Wordless Wednesday 26: Dog Park Date

This week’s Wordless Wednesday photos come from the recent long weekend when Moses met up with his buddy Douglas, a yellow lab, at River Park, one of Calgary’s bigger and nicer (and busier) dog parks, for some off-leash fun.

Moses & Douglas making new friends

Moses & Douglas making new friends

Racing for the ball

Racing to snag Douglas’ ball

Got it!

Got it!

Moses meets a bigger dog

Moses meets a bigger dog

Ball order is restored

Ball order is restored

Douglas celebrates

Douglas celebrates

Mo & Doug

Mo & Doug

To see the rest of Wordless Wednesday, click here.

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The blooper reel:

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What To Do If You Get Bit by a Strange Dog

Disclaimer: If you’ve stumbled upon this post because you got bit by a strange dog and are now Googling what to do, here’s your advice: get off the internet and seek help from a medical professional. Seriously. I take no liability for you.

If you recall, on Monday I wrote about how my intercepting of a bit of a tussle in the off-leash got me bit by someone else’s dog. If you’d like to read the full story, click here.

Suffice it to say, doing so should come with a don’t try this at home, kids warning. Even if you go in as an unbiased arbitrator, you can easily find yourself on the pointy end of 42 teeth. I was a completely biased arbitrator and I sure did.

That’s not to say I would go back in time and not intercept the dogs – I still would. But there are risks.

Anything can happen at the off-leash park

Anything can happen at the off-leash park

So say you do get bit by a dog you don’t know – then what?

1. Exchange information

Step one and I already failed. Yep, after separating the dogs and enduring some awkward small talk, I got the heck out of there. To be honest, I knew I got bit but I didn’t know I had any injury myself. I knew Moses was fine, so we left. It wasn’t until we finished our walk and got home that I discovered my own injury.

But what you should really do is get some information about the owner and the dog. Is the dog a local? It he up to date on vaccinations? Get a name and phone number.

You should also give some information yourself. I didn’t do this either. I actually have no idea if those guys knew I got bit, but I should’ve (calmly) told them. They need to know what their dog might do in the heat of the moment and mitigate accordingly (training, no more off-leash, a muzzle, whatever’s right for the dog).

2. Clean up

Because the dog didn’t puncture my jacket, I didn’t think he’d puncture my skin. He did.

A scratch and a lovely yellow bruise - not exactly a big deal. (That's Emma photobombing.)

A scratch and a lovely yellow bruise – not exactly a big deal. (That’s Emma photobombing.)

Just like every other time you do something dumb and subsequently injure yourself, you should wash up with soap and water, and disinfect.

Even if you’re not punctured but you have some drool on you from the strange dog, you should clean up – especially if rabies is a real concern.

And, obviously, if you’re seriously injured or bit on the face/neck, you should just go straight to a clinic or emergency room (use your judgment) and they’ll clean you right up.

3. Contact a medical professional and follow his or her advice

I had the great timing of getting bit by a strange dog on a long weekend, but if your family doctor’s office is anything like mine (has the most inconvenient hours), they’re probably not going to be open anyway.

In Alberta, we are lucky and have Health Link – a 24 hour hot line you can call and get connected to a nurse for some general advice. Since I don’t go to a clinic unless absolutely necessary as a general rule, this is what I did.

Why? I got bit by a strange dog! I could get rabies! And then die!

Couldn’t I?

Fans of The Office? Anyone?

Fans of The Office? Anyone?

Well, not so much, as it turns out.

There have only been 3 cases of rabies in Canada in the past 12 years and all of those were due to bat-related incidents. An altercation with a domestic dog does not pose much of a threat for contracting rabies in Canada. Even cats pose a higher risk, the nurse on the phone informed me.

I described the incident and my little scratch and she went through the official decision tree, which I later found online here.

Bite/Rabies Decision Tree

Bite/Rabies Decision Tree

Domestic pet dog? Check. Provoked attack? Check. (Technically, involving yourself into some canine commotion is considered provoked, which does make sense.) Albertan dog? Probably. Happened in Alberta? Check.

Risk is basically nil. Phew!

If it was a stray dog or cat or a wild animal, the decision tree is a bit different and the risk is higher.

Rabies - wild animals

I didn’t get off scot-free however.

The nurse was asking me about my little laceration and then said “when was the last time you had a tetanus shot?”

Ummm… no idea (which means definitely not in the last 10 years).

Well, she informed me, an animal bite, no matter how minimal, is considered a “dirty wound”. Gross.

So off I went for an injection after all. Say what you will about our health care system, but I was in and out in 15 minutes and didn’t pay a dime.

Telling the doctor the reason for my visit granted me a nice lecture about how I should’ve gotten information from the other owners before leaving the scene (I know, I know), but further assurance that I wasn’t in need of a rabies vaccination. (I may have even asked him to give me one because… you know… what if…. But no.)

In any case, I’m glad I confirmed with the authorities, even if it’s just a stupid little grievance. It would just be my luck that I’d let it slide and then something ridiculous would happen. And I really don’t recommend Googling information about rabies to make yourself feel better… because you won’t. 

