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Friday, 16 April 2010

A terrifying incident - (narrated by FH)

Tonight JD - my beautiful, gentle 'big boy' - was attacked by a pitbull whilst we were our on our evening walk.

It all happened so quickly. One minute I was walking along the side of a field with the two boys, the next second JD was viciously pinned under a strong, slavering dog, who was just focused on biting and biting.....

Now, before I alarm any of you too much please be assured that - amazingly - JD is fine. He's curled up on sofa next to me, snuggled into his brother and snoring gently. It's me that's a bit of wreck!

My boys love meeting other dogs whilst they're on their walks and I find that the majority of dog-owners are like-minded - after all, we all want our dogs to be well socialised and friendly don't we?! Plus, it's nice for us dog owners to get together and have a bit of a chat too during the walk! So, as my boys get a minimum of 2 walks a day they have a very large circle of friends, which always makes our walks a very enjoyable occasion.

However, I'm also well aware that not all dogs are well socialised. And I realise that there are many reasons for this - for example, a rescue dogs can be very nervous. And some owners simply aren't confident with their dogs, which rubs off on the dog! So whenever we come across a dog on a lead in an open area we will always stay away as we know there is probably a reason why the dog is being kept tethered and there is no reason to court trouble.

I also know that there are a lot of breeds have a bad reputation such as Staffies and Pitbulls. But I tend to get rather angry about this as it's usually the owner and not the breed that's at fault. One of my boys best friends is Daisy, who is a Staffie - they love her to bits and she's got the sweetest nature of any dog I've ever met.

Bit of a blurry shot I'm afraid, but this is JD with one of his most favourite dogs ever, Miss Daisy the sweet and wonderfully behaved Staffie!

Another great pal of theirs is Neo, the pitbull. He can get a bit grumpy if he thinks anyone is showing an interest in his tennis balls, but it's all a front! My boys really look up to him.

JD has a chat with Neo over the serious business of whether Slazenger or Wilson tennis balls are the best!

Now, both Daisy and Neo have very responsible owners. They realise that they own powerful breeds so they give them long and enjoyable daily walks, they ensure they socialise them with other dogs and people and of course they always ensure they do regular obedience training. And the end result is two delightful dogs. I really think this is great as I like that my boys are confident to socialise with many different breeds.

What was probably surprising about the pitbull that attacked JD tonight is that she was a dog that my boys know. Know and love in fact. She is a rescue dog who does not get on with many dogs, but she has got to know JD and Max over the past few months and we've joined her and her owners for a walk a few times.

Her owners are very responsible. They know that their dog is nervous - and strong! They keep her away from other dogs but do try to socialise her as much as possible without trying to frighten her. I was very proud that my boys were helping this dog overcome her fears and always enjoyed it when we met up on a walk.

I realise now that what happened tonight was due to a very unfortunate set of circumstances. I believe that this pitbull attacked JD because of three things - firstly, the owners had been on holiday for a week and had left their dog with a house sitter who hadn't walked her - at all. Secondly, we were just coming out of a field when we met them, which meant that we rounded a corner and took them 'by surprise'. And finally, the field that we were coming out of just happened to be on higher ground and I think the pitbull took my boys being higher than her as a threat.

JD is always the first of my two boys to greet another dog (or person!) so he was the one she went for. I believe her attack was due to a combination of pent up emotion through a week of no walks, the surprise of 'coming across' us without her expecting it and what she saw as an implied threat of JD being higher than her. But it was so fast! And it was terrifying - JD started screaming and was pinned right under her.

Her owners were amazing. In a matter of two seconds they were on her, one had her by the hind legs, the other by the neck and front legs and they lifted her off JD before I had even moved! I'm aware that I shrieked JD's name a couple of times - whenever he's upset or is a bit unsure about something he'll just stop what he's doing and look at me (or my husband) for us to help him out. We've always loved that we're his 'go to' option, that he puts his trust in us so completely to 'make everything better' for him. I knew he was looking at me, from under the pitbull and I hated that I couldn't get to him.

