The past week or so has been filled with more than the usual amount of angst. Last Friday I was walking both dogs in the morning, and we got attacked by a pair of bigger dogs which got out of their yard. Elvis and Mia are small terriers and Elvis is the smaller of the two. One of the escaped dogs raced up to Elvis and immediately grabbed him in her jaws and shook him in the air. It was one of the most traumatic situations I've ever been in.
I've always worried this could happen. Sometimes Elvis seems not to know how small he is and he occasionally he will growl or snap at a bigger dog (we definitely discourage this and pull him away). I really hate it when someone shouts out "don't worry, he's harmless!" as their large dog bounds towards you, miles ahead of them. Sure, he might be generally harmless but who knows what he'll do if a little white piece of fluff decides to snap and growl at him.
But, as it turned out, Elvis (and I) didn't have time to even know what was happening - there was no prelude at all, she just ran up and grabbed him. Meanwhile her companion chased Mia - at some point, probably while picking up the wounded shrieking Elvis, I lost her lead. There were some people around who wanted to help, and eventually the owners of the escaped dogs came and controlled them, including the one that had chased Mia. I couldn't really stop and talk, I just had to walk home straight away and try to find Mia. I was terrified that if I couldn't find her quickly, I might have to delay getting Elvis to the vet. I was massively relieved to find her unhurt on our doorstep, shaking and desperate to get inside. A very kind friend who lives nearby had heard the commotion and come to help look for Mia, and she drove us to the vet in my car. She normally drives an automatic, and we laughed about how this was that 'emergency situation' where it's good to be able to drive a manual. She did fine.
Elvis was very lucky really, he has some wounds on both sides of his body which required stitches, but no major internal damage. I've been feeling really strange about it because I failed to protect my dogs (even though I know there wasn't really anything I could do) and I can't properly remember all details of the incident. I don't remember the dog dropping Elvis, but she must have. I know I picked up Elvis and then she started jumping up at us, wanting to get him again. As well as Elvis, I felt so sad for Mia having to run home by herself, feeling abandoned and terrified.
I have since gone back to talk to one of the owners, who was very sympathetic, and also shocked when I told her what her dog did, and how it was unprovoked, as they didn't see the whole incident. She offered to pay the vet bills and I was glad not to have to ask. I might not have. They are expecting a baby soon and might not be able to keep the dogs. In spite of everything, I do find that sad, as they've had the dogs since they were puppies, and they are now 11 and 9. Some may be wondering the breed - they are a border collie cross - nothing too scary but, I think, an energetic breed that love to chase. Any dog can be violent - you should never leave any dog unattended with small children - but an incident like this (and I didn't ask if there had been others) surely increases the risk.
Elvis had a few very sad, slow moving days but is now feeling more like himself. Unfortunately he's had to have more work done on his wounds, so he'll be wearing a bucket on his head for a while. Undignified. But he should make a full recovery. It could have been worse.