Nice doggy. Ahhh! What the heck?

Yesterday, I decide to trip over to my local Rabba Foods and pick up a couple of things. I step out of my apartment and immediately notice a woman to the right sitting at a picnic table located in an open area in front of the building. As I head down the sidewalk, I notice a dog to the left supposedly tied up. It is a Doberman Pinscher, a dog which for me is synonymous with an aggressive breed.

As I am walking, I get closer to placing myself in between the owner, to my right, and the dog, to my left. In retrospect, was this a mistake? The dog comes at me but I notice it is tied up but not just with a leash, it has some sort of harness around its muzzle so I’m assuming it can’t bite me.

The animal half leaps up at me and I, startled, back away wondering if it’s actually going to try and bite me. Did it? I wasn’t sure. I feel something on my left leg. I look down and discover my pants have been ripped open from mid-thigh all the way down to my upper ankle. The material has been opened up as if you went at it with a knife and my bare leg is clearly visible in the now open pant leg.

I’m dumbfounded. The woman by this time has jumped up and grabbed her dog. She apologizes while pulling the animal back. I look at her stunned at what her animal has just done. My pants are completely ruined. The leg is so badly ripped I immediately realize they’re can’t be repaired and I’ll have to throw them out.

I remain calm. "What the heck?" The woman repeats her apology. I guess she hasn’t seen my pants. I turn myself to clearly display my bare leg visible in the cut open pant leg. "Look what your dog did." The woman looks down; her eyes widen and now she’s very apologetic.

She explains that her dog has only started to behave a little more aggressively lately and she intends to seek help from somebody, some professional. I explain to her how the headlines have had stories in the past year of people being mauled by aggressive animals and my suggestion is that she had better do something. If dog went after a child, if her dog actually did bite somebody, she may end with more trouble than she would care to have. She could be sued.

As I’m talking, I’m not displaying any anger; I’m trying to be rational and convincing. She seems to be accepting this. I ask her name and introduce myself. No harm, no foul, but she must do something. I bring up The Dog Whisper and wonder aloud what Cesar Millan would do about all this. She offers to pay for the pants but I’m sure that will be the last I’ll hear of it.

I go back inside and change my pants then go back out again to go to the store. The woman and her dog are gone. After thinking about it, I believe my pants were ripped by the dog’s claws that I wasn’t bitten. I think when the dog sort of jumped up at me, the front paw passed down the length of my pant leg and obviously a sharp claw just got into the material and voilà! ripped cloth.

What the hey?
Okay, the next time I see that dog, I’m staying the heck away. However, in defence of the woman, I have had my own problems controlling an aggressive dog. 

10 years ago, the family got a Shih Tzu and in the beginning it was quite good natured and friendly. While my wife and I did take it to obedience school, I believe the outcome was more that we failed to be trained as opposed to the dog. 🙂

All this changed in year number two when the poor dog went through the year from hell. First of all, this breed is susceptible to a condition (distichiasis http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=15163) where the eyelashes actually grow on the underside of the lid and by getting in between the eyeball and the lid, scratch the surface of the eye. After noticing the dog sitting around with one eye closed, I took him into the vet who referred me to a specialist and the dog ended up having a $900 eye operation. In order to make sure the eyeball healed, the doctor sewed the dog’s eyelid shut. Wow, imagine that one? So for 3 months the dog had to wear a cone to stop him from scratching at his eye.

After 3 months, I doctor unsews the eye to discover it hasn’t healed. He discovers the dog has a thyroid problem, hypothyroidism or an under-producing gland. This explained why the dog was sleeping most of time and had no energy at all and why the surgery had not healed. We have to get the dog started on thyroid supplements and the dog has to go in for a 2nd operation.

All told, this means about 6 months in a cone. I am assuming that after being poked and prodded a zillion times, suffering through 2 operations, needles and what not, his personality changed and he became much more aggressive towards strangers. It got to the point where I would no longer trust him with anybody out on a walk as he would invariably snap at them; properly out of some learned response to strange vets causing unpleasant things to happen.

I may get sued?
One day I’m out walking the dogs; we now have 2 Shih Tzus. – The 2nd one, never having to go through this hell, is the sweetest natured dog you could imagine which once again, makes me think the 1st dog had a personality change because of the health problems. – As I walk in front of a house in the neighbourhood, I notice Mom with her 2 little girls, maybe 4 and 6. The 4 year old points to my 2 dogs and says, "Look Mommy. There’s the good dog and the bad dog." What?

At dinner that night I recount what happened. Daughter #1 explains that she was walking the dogs when the younger girl tried to pet the now aggressive one and was rewarded with the dog nipping her and actually drawing blood. Oh my gawd! "That’s it!" I say. I lay down the law to everybody in the family that from now on; nobody and I meant nobody was to let anybody attempt to pet the aggressive one. We were all going to end up in court! Heck, the dog drew blood? I’m surprised I didn’t have that mother attempting to sue my… ah, derriere off over her 4 year old being bitten.

Over the years I have joked with people when they see me with the two Shih Tzus. "Oh look, aren’t they cute." I jokingly reply, "Don’t be fooled. They’re both vicious killers." which of course elicits a chuckle or two. If somebody reaches out to pet the animals, I pull the aggressive one back so they can’t touch him saying to people, "The female dog is friendly; you can pet her. The male dog? …well, you must sign a waiver first."

A word of warning
A dog owner has the responsibility of taking care of his / her animal. I should be complaining about the number of people who let their animal defecate without picking up after them, but I am writing right now about the aggression of a dog towards somebody else. You may think your dog is cute; you may think your dog is being playful but I don’t know that. In fact, considering I am now the proud owner of a pair a pants with one pant leg ripped apart, I’m not going to be looking too favourably on your dog and not too favourably on you either.

A quick search on the Internet yields all sorts of references to dog attacks, how to sue the owner of a dog, including how to train your dog. Obviously there is an issue here and we all better deal with it. eHow offers an article entitled "How to sue a Dog Owner Over a Dog Bite" http://www.ehow.com/how_2100226_sue-dog-owner-over-dog.html

My pants
Well, there’s one pair of pants I have retired from active duty. It’s been 24 hours since my run-in with Ms. Pinscher – the dog, not the woman – and I’ve had no follow-up about payment. I’m not holding out for anything but I tell you, if it had been my dog, I would have had my wallet out in a flash. Now that’s an apology putting your money where your mouth is.

Oh yes, our Shih Tzu: He’s celebrated his 10th birthday and he’s slowed down a bit since year number two’s 2 operations. We still keep a close watch on him and whenever I walk the dogs, I continue to not allow anybody to pet him. Nevertheless, with me, with the family, he is the most loving animal. I’m sure Cesar would have some words of advice but for us, the best thing is keep a distance between the dog and any strangers. I love my dogs dearly and I would hate to find myself in a situation where somebody would want to sue or even worse, see my dog having to be put down. If you love your dog as much, please heed these words and be a responsible dog owner.

Oh yeah, and for gawd’s sake pick up after your dog! It’s a bitch trying to clean my shoes! 🙂

Click HERE to read more from William Belle

References

Wikipedia: Doberman Pinscher
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doberman_Pinscher

Wikipedia: The Dog Whisperer
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_Whisperer

Wikipedia: Dog Attacks
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_attack

2010-10-10

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