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Obtaining & Treating a Dog Bite: Sydney’s Adventure

I am not a licensed veterinarian.  If your dog has a serious wound, please seek out a vet.

In Treating Dog Bite Wounds at Home:  Our History, you learned about Trooper’s dog encounters and how they were handled.  For the most part, the care and treatment of the wounds were left to the expertise of the veterinarians.  We enjoyed a little more than 2 years between his last incident and the most recent dog bite wound, which would teach me how to handle situations by myself.  Sydney’s turn…

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, Sydney is a button pusher.  I believe she has social stress.  I can see it in her elevated levels of anxiety in new situations and a tendency toward defensiveness.  I think it stems from two sources – fear and bossiness.  She is occasionally scared but instead of cowering, she goes into defense or attack mode.  You would think that being concerned with self-preservation would cause one to lean toward cautiousness.  But not Sydney!  Maybe she feels she will ultimately be safer if she barks the threat to death or more seriously, attacks.

It’s a Beautiful Day for a Hike

A beautiful fall picture of some of the woods we hike in.

We are very fortunate to have a friend who has 2 Australian Shepherds.  I mentioned them in another post – they’re beautiful and well loved.  However, they are not allowed off leash.  Most people know that the probability of a successful dog-to-dog introduction will be much greater if both dogs are off leash (assuming no dangerous tendencies).  Knowing this, my friend and I agreed to have the dogs meet in the woods.

I entered the woods before my friend and had my dogs off leash, allowing them to roam about while we waited for her arrival.  Unfortunately, shortly after letting them off leash, I watched her drive by, clearly missing the parking spot and heading toward the next parking lot.  That lot has a separate trail.  Since she had never been here before, it was clear she thought we were meeting somewhere else.

Because my trail was headed in a different direction from where her trail would lead her, I knew I had to get to her fast so she didn’t end up way ahead of me (not knowing where she was going). I kept the dogs off leash for personal safety (ie. so I wasn’t trying to avoid two dogs and tree roots) and started running toward the other trail entry.  Bad move on my part.

Sydney’s typical approach to behavior in the woods: Let’s go as fast as we can!

A Surprise First Encounter

Sydney, being a speedy little thing, was over at the other trail in a nano-second.  Trooper and I arrived 6-8 minutes later.  While obnoxious at times, Sydney is actually a good girl, so she was waiting at the entry for us slow pokes.

As I approached, she jogged ahead of me, which was our normal routine.  I couldn’t see my friend and assumed I’d be able to grab the dogs well before we all met.  I let Trooper off.  Bad move Number 2.

We rounded a hill, went around a bend, went over another hill and there they were!  Friend and leashed dogs, making their peaceful way along the trail.  My dogs spotted them before me and took off.

I didn’t yell or do anything stressful;  I just started jogging quickly toward them.  Sydney has met a lot of dogs off leash in the woods and been fine.  This was her first time meeting another bossy, female Australian Shepherd, face-to-face.  Well, bossy female started barking at other bossy female and then it all broke down.  The two other Aussies ran around my friend, effectively trapping her in the leash (like a straight-jacket), and brought her crashing down to the rough trail.

Now the other Aussies have something to protect so they’re on guard.  I’m now stressed because I’m worried about her, so my dogs pick up on that and are on guard.  They all got too close and there was a brief hairy tussle right on top of my friend (because her dogs were leashed – they couldn’t move away).  Enough’s enough!  I then charged and shooed my dogs away.

(Our dogs had met prior to this hike.  We have allowed them to interact at an empty dog park.  The only difference is that Sydney had always been left in the middle-space between the two gates, to get used to the dogs without an expectation of interaction.)


More Tussling on the Trail

Her dogs stayed on leash for the hike and mine stayed off.  Sydney charged way ahead and was behaved for the most part.  Trooper loves those dogs so he just jogged along as part of their pack.  Sydney came back a few times to say hello and a barking, shuffling-around match would break loose. It wasn’t clear who started it as both females barked and growled every time the other dog did something ‘suspicious’.

After two or three uncomfortable confrontations, I put Sydney on a leash and decided she couldn’t be trusted.  She seemed fine so I had not reason to believe otherwise.

Despite having occasional psychotic moments, Sydney is a good girl and she wants to get along with everybody.  [Sometimes she just looks psychotic.]

Finding the Bite Wound

Sydney has a skin gland on her left thigh that looks like a volcano pimple.  I had it looked at last time we went to the vet and they said it was normal with aging.  Fine.

The hike was on a Friday.  On Monday night, I noticed Sydney worrying away at her skin gland.  She was kind of favoring her leg and would occasionally sit down gingerly to lick at it.  Something didn’t seem right.  I couldn’t see a darn thing with all of her hair there so I shaved it down to her skin.

Well, ta-da, there was a puncture wound!  Three days old and starting to close up.  I felt awful.  Sydney must have been so uncomfortable.  I’m glad I found it when I did.  And I’m glad she had the skin gland which directed my attention to that area.

Time for treatment…Stay tuned for the next post which details how we decided to treat the puncture wound.