It started out innocently enough. It was a Saturday evening. My wife was in Florida enjoying the weather, and I had just finished a pleasant dinner with my daughter and her husband. Upon arriving home, I took my dog, Yukon Red, out for a walk. He's an Alaskan malamute and weighs a little over 100 pounds. We were a couple of blocks away from home when I saw another dog coming at us, unleashed and without an owner in sight. He headed directly for my dog. I thought it was somewhat odd since Red usually intimidates other dogs just by his size. The other dog didn't seem to care, even though he was only half the size of my animal. I sensed trouble was brewing, and I was right, big time.
The other dog and Red circled each other, growling. Attempting to pull Red away, I fell backward. I was still holding onto Red when the other dog rushed forward and bit me right below the knee. I continued to hold Red, fearing the two dogs would get into a vicious fight. Finally, the other dog moved away, and Red and I headed home. My knee was bleeding, so I ended up in the emergency room at the local hospital. The bite was a bad one, and the doctor asked if I had had a tetanus shot recently. I was then asked if I knew the owner of the dog. Unfortunately I didn't. The potential for rabies was discussed, but the doctor said no cases of rabies had been reported in the area for years. He didn't seem too concerned, but I sure was.
The next day, hobbling around and in some pain, I asked my neighbors if they knew the dog I described. It took me 4 1/2 hours, but I finally learned who owned the animal. I went to the house, identified myself to the woman who answered the door and told my story. She admitted her dog had gotten loose the night before. She told me the dog was 13 years old and hard of hearing. I told her of my concerns about whether the dog's shots were up to date. She assured me they were, apologized profusely and promised she would reinforce the confines of her dog's running space. The next day I found a letter in the mailbox again apologizing for the incident.
It's been about four weeks since I was bitten. I've endured some pain and have a large bruise below my knee, but my doctor says there shouldn't be any complications. I've told my dog bite story to many people, and I've heard some interesting responses. A number of friends have asked if the dog died from the bite. Some just giggle as they walk away, while others have expressed great concern. Then there are those who have asked if I plan to sue the owners.
The answer is no. I don't intend this to sound sanctimonious, but that's just not the way I think and it's not how I feel about the circumstances. It's unfortunate, and I sure wish it hadn't happened, but the owners were contrite and embarrassed. The woman's teenage daughter was in tears when I talked to her mom, obviously worried that I might demand something be done to her pet. As far as I'm concerned the incident is over. Sure, I was mad when I was bitten and it has been very inconvenient, but why act in a vengeful way? It certainly isn't going to make me feel better by hurting others. Sometimes we just need to chalk it up as one of those things that could happen to any one of us and then let it go.
Forgive and forget,
Charles S. Lauer