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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.
I totally agree with you that the problem is the loose dogs and their owners and not yours. And how wonderful of you to give Henry this wonderful life despite your knee surgery. That is a challenge to walk a setter without perfect functioning body parts!! Anyone who thinks they have 100% recall of their dog just hasn't come across their dog's temptation yet.
I wouldn't trust any dog at 100%. 95% sure, but there is always something that could trigger a dog to look back at you and decide that you can wait a minute while they go after prey. That is just my humble opinion.
your in a tough spot ultimately you can only do what is necessary to protect your dog sometimes that means you have to hurt the offending dog .In aus. if your dog is off lead its your fault.The problem is when a dog re-offends an attack and the authorities are involved it's the dog that gets punished by being destroyed when it's the bloody owners that are at fault. I bet if you had a rotty or pitbull or a breed more aggressive than a setter the other people would not be so complacent, they'd be howling about their dog being injured.Setters are so sensitive they read your apprehension ,If you can find some other dog walkers to go with an attack is less likely as single dogs generally wont have a go at what they see as a pack .good luck
I know what you mean some people are not very bright I had a fellow walking 2 little terriers off lead running and snapping at my dog ,who as on lead, I asked him to call them back he replies they won't hurt him I said your call at which my irish gave them each a munch on their backs sent them off yelping, you just can't help stupid.I don't mind someone wanting to socialise their dog as long as they ask first,
One of my irish took a dislike to black labs and bernese mountain dogs at shows so I had to seek out people with them and ask if I could walk by at close quarters just to desensitize him but I would never have just walked up with out asking just common sense I'd have thought
Thank you all very much for your replies and advice, everything has been taken on board :-) Thank you also for the messages, I really appreciate them all ;-)
I still won't be letting Henry off lead unless I am totally comfortable, but I will be taking my lemon squirter and a stick in the event that he gets attacked again..but I have a new outlook, I am not going to be scared to take him out, I will react positively if a nasty dog comes near, if it doesn't go away instantly with a shout then it will get sprayed, or, in need, a wallop with my stick. I will also see about meeting up with some others to walk together, we can alter our times to fit in with them so it shouldn't be a problem.
Claire, I know you've been through similar with poor Codee, and Deacon is just being an English Setter...95% recall once minute and zero when something more interesting takes their fancy. Jamie is really an intelligent breed in disguise :-) (((Hugs))) to the furry babies :-)
Henry's pictures are heartbreaking.
We had some incidences, fortunately never that bad (touch wood). But bad enough for Anton and Gina to be shaken afterwards.
A lot of unneutered dogs are on the loose at the moment, and they pester us. Some of the dogs are big and bully-types. We call the rangers, who take the dogs to the pound - and God help them, hopefully they are registered and their owners care to find them!
It seems that a lot of German Shepherds and similar breeds seem to be the ones dishing out.
Recently Anton was pinned down by an Akita, for no apparent reason. Next day, Gina was pawed down and bowled over by a German Shepherd. It makes me outright angry, as all we want is some fun, exercise and meeting doggy friends who are as friendly as we are.
We try to avoid some dog beaches, and we try to avoid dogs that are known to be aggressive. But why do the bullies have the power to control our lives?
Hope sweet Henry gets well soon!
Dear Sheree .. I am also very sorry to see these horrible photos of Henry and I also understand how you feel. I wrap my English Setters up in cotton wool as well because they mean so much to me. We have the same problem over here in Australia. The average human being in Australian society now is rude and selfish and not accountable for their behaviour and this is passed onto their dogs in many cases. The dogs are not to blame. The humans are entirely to blame. We do not frequent the popular off-leash dog parks very often anymore and when we do, I try to go at times when there are not too many dogs. Rose is frail now and she has been knocked over one too many times by an out of control dog. There are an abundance of walking tracks along the various rivers and canals, etc., not specifically for dogs, and these seem to be better. The dogs love walking in different places. They do not mind whether they are on leash or off leash. They love to go out, be with me, enjoy the admiration of people, and I suppose because they have each other, they are not really fussed anymore about meeting other dogs. We live on 5 acres with lots of bird life but I will not allow them to run around the property unless I am right beside them to supervise them. I am certain all Henry needs in his life is you and you are providing him with excellent exercise. Best wishes from Susan and her Orange Belton Brigade. Thank you for your kind comments about them.
Thank you Susan and Eunice. x
I was walking my three yesterday,had got them all to sit and stay before we crossed the road and suddenly all hell let loose.One of the hooded yob variety was cycling up the road with an enormous bull terrier on a rope.
I recognised the dog as the one that attacked Fred (It is a Pit Bull x American Bull Dog) and he was ferociously trying to get to us.The yob fell off his bike but managed to cling on to the dog.I beat a hasty retreat!
I had only said the day before that I hadn't come across any nasty dogs for a while.I will keep quiet in future!