BRIT received the following story from an adopter about her Brittany’s recent attack by a vicious dog and what happened after.
“I know you like updates about the BRIT members, and I thought with the fest coming up, you might want to share what happened with her. I thought about writing sooner, but I wanted to have a better idea of where she was physically and mentally. I was hoping for a happy ending, and it appears we are getting it!
Paqui (PAH-key, after the tortilla chips) and I became partners on 26 December 2021 a few weeks after my corgi crossed the rainbow bridge unexpectedly. A wild ride the first year is an understatement. We don’t know much of her background, but based on her initial health and ongoing behavior, I think the initial assessment of being kenneled most or all of her life was correct. She was a five- or six-year-old dog with a mentality and house experiences of a puppy a few months old. Everything was new and to be approached with a Brittany’s exuberance. She embraced the Brittany motto of “Why walk if you can run, jump or fly?” Her favorite way to express joy was (and still is) to flip over and wiggle herself around, earning the title “land octopus.” She had two dislikes: noises like fireworks and thunderstorms and dogs coming at her face. From a distance, even a few feet away, was fine, but not up close.
We worked on all sorts of behaviors and experiences at home, in the neighborhood, and at pet stores, and we were making good progress in many areas. All that came crashing down late on a Saturday afternoon seven weeks ago while we were on a normal walk in our neighborhood.
I saw a loose dog, no owner in sight, about a block away and knew immediately it was not good. I even commented to the friend I was talking with through my Bluetooth that we were crossing the street because it was not going to be good. The bully type followed us at a quick trot, totally focused on Paqui. I got between them and hollered and stamped my foot several times although I already knew it wasn’t going to make a difference.
Without a sound, the dog attacked Paqui. It went for her legs repeatedly as she alternated between turning belly up and fighting to get away. I didn’t have anything on me for defense. All I could do was hang onto the leash and scream for help.
In seconds, someone driving by stopped. The man had only an umbrella in his truck and did his best to distract the dog by hitting it, but the dog merely paused a moment and went back to attacking. More and more people came out of their homes, and others stopped their vehicles.
One man was carrying a gun…and was an excellent shot. Not what anyone wanted, but there was no alternative.
As soon as the dog was away from Paqui, lots of people sprang into action, and the part of my brain for first aid kicked in. We applied pressure to the bites. A roll of gauze from a man’s first aid kit secured the various towels we were using and made a crude muzzle so we could transport her. A couple lined the backseat of their truck with a tarp to transport us. A homeowner provided big towels, and several of us gently scooted Paqui onto them and carried her to the truck. The couple drove me home to get my purse and then all the way to the ER vet so we didn’t have to move her again.
I didn’t know any of the people who helped. They were all absolutely phenomenal.
When the vet came to give me the initial assessment, she told us that we had done a great job stopping the bleeding with what we had available and that made a huge difference in Paqui’s chances of survival. They kept her about 24 hours to make sure she was stable enough to come home safely. I stopped counting at two dozen stitches on two long bites on two legs. She had more under a bandage splint that went from her right elbow to toes. She also had a broken ulna, and a couple of long bites and some punctures they couldn’t stitch. Her left hind leg was bruised from below the knee to where it joins the abdomen.
But she was alive.
We started what became the longest seven weeks of my life–and probably Paqui’s too. Keeping the wounds clean. Trying to get her to eat. Managing multiple medications. Covering the bandage splint (and what the heck would stay on?) when we went outside. Every. Single. Time. Weekly trips to our vet for bandage changes. More X-rays. No walking other than our front and back yard, and always on a short leash.
She got better. Then we battled over how far to walk. Stop her from jumping on or off the bed. Watch her food and treats since we had no way to exercise. No playing with her best Brittany friend.
News from the radiologist, that he didn’t think the break was healing, sent me into a downward spiral. The vet recommended surgery. After almost two weeks of renewed panic about her condition, a surgeon said she didn’t need surgery because ulnas are slow to heal and don’t bear the weight. Hers was looking good compared to the first X-ray.
Shortly thereafter the bandages were removed and be began getting her back to normal life.
Paqui is pretty sure that means she’s good to go for anything she wants to do. We are in ongoing negotiations for what she can handle. She is showing no lameness, not even with occasionally jumping on and off stuff when I’m not close or fast enough to stop her. She digs in her water bucket outside. Short walks are getting longer each day. And best of all, she was happy to see her best Brittany friend and his basset hound brother again for a quick visit on leashes. I have been worried that she would become reactive or even aggressive toward other dogs.
With all those positives, we are planning on making an appearance, even if it’s a quick one, at the BRIT Fest! I know how to read and manage her, and we will have plenty of space to move around where she is comfortable like we did last year when the good life was so new to her. We’re looking forward to a wonderful day!
Terry Cummings and Paqui