Who Let the Dogs Out?

Reader Contribution by Cam Mather

A dog attacked me last week, and well, it was a pretty awesome day! I’m sure it was the adrenaline but it’s amazing what a buzz you get after fighting off a dog that is trying to kill you.

I was picking up a load of straw from a neighbor who is trying to clean out his barn. I had met his dogs before and they’ve always been well behaved. I knocked at the door to thank him for the straw and I heard his dogs barking. He came to the screen door and tried to hold them in but they seemed pretty anxious to come out and see me so he let them out.

I am not afraid of dogs. I like dogs. I’ve often shared stories about my own dog, Morgan, in this blog. So when they bounded at me I was prepared for the enthusiasm. But when I realized that one of them had clamped onto my arm and my hand was going numb, I realized that this was not just enthusiasm. This dog really wanted to do me in. As I was beating it off of me I tripped. They’re pretty big dogs and the ground was wet and I was wearing work boots with no treads left on them and there were piles of construction debris that I fell in to. By the time that I hit the ground, one of them had chomped onto my chest under my armpit. These clearly were not love nips. It turned out that it was the large Lab who was trying to do me in. The Bulldog was kind of freaked out by the whole thing a seemed to be trying to stop the Lab, which just made it harder for me to stand up amidst the scuffle. But the growling noises were coming from a dog clearly bent on destruction.

So as loathe as I am to admit it, I retreated to the house. I wanted to take them on, but I felt it was inappropriate to start beating on my neighbor’s dogs. I figured that my choices were fight or flight, and since there were two of them, I decided on flight, for the first round.

I spend a lot of time in my woods, far from another human being and our woods are full of coyotes and wolves. Some of the coyotes have mated with wolves so they’re pretty big. I’ve given some thought as to how to deal with a wolf chomping on my arm. I had pretty much decided I was simply going to free my arm and then grab the wolf by the throat and strangle it. If it’s him or me, he’s going to lose. This time the door was close at hand and seemed like the path of least resistance.

My wrist was fairly chewed up and kind of tingly afterwards, and he took some major chunks out of my chest near my armpit. My flannel shirt was all ripped and bloodied. How manly is that!

Normally I would have had a t-shirt underneath my flannel shirt, which might have cut down on some of the damage, but loading the straw was a hot job and so I had chosen to go without that extra layer.

The owner of the dog was devastated by the whole thing and was very apologetic. His dog had no history of aggressiveness but I have heard of many similar incidents, and so I wasn’t that surprised.

So why did the dog attack me?

My first theory is that I hadn’t shaved and was wearing some pretty manly work clothes so the dog clearly perceived me as a threat. I have that tough rugged look that makes other guys take a step back when I walk by. I’m sure even Mike Tyson would step back and say “How are you today Mr. Mather?” as I walk by.

My second theory is that the dogs didn’t like my smell. I had spent the entire previous day working hard and had spent some time getting a load of manure from a place where there was a female dog. This dog kept running her nose all over my work clothes. Plus, I hadn’t showered and so after loading the truck and trailer with straw, I was pretty rank. I grew up watching Looney Tunes cartoons. So I’m thinking the dog looked at me and just saw a big porterhouse steak. Kind of served me right, I guess. Note to self; change your work clothes more regularly.

Michelle convinced me to go to the doctors to get the gashes under my arm checked out. There was talk of stitches but my doctor decided it was best to let them air out and drain. I had to be convinced to get a tetanus shot which I haven’t had since I was a kid. I argued that it wasn’t necessary since I’ve been digging around in the dirt cutting myself on sharp objects for decades and hadn’t had any problems. Eventually I relented. And yes, I mostly fought it because I hate needles. I would rather fight a dog than get a needle but it turned out that neither was really that bad.

It was really weird but on the drive down to the doctor’s office, all of these dogs kept looking at me funny. A Saint Bernard (i.e. “Cujo”) that had been sleeping on a porch jumped up and leered at me as I drove by. A little further along a puppy stood in the middle of the road barking until I stopped. I kid you not. It was tiny.  It finally sauntered away. It was like when one dog gets a piece of you they put out this radar thing and the rest of the dogs just know “Hey, that’s the guy we should try and take out. He’s vulnerable.”

So what did I take from all of this?

#1 The last time we renewed our home insurance our agent told us that one of the most common incidents that result in claims is for dog bites. That seemed weird to me at the time. Now I get it.

#2 That my wife is stoic in the face of health issues. She went through breast cancer, biopsies, surgery, poking, prodding, radiation and she never once said a thing. Never winced. Never complained. Ever. When she suggested that I should get a tetanus shot she had to drag me out of the corner where I had curled up into the fetal position sobbing uncontrollably.

#3 I’m going to take my oldest, bulkiest winter coat, cut off the sleeves and wear these when I approach a house with a dog. “George, there’s some guy at the door with leg warmers on his arms. Should we call the police?”

#4 That I need to practice having acts of violence being perpetrated on me. Cops who spend their days breaking up bar fights are used to this stuff, but I’m not. I live in the woods, miles from humanity. I have no recent experience in this area. I got punched in the face as a kid, but not recently. I think criminals get the upper hand in most situations because of the element of surprise. I’m going to hire a personal manservant like “Cato” like in the Pink Panther movies who was instructed to attack Inspector Closeau unexpectedly from time to time. I need practice with this element of surprise and shock so I’m not immobilized when things happen.

#5 Next time a dog decides he wants a piece of me, I’m going to open a can of whoop-ass on him, and have him running for cover before he knows what’s hit him. Come on wolves, bring it on! You do NOT scare me now.

Then I’m going to join a “Fight Club.”

Our dog “Morgan”

For more information about Cam or his books, please visit www.cammather.com

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