Life Stories: Once Bitten

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I’ve always been a dog lover, and always will.

The two times I’ve had the significant sadness of losing a dog were some of the most emotional of my life. I’m not saying that I haven’t been upset with the deaths of family members and the one time I had to grieve for a beloved friend, but there’s always been something about my dogs and I.

That being said, my love for these animals and complete trust in them has got me in trouble. They say, “once bitten, twice shy”, but thankfully for me it was much closer to “once bitten, twice slightly nervous and intimidated”.

Yes, I’ve been attacked by a dog. 

The year was 1995…

I was 10 years old, young, naïve and full of trust in the outside world. The horrendous roller-coasters of puberty and high school were still 2 or 3 years away, school was a breeze, I had not a care in the world.

On this particular day we had gone to see my aunt and uncle – but they weren’t related to my family in any way. I don’t know how common it is around the world to use the titles but here (and I’d imagine in other Western countries) it’s relatively natural to call close family friends ‘Uncle’ and ‘Aunty’ – and with this particular family we had been brought up to do so.

They were affluent, and had just bought a big house out in the middle of Kurrajong on a massive block of land. We loved going over there, it was such a big place, with a massive yard that never seemed to end. They had horses.

Having a wonderful range of nice possessions, including a flash car on top of everything else, they were perfectly within their rights to obtain a dog that was going to act as a deterrent security presence – as affluent families that live out in the sticks seem to do – and like everyone else at that time they went with a Rottweiler. A wonderful Rottweiler named ‘Lexy’.

This was not the first time I’d met Lexy. Don’t get me wrong, as a 10 year old you’re bound to be wary of an animal that would be taller than you on its hind legs, but we’d been taught that she was approachable – and she was tethered up in the yard anyway, what’s the worst that could happen?

We had been taught that Lexy knew a few tricks, including how to sit down and shake. Coming from a house with a relatively undisciplined, but much smaller and more adorable dog, I loved this. I would repeatedly make her sit and shake, and she would obey me, it was wonderful.

In hindsight, many years down the track, it was probably the absence of some kind of reward that pissed her off, but after a few runs through the trick it appeared Lexy had had enough.

After getting her to sit and putting out my hand for the ‘shake’ part, she leapt at me. It all happened in a blur but it was one of the most terrifying half-seconds of my life. She went straight for the groin.

I was in so much shock that she probably could have bitten my genitals off and I wouldn’t have felt it. I instantly screamed and ran, faster than I ever have IN MY LIFE, around the house. Why I didn’t run inside confuses me, but this is what I did.

Anyway I had run around the house so fast, without realising, that I was coming around the other side and straight back to the scene of the crime and a presumably blood-lusty dog. My parents, who I believe had been alerted to the situation by my brother, were now chasing me (I say again, I must have been going pretty damn fast. I have NEVER had that much adrenaline in my system).

Without knowing where I was, but knowing I could go no further, I collapsed, a screaming, crying mess on the ground, and I have no shame in admitting that. After eventually being dragged out of my hysteria by my parents we examined the evidence.

Thankfully for me, the dog’s teeth hadn’t pierced my skin – but the bruising that remained showed my just how close I was to becoming a Eunuch. There was significant bruising on the top of my inner thigh, and more just beneath where your underwear elastic would rest. I was literally 2-3 inches away from having my genitals bitten off – no wonder I was fucking hysterical.

Funnily enough, we stayed the rest of the night and everything slowly went back to normal – for everyone else anyway.

Yes, I reiterate, the dog was tied up. Had it not been, I have very little doubt that it would have chased my fat-kid frame down and gorged its blood-lust. She would have killed me. I have very little doubt that I would NOT be here today, or at least not capable or writing, if she’d not been tied up.

Was she put down? No. Should she have been? I’m just not sure. If my dog attacked the young child of one of my family friends, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t keep it, but would I put it down? I’m not sure – but hey, she wasn’t my dog, and it wasn’t my choice. I never, EVER, went near her again, and we started seeing those family friends a bit less.

Has it changed the way I perceive dogs? Sadly, yes.

I’m terrified of Rottweilers, I don’t care how nice yours is. Lexy was nice, too. If a big dog of any breed comes bounding up to me off a leash I’m immediately hesitant – not scared, hesitant.

I love dogs, and I always will, but even the things you love can hurt you – or try and bite your dick off.

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