Paul and Todd were at the fence barking like mad at another dog. I looked out to see what was going on, and it was a white boxer, wearing a collar, hanging around, interested in my dogs. Being the good neighborly dog owner that I am, I figured that someone's pet had gotten loose and I would try to see if I could figure out if it had tags and call the owner. If it had not had a collar on, I would not have attempted this, but it did, which to me says, "I'm someone's pet, and I'm lost."
When I opened the gate, careful to keep P + T back, it ran away from me. That often happens with strays: their interest in Paul and Todd is overcome by their fear of me, and they run away (or follow us around on our walk but stay 3-4 houses behind.) This dog was clearly not wanting anything to do with me. He started off down the sidewalk, but some other person was coming towards us walking their dog, and the white boxer ran across the street and went away.
About 20 minutes later, it was almost 5:30, which means evening walk and then dinner. In hindsight, I think there was a little voice saying, "don't go out there, there's a loose dog running around" but the fact that it ran away from me before, and that it had had plenty of time to move on by now, made me think it was probably safe to go around the block.
So off we went, just like it was going to be any other walk. Todd yelped in excitement and did his happy dance as I reached for the leashes and hooked them up, and we were out the front gate. Down to the end of the block and made our usual left turn, and then down the North side of our block. As we approached the end of that segment of the block, there was a guy standing there, who said something like, "Did you see a loose dog?"
"That white dog?" I answered.
"Yeah that dog. We're trying to catch him," He said.
What I thought was "good luck with that, I already tried," but what I said was "Oh, well maybe I can help" as we started around the corner.
Then he said (mumbled?) something like,
"maybe you shouldn't go down there,
that dog could bite you."
Gentle reader, I implore you to learn from my mistake. If someone suggests that the loose dog running around might bite, at least inquire further before you insist that you know better and proceed anyway. Who knows, maybe it's his own dog and he actually knows what he's talking about.
Also, if you own a dog that bites, which actually escapes and becomes a menace to the neighborhood, please be more informative and direct than this guy was in his "warning". Say something to the effect that it is your dog and you know what you're talking about. If you throw in that you don't want to be the responsible party to an E.R. visit, that would REALLY get my attention.
We made it about halfway down the block, past the little yappy black dog behind the gate; past the light brown dog that hurt his paw when he was a puppy and now limps, who lives in the yard with the orange trees; past the house with the weightlifting bench on the front porch that I have only seen being used once; past the house with the pretty white and pink watsonia blooming in the garden; till we were right in front of the house that used to have 2 ducks named Felicity (who turned out to be a boy, by the way) and Dharma living in the front yard. That was where we met our Waterloo. Right in front of formerly Felicity and Dharma's house.
The white boxer saw us and came right over to us, and if I had wanted to get away at that point it was too late. It lunged right for Paul. It happened so fast. It was seriously, seriously bad. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, there was a lady yelling for someone to get a hose. Get a hose?! Yes, that would break up a dog fight, but really, I couldn't imagine how anyone would be able to show up with a hose in time to make a difference. I tried to separate them, which I know you're not supposed to do, because you can be seriously mauled. Yet, I wasn't about to have that dog hurt my best buddy Paul if I could help it, which it seemed determined to do (or worse). At one point I had the roughly 80-lb boxer up in the air, holding him suspended by his hind foot, but I couldn't break him out of attack mode. Plus, Paul was fully engaged at that point, which kept me from removing the other dog from the fight. Then the bad dog had Paul by the collar and he was choking him! It was really awful.
Then, again from out of nowhere, the nice lady who had been calling for a hose was pulling Paul out of the fracas by his hind legs. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered hearing this advice before. Grab the hind legs and pull them out of the fight. Easier said than done, and yet here she was, doing just that. Suddenly, I saw an opportunity, and grabbed the boxer by the collar at the scruff of its neck. That was really scary, because your hand is way too close to its mouth at that point. The collar was pretty tight, but I twisted it around my clenched fist as hard as I could, and lifted the dog off the ground, his mouth facing away from me. That finally subdued him. I held him there, choking on his own weight. Then, the warning guy from before was there with a leash, and took him away.
Then I gathered Paul from the nice lady who was so amazing and had known just what to do. Then I looked up and there was Todd. The 10-year-old daughter of the owner of the bad dog had picked up his leash and held him off to the side, keeping him out of the fight. The nice lady was calming me down. I looked at Paul and his ear was bleeding. Then I realized that my right hand was bleeding. I had 3 punctures and I had no idea which dog did it. The nice lady wanted everyone to exchange names and phone numbers. I took P + T home and washed my hands, then went back over to meet back up with her.
She gave me her name and explained that she was a dog person too, and happened to be installing some landscaping across the street. She was older than me and seemed very calm and wise. We exchanged names and phone numbers, then she took me over to the house where the guy and the bad dog lived. I think she had followed him home when he took the dog away, and had gotten his name. Then I realized that I see that dog every time we go on that walk, but out of context (I have only seen it from across the street, behind the fence) I didn't recognize it. He showed me the papers for it's license and shots, and we exchanged information.
I went home and got Paul and Todd and we went to the nearby emergency veterinary clinic, which I highly recommend: Eagle Rock Emergency Clinic
They are great. They're only open from 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 a.m. and only take emergencies. We got there around 6:10. Had to wait a little bit but not too long. I had to fill out forms while clutching a bloody rag and trying to make my shaking, punctured right hand function correctly. The vet was really nice and she explained how they were going to have to sedate Paul so they could stitch his ear back together, and keep him overnight. She checked out Todd too, but he was fine. Then I had to dash to make it to the urgent care place before they closed at 7, or it would have meant the E.R. I would have gone to the E.R. if it were my only choice; I learned that lesson when I sliced my finger open during Thanksgiving dinner preparations in 2006. But, if I can avoid the E.R. in favor of some other option, I think it's better to leave it for people who are in imminent danger of death. Todd waited for me in the car.
My hand was throbbing and I was really afraid the doctor (I almost wrote Vet :) ) was going to have to dig into the wounds to clean them out. He was really nice and reassuring, and told me to just soak it in warm salt water 3x a day and watch for signs of infection. He said that in only about 5% of the cases do dog bites get infected. So I went home.
Having read of our plight from my facebook updates from various waiting rooms, my neighbor knocked on the door with a get-well-soon white-chocolate-raspberry-crumble bar thing. It went down great with the bottle of Charles Shaw Cabernet I had just opened. My other neighbors across the street and lots of friends were chiming in on facebook and, I have to say, the moral support was incredibly uplifting.
Paul is on the mend:
And Todd is standing by.
Overall, today was pretty quiet around here.
Poor Booby looks like he's going to audition for Grey Gardens.
I was in a bit of shock myself for most of today, I think, just from the trauma of it all. I took a nap this afternoon. But I have to say I do feel like a bit of a badass for having subdued an 80-lb marauding boxer with my bare hands - with the help of a nice lady.