I lay in the bed with my bandaged legs elevated on two pillows in accordance with doctor’s orders. This was the result of being attacked by a vicious dog who had run amok. “if you want him to walk again you must keep his legs elevated for several days” the doctor told my mother. “These are the worst dog bites I’ve ever seen”.
This incident occured when I was ten years old, my parents had taked me back to Caracas, Venezuela for our annual summer visit with my grandparents. While playing baseball I hit the ball and began to run toward first base. Someone yelled “watch out” and before I could comprehend what was happening a big dog had raced onto the field, tackled my leg and was biting into my foot. I staggered a bit then fell to the ground. I rolled over on the ground as the dog bit into my other foot. I was looking at the dog’s mean eyes, his brown face and ears and big black mouth as he continually bit into my skin, as I wriggled on the ground.
Then a passerby (a big teenager) came to my rescue. He began beating the dog with a stick until the dog let go of me and began to focus n him. The teenage boy backed up his bat in hand as the growling dog stealthly approached him. Suddenly the teenager turned aned began to run, the dog pursuing him across the field. The Caracas police arrived with drawn guns they through a net over the dog, took him to the laboratory for testing before putting him to sleep. The dog had run amok on that hot summer day but thank goodness for me he was not rabid.
For years I had nightmares about this experience and was leery to be around any dog. Many years later I got serious with a young lady who said” its time you should get to know my dog” . I swallowed hard and remembered my basic Psyc courses – deconditioning is possible. Primarily, I would sit on the sofa and let the curious dog sniffed me, with her present constantly telling me how gentle the dog was. Sure enought it wasn’t long before I was able to let the dog lay his head inmy lap as I petted him. Then came the time when this big Labradorand I could lie down on the floor together and fall asleep in my arms.
Then the woman, the dog and I had become a family. She and I worried when the dog was sick, and when the dog died she and I both sobbed for days. I will always thank this Labrador Retiever for enriching my life, and for making me able to appreciate why humans beings and the canine world are so closely bonded. Now I smile when I witness masters walking with their beloved dogs and the love they share.
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