When The Dog Bites

I currently own two dogs, both rescues I found injured and lost on the streets.  One is a tiny and elderly Shih Tzu named Fuzzball, the other a skinny runt of a Pit Bull named Chris.

panting in the woods

chris takes his ease

(Click on all pictures for a larger version.)

We were taking our afternoon walk, the leashed dogs sniffing the breeze and the grass, when an unconstrained Pit Bull raced upon us with a yelling man right behind.  The dog was upon us in an instant, and it snatched up Fuzzball.  Chris and I moved to protect before the killing shake.

You might think this would be a minor problem, as Chris is yet another Pit Bull.  But the attacking animal was significantly heavier and more muscular, as well as being free of a hampering leash.  My dog was being torn apart.

Less than two seconds into the fracas, and I was bitten by the aggressor.

james with a chewed up arm

That handsome devil is yours truly, just moments after the fight.  Note the slippery nylon windbreaker I am wearing, as it saved me from serious injury.  As the jaws closed on my forearm, the material of the jacket kept the teeth of the animal from penetrating too deeply.  My arm squirted out from between the closing maw like a wet bar of soap.

Pure luck, but I’ll take what I can get.  Purchasing that jacket was the best twelve bucks I ever spent at WalMart.

I wasn’t seriously injured, but the bite changed the situation.  Lethal force was now the next logical step.  My gun came free of the holster.

taurus pt111 with magazine

I could see the perfect spot to place a round.  Right behind the left front shoulder of the attacking dog, so the bullet would travel through both lungs and the heart.  It would be a humane way to end the fight in an instant, but something stopped me from taking the shot.

Whenever I find myself in a dire situation, one where hard decisions and decisive action must be made between the ticks of a second, I stop thinking in words.  There is instead a series of images that pop into my mind’s eye, an internal storyboard where I plan out my movements.

indiana jones storyboard

In this case, I could see what it would look like as the sights of my gun came up to align with the chosen impact point, even what it would feel like as the muzzle flip tossed the front of the barrel upwards after the bullet was sent on its way.  But, right at that moment, I also saw something else.

It was how my bullet would rip right through the body of the dog, and punch through the other side with hardly any velocity lost.  I saw it strike the side of a building, drilling through the wall and zipping though the living room of an innocent bystander.  Unless I fired downwards, into the grass, that was all too likely an outcome.

bullet hole in wall

Okay, change of plan.

I took a long step forward, my left arm offered as a sacrifice.  My right hand swung my gun forward at the same time, the sights coming to rest on the hindquarters.  Shoot through the hips to drop the beast, then a double tap through the heart or head to end the fight.

My finger was tightening on the trigger when two hands snaked in from outside of my fiercely focused view, snatching at the rear paws of the attacking dog.  It was the owner, and he dragged his pet away.  All of a sudden the fight was over, and I never fired a shot.

How long did all this take?  Probably five seconds, maybe six total.  I doubt it went on for as long as seven.  People who have never been in  situation like this have a hard time grasping how compressed time gets, but that is just the way it is.

Speaking of time, now that it was over it was time to deal with the aftermath.

The picture of my arm was taken by a young woman whose apartment was a few steps from where the fight took place.  When she heard the altercation, she came at the run with her cell phone ready.  She called the police, called the paramedics, called local animal control, and took a picture of my arm so there would be a legal record of the damage.  I am in awe of her calm head and clear thinking.

woman taking picture with cell phone

Her husband mentioned that they were thinking of taking the necessary course to apply for their own concealed carry licenses, and I offered to take them on as students for the charity self defense course I run.  It is true that they don’t fit the criteria, not being violent crime victims, but I figure I can bend the rules just this once.

The paramedics wiped down my arm, and strongly urged me to seek emergency medical attention as there were a few deep punctures that might prove problematic.  I looked to my dogs, and found that Fuzzball was spattered with blood but was unharmed.  Chris, however, was bleeding badly.

