Even the Experienced Ones Sometimes Fail – A Lesson in Humility

Exactly one week ago today I relearned a valuable lesson at work. No matter how friendly a dog is or seems to be, never EVER let your face be the closest thing to its mouth when you’re about to do something that might hurt.  As a matter of fact, keep any and all body parts away from the mouth in such a case.  You can have a barrier between you and the dog’s teeth, a wise choice being a muzzle.

There was a dog that came in last week that was self-mutilating its tail.  We had seen it once before and he was coming back for a reassessment.  The dog was very docile and friendly at his first visit, and was just as much when I saw him last week.  He just laid on the floor as I talked to his owner about what was going on and how things were progressing.  I then went to inspect his tail.  The owner had it bandaged.  I leaned over the dog (not a smart move in hindsight) and removed the bandage (my face was directly above his) to check out what was going on.  As I peeled the bandage away from the wound, the dog jerked his head toward me and gave me a warning snap…right to my face because that is what was closest to his mouth.

As I was going through the motions in the room with the client, I was not even considering my safety.  Not one bit.  The dog was a gentle giant!  However, I know better when it comes to an animal in pain.  I know how they react to pain, and the way this dog responded was totally and completely normal.  I just let my guard down, I was too complacent.

Thankfully the only physical injuries that I suffered were a few minor scrapes from the dog’s teeth on my upper lip and a small puncture under my chin.  The most painful part of the experience was the damage to my pride.

I had only ever been truly bitten one time before and it was over 17 years ago, and that dog was vicious.  That was a case of owner negligence.  The owners knew the dog was dangerous and failed to inform any of our staff.  That dog attacked my hand as I tried to take it out of its kennel.  He latched on and kept on clenching his teeth into my hand, as I cringed and waited for him to take a break from clenching so I could get my hand back!  That’s one of the primary differences between a bite from a dangerous animal versus a friendly animal that is reacting to something scary or painful.  The latter will just do a quick bite and release.  The former will keep attacking or latch on.

My incident last week was a great wake-up call for me.  I don’t believe that I will suffer any PTSD from it.  I know exactly what I did wrong and will train and educate other people in hopes that they will avoid a similar situation.  I might have a small scar on the right side of my upper lip once it fully heals, and I kind of hope that I do so that I am reminded regularly to not be so careless.

People keep telling me how lucky I am that the injury was as minor as it is.  They are right. BUT, I also know that if the dog showed any signs of aggression or potential aggression, or even anxiety, my face would have been nowhere near his.  I would have either muzzled the dog before inspecting his wound, or, and most likely, I would have just waited until the doctor was ready to examine the pet and I would have gone in with the doctor to help them safely inspect the injury.

No matter, I am thankful and grateful that I had that experience and am able to share it with others so that they might avoid a similar incident.

 

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We’ve finally found our niche, Part III … Embracing the Rural Life & wanting to make the ESVA our permanent Home

If you need to catch up, check out Part I and Part II before proceeding. Or just read on and if you get lost, I warned you…

Now Chris and I are both working full time. He was working at Wallops Flight Facility and I got a job at Atlantic Animal Hospital. He had a 30 minute (23 mile) commute, I had a 10 minute (4 miles out, 3 miles back) commute. His job paid a LOT more than mine and his hours were more flexible than mine so I couldn’t feel but so bad for him and his commute. Though he did realize it was a good thing that he could make a 23 mile drive in under 30 minutes. In California a 23 mile drive would’ve taken at least 45 minutes to an hour no matter where we were going.

I was home long enough with the dogs and cats before I started working to get them well acclimated to their new home and surroundings. Chompers and C.J. were both the most trustworthy dogs on the planet, so I never had to worry about them getting into anything they shouldn’t. I just worried about them chasing critters outdoors, especially at night, and that only happened when we were home with them.

PRODUCT PLUG: Noxgear Lighthound Vest has been a GODSEND for us since moving to the Eastern Shore of Virginia!

Esme sporting her Noxgear Lighthound vest during an evening stroll.

After being at the animal hospital for a few weeks, I had a conversation about the ticks in the area. My dogs were on Frontline Plus but I would still find numerous ticks on them, some were dying but several were engorged, enjoying a nice blood meal. One of my coworkers had suggested we get some chickens on the property. The chickens love to eat bugs, including ticks. Someone else had suggested we get guinea birds. Chris and I discussed it for a few weeks and decided on giving chickens a try. Before we even had a coop built I brought home a dozen little baby Silkies.

It took only a weekend to erect a small chicken coop. I came up with the design and Chris helped me build it. I thought I did pretty good considering I am not a carpenter.

Our first Chicken Coop. It was small, raised and completely enclosed. It served its purpose for a few years before we realized a few design flaws!

A few weeks after we brought home the biddies, they were ready to go to the coop. We confined them in the coop for about 2 weeks, then started letting them out to explore the yard during the days when we were home.

By early Spring the chickens were well acclimated to their home. We would let them out to free range when we were home, and they would return to their coop every evening. I had zero experience with raising chickens prior to bringing these home. I have to tell you, it was pretty easy to raise them from hatchlings to free rangers! I was not familiar with this particular breed of chicken either and thought they were the cutest things ever. They are a small, bantam type chicken with fluffy plumage. We called them our poodle chickens.

Our silkies were very friendly and personable, and loved a snack of stale bread or left-over French fries.

By late spring we started to notice that we were no longer finding ticks on our dogs or us. Then there was a little added bonus that started to appear in the coop…eggs!  And they were the best-tasting eggs we’ve ever had.  When we had extras we’d share with our friends and neighbors.  If we were going to be making a trip to the midwest to visit family, we were sure to bring eggs with us.  Chickens.  Who’d-a thunk it when we were leaving California…

In the years that followed, we both completely embraced the rural lifestyle of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  We have met some very amazing, interesting, and wonderful people during our time here.  We had come to truly accept this as our home.  We felt at home.  We wanted it to be our permanent home.

Then things started to get a little rocky for Chris at Wallops.  His project was losing funding and he wasn’t sure whether or not his position would still exist when it was time for contract negotiations.  Every year he managed to still have employment!  Until the summer of 2017.  The project was no longer getting any funding.  At least not enough to keep him on it.  He got laid off.

…To be Continued…  Stay tuned!  And thanks for following along!

Summer is a time for Relaxation, but yet is always so busy…

Thankfully, not just with “work,” but also with much devoted “family time.” This is my excuse for the lack of blogging for the past couple of months. I keep thinking I’ll have more time to sit down and “think” and write, but the fact is, I have much LESS time to do so. The weather is too beautiful to be indoors so we spend the majority of our at-home time enjoying the outdoors. As it should be.

I’ve also been testing 2 products over the past few weeks that I promise to post reviews about! Both have been proving to be quite successful. The only hints I will give you are 1) one product is made by a dog product company that I already adore and will make your dog able to join you during outdoor activity more frequently, and 2) one is proving to be a savior for a dog showing thunderstorm phobia. So be on the lookout for those reviews in the next 4-6 weeks. I want to test them a bit more and I should have time to actually sit down and think at some point during that time frame.

Meanwhile, I am going to continue to enjoy this beautiful Eastern Shore of Virginia weather we’ve been having with my family.

I hope you are all having a fun-filled, relaxing and enjoyable summer.

~AnimalWhiz >^..^<