of blood.
The second dog fight got so bad that Kevin fell between the dogs at one point, with Lucas landing on his back. I prayed to the Almighty that Hercules would not tear into Lucas’ belly, because if he did, it would be all over for our dog. For whatever reason, he wasn’t bitten there and Bad Dog Owner managed to grab Hercules by his “armpits,” if that’s what you want to call them, and drag him off, still cursing him as if he’s her naughty 6 year-old.
All of us breathing hard and Lucas not putting weight on one foot already, Kevin loudly stated that he would be calling Animal Control.
Kevin then asked the woman if her dog had had his shots. “Oh yes, everything! He’s had everything! He’s never done this before!” Really? Then why do you have a small chain link fence in your front yard with four Beware of Dog signs? You’re really not aware that your dog has an aggression problem?
I said, “Let’s get out of here,” and we started walking briskly back to the house. The woman didn’t ask for our names or contact information, where we lived, if our dog was okay, nor did she apologize for her dog’s behavior (which is really her fault, anyway). Although the dog fight was appalling in and of itself, the owner’s actions were what bothered me the most. We didn’t know if we would have to take Lucas to the vet and what costs we were going to be incurring. We couldn’t even care that her dog might have had a broken rib – and we are animal lovers.
The miracle of the day was that traumatized though Lucas was, he had only surface scratches and bleeding on a few areas that weren’t vital. He slept the rest of the night curled up without moving.
We called Animal Control ASAP, who transferred us to the police, and the officer came out very quickly to gather the information from the incident. After inspecting her home, he came back to inform us that she had received a ticket from the city. I hope it was really, really expensive.
The next day, Lucas played outside in the backyard, running around and wooing, back to his happy self, which is the second miracle. We seriously believed he would retreat and become overly anxious once again, as he was when we lived in New York City and he didn’t know what to make of the noise pollution and tons of smells.
Two days later, we drove past the Bad Dog Owner’s home, where we’d yet to see Hercules out in his chain link fenced in area. She had put up some crappy screens on her full-of-holes front porch where he’d jumped down in the first place but I guarantee that she learned nothing about pet ownership from this and places all the blame on her dog or the breed.
It is an absolute shame that this woman had to be a “stereotypical” Pit Bull owner and not have one that wants to tear apart any other dog that he views as a trespasser. She is the reason that certain breeds have a bad reputation and not working with their dogs so that they have confident command over them. She is the reason we will never walk by that house again with our dog, or even go in that direction on walks anymore.
Folks, if you own a dog, whether tea cup breed or St. Bernard, it is vital that you work with your pet and be a responsible owner. Even if you want to cultivate protectiveness in your dog, there is a way to do so without having your dog on “sic” mode 24/7. Even if you can’t afford discipline classes, YouTube is rife with training videos and there are plenty of articles for free out there. It is your job to take the time out everyday to work with your dog and exercise him or her. Exhausting your dog is the key to preventing aggression from building up. Unnecessary dog bites and fights just lead to completely unnecessary euthanization of a dog that is probably loved, but not well cared for.
I don’t like to preach to persons unknown but it just baffles me that people are okay with treating their pets like this and then having the gall to not take responsibility when the dog attacks another.
I am thankful that the incident wasn’t worse. Kevin had post dog fight nightmares, Lucas managed to shake it off within 24 hours, but we’re still processing it all because the bottom line is, it was scary as all hell. Our neighborhood is full of dogs and I hate thinking that just down the street is one who wants to rip into any that come near his home, where he paces behind a chain linked fence (or on an open porch).
I don’t have much in the way of a conclusion to this; I really just wanted to write it to get it out of my system. All I can say is how much I love my dog, how proud I am of Kevin (my hero!), and hope this is an isolated incident.
I’m happy to receive feedback from any fellow dog owners out there, especially if you own one that you have found difficult to discipline, or if you’ve had any encounters such as this.
When I get home, Lucas is getting a big ole belly rub and some Blueberry treats, just for being awesome.