Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Reader recalls being attacked by a Greyhound

After reading Monday's post about a pit bull mauling a 6-year-old girl in Rochester Hills, Dog Blog reader Deb Runyan emailed me her own story of being attacked.

It's pertinent to what I was trying to express, which is that all dogs of all breeds can have sets of circumstances — regardless of how narrow and unusual those circumstances might be —specific to the individual dog that can act as triggers for attacks.

Here's Deb's email to me:

Read today's blog about the Pit Bull attack, and thought I'd share my personal experience with a dog attack.

The background is I am fairly active in dog rescue, so I usually have my personal dogs (4) and anywhere from one to four foster dogs in the house.  This story goes back to 2009, when I adopted a retired Greyhound racer.  I named her Nova.  I adopted Nova because our 2 year old Bloodhound, Sexi, had died after six weeks of frustrating vet care trying to determine what was wrong, and I missed having a big hound in the house. Nova lived with us for 8 months very happily.  

Unbeknownst to me, my husband had mopped an area of our foyer, which is ceramic tile, and I walked through carrying a paralyzed foster dog.  I hit that wet tile and fell hard.  The little foster only made a tiny squeak, as I had not let him hit the ground, but for whatever reason, Nova came flying off the couch and to the foyer, and with awful growling, snarly sounds, grabbed me by the ankle and bit hard, not letting go.  My Dachshund Bizzy came running to protect me, the foster dog dragged himself into the corner away from it all...and as Bizzy rushed in growling, Nova grabbed him around the neck and clamped down.  I managed to get him away from her and shoved him into the bathroom which was right there, and shut the door on him.  I was on my hands and knees - with all my weight on my left hand which was supporting me.  She grabbed my arm and mauled it.  While biting, she started shaking her head, as if to try to kill small prey.  (all dogs do it when playing with toys)  I was yelling at her, but she would not stop, and the sounds were like something from a horror movie.  This all happened really fast, seemed like ages, but was more like seconds.  My husband and son came running in, and when they got there, she just stopped and acted like nothing was wrong.   My arm had a baseball sized lump on the under-side between elbow and shoulder, and long gashes where her teeth ripped my skin while she was shaking her head and pulling back on me.  

I called the rescue and told them she had to go and to come get her.  I couldn't chance her being in my house, I would never trust her again, and I didn't want to be responsible for anyone else getting hurt.  My arm had nerve and muscle damage, and took the better part of a year to totally heal - plus a nasty infection and I had to have it lanced.  My Dachshund, Bizzy, ended up with a crushed disk in his neck, and had to have a couple MRI's plus 2 surgeries to try to fix it.   He was in pain forever after.  12 months later he was dead.  Not as a direct result of the attack, but I feel if he hadn't had to endure that plus the surgeries, he'd have been strong enough to make it.  He developed an bowel obstruction, survived that surgery, but then developed pancreatitis, and he did not survive that.  He was only 6 years old.

Dog attacks do scar you emotionally.  For me, the biggest trauma was losing Bizzy of course, but as far as my emotional trauma from just the attack on me - there was this huge sense of betrayal.  I dog I rescued, nurtured, babied and loved had turned on me for no apparent  reason.  That was really difficult to deal with.  Even though I am still active in dog rescue, and own 4 dogs, there is always that little niggling thought about getting bitten again.  Not bitten, as a dog bite would have been a bite and done - but being attacked and mauled.  It all happens so fast, and is so vicious that you can't really free yourself from the attack.  It didn't hurt while it was happening, there was too much going on to feel the pain.  I can only remember the awful sounds she was making.  Like some wild animal killing it's dinner.  The disbelief was high - how could one of my own dogs possibly be not only biting, but attacking me?  My arm was deep purple/black from armpit to wrist.  I still have the scars on my ankle and arm, but the biggest scar is in my heart.  I almost wish I hadn't known the dog that did it, because then it would be a random act of violence rather than something I can't explain.   This was a Greyhound, a breed known for it's gentle and calm demeanor.  They aren't famous for their jaw strength - and this HURT - I cannot imagine how much more it would hurt if bitten by a stronger jawed dog.   And to be only 6?  Horrific for both child and parents.  I feel so bad for this child.  My experience has really brought home the fact that the breed does not matter - any dog, in the right circumstance can hurt you.  Yet I still love dogs, and I wouldn't change that.

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