I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while now, but couldn’t make myself sit down and actually do it…until today. I am not an expert but I have learned a few tips that will help keep you and your dog safe while walking. I’ve shared over the past several weeks what happened to Kelly and me when we were on an evening walk. A large, loose dog attacked Kelly and tore apart her hind end. She had 16+ staples and for a few days after the attack I wasn’t sure she was going to make it. She did though and seems to be back to normal. For that I am grateful beyond measure. I know that bad things happen to good people (and dogs.) I also know that when something bad happens it is our responsibility to learn from it and if possible, prevent it from happening again. So that’s what I’m doing.
I have gone over and over the 20 seconds it took for Kelly to be injured. Deep down I know it wasn’t my fault, but I feel responsible. She was with me and I know now what I could have done differently. That’s what I’m sharing today. If this post helps even one dog owner avoid what I went though, it will have served its purpose.
1. Keep your dog in front of or beside you. NOT BEHIND.
The night Kelly got hurt was beautiful and we walked further than usual. She was lagging behind me towards the end and I knew she was tired. That’s when she was attacked. The dog came at us from across the street and behind. If Kelly had been beside me, or better yet in front of me, I could have picked her up. I know the dog experts say your dog should always walk a few steps behind you. Respecting your authority and all that. Personally, I will never do that again and I hope you don’t either. Keep your dog close and always in your line of sight.
Since we brought Kelly home as a baby, we have used a retractable leash. I honestly didn’t know that it even mattered. When the dog grabbed Kelly, I held on to the leash but got tangled up in the cord when I was knocked to the ground. The cord wrapped around one hand and I had cuts on a few fingers. I am grateful it wasn’t worse because I could have lost a finger or two. If you use a retractable leash, throw it away and get a regular one. As soon as possible.
3. Always take your cell phone.
After the attack, I had to carry Kelly about 3 blocks back to our house. My husband was out of town and there was no one to call for help. However, I was able to call my Vet’s office and talk to the answering service. (The girl I spoke with was extremely nice. She told me to stop and take a breath so I could tell her what happened.) I was about halfway home when the Dr. called me back. She told me not to put Kelly down when I got home, but to get right in the car and go to their office. She was waiting for me when I got there. Her quick response and advice helped me so much. I am grateful I had my phone with me.
I know this tip won’t be popular but just hear me out. I was listening to music that night and because of that, I didn’t hear the dog come at us. The dog was barking but of course it was extremely muffled by my earbuds. It wasn’t until I heard Kelly’s yelp that I turned around and saw what was going on. If I had NOT been wearing earbuds, I may have heard the dog come across the street. I don’t know that for sure of course, but it makes sense.
This is my most important piece of advice. My biggest regret from that night is that I wasn’t paying attention. I was walking along, listening to music, lost in my own little world. That will never happen again. Not only because I’m still a little afraid, but because I learned the hard way to look around and be observant. Scan what is ahead of you. Look around to the left and right. Just be alert.
A few good things came out of this experience. First, the attack dog no longer lives in our neighborhood. Kelly’s attack was that dog’s second offense. This will not be happening a third time to another family. Second, the whole experience made me so thankful that my children were healthy growing up and never experienced a serious injury. Believe me I am counting my blessings on that. Last, this brought our family closer together as we rallied around our little dog. My kids were texting numerous times a day. I think we broke the “send me a pic” record during the days following the attack. My husband was devastated, but true to form, he did what he does best. He took control of the situation, spoke to all the right people, and was the one responsible for having the dog removed from our neighborhood.
By writing this post, I am officially putting this whole thing behind me. Thank you all a million times for listening. I cherish each and every one of you. Happy Friday…hope your weekend is perfect.