The Day the Dog Bit Me
Have you ever been bitten by a dog?
I try not to think of that day, but every once in a while someone will ask me about the scars on my left elbow. I recount the story, in less graphic detail and with a little humor. The scene was anything but that.
My husband and I had just opened up a pet sitting business earlier that year. Our clientele had slowly risen from three to thirty in a matter of months. We were busy through those hot, grueling summer months, driving back and forth between visits. Our services were strictly held at the pet owner's home; the animals were not boarded. It was almost too overwhelming with just the two of us, but we were making money and good money!
We typically asked pet owners new to our services to phone two weeks in advance so we had ample time to meet the owners and pets at their homes and make any follow-up meetings if necessary before the owner's departure. Instead, we decided to take on this new client just two days before they would depart.
We met the family at their place of residence, filled out paperwork, and spent some time with their boxer, Hercules. He playfully jumped on us and licked our hands and arms. The family laughed as he did this, ensuring us that he was very loving. My husband and I had no doubt about this.
Two days later I showed up at the house, alone. It was mid day and the temperature was a stifling 100 degrees. I approached Hercules in his gated area of the yard and said hello happily. He sniffed and licked my hand and ran out of the gated area once I opened it up.
I went about filling up his water bowl and cleaning up any messes he made. I turned around to see him sniffing around the yard and glancing at me every once in a while.
We met in a shaded area under the porch for pets. He was so adorable in his sitting position. I thought this would be the perfect picture to send on my cell with a message to the owners, a usual service we provided each visit.
I was about two feet away with the camera phone aimed at Hercules. My final word was, "Smile" before the flash and "chick, chick" sound went off. Within a split second, Hercules had lunged at me, canines ablaze. His teeth pierced my left arm for just a second before he released and ran away.
The next few minutes were total shock with deafening silence. All I could hear was my heart pounding in my chest. It took a moment to realize what had just happened before I noticed the drops of blood pounding the pavement below my elbow. I raced out the backyard, cell phone still in hand and did the only thing I could think of - call my husband.
I could barely speak. I uttered, "Dog…dog bite me." My husband simply answered, "Are you safe?" My reply was, "Dog…bite me." He retorted, "I'm on my way."
I was bleeding more at this point. I had left a trail of blood on my way out. I couldn't get into my car as my keys were in the backyard. I went to two neighbors in attempts to get some form of bandaging without freaking them out in the process. The second home answered their door.
I was exceptionally lucky to have knocked on their door. They sat me down in the foyer, bandaged me up the best they could with paper towels, gauze, and tape, and let me stay till my husband arrived. The father and daughter even sat and talked with me, trying to assure me everything was OK. I am eternally grateful for their generosity.
My husband arrived after ten minutes. The helpful neighbor and my husband were able to lead Hercules back into his pen in the backyard so I could retrieve my car keys.
By this time, I was shaking uncontrollably and large blood stains were forming on the side of my shirt. My husband and I took off to the ER.
I must have looked like I was shot or just murdered someone when I walked into those sliding doors at the hospital. The attendants quickly moved me to a room.
The stitches didn't hurt as much as I thought they would. The actual bite and exposure of tissue and muscle was much, much worse. I asked the doctor in a weak but playful manner, "Am I going to die?" He responded, "Eventually."
I thought I was in the clear, but half a week later my entire left arm had swelled up. I returned to my family doctor who admitted me into the hospital the same day.
Hercules was up to date on his shots, including rabies, but my arm was still infected from his saliva. I underwent surgery to remove the bacterial buildup localized in my left elbow and was in the hospital for monitoring a total of four days. I then received several weeks' worth of in-home treatment through a PICC line.
Hercules was quarantined for ten days before being released back to his owners. We have not provided services for the family since the incident.
**Specific names and details have been altered for confidentiality reasons.