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nancy in AZ

Treating the Trauma

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My little blond guy, Bing, was attacked by a neighbor's pitt Wed evening. Thankfully, his injuries, though serious, are not life-threatening. I was also bitten, though superficially, trying to protect him. Most of my injuries (and they are relatively minor) came from the other dog throwing me to the ground after I managed to fend it off momentarily. It spun around and returned for a second attack, and I grabbed it by the collar. Bing may well have been killed, if it hadn't been for another neighbor riding by on his bike and intervening by pushing his bike into the pitt, getting it to back off (I was on the ground by this time) and then positioning the bike between Bing and the offending dog.

 

So the dog is impounded, and the owner, who feels horrible, and is taking full responsibility, has informed me the dog will not be coming back. I learned afterward, it had not been the first time this dog had escaped his yard and attacked and injured another dog in the neighborhood.

 

Bing received deep punctures on both sides of his thoracic region and has sutures and drains. I kinow his physical wounds will heal. It's the psychological damage that concerns me even more.

Under normal circumstances, when I wake up he is joyful and greets me enthusiastically with lots of kisses. This morning I had to coax him out from his bed and he was trembling. Naturally, he is fearful of going outside now. And to add even more tragedy to the situation, his little buddy who lives nearby, and who we have play dates with, perished the next night in a truck fire.

 

He doesn't have any other well known pals to ease his transition back to socializing or even accepting being around dogs without feeling terror-stricken. Obviously I'll be paying very close attention to his body language and maintaining a keen eye on any future potential interactions before permitting them. I sure could use some feedback on the best way forward.

 

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Nancy, I am so sorry this happened to you and Bing, and glad to hear you're both recovering well physically.

 

At this point, I'd be attending to MY emotional aftermath as well as Bing's. Slow and easy for both of you, and matter of fact at the same time. I can pm you w/more details or you can email me at organize @ sonic.net Just take out the spaces.

 

As much as possible, keep your pre-attack routines the same as before the attack. Adjust as needed, of course. Does Bing like being petted? Is he still accepting your touch? I know you need to be careful around the drains and sutures, but if you can stroke him slowly AND he relaxes with your touch, then do that.

 

Start with that, and see how he does. Whatever support YOU need from friends and family, make sure you get that.

 

Again, contact me directly if you want more details. And I'm sending mojo, of course!

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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Aw. I'm so sorry to hear this, Nancy. I don't have any words of wisdom, but agree that y9ou need to take care of yourself so you can be there for Bing as well. I hope you're both able to recover physically as well as emotionally. If it's OK, I'll send Reiki (plural) your way.

 

roxanne

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Don't be surprised if Bing is muscle sore for a number of days yet. Moving around helps with the soreness as long as you don't overdo it.

 

Sending prayers for both of you.

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I also agree that you need to take care of yourself first. Bing will read off of you. So if you're hesitant, so will Bing. If your calm and confident, bing will read of of that. I had a dog attacked, not even close to the same extent, but she needed me to be her leader. I was scared for awhile after fearing for what she felt which was so wrong on my part. I hope nothing but the best for you guys. All dogs take these things differently.

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I am so sorry this has happened to you both. I know there have been several discussions here about recovering from dog attack trauma. I'm not in a position to search and post links to the articles but hopefully someone will, or you can access them using the search function.

 

Very best wishes for physical and emotional healing for both of you.

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That is just awful. I'm so sorry it happened. I can't imagine how you begin to feel confident walking out in the world again.

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First off...I am so sorry. That is such a scary, painful and horrible situation for everyone.

 

I second everyone's attitude when they tell you for you to work on yourself and keep routines (as much as possible).

Having said that...I had a little Chi attacked by a pit and the damage was surprisingly minimal due to quick interventions. But regardless...she was super traumatized. It took the dog that would not be deterred off me weeks to let me even pet her.

It just took some time. But she was very much the same dog as before with time.

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Nancy, just want you to know that I am thinking of you. I can hardly imagine anything more terrifying, and am so very sorry to hear this happened to you.

Please do take care of yourself. And I think that trying to maintain normal routine as best you can is good advice.

Sending you my best energy for recovery.

Please keep us informed as to how things are going.

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This happens way too often. Several people on this board have been through really bad dog attacks. Hopefully they will see this and come in and tell you how they were able to get passed the fear. It is a very traumatic experience emotionally to be attacked like that. It takes a lot of time and love to recover. Don't try to hurry it. just take it easy and go slow.

