A Dog Park in Pisa

Well, I suppose I should begin by explaining my long absence for the blogosphere (I am so behind on blog reading and am unlikely to catch up). But there’s a good excuse, I promise: the Husband and I went off to western Europe for 24 days.

And it was awesome! We had so much fun and went to so many cool places!

But I didn’t completely forget about the Soapbox while I was away and have some travels to share.

For example, did you know there’s a dog park right next to the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

Me neither!

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I don’t know if it’s an official dog park, but there were quite a few pups gathered there having a great time.

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Perhaps it’s the Capitoline Wolf sculpture that welcomes them?

It depicts the legend of Romulus and Remus (sons of Mars), who were rescued by a she-wolf after being cast into the Tiber River. They were then raised by a shepherd, grew to overthrow their great uncle (as prophesied, hence the banishment in the first place), and eventually established the city of Rome. (Later Romulus kills his brother, often taken to represent the city’s history of conflict.)

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This little dude was chewing on a stick solo nearby, in front of the Pisa Baptistry

This little dude was chewing on a stick solo nearby, in front of the Pisa Baptistry

So, now that I’m back, what’d I miss?!

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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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.

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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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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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What To Do If You’re Scared of Dogs

I don’t know about you, but it’s fairly common for me to come across someone who’s not exactly a huge fan of dogs while I’m on a walk with Moses and Alma.

Moses & Alma intimidating? Is it the drool?

Moses & Alma intimidating? Is it the drool?

The sentiment ranges from dislike to fear, and comes in variances from cautious, to anxious, to outright frantic.

I’ve actually been crossing a pedestrian bridge with Moses – a fairly wide one, and he was heeling on my right-hand side, away from on-coming traffic – when an approaching woman saw him, immediately went into hysterics, clutched the other side of the bridge, and froze. Well, was frozen except for her voice box. It was quite the scene, despite Moses not so much as looking at her, and her always being a few feet safely away from him. We just shuffled by quickly to put an end to her terror.

But even if there isn’t a dramatic freak-out, some people will cross the street, some will squeal in surprise, others will stare wide-eyed, and others will show cautious curiosity – maybe interested to see and talk about the Newfs, but not interact with them.

It’s kind of like how I am around babies.

And I get it. They’re big dogs and not everyone’s a fan. Even some small dog owners see them and think “well, that’s a little excessive.”

Okay, so maybe I don’t actually GET it. But I try to be understanding.

Alma & Moses

Alma & Moses

But the frustrating part is that most people who are afraid of dogs, upon seeing one, proceed to behave exactly in a way that would be interesting or exciting to a dog. It doesn’t help anyone; it doesn’t help them keep dogs away and it doesn’t help dogs learn to ignore some people.

So I have an easy way for people to determine what to do if they encounter a dog they don’t want to interact with: pretend you’re on public transit.

That’s all.

Pretend the dog is some scary or strange or smelly person on the bus or train. Applying transit etiquette will solve all of your problems.

Alma riding the ctrain

Alma riding the ctrain

Allow me to elaborate:

1. Avoid eye contact. This is public transit rule #1. People have books and headphones to avoid unwanted socialization, but even those without follow this rule. Transit is the social experiment of cramming as many people into one tight space as possible, yet not one person is looking at anyone else. It’s basically art. To make eye contact is to invite interaction. It’s welcoming and friendly. Therefore, you don’t do it.

Such is the case with animals. People scared of Moses or Alma have the tendency to stare them down, but the dogs interpret this eye contact as an invitation to say hello. “Oh, that person is interested in me –okay!” Or worse, being animals, some dogs could interpret eye contact as a challenge – which it often is for people and in the animal kingdom. Ever read a Dealing with Bears pamphlet? Don’t stare!

2. Move away from them calmly. That person next to you on the train has terrible noise pollution coming from their headphones? Insufferable body odour? Muttering to themselves about the End of Days? Standard practice is to turn or move away. But you don’t run – no need to create a scene or attract attention. Besides, the rush hour train is too full for running. But you sure can move yourself away inconspicuously without flailing about. Besides, you don’t want to catch the crazy person’s attention and have them strike up a conversation.

The same goes for dogs you don’t want to greet, or who you have greeted, but now you want them to leave you alone. Just turn around and walk away – they can take the hint, especially if you combine it with point #1. Don’t run, though. Running might be too tempting for herding breeds and other dogs might just think you’re trying to play a game of chase.

3. Don’t reach towards or touch them or fail around in a panic. OBVIOUSLY you don’t touch strangers on public transit. And unless you’re doing some drastic reinforcement of your personal space, you’re probably keeping your hands to yourself. Doing otherwise kind of makes you the crazy person everyone avoids.

For dogs, if you fall into the cautiously-curious category, just keep your hands to yourself. Touching a dog will just illicit more attention from them. For example, you safely pet Moses’ shoulder and he’ll turn around to look at you and sniff you – as you would expect. Or if you put your hand out to pet but are painfully slow and awkward, he’ll sniff your hand. If this scares you because his nose is right above his giant mouth (with teeth AND drool in it), maybe keep your hands in your pockets.

4. Don’t hover over them. Super rude transit behaviour. The worst is when the douchebag standing next to your seat turns around so his backpack hits you in the face every time the train starts and stops. Just aim for a little bit of personal space and common courtesy, people. Geez.

Dogs, on the other hand, find posture of bent over or crouched down people inviting. Many people practice greetings with their dogs by having people kneel or squat down so they’re less intimidating. If you don’t want to encourage a greeting, do the opposite. Stay standing up and invoke the other points made here.

5. Don’t talk to them. Like eye contact, talking is rare during the morning commute. Perhaps it’s the early hours and lack of caffeine, but unless people are already acquainted, they’re not going to strike up a conversation on the train. It’s for the best. Small talk is the worst. I prefer to ignore and be ignored.

Tempted to squeal or screech when you see a terrifying dog approach? Suppress that reflex! Noisy things are interesting to dogs! Why do you think we buy them toys that squeak? You really want to imitate their toys? No, not if you want them to leave you alone. Even talking to them should be avoided if you don’t want them to approach you – especially considering you’re probably talking to them and looking at them at the same time.

Moses

Moses

Really, the whole approach – both for trains and dogs – can be summed up in two words: calmly ignore.

Sure, some dogs may be interested in every passerby, but if you do your part, the responsible owners will do theirs and keep their dogs close and those leashes to a reasonable length.

You get a near-unheard-of three (3!) posts this week because I wanted to participate in the inaugural 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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