But thanks to her quick-witted owners she was removed from JD before her teeth made actual contact - I was mesmerised by her slavering and drooling as they held her aloft, squirming and fighting to get back to my boy. We parted company pretty quickly - I think they were as shook up as me, none of us had expected it.

This happened at the beginning of our walk - after it had happened I just wanted to scoop JD up and cuddle and fuss him and then go home. But as JD had not been hurt I knew that I couldn't make too much of it as I didn't want either of the boys to feel fretful. Plus, I knew that they'd wonder why their walk had been cut short, so I carried on going. Amazingly, JD didn't even break stride! Within 10 minutes we met up with 4 other dogs that we knew - JD went romping straight towards them and a great game of chase ensued! Dogs really can teach us about living in the moment!

The reason I'm sharing this is because, unlike JD, I'm not so good at living in the moment! I keep on replaying the moment that JD was pinned down and wondering what could have happened if the pitbull's owners hadn't been so quick. Basically, I'm shamelessly touting for a bit of comfort from my good pals in the blogosphere!

I'll leave you with a photo of JD, taken just a few minutes ago. As you can see, he's none the worse for his adventure!

JD - "ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!"


Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom said...

Khyra's Mom here...

Thanks for sharing that -

I agree with the theory of why it happened -

It all does happen THAT quickly - I know that from during the winter when Max The Lab came out after Khyra -

She still gives him THE EYE when we pass - she still looks forward to seeing him BUT she also looks at him a bit differently -

We are thankful to see JD is handling it all so well -

Another lesson we can learn from our dogs!

Thanks for sharing this so we all become a bit more 'ready' for the unknown!

Khyra's Mom and Khyra too fur her pals!

the booker man said...

i'm so glad that JD is alright. even though you can explain why you think it happened, i know it was still very disconcerting at the time.
i also agree with your theory. our oldest dog asa is a rescue who was formerly abused, and if she had been in the same circumstances as that pittie, she would have been quite on edge, too. i'm so glad the owners were prepared and knew exactly what to do so JD didn't get hurt.

the booker man's mama

Honey the Great Dane said...

Oh my God - you poor, poor thing! And poor JD! What a horrible shock! Having had dogs attack Honey twice - both times needing stitches at the vet - I can totally relate to the horror and shock you must feel. I can still remember that all-over-the-body trembling and going hot & cold and replaying it constantly in my mind's eye myself...it's a really horrible experience.

I think the best news is that not only was JD not actually harmed but that he "bounced back" so well because that is the most important thing - even more than physical wounds, it would have been awful if he had come away with emotional ones because they are MUCH harder to fix and you don't want your sweet, confident boy to turn into a fearful, defensive dog, which can happen all too often after a bad experience. It is AMAZING that you continued "calmly" on your walk afterwards - that is the BEST thing you could have done for your boys and I really admire you - so many people make a huge fuss and basically MAKE the dog fearful of other dogs in future...whereas you did exactly the right thing.

Having said all that, I do want to say though - and hopefully this might make you feel better - that it might not be as bad as it looked. The fact that JD didn't have a scratch on him says a lot. This was one of the big things Ian Dunbar talked about at his seminar- what he called the "Bite/Fight" ratio - basically, in all his 30+ yrs of seeing problem dogs, he's found that what really matters is if a dog bit or not. He has clients coming to him claiming their dog "wants to kill everybody" but when queried, find that although the dog has been in 12 fights, it has never actually bitten another dog, despite all the noise. Whereas he also has clients who insist their dog just had a 2 incidents - and yet in both those cases, has put the other dog in hospital with major injuries. He says the first dog is actually a "safer" dog - although of course, needs rehab to sort behaviour - whereas the 2nd dog is a serious, dangerous problem. It is all about bite inhibition - dogs with good bite inhibition, even if they "attack" or get into a fight, will be a lot safer.