 

One of our members dogs was attacked by an off leash bull dog not very long ago . And there have been others. It's a real problem and it just takes time and patience and love to heal again.

 

My neighborhood is full of pitts. But there are other breeds that can be very dog aggressive, too. I don't walk my dogs.

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My heart truly goes out to you, I am SO sorry this horrific and traumatizing event happened to you and Bing. My dog Wick and I are the two mentioned earlier who recently were attacked by a bull dog, ending with similar injuries.... And I would never wish that on anyone, and I am sorry it happened to you.

 

Like others have said this awful awful traumatic attack happened to both of you, and I am not talking about your physical injuries either. So please take the time and self love to understand that you will be going through emotional trauma at the same time as Bing, and accept that your emotional baggage will affect him too. You witnessed and fought off a deadly attack on your best friend, that is a real thing so please take care of yourself.

 

Every dog is different, but I definitely agree with others that you should start with keeping the routine as normal as possible as well as hold the same expectations. This will give you a gauge on what things he is doing differently and make him feel safer, because he knows what to expect.

 

Wick seemed to have a mental breakdown for a while and went of the deep end.... We did many things during the last three months to build him back up and I am happy to say that he is back to normal, he even still loves dogs.

 

I am so sorry that you lost Bings best friend so soon after, that is so sad for you all. Do you have other dogs in the household?

 

This could be a very slow process... And the healing of the puncture wounds and gashes is long too.... And they go through very weird stages ... Just be patient kind to both yourself and Bing.

 

Please keep us updated.

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So, so sorry. I had a pit attack my BC/Pyrenees while I was kneeling next to her. I thankfully avoided getting bit, and had help right away....but I shook for a good five minutes afterward and suffered a hip injury for about a month. Now there are very few dogs she is friendly with. I wish I had good advice, I don't...so, so sorry this happened.

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As the owner of a dog with severe PTSD (two pit bull attacks), I will disagree a bit with the advice others gave.

 

Evaluate your normal routine. Don't take your dog to public places. Give him time to decompress and get all that adrenaline out of his system (that can take several days). Keep things quiet and easy for now.

 

Get super protective of him. Don't force any interactions and make sure no dogs or people force themselves onto him. Get comfortable with pissing off strangers and even well meaning friends who insist all dogs love them or all dogs love their dog. It doesn't matter. Your dog needs space. He needs to know you have his back, NO MATTER WHAT. If he trusts that you will never let anything hurt him, he will be relaxed in public. After an attack like this, it can potentially take years to regain that trust.

 

This is your bible. Read it, understand it, live by it. He Just Wants to Say Hi

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Liz, thanks for clarifying. I was referring to the household routine, not even thinking about getting out and about as something to be very, very careful of. And ditto for the exposure to other people/dogs.

 

The article you link to is excellent.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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You've already been given a lot of really good advice, but I did want to chime in. Almost a year ago, Gabe was attacked by an off-leash pitbull, who ended up being euthanized for aggression to animals (Gabe was not the first animal she had attacked). It sounds like Gabe's physical wounds were not quite as severe as Bing's, but it was scary nonetheless. At the time it happened, we were having a ton of leash reactivity issues with him, he had a difficult time with dogs in general, and has some real "stranger danger" issues with people. He's a nervous guy, and my biggest concern was his psychological wounds post-attack.

 

In our experience, the advice of "keep your routines" and "change your routines" are both very true. I believe routines are very important for our dogs to make sense of the world and feel like things happen with some predictability. But sometimes routines need to be changed for safety's sake. I think the sooner you can get some semblance of your normal in-home routines back, the better for both of you. In our house, the dog and I get up very early to have a few hours of walking, coffee, and dog time. It's an important part of my day, and I don't think Gabe realized he really lived in our new house until the first day we were able to do that. Find what parts of your routine Bing is up for, and build on that. For Gabe immediately post-attack, although we weren't really walking, I took him out on leash to potty at the same point in our morning routine that we would have walked. We just stayed closer to home (we didn't have a fenced in yard, so it had to be an on-leash walk around our property). Find safe places to be, quiet times to be out in the world, or whatever parts of this need to be tweaked to make it a less stressful event for both of you once he's physically ready to try.

