Off-leash dogs!!! Argh.

November 20, 2010 at 10:45 am 12 comments

Why is it that whenever an off-leash dog runs towards us, the owner always says  to us –  “Don’t worry! He is friendly!”?

I hate that. The reply I have in my head is usually “Your dog is not friendly. He very impolitely charged at us”.

But instead, what comes out of my mouth is a hurried attempt to explain that my dog is in training for his reactivity blah blah blah… and that even though the off-leash dog may be friendly, MY dog isn’t and he may lunge or bite when rushed at by an unfamiliar dog, so please for goodness sake, keep your dog away from mine.  I hate that Boogie is made to look like the bad guy but how do you explain to a stranger that their lovable excitable dog was displaying extreme rudeness and NOT friendly behavior? And besides, why the heck was their dog off-leash in a public place?

[Here's a YouTube video showing "Polite Dog Greetings" - with calming signals]

Friends have already heard all about the traumatic incident that Boogie and I experienced a few days ago…

I was walking Boogie along the street on Tuesday morning when I spotted an off-leash dog on the opposite side of the street. My instinctual response was to get away ASAP so I called Boogie “Let’s go!” and started running. I realize later that this was a mistake on my part. I should not have run. I should have picked Boogie up but in that moment of panic my only thought was – we need to get away fast. To my horror, the off-leash dog bounded across the street towards us and started chasing us. She was a large dog – black and white markings – perhaps a pit mix. She didn’t look aggressive but she was fast and before you know it, Boogie and this dog were locked in a vicious fight.

Everything was a blur of violence. All I remember is wrestling on the ground with two growly dogs and seeing Boogie’s neck gripped in the other dog’s jaw. I yelled and punched the other dog in the muzzle but she would not let go. The street was deserted and no owner came to claim their dog in spite of my yelling –  “SOMEBODY COME AND GET THIS DOG AWAY FROM ME!!!” I was cussing and screaming, punching and pulling for what felt like an eternity. The dog did not let go of Boogie’s neck and I seriously thought that Boogie was going to die. I kept punching this dog trying to pull her jaw open and I felt a tooth sink into my finger.  The pain was intense but all I could think of was that I had to save Boogie.

Finally, a guy appeared on the street and led the other dog away back into her yard. He said that the dog’s owner wasn’t home and the dog must have got out because the gate was open. Other neighbors emerged from their houses to enquire what was going on because I guess they had heard me screaming and yelling.  Boogie and I were there on the sidewalk covered in blood. “But that dog is friendly”… they said. Hell no. Just take a look at us.

One of the neighbors (a nurse) took me into her house and cleaned us up. After that, we spent the rest of the day at the Emergency vet and doctor’s office.  I think Boogie was probably more traumatised by the four hour vet hospital experience and the cone-of-shame than by the actual dog fight.

We are both fine now but what an experience. Not to mention that this incident is a major setback in all the training that I’ve been doing with Boogie for the past 12 months.

This is the THIRD TIME that Boogie has been injured by an off-leash dog. :(

I met with the owner of the other dog. He was very apologetic, agreed to get his gate fixed so that this won’t happen again, compensated us for the medical bills and he wishes that his dog and Boogie could have met properly and not under such circumstances because his dog is  “super friendly”. Perhaps they will meet again… and we may do some BAT work with the two dogs… but for now, it’s back to square one with Boogie’s training. He has been extra trigger-sensitive these past couple of days, and his wounds are still healing…

As I was saying to Sarah, we are fortunate that the bite wounds are not deep (compared to one attack by a truly aggressive dog which led to stitches). It is possible that Boogie lashed out first when the dog rushed at him and that this dog was merely defending herself by gripping onto Boogie’s neck for so long and refusing to let go.  Dogs have amazing control with their teeth. If this dog (who, incidentally had zero injuries) was truly aggressive and had seriously intended to mess Boogie up, the wounds would have been much worse.

As for me, the bite on my finger is getting better but my knees and legs are scraped, bruised and painful. Boogie and I are both on antibiotics and we plan to take things easy this week.

Now for some comic relief …  Check out this awesome hilarious blog post on the power of the SQUEAKY TOY.

Boogie will be getting a new squeaky rubber monkey this week.

