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Thursday, February 3, 2011

THE BEST DOG BITE I EVER HAD

The first was the worst. I was about six or seven years old when I crossed H Street in Blaine, Washington, and turned left to walk down the alley. There on the right a large, black, German Shepherd was chained by the back porch of a large house. He ran at me, roaring with deep barks, until he got to the end of his chain and was jerked to a stop. I noticed before he did that the chain had broken off the collar and fell to the ground. The beast inched forward more, then more, and soon realized he was free. Meanwhile I took off running, but didn’t get thirty feet before I felt a horrible pain in the calf of my leg. My falling and screaming satisfied the dog enough to make him stop the attack, and I limped home crying. The animal’s fangs had made several deep punctures, and I remember my Dad saying to someone, “It’s a wonder it didn’t take a chunk out of his leg.” I never went down that alley again, and to this day I distrust black German Shepherds.

Since then I’ve had two newspaper routes--one in Sedro Woolley and one in Sultan--during which I’ve been bitten by dogs seven times. I tried my best to make friends with all the dogs on my route, and one example of this is when I was riding my bicycle down 1st Street in Sultan. A large dog ran out and chased me, soon catching up to me and running alongside. No big deal, I would just set my feet up on the bar of the bike so the dog couldn’t bite my ankle. But I underestimated her size, and it was a simple matter for her to leap a bit and bite my thigh. I panicked with the pain and lost control of the bike and crashed on the pavement, scaring the dog away. I slowly got to my feet and picked up the bike, and looked over to see the dog in her yard, cringing with shame. I rolled my bike off the street and sat down on the curb and called the dog. With her head lowered, she humbly came up to me, and I sat there for some time petting the animal and talking to her. I thought surely she was ashamed of having bitten me, and that with all the talking and petting she would be my friend from now on. But when I took my hand away and began to get up, she snapped at me, and I realized this creature was psychotic. Strangely enough, though, she never did chase me again.

The angriest I ever was from a dog bite was when I brought a newspaper to a woman standing on her front porch, and was bitten by her dog just below the buttocks as I walked away. It hurt badly and I reeled around and told her that her dog bit me, but she wouldn’t believe me! “Oh, he doesn’t bite,” said she. I wasn’t about to pull down my pants to prove it to her, so just stomped away, not as mad at the dog as I was at the stupid owner.

But all the dog bites I suffered were made up for when I was riding my bike through Sultan and came upon a dog fight. Two fairly large dogs were battling it out, surrounded at a distance by seemingly everyone in the neighborhood. The dogs’ owners were frantic, the children screaming and crying, and some woman was shouting, “Get the hose! Get the hose!” Meanwhile the dogs were trying to kill each other. I knew one of them--a spaniel on my route, a nice dog, white with brown spots, and she loved me. I didn’t know the other one. I didn’t wait for anyone to get a hose. I rode up on my bike, laid it down, and walked right up to the fighting dogs. After positioning myself, I grabbed both collars at the same time and pulled the dogs apart, holding them at arms’ length. Both dogs were barking furiously at each other, and the nice dog who loved me lunged forward and managed to yank loose from my grip. She sprung at her opponent, but her lower fang caught the inside of my thigh instead. It hurt terribly but with all the people watching I pretended it didn’t happen at all, and I grabbed her collar again and held the dogs apart and called out, “Come and get your dogs!” Men ran up and took their dogs by the collars and dragged them away. Everyone stood staring with mouths open as I calmly got back on my bike and rode away, a hero. I pedaled around the corner, out of the people’s sight, then jumped off my bike and danced around in agony. There was blood on my pants. At home I found that the fang had punctured deeply into my thigh; there was a big gaping hole full of blood; and it hurt for a long time. Now, forty-five years later, I still have the scar. And when I look at it, I remember the time when I was a neighborhood hero, when a nice dog, accidentally and secretly, gave me the best dog bite I ever had.


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2 comments:

  1. I like your writing style and the dog bite story. Thanks! Here's a story in exchange.
    WARM HEARTED HAND
    The cattle truck showed up an hour late but at least it did finally arrive. We grabbed a long strong rope, some feed and a four-wheel drive Ford Tractor that had a bucket loader on the front of it.. The man in the truck followed us over to the other barn which was across the road from the main barnyard.

    The bull that we were after was almost as big as the tractor but he was white with some light brown spots and the tractor was blue. Many men have been mauled and even killed while trying to remove a bull from a pasture but this bull was good natured and like all cattle, loves feed.

    Coaxing cattle with feed is an old trick and more often than not it serves the purpose perfectly. I've seen whole herds of heifers chase a quad down the road when a man sat on the back with a five gallon bucket of feed for them follow.

    But, we weren't driving cattle this time, so we tried to lasso the bull and separate him from the heifers. The man who brought the truck was following the bull around a feed trough that was out in the middle of the pasture while trying to toss the looped end of the rope over the big bulls massive head. The first attempt failed because the rope only grabbed one-half of the bulls head so we had to wait for the beast to shake it off before we could try again.

    The idea was to lasso the bull but to let the rope go once we did. Once the rope was finally around the bulls neck, the plan was to recapture the loose end of the tether and tie it to back end of the tractor while the bull was being preoccupied with the feed. It would have worked if the rope had fell just right on the first try but since it didn't the bull was spooked and wouldn't come close enough for us to try it again.

    One has to be calm and quiet around cattle because they can spook easy. Seeing that we had no chance of capturing the bull under the circumstances we decided to relocate the feed trough and get a longer rope. We moved the trough from the pasture up to the lower level of the old barn and started shaking the feed bucket again. The cattle answered the dinner call and as fortune would have it the bull went into the barn behind a heifer whereupon we closed the two in by shutting a metal gate.

    Once inside the barn, the bull was preoccupied with eating feed so we were able to lasso him correctly this time. The bull was tied close to the back end of the tractor and then led to the cattle truck which was parked down by the road. I held the tether tight while another fellow operated the tractor. I rode on the tractor by standing on a running board and secured the animal by wrapping the rope around a solid bar that was attached to the tractor.

    The bull came quietly but at one point it seemed like the bulls massive head was going to get jammed in between the back tire and the tractor's frame so we halted and readjusted the rope. The ramp up into the cattle truck was already down and the side gates had been attached so we pulled the bull up to the ramp, loosed the rope and prodded the bull up into the truck.

    Well that was one down and another to go. The second bull was back in the main barnyard. So we repeated the process again, over there. The second bull was younger but he seemed to be more dangerous which is unusual because generally it's the other way around.

    I was the youngest of our crew of four. George was the oldest at 88 years old, his brother Bob is 84 and John is about 70 years old. I am 55. Bob has breathing problems and he can't walk around to good so he operates the tractor. Bob has poor circulation also. I took my glove off and held his frozen left hand in mine for a moment so that it would warm back up. I overlooked the snot that had been wiped off onto the wrist and grabbed it anyway.

    We all know how cold noses can run in the winter time. It was zero today.

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  2. Thanks, Ed, for sharing that. I have a great respect for bulls. At Brekhus' farm, a Brahman bull once came after me. I dived headfirst over a barbed wire fence to get away from him, and the bull tried jumping the fence to get to me, but instead fell on the fence and got caught in the wire. Miraculously the only blood that flowed regarding that persistent giant was his own.

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