 

My second piece of advice will be to let Bing take the lead. Gabe blew me away with how well he psychologically recovered from his attack, which I know is not the typical experience, but I almost got in the way of that. I was a nervous wreck walking with him, and I know he felt that. My dad and husband both spent more time at home with Gabe post-attack and did some of the first longer (around the block) walks once he was ready to do that. Gabe did fine, and I'm not sure that I would have been relaxed enough to give him that opportunity. So remind yourself of all the many successful walks you've had, remember how confident you felt before this happened, do what you need to do to help yourself get through this. Then be his advocate, protect him, don't force any social situations, but leave open the chance that he'll do okay. I know he's really scared and in pain right now, but see how he does once he's physically feeling better. Maybe he'll do okay, or maybe you'll have years of work to do to help him get through this, but either way all you can do is take it day by day and see what he needs from you.

 

I wish you both the best of luck. I carry SprayShield with me now, I hyper-vigilantly scan for off-leash dogs as we walk, and I worry about this all of the time. I clearly still have a lot of my own work to do psychologically! But I also recognize that there are benefits to having Gabe be out in the world, and most of our time out on walks and in the world are good for him, and it wouldn't be fair to him to never leave our yard.

 

The members of this board are an awesome support team, and please continue to let us know how you and Bing are doing.

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You've already been given a lot of really good advice, but I did want to chime in. Almost a year ago, Gabe was attacked by an off-leash pitbull, who ended up being euthanized for aggression to animals (Gabe was not the first animal she had attacked). It sounds like Gabe's physical wounds were not quite as severe as Bing's, but it was scary nonetheless. At the time it happened, we were having a ton of leash reactivity issues with him, he had a difficult time with dogs in general, and has some real "stranger danger" issues with people. He's a nervous guy, and my biggest concern was his psychological wounds post-attack.

 

In our experience, the advice of "keep your routines" and "change your routines" are both very true. I believe routines are very important for our dogs to make sense of the world and feel like things happen with some predictability. But sometimes routines need to be changed for safety's sake. I think the sooner you can get some semblance of your normal in-home routines back, the better for both of you. In our house, the dog and I get up very early to have a few hours of walking, coffee, and dog time. It's an important part of my day, and I don't think Gabe realized he really lived in our new house until the first day we were able to do that. Find what parts of your routine Bing is up for, and build on that. For Gabe immediately post-attack, although we weren't really walking, I took him out on leash to potty at the same point in our morning routine that we would have walked. We just stayed closer to home (we didn't have a fenced in yard, so it had to be an on-leash walk around our property). Find safe places to be, quiet times to be out in the world, or whatever parts of this need to be tweaked to make it a less stressful event for both of you once he's physically ready to try.

 

My second piece of advice will be to let Bing take the lead. Gabe blew me away with how well he psychologically recovered from his attack, which I know is not the typical experience, but I almost got in the way of that. I was a nervous wreck walking with him, and I know he felt that. My dad and husband both spent more time at home with Gabe post-attack and did some of the first longer (around the block) walks once he was ready to do that. Gabe did fine, and I'm not sure that I would have been relaxed enough to give him that opportunity. So remind yourself of all the many successful walks you've had, remember how confident you felt before this happened, do what you need to do to help yourself get through this. Then be his advocate, protect him, don't force any social situations, but leave open the chance that he'll do okay. I know he's really scared and in pain right now, but see how he does once he's physically feeling better. Maybe he'll do okay, or maybe you'll have years of work to do to help him get through this, but either way all you can do is take it day by day and see what he needs from you.

 

I wish you both the best of luck. I carry SprayShield with me now, I hyper-vigilantly scan for off-leash dogs as we walk, and I worry about this all of the time. I clearly still have a lot of my own work to do psychologically! But I also recognize that there are benefits to having Gabe be out in the world, and most of our time out on walks and in the world are good for him, and it wouldn't be fair to him to never leave our yard.

 

The members of this board are an awesome support team, and please continue to let us know how you and Bing are doing.

This!!!! This is exactly what I meant! You are spot on (in my opinion of course) we went through all of these stages too. Wow you really put into words what I was thinking. Give Gabe a kiss and thank you for sharing.

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It should be required reading for everyone.

I will agree with this!

 

When I first got my old dog (fear-reactive Buddy), that article was like a light in the darkness. It helped me realize that my dog's reactions were completely normal for him, not bizarre or out of the blue. Now, if only the owners of the "other" dogs would recognize the dynamics of one dog charging another!