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Entry filed under: Outdoors, Vet visit. Tags: .

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. barrie.lynn  |  November 20, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    I am so sorry that happened to you and Boogie :-(

    Reply
  • 2. Barbara and Daisy  |  November 20, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    My heart was pounding just reading your post. I’m glad that you and Boogie escaped without more serious injury, and that you were able to meet with the other dog’s human satisfactorily. Speedy healing to you both, mentally and physically.

    Reply
  • 3. Carey  |  November 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    I can totally sympathize with your situation. I too have a rescued Boston. We got him when he was 2 and did not know that he was dog agressive untill he attempted to attack a dog at the dog park. We came to learn that when he gets around a “dominant male dog,” Oliver’s behavior is unpredictible. We have worked with him on it for the past 6 years and he has improved SO much. But we still cannot trust him 100% around strange dogs and probably never will.

    I had a similar scare on a walk with Oliver the other day. A “friendly” lab got out of its backyard and charged us on the sidewalk. The two dogs came into contact and thankfully the owners came out before anything happened. Oliver has been in a dog fight before, with wounds. I completely relived all of those situations when I read your blog entry.

    People NEED to keep their dogs on a leash no matter if they are friendly or not. For their own protection and the protection of everyone around them.

    Reply
  • 4. kat  |  November 22, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    so sad to read this, hope you’re both feeling better soon

    Reply
  • 5. Shelley @ Green Eggs & Hamlet  |  November 23, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry to hear about you and poor Boogie! I’m glad the owner was apologetic and paid for your medical bills but it’s a shame the dogs couldn’t have met under friendly circumstances. Feel better!

    Reply
  • 6. ArinaH  |  November 28, 2010 at 2:31 am

    I love your Boogie and he reminds me so much of my reactive Boston girl Gabby. I don’t even remember how I came across your blog, but I am so glad I did. You have described so many situations, training methods, small victories, and frustrations that I have also gone through with my dog. And off leash dogs are the worst thing for us out there. We have also had a number of these incidents and every time I felt like we suffered a setback. Amazingly, the only one that ever got injured was me. The owners of these dogs just don’t get it at all. I now carry around Pet Corrector (a small can of compressed air) so if it ever happens again, and things turn ugly, I may have a chance of interrupting a dog fight. I am so sorry you had this horrible experience. I am glad you and Boogie are bouncing back. Best of luck!

    Reply
  • 7. lili  |  November 28, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Thanks to everyone for your comments and good wishes. We are doing better now. I am also very relieved that the owner of the other dog was really nice about everything. He was also very open to the idea of the two dogs meeting in a controlled set-up (with our trainer present) to help Boogie “heal”…. I explained to him that we had been doing training sessions for his reactivity. I think it may be too soon to jump into this … but it’s good to know that someday this is possible.

    Arina – I will have to look into the Pet Corrector spray… it’s not mace/pepper is it? I hate using stuff like that on dogs or anyone…

    Reply
    • 8. ArinaH  |  December 5, 2010 at 5:05 pm

      Lili – Pet Corrector is just compressed air, like air duster. I would not want to use pepper/mace spray around any dog either. They sell it at Petco and some online pet stores… but you may have already figured it all out.. :)

      Reply
  • 9. DebraDoherty  |  November 29, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Poor Boogie! This makes me so sad! I hope you both recover quickly.

    Reply
  • 10. According to Gus  |  December 3, 2010 at 3:02 am

    I was horrified while reading this post. This is my biggest fear when walking Gus alone. I am so sorry you both had to go through this and so happy that Boogie is going to be okay.

    Gus is shy and I always worry that his anxiousness could set off an otherwise friendly dog.

    Get well soon Boogie!

    Reply
  • 11. lili  |  December 3, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Thank you, Debra and Gus’ mom. Boogie is better now. He is back to his normal playful self. Wounds healed!

    Reply
  • 12. NewfandHound  |  January 16, 2011 at 3:48 am

    Wow, just reading this months later and it is so frustrating to go through a scary incident like that, especially after all the hard work that you’ve put into Boogie. So lucky that the owner was responsive to your request, but it still makes me mad just reading it because it could have been so much worse. Poor baby. Good luck with all your training though!!

    Reply

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