I locked Fuzzball in the apartment and took Chris to the emergency room at a nearby animal hospital.  The passenger seat of my car suffered some stains even though I had draped a heavy blanket over the cloth upholstery as a precaution.  I waited anxiously with him until the vet took him into the treatment room, and then I managed to tear myself away to find a hospital that catered to patients with no more than two legs.

Bottom line is that I am fine, with the tears and bruises on my arm expected to heal in a few weeks at most.  Chris, however, will be healing for some time.

There are pills I can give him to dull the pain, and they make him want to sleep all the time.  I inflated an air mattress on the floor so he won’t have to climb up on to furniture with his ripped legs, and he spends a great deal of time passed out on the blankets.

Fuzzball has taken to snuggling with him for long hours at a time, awake and watchful.

fuzzball stands watch 1

fuzzball stands watch 2

He waits there until the slightest thing is out of place, such as someone walking by the apartment while talking on their phone.  Then he will spring into action!

He will leap to his feet, and face the disturbance head on.  While standing over Chris, he will bark with heartrending fury!

I thought it was endearing the first few times, but now I wish his vocal cords would snap.

31 thoughts on “When The Dog Bites

  1. It’s good to hear that you and your dogs escaped without very serious injury (I hope the wounds will heal quickly), and without any shots having to be fired. Will you be taking any legal action against the assailant’s owner?

  2. Glad you are alright. Sounds like you’ve got a couple of very good dogs there. Hope Chris recovers quickly. Glad you had a good witness as well.
    I know exactly how time compresses like that. I very nearly had to shoot my neighbor’s dog and it was just like that. The whole thing played out as if it had been captured by a high speed camera. I was in the process of clearing leather with my left arm held out towards the dog when it suddenly had a change of heart about attacking.
    That is the one and only time I have drawn my handgun for anything other than training or practice and it was right there in my own front yard. Never let your guard down.

  3. knirirr asks ….

    “Will you be taking any legal action against the assailant’s owner?”

    The man seems to be contrite, and is willing to make payments towards the medical and vet bills caused by this incident. As he makes a living delivering pizzas, I know that a lawsuit would bring little as he has little.

    As soon as we work out terms, I am going to have him sign an agreement that will be notarized. If he misses a payment, then I’ll hire a lawyer just to make sure that he experiences as much trouble as I have.

    Steven asks ….

    “Are you left-handed?”

    No, right handed. As you can see by the blood on my hand in the picture, I did get my gun all messy.

    And to Jennifer, I am so glad it came out alright for you!

    • The man seems to be contrite, and is willing to make payments towards the medical and vet bills caused by this incident

      Excellent. I am very pleased to hear that he is willing to make sure you’re not out of pocket due to his failing.

    • i’m glad he’s going to be paying the bills…likely for a good long while yet. a pity, as he really needs to spend money on a trainer for himself and his dog. sounds like he needs it.

      it’s good you’re (mostly) unharmed. best wishes for speedy healing for everyone.

  4. There’s a dog a block away from me that has charged my dog twice. First time, owner stopped it. Second time, I fended it off with a foot while just about to draw and open my knife when the owner came up again. If it happens a third time, I will have words with the owner.

  5. I’ve had my share of trouble with stuoid dogs and related owners

    including and F-wit rednecl who used to ask me if the dog ever bit me b4 I took action and I’m like WTF !?!?!?!

    I have to wait for your stupid ass mutt to bite me first

    Further proof CATS RULE !!!!

  6. Been there, done that. I was attacked several years ago in my well-fenced back yard when the neighbor’s German Shepherd dug under the fence and decided he owned my yard as well as his and didn’t want anyone in his yard. That was the last time I ever opened any door to the outside without being armed.

    …an unconstrained Pit Bull raced upon us… Based on my experience, THAT’S when my gun would have come out of the holster. I would not have waited for the bite to draw, and if I had to “go contact” on the dog’s back with the muzzle to ensure the round went into the ground, that works, too. ANY unrestrained dog approaching, especially rapidly, is a threat.