And if something ridiculous still does happen, I’m advising publicly now that I’d like my tombstone to read ‘Tis But a Scratch.

This post is part of the Thursday Barks & Bytes Blog Hop, hosted by 2 Brown Dawgs and Heart Like a Dog. Go pay a visit to the hosts and check out other hop participants.

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Monday Mischief 21: How many dogs is too many? (aka: The Time I Got Bit By a Dog Named Cujo)

My neighbourhood is lucky to have a small off-leash area frequented by neighbourhood dogs and their owners.

Moses enjoying the scents of a February melt

Moses enjoying the scents of a February melt

Moses and I were enjoying a stroll through that very area this Saturday when we saw two guys approaching in the distance with a black lab off leash nearby.

I didn’t recognize them, which was unusual because after walking with Moses the past 5+ years I’ve come to recognize most neighbourhood canines. But in any case, nothing about the dog or the guys raised any red flags, so we kept on course and headed in their direction.

Shortly thereafter, a gorgeous husky appeared on the horizon, also with the guys. And then off to the right two adorable and nearly identical little staffordshire terriers frolicking in the grass. Finally, a fifth dog appeared – some sort of yellow lab/shepherd mix, attached to a thick rope long line that I noticed later.

This last dog was the only one whose name I’d eventually learn: Cujo.

(Side question: at what point does naming your dog Cujo become a self-fulfilling prophecy?)

We continue to approach and the dogs greet while the usual chit chat about Moses’ weight, age, and shedding ensues.

The dog greetings go quite well and the pups disperse a bit, while Moses and Cujo come over to where I’m answering the usual 20 questions that come with having a Newfoundland dog in your home.

At one point, Cujo takes some exception to Moses’ proximity and bears his teeth. The one I will designate Guy No. 1 scolds with a “Cujo!”, but it wasn’t a big deal – Moses takes the hint and backs off.

But it was only a few moments later when Cujo takes even further exception to Moses and snaps at him a little.

Now, a noisy little kerfuffle at the dog park doesn’t normally agitate me. If dogs want to hurt one another, they will. But a little noise and teeth is rarely anything to worry about, in my experience. It’s usually short lived and the dogs diffuse the situation naturally with no harm done to any party.

Also having a giant dog with a track record of not unduly escalating situations – but adequately standing up for himself – also affords me some confidence in these situations.

However, when humans intervene, things can usually go sideways, as was the case on Saturday.

I was perfectly content to let Moses and Cujo quickly sort their differences, but Guy No. 1 was not. Instead he grabbed Cujo’s long line and gave it a hard tug while scolding him once more.

Of course, Cujo did not see it that way. Dogs, as you should know, can redirect those kinds of things. So while in a kerfuffle with Moses, Cujo did not interpret the jerk on his chain as some sort of earned correction for rude behaviour. Instead, he felt the added tension and discomfort while interacting with Moses and thought “oh no you didn’t you sonofabitch” and escalated.

Moses stood up for himself, and some more noise ensued.

An artist rendering of the altercation

An artist rendering of the altercation

Unfortunately, this time the other dogs sensed the more serious intent and Cujo’s pack stepped in to defend him.

The lab stayed out of it, and the husky kept a close watch on the situation, but the two staffies got right in the mix to defend their buddy’s honour.

A accurate, dramatic reinactment:

Now, as dog owners, we all know our number one responsibility is to protect our dogs. And even though I might be content to let Moses resolve differences on his own most of the time, when he’s facing multiple sets of teeth, I don’t care how much bigger he is – it made me uncomfortable.

So while Guy No. 1 and Guy No. 2 stood idly by, I stepped in to protect my dog.

I inserted myself between Moses and one of the dogs, grabbed his collar, and hauled him out of there and away from the fray. As we gained distance, the other dogs started to back off. Eventually Guy No. 1 got a hold of Cujo’s long line and reigned him in, and Guy No. 2 picked up one of the staffies so it couldn’t follow. The whole thing was a few noisy seconds.

Once diffused, I put Moses in a sit, leashed him up, and inspected him for marks. Nothing – thankfully.

Then I inspected my jacket for punctures. At one point during the whole thing, Cujo chomped on my forearm. Hard. I noticed it, but was too preoccupied to react.

I’m certain he didn’t intentionally target me. Like how Tony in West Side Story (spoiler alert), consumed in the rumble between the Sharks and Jets, gets overcome and caught up in the moment and doesn’t think when he instinctively stabs Bernardo in revenge. (Okay, so broadway may have been touring here last week – I still can’t get America out of my head.)

But if that unfortunately-named dog had put holes in my Arc’teryx jacket, I would not have been impressed. Luckily, nothing but drool.

As Moses and I were composing ourselves, Guy No. 2 starts up with the most awkward chit chat ever. After he tries to reassure me that Moses “could’ve taken them” (I replied that I’d never want it to come to that), he starts nattering on about how one of the staffies is a super loud snorer and inquires if Moses is the same. I look up and he’s now carrying the staffie over his shoulder like it were a giant bag of flour. So weird. Behind him, Guy No. 1 apologized profusely whenever Guy No. 2 pauses to catch his breath.

