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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.


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Oh Sherree I am so sorry to hear this and it probably won't help if i say you are not alone. We have had similar experiences with a black lab, golden retriever and the most recent a 'pit bull type' On the last 2 occasions fortunately hamilton was not hurt but Andrew came back shaking and badly bruised having fought off these two off lead dogs, the police were of very little help gave us a case number and that seems to be it. Had it been me on my own it may have been a different story. 

It seems the only thing we can do is to keep reporting it but that does not overcome the problem as to where one can walk one's dog in comparative safety. I am certain this type of behaviour from other untrained dogs is very much on the increase and like you we live in a relatively quiet rural community where everyone knows everyone else. I'm not sure I can give you any words of comfort only to say I understand and empathise with how you must be feeling.


I had many similar experiences when Flynn (T. Joker the Hooley) was a young dog, he had his face ripped open 11 times by different breeds: Golden Retrievers, Weimaraners, Rotties, German Shepherds, Dobermans, Boxers, Border Terriers. But mainly German Shepherds. Each time it happened, he was being well behaved and was on a lead.....he never retaliated, or grumbled and like your experience, the owners said it was my fault for having him on a lead. One of the owners actually thought it was funny to allow her dog to bully and attack others in this way.  From then on my life revolved around was there a German Shepherd near by? I had to take a large stick with me on my walk for defence and often suddenly disappeared behind the nearest hedge if I saw a suspect in the distance. The only way I could avoid this was to avoid walking when the German Shepherds went to our walking place which took hours of watching and waiting to suss out and if we made an error and came across one, then we just had to go in the opposite direction. Whilst there are irresponsible, thoughtless dog owners, this will keep happening. It is testament to our breeds that this dreadful experience does not alter their wonderful temperament.

Thanks Louis and Michelle, it does help to know I'm not alone and maybe not as paranoid as I feel I am becoming, its just so unfair that our dogs, with no nasty tendancies, are the ones that get picked on by these thugs. 

I'm not necessarily blaming the dogs..it's their owners, they either don't care that their dogs are bullies/aggressive, or maybe can't be bothered to keep them under control properly.  I know there is nothing as good as some free running for a dog, and I enjoy to see Hen's little face when he is offlead, but he is just as well toned as the next dog because of all the onlead walking he gets, and if it can keep a lively young setter satisfied then I'm sure other people could put themselves out to go for longer and more often for an onlead walk rather than a short, out of control, off lead rampage.

My hubby said I should take a screwdriver or a large stick out with me, but I just don't know that I've got it in me to do anything to the attacking dog, pushing it away and kicking it with my soft wellies is one thing, but to actually phyically harm it wouldn't come naturally to me, no matter how scared I am.  Plus I am also trying desperately hard to hold onto Henry's lead because he is trying to get away from the scenario.

As Michelle says, it is indeed a testament to our breeds that they maintain their wonderful temperaments after each attack.

Thanks so much Tracy...hugs have been administered :-)


is Henry neutered?

Hi Ossian, no he is entire...I show him.


I wondered when you said the Lab bullied him if perhaps he had been neutered. Lots of good advice but like everything you need to practise so that your timing is good. The mechanics of squirting things at other dogs etc is as much to give you confidence as it is to distract another dog.


Why dont you try to get together with some of the other people who have been on the receiving end of these dogs and practise relaxed walking techniques. I imagine by now every tme you see another dog coming you are sending panic signals down your lead to Henry. How do you know that he uis not saying to the other dogs" F*** off you are frightening my friend"

Thanks Osian, I am so much more relaxed when my hubby comes with me as I know there are another pair of hands in need, even when my stepson comes out I know that I can pass Henry's lead to him and fight off, in need, an aggressive dog.

It has got to the point where I stiffen up and squint to see a dog in the distance to see if I recognise either the dog or the owner, that has to have some effect on Hen, I agree..or maybe even gives signals to the other dog that I'm scared, which makes them want to investigate more.  When I don't have him with me I will still approach anything that comes near me...my fear is purely for him, I don't ever want to witness anything like that again, or put him through such agony because I've not been protective of him.

I said to my hubby that I feel I need to take a chill pill and I try my hardest to be confident, I don't give it a second thought when we are at shows as, one would like to think, that the dogs being shown are of good temperament, and they aren't offlead too.  I'm also fine when we meet up with his friends, so I think I will take the advice and see about making a firm time with some of them to meet up.  I have to say that some of the same dogs have also attacked his friends, thankfully without too much bloodshed, but they are all allowed offlead at any time and they are more able to get away from an attack.


I empathise with you,I have experienced similar attacks.One dog ,off lead,attacked my setter, entirely without warning.Maggie needed surgery and got necrosis which is the death of cells or tissues through injury or disease.She nearly lost her life and it was through the skill of my vet that she was saved.The South African owner of the ridgeback cross that attacked her said she would pay but never did,the same dog attacked another of my dogs a year later but,luckily,it was not so serious but it was very frightening.This time I got the Police and  RSPCA involved and the dog was rehomed but,in my opinion should have been destroyed especially as I later learnt later that he had attacked children too.

Anyway your feelings are entirely natural and I felt much the same way but the feeling will go and you will become more relaxed ,like most things it just take time.

Joan and I are thinking of you and hope you will feel better soon.

So sorry to hear your story and I totally get your feeling of paranoia.  It is so frustrating that other owners can't see how troublesome they are allowing their dog to be.  When your dog is on the leash and their's is not, there is just precious little you can do.  Backing away with your own only allows the other to advance, which heightens its sense that it is in control and can be a bully.  If I lived in an area where I had regular runins with any particular dog, I think I might carry a small can of mace.  Not sure if that is to be used on the offleash bully or the owner ...  :)   Best wishes to you as you protect your lovely boy and hopefully this is a very RARE event in both your lives.
Here in the USA we have leash laws.  You can't just let your dog run loose.  That is why we have off leash dog parks and beaches for them.  That way I suppose you have some control over these situations.  In a perfect world anyway.  But that being said, there are loose dogs on occassion that do come running up to you when walking your dog.  My Brittany was bite by a Golden once and after that I also got nervous walking around with him in the neighborhood.  With Dublin we had a Rott charge us that jumped over a fence and did it twice again after that.  He was only a puppy and I had kids on the walk with me.  I was freaking out trying to protect kids and a pup.  After that I bought the same spray the mail carriers use.  Not mace but something else that you are suppose to spray in the face and/or eyes.  With so many pit owners around here that DO NOT train or control their dogs, my fears are strong now.  I don't walk Cash around the neighborhood.  Can't deal with the stress and it isn't good for him to have me nervous when we walk.  Not enjoyable for either of us then.  We use our local large Petsmart for indoor walks and visit the birds/hampsters and other critters he so loves to watch and for daily runs and playing we use the forest preserves off leash dog parks.  I agree a leashed dog is a target for off leash ones.  So at the dog park I know that my dog can outrun most dogs there and we are blessed to have good owners and dogs who if not behaved will be thrown out and have their passes revolked.  Also you can track anyone who would bite and the owners have to pay expenses.  Gives me more peace of mind this way.  I can't image what it would be like if people could just leave dogs run loose all over in the suburbs of Chicago! 

Hi Sheree it was so sad to read about Henry.It is so frustrating when you see so many other

dog owners that dont care what their dog is doing just as long as its getting a run

i dont have fields around me so i have to walk shannon in the park thank goodness the only thing that

happned her was a wee boy ran into her with a bike witch is bad enough as know she is so afraid of anything

with wheels




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