Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dog Problems

The trouble is, the dog tends to be aggressive.  I've written about Excellent Rachmaninoff before (click here) and explained about his behavior.  In short, he loves other dogs but does not like people. So this morning as Main Lady and I were taking him for his canine constitutional he reacted badly to a jogger who snuck up behind us.

I didn't see the lady coming, nor did I hear her.  Neither did Main Lady, and the last time I saw Rocky he was watering the landscape a few feet behind me.  Evidently he lunged at the woman because the retractable leash got jerked out of my hand without warning.  Rocky charged at the lady, whom we'll call Betty, and barked at her fiercely, jumping and lunging.  Betty did everything wrong.  She squealed, danced around and flapped her arms.  Rocky continued to bark and tried to jump up on her.  The donnybrook lasted about five seconds and at the end of it all Betty had a scratch on her forearm which bled.  Betty proceeded to collapse on the ground and cry.  She kept up the hysterics for a few minutes, then accepted my offer of first aid.  I bound up her wound with my pocket handkerchief, which was unused and clean.  I offered her a ride home, which she declined.  Betty then requested my name, address and cell phone so that she could report the attack.  Now, I'm prepared to be generous here but not that generous, plus I didn't have my cell phone with me.

All three of us walked the 6 or so blocks back to Main Lady's house, with Rocky and Main Lady in the lead.  When we got to the house, Main Lady retrieved proper first aid supplies and we cleaned and bandaged the scratch while standing in the driveway.  Then, after more apologies from both of us, Betty accepted my offer of a ride to her home, during which time I learned that she was the controller of a non-profit organization and married with young children.  The longer I listened to her, the more I got a feel for what might have happened and why Betty overreacted the way she did. Physically, Betty is stocky, about five and a half feet tall, maybe one-forty; she could lose a few pounds.  Betty does not live nearby, her home being a few miles from Main Lady's house.

Naturally Betty felt it her civic duty to report her dog bite, and did so.  The Sylvania Police got involved and sent a policeman around to look at the wound and take information for a report.  I presume the same policeman came to Main Lady's home, but neither of us was home at the time.  Main Lady took Rocky over to her mother's house and I was headed somewhere else to call my attorney, Johnny the Hammer.  The Sylvania Police then called the house asking for Rocky's license number and proof of his last rabies vaccination.  Rather than having the police come around and collect it, we went to the Sylvania City Police station and gave them the information they wanted.  The policeman informed us that he'd seen the wound, and that it was a dog bite.  Main Lady and I informed him politely that it wasn't, and that's where we left it.  The patrolman was polite, but he struck me as being pretty young.  His leather was brand new and had no wear marks on it.  I think he needed to shave about twice a week.  The bottom line is that we must keep Rocky in quarantine for ten days so as to check for rabies.  This is not a big deal as most dogs are kept in quarantine anyway, Rocky included.

Main Lady called her daughter, Cottontail, who is a veterinarian and explained what happened.  Cottontail sided with the dog, stating that any dog would have reacted this way after being startled by a jogger coming up from behind, and that only a medical doctor can diagnose a wound as a dog bite.  Here I believe that Cottontail is referring to the legal definition as well as a common speech definition.  In this case, the wound was caused by Rocky scratching Betty's arm; Betty says Rocky bit her.  I don't dispute that Rocky would bite; I dispute that in this case he did bite.  There's a difference.  Johnny the Hammer stated that there isn't much to worry about.  Papa Doc Skeldon is no longer in office and the Tonton Macoute have had their gunnysacks confiscated by the new dog warden and homeowners insurance will cover any medical expenses.  I wouldn't expect any, but I suppose you never know.

Clearly I should have had better control over the dog.  All I can say is that I'm not at my best first thing in the morning and that I never saw it coming.  Main Lady was residing in a world of her own making doing Lord only knows what, and she didn't see the problem either.  I've tried to train the dog, and have succeeded in teaching him to sit, stay and lie down.  He's quick to obey these commands under most conditions, although in stressful situations he does not like to lie down.  Normally, we'd all move aside and allow the jogger to pass unmolested.  Today was not normal.

Betty works as an executive in a politically correct environment.  As I talked to her and she calmed herself down, I detected a certain amount of arrogance in her speech and mannerisms.  I think Betty has a sense of entitlement about the world around her.  A sort of 'people are in my way' attitude.  Betty wouldn't think anything of running up behind us; we're obstacles in her way.  When her preconceived notion about the world was rudely shattered by a fiercely barking dog, she literally collapsed.  It's likely that Betty feels more than a little vindictive by now.

For my part, I'm going to teach Excellent Rachmaninoff a new command or two.  He learns pretty quickly, so we'll see how fast he can pick up on a solid 'come' or 'return' command.


historymike said...

A couple of thoughts:

1. Excellent Rachmaninoff would probably benefit from training, and I wholeheartedly recommend Carol Humberger at A Promised Friend. Carol is the best trainer I have ever worked with, and she has achieved miracles with dogs who others gave up on. Her techinques teach owners as much as their dogs, and I became 10 times better as an owner after a few lessons.

2. You are correct that your homeowner's insurance kicks in if "Betty" decides to make a federal case out of this. I think your best move is to lay low and hope this blows over, as any followup calls you make to the police or "Betty" will likely rekindle unwanted attention.

3. Ultimately, no matter how goofy "Betty" acted, the law will interpret your actions as a failure to control Excellent Rachmaninoff, at least unless you can line up witnesses to the contrary. Ohio Revised Code does allow for exceptions if the dog was taunted or teased. Also, you might want to read up on laws related to dog bites to make sure you are fully compliant.

Beat And Release said...

This may sound corny, but the techniques used by Cesar Milan on National Geographic Channel's "Dog Whisperer" really do work. I bought his first book when I picked up my German Shepherd. That dog has turned out to be the best one I have ever had. I'm working on his being a bit dog aggressive.

Oh, I did leave the book laying around after I read it.....he ate it. hehehehe No problems after that, though.

Mad Jack said...

HistoryMike: I'm negotiating with Main Lady over a few classes with Carol. She has group classes starting soon and I could take Excellent Rachmaninoff to class and see how long it takes us to get thrown out for being disruptive, or politically incorrect, or something. The dog would likely enjoy himself, and maybe I would too.

Mad Jack said...

Beat and Release: Maybe he was reading it and got frustrated from trying to turn the pages with his tongue. Can't say I blame him much.

I like Cesar Millan and by all accounts he really does get results. One thing that my brother pointed out to me is that Cesar is an absolute black belt in dog fighting. If you watch his show often enough you'll see him handle a large dog that's really trying to put the bite on him, and he defeats them without a lot of fuss or (seemingly) effort. When he does spring a leak, he makes no fuss about it - he treats it the same way most students treat an accidental punch in karate class; it isn't ballet. You shrug and keep going.

As for Betty, she overreacted. If she were black this whole thing would have been Broadway quality Shaniqua Theater.