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We bought Henry, (English Setter) last July, aged 13 months. Two months after we got him we were walking through the woods, he was on his extending lead but by our sides when an offlead dog came charging over, ripped his ear to shreds and left a puncture wound in his neck.
Fortunately my husband was with me at the time as I went to pieces seeing all this blood, he got the name and address of the owner then rushed home to get the car, Henry was admitted for emergency surgery to his ear and throat, he spent a few weeks bandaged entirely around his head, poor little mite. The owner of the offending dog admitted full liablility and her insurance paid all our vets bills, but that's not the point, he had a history of attacking dogs that were on lead, his owner more or less told me that it was my fault as my dog was on a lead! I've attached some photos of Hen after he came back from the vets and a few weeks later.
I am on the committee of the local Dog Watch team, basically we look out for suspicious acitvity whilst walking our dogs and report back to the police. Because of my contacts within the police I mentioned the attack to one of them and it transpired that they could warn the owner of the dog to keep it under control, i.e. either on a lead or muzzled. This was carried out, although I haven't seen the dog in question again, hopefully it will prevent another innocent dog from being attacked.
Henry is not a fighter, he is a lover, he adores all his friends and I do let him off on occasions, but only in a field that is fully enclosed and when I know there are no threats to him, his recall is not 100% and I don't want to risk losing him in the woods, he is too precious to me. He gets walked 4-5 times a day, on his extending lead, for anything from 1/2 an hour to 1 1/2 hours each time, he has access to the garden whenever he wants. Thankfully this has not altered his temperament in any way.
Then, just before Christmas, we had the misfortune to cross paths with some people that own a nastie Westie, this had attacked my previous dog on a number of occasions but the people refused to control it...well I wasn't having Hen attacked again, I asked them politely to put it on a lead...as I nudged it gently away 5 times before it got the message, the daughter said the dog had never attacked anything in it's life. There are several people we meet with friendly dogs that have all been got at by this dog, so I phoned my contact at the police station again, apparently these dog attacks are becoming more and more frequent. She asked for details of where they lived and she issued them with a warning also, they have to keep the dog on a lead at all times or risk losing him...there had apparently been other reports about this dog but no-one knew where they lived.
Back to the point, I am now paranoid about taking Hen out, I know I am trying to wrap him up in cotton wool but seeing how this little terrier cross did so much damage the first time, and knowing that he won't fight back, unless it's a dog we already know I am crossing roads and all sorts just to avoid the off lead dogs, most of whom are probably perfectly harmless. Last night Hen had a bounce around with his boxer friend, then we carried on walking only to be charged upon by a black Lab, tail in the air, grumbling away and jumping on Hen's back, no sign of an owner. I pushed it away and shouted at it, it ran back off, we turned around and headed for home, suddenly he was back again trying to bite Hen...as it happened I was protecting Hen's head and throat and the dog grabbed the arm of my wax jacket, so I kicked it and screamed at it to get away. I heard a mans voice in the distance shouting at it to get back, but I didn't hang around, I was in tears, it scared me to death, and I'm never scared of dogs, I love them all and have been bitten so many times as a child because I would try to make friends.
We live in a nice area of Buckinghamshire with plenty of fields and nice places to walk, and I'm not condeming people for allowing their dogs offlead, but it's got to the point where I am happily taking Hen out for his walk and I get this feeling of panic wash over me as to whether we will make it home in one piece.
I know dogs will be dogs and some are bolshy but mean no harm by it, we've met a lot like that, I let them have a sniff and then we walk on, I don't try to stop Hen making new friends, but there are some that just shouldn't be offlead at all, or if they are they should wear a muzzle to protect big softees like my boy.
Thank you so much for all your replies and the lovely emails, it is nice to know I'm not alone in experiencing this...but also not nice because it means your dogs have also experienced this nasty behaviour :-( I'm glad those written about have turned out ok, I know how easily things could have been worse for Henry, and this was only a small terrier type dog, about the size of a Border Terrier.
I have to say that our vet did a fantastic job of cutting and pasting, as he called it, Henry's ear back together. It feels a bit bumpy to the touch and there is a v shape missing out of it, but clever trimming can hide that quite easily.
I have heard that there is a spray you can get, maybe like the one suggested...I'll have to pop into Pets at Home tomorrow and see if they do anything, I would rather use a friendly deterrent than hurt a dog if I can.
The good news is that Hen has had 3 walks today so far and not met up with any villains, only nice friendly dogs....that makes me feel a lot better but I know not to be complacent.
I have previously had problems with a staffy that neighbours used to let out on its own, it attacked my daughters small terrier when I took him for a walk and it was such a frightening experience.
I was advised by a dog warden to take a jiff lemon with me and to squirt it at the dog, he assured me that it wouldnt do any lasting harm.