So basically, what he's saying is that dogs don't miss. If they didn't bite, they didn't intend to. People often think the dog just didn't manage to bite. Na-ah. The dog is in perfect control and knows just how far their jaws are from the other dog - if they snapped in the air near their face but didn't bite, they intended it that way. AND Ian Dunbar also said that their reflexes are FAR faster than ours could ever be (and we're not even trained SAS men or Olympic athletes!) - so I doubt that the pit bull didn't get to bite JD because her owners got on top of her fast enough - by the time she had JD pinned underneath her, she would already have had plenty of opportunity and if she had meant to cause harm, would not have wasted it snarling in his face.


Honey the Great Dane said...


Please don't think I'm making excuses for the pitbull - I think any dog showing aggression towards another, even without biting, needs to be watched and rehab work done...but I just hope it will make you feel better to know that it probably wasn't as serious as it looked - in the sense that it was more posturing than real intent. Possibly because she knew the boys and liked them so that even though she was startled, she restrained herself from doing real harm. She probably was just "warning" JD with an aggressive display but not really intending to hurt him. The classic "bark is worse than his bite" scenario.

As I said, I am NOT making excuses for the pitbull but I think a lot of tims, dogs express themselves in very "violent" ways which we humans find quite scary but what really matters is the end result in terms of injuries. And by this, I mean both physical and emotional - because even if she didn't hurt him, JD could still have developed psychological problems from the "attack" - but thank goodness, it looks like his solid, stable temperament has helped him here (and your own management of the situation too) - so well done and have a stiff drink and try your best to let it just be a learnign experience! (easier said than done I know!)

The hardest thing now is for you not to get too anxious when you meet dogs in future on walks - otherwise the boys will pick up on that. I know from experience that it;s very hard - I start getting sweaty palms and faster breathing when we see strange dogs approaching - but dogs can really pick up on that! So you have to try. SOmeimtes we even surreptitiously hold our breaths without even realising it but dogs are so sensitive to our every movement! Continue doing what you're doing (you sound very sensible in your management of dog interactions) but maybe start to learn more about canine body language - I found that is what helped me the most. Try to read/watch as much as you can of all dogs and how they express themselves so that you can "read" situations quickly and therefore know better how to react. Unfortunately, this can sometimes mean your dogs meeting fewer strange dogs in general (that's what's happened with us) but better safe than sorry and quality over quantity!

Whew! Sorry for such a long comment! Good luck and we're thinking of you!


Sasha said...

Oh, my poor, brave, lovely JD! I shall make it all better when I see you tonight!

I've had a couple of dogs rush at me, even though we'd been greeting each other very cordially just moments before. My human says we are lucky, because while I've never been properly attacked, the dogs rushing me have taught me to be a bit cautious.

I'm a lot like JD in that I love to rush up to people and dogs (in that order) to say hello, and it never occurs to me that they may not want to say hello to me - why wouldn't they?

In fact, I sometimes get so upset when people go by without saying hello (eg, on the other side of the street, or faaaaar ahead of us), that I bark at them to tell them off. My human suggests that barking at people is not the way to get them to come and say hello, but what would she know?

I'm very glad that JD is otherwise uninjured, and hopefully the poor pittie will overcome her nervousness. And that you will, too, FH!

Puppy kisses

Santa and Minnie said...

Most importantly, JD wasn't hurt physically in that incident! Thank goodness! Our hearts were beating so fast reading about what happened. We wouldn't have handled the situation as well as you if it would have happened to us. It has been a lesson for us too and we have learned something from Hsin-Yi's comment too.

Take care!
- Diana

Oskar said...

OMD, We are so thankful that JD was all right. What a scary situation.

Piappies World said...

We're happy to know that JD is alright. We also agree with your theory. More importantly, we agree that showing our love to people/ furry friends we care for does not need to wait. We just do it.

-Fudgie, Princess, Frappie, Mocha, Sugar, Wai-Pai, Wai-Max & the Piappies

Tom, Tama-Chan, Sei-Chan, Yuu-Chan and Bibi-Chan said...

What a traumatic experience, but you are being very wise in how you are assessing it. Sometimes, circumstance do cause unusual behaviour, and it is very important for owners to respond adequately.