 

In the last three months 20-lb Cricket and I have been "rushed" by a pit bull mix and a large boxer. Both dogs came at us with a full on menacing charge: not a boundy, happy, wiggly "I'm so glad to see you!" run. I STILL react with panic and fear when this happens, after living with Buddy for 10 years. Both owners acted put out, like, "Well, she would never hurt you!"

 

I would like to know how I'm supposed to differentiate between a dog who looks like she is attacking but isn't, and a dog who looks like she is attacking and IS. How about just don't let the dog loose if that's how she responds when a small, leashed dog walks by your house?

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Bing's healing is coming along nicely. I am fortunate to be in a position to take him with me to my office, so I can keep an eye on him. He appears to be bouncing back to his former buoyant, effervescent self. This after a period of having to be coaxed out of bed every morning, trembling, and reluctance to venture into the backyard unless I am right there with him.


We had a vet appt Mon to remove the drains. The more serious wounds on his lower right side were still draining quite a bit, so we returned yesterday for that. I feel so stupid and frustrated. It didn't occur to me until it was suggested at the Mon vet appt (by another dog owner, no less) to put a T-shirt on him to prevent his scratching at his sutures, something I had done for Jill when she received sutures several years ago, but hadn't occurred to me in this instance. So all that time he was wrestling with, and feeling immobilized by the cone or towel neck brace I fashioned, was unnecessary.


While at the vet yesterday, I made certain to maintain a large bubble around him from other dogs in the reception area. He was shaking just being there. When the vet tech brought him back out to me in the reception area, a poodle came right up to him and they wagged tails and sniffed noses. I was a bit put out that she wasn't paying attention and allowed this to happen, but relieved that he doesn't seemed to have generalized fear of other dogs now, and ultimately, glad that I wasn't the one holding onto his leash, as I'm sure I would have reflexively jerked him away. Oh, did I mention that Jill suffered a brief attack from a lab mix that was off leash just 2 weeks prior? The dog charged out of it's driveway and without hesitation jumped her. The dog's elderly owners just stood there watching. Fortunately, that dog decided it didn't want to tangle with Jill after all (she fights back--fiercely and unrelentingly) and so the encounter was brief, and I believed, at the time, harmless, but just a few days ago I found a healed bite wound on her back.


Tues evening I took Bing for a brief walk. He was prancing down the street with his tail up and a smile on his face--such a welcome sight brought tears to my eyes. Thankfully, he has not demonstrated any reluctance being around Jill. They continue to greet each other affectionately, and initiate play, just as they always have. Actually, she had been kind of freaked out by him when he was wearing the cone and preferred to steer clear.


So last evening a friend and I were walking Jill in the neighborhood, and I see a woman walking an older yellow lab without any leash heading in our direction. They were about 75 feet away and the dog was out in front of her by a good distance, so I shouted for her to get her dog. She calls the dog and of course it starts trotting away from her and toward us. I shouted repeatedly come get your dog, NOW!! GET IT! GET YOUR DOG NOW!! And it wasn't until I brandished my aluminum walking stick that she finally started to move her feet faster to retrieve the dog, who continued to ignore her calls. I know the dog is friendly (of course--we know that is completely beside the point). This morning I see the owners walking the same lab off leash (as they do every morning) right past the front of my house. I approached them and explained the reason for my attitude last night, and why I was so adamant (it was the property caretaker walking the lab last evening, and she had evidently informed them of the incident) and they thanked me for the explanation, expressed sympathy and said they understood. But it's obvious that they think because they have an elderly, friendly dog they are entitled and will change nothing <sigh>. I think I'll print out the "He Just Wants to Say Hi" article (thank you Liz--and I have read it here previously)--and leave it at their mailbox.


Thank you all for the advice, well wishes and support. I am not as active on this board as I once was, but it continues to be the first and most valuable place I turn to in a crisis.post-3160-0-30172000-1471537462_thumb.jpg


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I'm so happy to hear the good news that Bing seems to be bouncing back. And you, too. Remembering to put a t-shirt on him probably just flew out of your head because of the stress from the whole situation. Stress can affect us like that.

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So glad to hear that Bing is doing well, and able to resume some normal activity. I hope you are able to find some soothing, restorative activities for yourself. A glass of wine and a good book come to mind for me.

 

I think that clueless people tend to remain clueless. I've been that person in the past, and am trying to make up for it now, but it took some fairly painful incidents along w/just as painful introspection to lose the clueless attitude. And I guess some people don't learn no matter what happens.

 

Best of luck in continuing this very nice trend for you and Bing!

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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