The week before last was one of the scariest weeks I have had in a long time. My husband and I were out on our daily hike with five of our dogs. We were three quarters of the way done with the hike, back on the main trail and heading for the car. We were coming up on the crest of the last hill which also has a slight curve in the path, the kind you can’t see over. My husband was in the lead as usual and I heard him call out “loose dogs”.
This has never been too big of a deal before. The owners always show up and leash their dogs and we all go on our separate ways. Not so, this time. Zekie was barking like a fool as he often does. The two loose dogs, a large American Bulldog and a smaller pit bull mix, came charging at our dogs with their owners running behind calling them. They first went for Zekie, and his leash was pulled out of my hand. Both dogs were on him, rolling him, until he was on his back.
At this point, things get a little blurry in my mind because it all happened so fast and I was in shock. I remember my husband trying to hand me Baxter and Cassius’ leashes so he could go pull the two attacking dogs off of Zekie. The two girls were also running and trying to get control of their dogs. I was distracted by this and don’t know which dog was where a for a few seconds. I looked down and the smaller dog, about 50-60 lbs., had Shelby’s leg in his mouth. I’m not sure if he had also bitten her other times before I looked down or not. The smaller pit mix let go of Shelby when I was trying to kick him. I didn’t make hard contact because I didn’t want to get Shelby by accident.
I looked over and the American Bulldog, who was about 80 lbs., had Zekie in the ditch on the other side of the trail from where I last saw him. After I got the pit mix off Shelby, he ran to help the other dog attack Zekie. We thought Zekie was a goner. He was belly up with the two dogs biting at him and lunging and it looked like they were tearing him apart. At this point the girls were able to get their dogs off Zekie and leash them and maintained control.
Emotions ran high and there were lots of loud words. However, the girls were incredibly apologetic, taking full responsibility. They continued apologizing and agreed to follow us back to the parking lot.
We hiked the half mile back to the car with the girls and their dogs following at a distance so as not to get any of our dogs worked up again. Shelby was limping, but the bite I saw, looked like a half hearted attempt and I hadn’t found anything other than some red tooth marks, so we thought she was just a little sore. Zekie didn’t seem too bad aside from being nervous. We got back to the parking lot and exchanged contact information. One girl seemed to be the owner of the two dogs. The younger girl seemed to just be her friend. The owner of the dogs continued to say how sorry she was and said she would pay any vet bills that were incurred as a result of this incident. We couldn’t find any severe wounds on our dogs so decided to monitor them.
We went home and looked Shelby and Zekie over some more and didn’t find much. After a few hours, I noticed that our other dogs kept sniffing Shelby and wouldn’t leave her alone. This indicates there is something of note that they are paying attention to. I rolled Shelby over to get a good look. That’s when I found a puncture wound on her lower abdomen that turned out to be quite serious. You can read more about the details of Shelby’s wounds here. Progression of a Dog Bite Wound. She did end up on antibiotics, pain meds, and getting ongoing wound maintenance (warm compresses 3 times a day).
Our experience just goes to show that you cannot judge the severity of a dog bite or attack from what is visible at first glance. Things did not turn out how I thought they would. I thought Zekie was going to be dead at the end of the attack, or at least suffer life threatening injury. He didn’t suffer any major damage. Our veterinarian found some minor bruising and we never saw any other physical signs of damage on him. We think that he submitted to the other dogs and so they did not inflict significant harm like they might have if he fought back. Or maybe he was lucky.
Shelby did not fare as well. She garnered significant wounds. I did learn that much of the damage from a dog bite wound may not be visible to the eye. A lot of damage occurs as the teeth rip underneath the skin. There can also be crushing to tissues or organs. Shelby is healing up and on the road to recovery. I hate to think what would have happened if I did not take her to the vet so she could be put on antibiotics. She is on injury leave and not participating in walks for at least another week. The vet said she was a very lucky girl.
If your dog is ever in a fight, my advice to you is to have him checked over by a vet, unless you are absolutely certain that no damage was inflicted. Better safe than sorry.