This may hardly seem similar to you but yesterday, one my cats became hugely frustrated and quite hysterical because a neighbour cat came right up to the run, and, in retaliation, she attacked one of her housemates viciously.No one was hurt and I immediately put her on her own in a room so she could calm down. When I put them back together a few hours later, she looked more than a little sheepish, but there was no problem.

Very glad JD is OK!

Mango said...

I agree with Honey that it is important that JD did not get hurt. Sounds like the pitbull went a bit cracker dog, but somewhere realized that this was just a warning and not a fight.

Thanks goodness for responsible owners who knew what to do. That must have been so scary for everybody. Maybe even for the doggie that was attacking.

We have totally given up on offleash parks after way too many incidents with out of control dogs.

Thank you for sharing, though. Lots of important information in this post.

Mango Momma

MAX said...

Hey there!

Im so sorry about your attack! No matter how much we analyse, we will never know the real reason. The main thing is that JD is safe...and so are YOU!

We've been attacked a few times on our own walks. Max was never hurt..only me. I know the battle one has with adrenalin and re-playing things in your mind. Its horrible. Do take care and be gentle on yourself...as you say...your doggie is fine!

Thanks for sharing. I know it helps to know that friends are there with you!

Lots of love to you and cuddles to the canines.

We love Luna said...

ohmigod, my poor adorable JD!What a day!
Thanks GOD you are okay.
Mommy , Dad and I are so happy that you are fine, and thanks for the news.We have tears in our eyes for this story,the related here it's very important to allert all of us.
Now you deserve a good rest my dear JD!
purrs and love

The OP Pack said...

We too are very glad that JD is doing fine. You are a very wise dog owner, we are very impressed by your understanding. We know how scary that must have been. You have many comments here that have so much more wisdom in them than we can offer, but just know we are so glad all is OK.

Woos - Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

Nellie and Calvert said...

Oh my, what a fright! We are so happy to hear JD's alright; you on the other hand are probably still shaken.

I'm so very sorry this happened but applaud you for keeping your wits about you and continuing with walk.

Thank you so much for sharing, it is indeed amazing how these lovely creatures of ours just move forward even after such an ordeal. We have a lot to learn from them.

I'm sure your confidence will return, let's all take a cue from these guys and live in the moment.

All my love

Hamish said...

sounds scary. We're glad JD is ok!!

Dennis the Vizsla said...

Sorry we're late to the comfort party. Glad JD is okay! We think Honey's comment is spot-on. When Dennis was attacked by a pit bull that charged at him from all the way up the street, it got to our yard and bit him so fast nobody had time to react, and there were at least eight of us there. And once we got her off him, she was the sweetest dog in the world to us. So I think in your case the dog probably was putting on a show.

Mami & Betsy said...

That is a a very scary thing and I am glad that JD is ok! It is not always possible to know what is going to happen!

parlance said...

FH, isn't it great that dogs live in the moment? They aren't frozen by 'what might happen' and 'what nearly happened'.

I hope you get over your fright soon. we humans take a while to do that, don't we?

I'm impressed by your courage in continuing the walk. And also by the quick-thinking of the other owners.

Scottie the 'Cutie' said...

Oh dear, I can't believe I didn't know about this sooner! Like everyone mentioned, it's great that JD wasn't hurt (physically or emotionally), and I think the way you handled the situation was great =) I don't know what I would have done if I were in your shoes...probably just stood there like stone >.<"

This gives me great insight into how I should handle Scottie on walks, and I need to start his training again..I have yet to let him walk off-leash seeing that we don't have that many places to let our dogs go, and I'm afraid there are far more irresponsible owners here...hopefully that will change real soon!


HOPE said...

Oh my good buddy....I am so sorry to hear of this event..how scary. I know my mom/person would be ..well you know..yep like yours...

we are soo glad that you are okay...and hope that you can play Bitey games again without fear...

It was good to get all this information for my mom/person too...

Paws Up!