I assure them we’re fine, tell Guy No. 2 that Moses does indeed snore loudly and often, and then we make our exit, while Guy No. 1 shouts apologies after us.

After getting home, further inspection shows Moses made it out better than I did. Through my jacket and a hoodie, Cujo managed to land a few good puncture marks and some decent bruising. How he didn’t rip the jacket is beyond me, but I’m still thankful.

But it made me think – if that’s the kind of force he was going after Moses with, I am incredibly happy I intervened. There’s no long-term damage, but still. Ouch. I don’t want Moses to experience that.

(And yes, if you step in to break up a dog fight, you are putting yourself at risk to get injured. I know this, but still didn’t hesitate. I’m a big girl; I’ll be fine.)

Moses

Moses

It also made me think of something else: is it wise to take 5 dogs to the off-leash park?

The most I’ve taken solo is two, and that’s about perfect for me if I want to be responsible about it.

2 guys, 5 dogs – seems out numbered (at least it turned out to be for those two guys). Seems difficult to keep an eye on all of the behaviour – and all of the poop scooping.

And considering Cujo was on a long line, obviously they knew he was some kind of liability. Maybe Cujo should get some one-on-one time. Or maybe be accompanied by a smaller pack. Sure we all take risks when letting our dogs off leash, but I don’t think they were setting anyone up for success when they left their home(s).

I know there are dog walkers out there who walk many more than a couple dogs at once. I’m not talking about that. They’re professionals who carefully choose the members of their packs and walk them regularly (the good companies, anyway). If these guys were pros, I wouldn’t hire them.

And I’m also not talking about maximum number of dogs per household. Calgary has no such regulation and I don’t think one is needed. A person so inclined can abuse or neglect one dog just as easily as they can many, and I personally know people with four dogs in their homes who take better care of all four than many other owners out there with just one-dog households.

But I’m talking about being honest with you and your dog’s skills and abilities. It’s okay to leave one dog at home while you walk the other. I do it frequently with Moses and Alma just for the practice and bonding time.

It’s also okay to not take your dog to the off-leash park. Ever, if you don’t want to or shouldn’t. Off-leash is neither a right nor a necessity; what is necessary is giving your dog positive experiences and properly socializing and training them.

Luckily, Moses and I swung through the same place again on Sunday (back on the horse, as they say), where he was able to gain some positive experiences with some neighbourhood regulars.

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This post is part of the Mischief Monday blog hop – to see what everyone else has been up to, click herehere, or here.

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Throwback Thursday: The Bloodhound

Before I begin, I’d just like to mention that Moses has his two week vet follow up tomorrow after his tooth extraction, and I’m happy to report he’s been healing well and doesn’t seem to miss his tooth. The weather has cooled back down to below-seasonal, so as far as he’s concerned, everything’s coming up Moses!

Moses

Moses

Sunday, the Husband and I found ourselves travelling north to Edmonton for what wasn’t really a typical funeral (not depressing or formal enough), but I wouldn’t really call it a wake either (not drunken enough), but one of those family gatherings that finds relatives getting together to honour and remember a loved once since passed.

The Husband’s grandfather had passed away, losing a prolonged battle with one of those awful afflictions that steals your mind long before your body follows.

The event was informal and it gave the family the opportunity to share memories and tell stories and catch up with one another. We got to hear about how even though his name was Norris, he was hardly even known by that; as a young man he took a job as a cook on a train and the head chef kept mixing up him and his coworker Norman. So, one day, frustrated with the confusion, the chef looked at him and said “from now on, you’re Larry.” And it stuck. For the rest of his life.

I even learned for the first time that my bother-in-law was named after none other than Tom Selleck. How awesome is that?!

Hard to find a cooler namesake, no?

Hard to find a cooler namesake, no?

In the hall, there was a long table with photo albums and other remembrances.

Like most people (I assume), I could study old photographs for hours, even if I don’t know anyone in them. The scenery, the fashions, those moments deemed important enough to capture long before I had the ability to shoot literally thousands of digital photos and only share the best. Fascinating.

Very common in the family photos on Sunday were pictures of dogs – either hanging out in the background with everyone else or prominently featured in portraits of their own. It was very clear that the Husband comes from a long line of dog people.

Prominently featured was this photo:

Emblem of Edgerbrook

Larry and the Emblem of Edgerbrook

This is a picture of the Husband’s grandfather, Larry, and a bloodhound. The dog was registered as the Emblem of Edgerbrook and together with his sister, Larry trained it as a tracking dog.

Once trained, as the story goes, they sold the dog to the police.

From there, the dog went on to a great law-enforcement career, even being instrumental in finding a missing child. As luck would have it, a picture of that very discovery went on to win a news photography award.

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Such a cool story! (Shared with the Husband’s permission, of course.)

Here’s hoping that kid has since grown up to have a long and happy life – all thanks to Larry and his love of dogs.

This post is part of the Thursday Barks & Bytes Blog Hop, hosted by 2 Brown Dawgs and Heart Like a Dog. Go pay a visit to the hosts and check out other hop participants.

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