I have never used it because thankfully they moved house not long after but it makes me feel better to know I have it if I need it
So sorry to read about Henry's experience, and can understand how you feel now, Sheree. Six years ago we moved to the outskirts of a town after living in a village, and our new next door neighbour had a Yorkshire terrier (yes, another terrier...) that went for Luna the day after we moved in. There was no damage, except psychological - after a week or two she started to bark and bare her teeth at any dog she passed, unless she was off leash (which, like you, was only in enclosed fields as her recall isn't 100% reliable). It made walks a great stress as I was constantly anticipating who we might meet on our walks, and trying to avoid the neighbour and her dog too, and then I heard of a dog in the town who had badly mauled another in the park, just to add to the tension. We moved out into the countryside a year and a half ago (yes, this was a big part of the reason!), and now I rarely meet anyone on my walks, which, frankly, is great! That said, we go for only two walks per day, and on most Luna is on the extending lead, and Murphy (who we re-homed 6 months after moving in) walks with me on a shorter leash, unless we go into a local field which is fully enclosed when they both get off or Luna gets off and Murphy goes on the extending lead. Four or five walks a day is dedication indeed!
We have never totally cured Luna of it - even now, sometimes when we see another dog, even dogs she will socialise with off leash, she will act quite aggressively, although if she actually gets to speak to the dog all's fine. She has never actually attacked another dog, and in fact she was bitten just before we moved (on one of the occasions she didn't bark!!) and she didn't retaliate at all (but kept putting on the brakes for a week or so when we went in the same direction). But there are a couple of dog walkers around here who do seem to avoid me, as I think they believe she's aggressive despite my assurances otherwise!
So while I can't offer you any meaningful advice, you certainly aren't alone in feeling paranoid. It makes me mad that so many dogs are off leash, out of control and unpredictable. You and Henry have had a particularly awful experience, and I do hope you can reclaim your confidence.
Thank you again for all your replies...I just don't realise that it is such a problem elsewhere too, when I was single and lived in Lincolnshire I had paddocks for the dogs so never encountered any problems with strange dogs, especially as the lanes were deserted most of the time...I really yearn to go back there soon.
I agree that Henry also must have Victim stamped on his forehead, it seems that dogs make a beeline for him every time, maybe it's because he's on the lead, I just don't know :-(
I'm lucky that I work from home so can take Hen out so many times a day, and although we live in a city, we are away from all the traffic, we have a field opposite, another one up the road, and beautiful woodland just 5 minutes away...I think that is what attracts a lot of dog walkers to the area, and some just let their dogs off regardless of what they may encounter, the dogs shoot off, the owners can't see them getting up to mischief, and the recall is possibly worse than Henrys in the cases where he has been attacked.
Hen is immensely friendly, only this morning he saw one of his staffie friends, this staffie is muzzled as it hates everything, except Hen, he goes all wriggly when he sees him and his owners always say they are amazed at the transformation in him when they meet up. They have a bit of a kiss and a bounce, I'm not sure that Hen gives off any vibes other than being very friendly, but maybe that is the problem, the dominant dog takes advantage of that, I just don't know really, but I do understand that my phobia is going down the lead to him.
I have some of that sqeezy lemon juice here so I shall take that out with me, and see what happens.
Thanks once again for all the advice and support, we really appreciate it :-)
Thanks Sue :-)
Our dog warden here only deals with strays and rehoming, if you phone the council you get told to call the local police. Fortunately for us here we have a brilliant lady that works for the police and she is very approachable and gets things done, i.e. issues the warning letters, or will even just chat with someone if they have a dog that is causing a problem for others. She has also kept me informed on the two ocassions I have had to report a dog/owner.
I do know that not everyone gets the same reaction from the police in their area, because these attacks appear to be on the increase I think they have had to take it more seriously otherwise people will start taking things into their own hands. I know my hubby would think nothing of kicking an attacking dog into oblivion, not nice for the dog or the owner, or for me either as I don't think it's the dogs fault, but if you get people that think along the same lines there will be carnage on the streets. We are very lucky having a force that are on our sides and work hard to get things nipped in the bud.
We've only lived her for just over a year but the lady and man that own Hen's Boxer friend are the font of all knowledge, I just ask them if I need to know anything about anyone and/or their dogs, and they are very forthcoming ;-)
Can I just mention how kind Fran is, she has sent me full details of the paddock and Henry and I are welcome to use it...I'm so looking forward to some chilling out time with my boy, without looking over my shoulder :-)
Took Hen out for his lunchtime walk and came face to face with a black Lab, on his lead with his owner, he took one look at Hen and threw himself at him, snarling away as usual - he is always like that and we see them most mornings and evenings. He is usually on a lead and his owners and I will walk around bushes to avoid him and Hen coming into contact...the reason is he is entire and doesn't like other entire males!!
I didn't realise it was him the other day, it was only when I saw him today I recognised the collar. I know where they live and I am totally suprised that he was allowed off lead when they know he has this problem. They refuse to neuter their boy but seem to think the rest of us should so that he doesn't go for them! I have seen him with a bitch and he was being lovely to her, so it really is only boys he doesn't like.
I can't tell you how much braver I feel now that I know what dog it was, I know he will still come after Hen if he is ever offlead again, but I will be equipped with my jiff lemon and I know where to send the police in need.
Other than that, it was a totally lovely walk with my special boy :-)
Then you also need to talk to Fran about getting YOUR head together. It is NOT your responsibility to "save Henry from attack". He is far far better equipped to save himself. If you have him trapped on his lead he cant defend himself properly, run if he needs to or make the kind of gestures he would use in that situation.
It is you that is getting in his way and you need to learn the behaviour that will help. I am sure Fran will help you