    That German Shepherd? The owner managed to keep it with lots of promises to the courts about taking care of it. Three years later it dug under the fence again and severely bit the 7 year-old daughter of the family that bought my house.

  7. I’m sorry for your troubles and I wish both you and Chris well as you recover. Remember that Fuzzball is protecting his pack mate. As time goes by and you all heal, he will become more calm. Bear with them both.

    I’ll keep a good thought for you all.


  8. Thanks for sharing the story. I don’t know, but I speculate that my instinct would be go pull a knife and stab. A pit bull on my arm is too doggy and too close to reach for a pistol.

  9. What type of bullet do you use? If you were loaded with FMG bullets ovepenetration might be a cause for worry.

  10. I am assuming the owner provided proof of rabies vaccination for his dangerous dog? If you had shot the thing and no owner showed up, the Vet would be dissecting its brain right now.

  11. dang, that is a harrowing story. You are correct in how time slows down when something like that happens, and you are able to do some REAL fast critical thinking. Glad you did not have to fire a shot, hope everyone recovers fully.

    The devotion Chris had for Fuzzball is evident, and that dog deserves a steak.

  12. Glad things weren’t worse than they could have been.

    In December my dog (an old and fat Eskie) was attacked from behind while I was walking her on a leash by another dog, one with a reputation, but which is still allowed to run free by its owner. I didn’t notice the bite wound until I got her home. Fortunately, it wasn’t quite serious enough to require a vet trip, but I probably should have taken her anyway. This is an area (small rural college campus) where carrying and using a firearm was not a good option. I often walk her after dark and carry a flashlight, but my compact Fenix has been replaced by a three D-cell Maglite, even in broad daylight. Makes a great club.

  13. Karstic,

    This is an area (small rural college campus) where carrying and using a firearm was not a good option.

    What? Rural area???

    What state is this in, that a rural area isn’t a good place for carry?

  14. Kirk,

    “What state is this in, that a rural area isn’t a good place for carry?”

    Eastern Kentucky. A small private college campus. A rather small collection of buildings and students bracketed by a small community on either side and a whole lot of nothing in the other directions. Such is the nature of development in most of Appalachia.

    • Kentucky law allows colleges and universities to set carry policies on campus. While their restrictions do not carry the force of law, they do allow them to fire me from my position as tennis coach. There are also areas, vaguely defined, which come under federal law due to their use by the on campus K-12 model school.

        • oops, a word or two fell out.

          I didn’t get that you meant literally *on campus*, I guess I was mislead by the dogs in the story (they don’t let you have pets in the dorms, right?), and assumed you were talking about *in the vicinity of* the college.

    • Karstic pretty much says what I was going to, but let me expand on that by stating that I have yet to encounter a college that didn’t ban legal concealed carry.

      There might be one or two out there, but the best way to stay out of trouble is to simply assume that the administrators are hopeless ninnies who will suffer the vapors if they find out anyone has a firearm on their sacred grounds. Having to deal with police who have been summoned by frantic calls about the “…terrorist who will kill us all!” is probably the most likely outcome.

      And if you are employed by a college or university, as Karstic is, then loss of a job is almost certain.

  15. James that is a very scary story. “My arm squirted out from between the closing maw like a wet bar of soap.” -ick!- Good for you for keeping a calm head in crisis and weighing all your options before acting.

    I do wonder about the other pit-bull. (As an aside this does sound like one of those situations responsible for giving pit-bulls a bad name.) The dog, and its owner, sound like they need some serious training, but is it a case that the dog should be put down? e.g. if it hadn’t been you there, but it had been a child . . .

    And an observation: in that situation might pepper spray been a good option to have?

    And a final, not so serious, observation: In stress situations do you always imagine yourself as Indiana Jones? -g-

    • ” In stress situations do you always imagine yourself as Indiana Jones?”

      I wasn’t wearing the iconic hat this time around.

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