:: News and Features
Who bit BetaDog?
Lela gives BetaDog a lesson in dog handling.
June 7, 2003
Five pups, five toes, and the 5th of May. Congratulations to Cinco and his family.
River Market Raid.
An Independant Dog Rescue 'swat team' draws crowds.
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| Who Bit BetaDog?
Lela, a four year old wire terrier mix, gave me a memorable lesson in how not to handle dogs.
Before I tell you about my lesson I should tell you a little about Lela’s background and who she is. What happened to Lela happens every day to a dog in your community. What happened to me happens every day to the foolish.
was discovered wandering about on the side of a busy road in Little Rock
in late March of 2003. For
several days she kept returning to the same place, as though she was waiting
for her owner to return. Clearly
lost and beginning to show obvious signs of neglect, several would
be good Samaritans tried to help Lela, but Lela was scared and every time
she was approached she would run away. After
several days of failure, the local Animal Services were called in to help. They
too tried to catch Lela, but, like so many others, they failed to get close
enough to catch her. Finally
the only remaining option was taken, the dart gun was loaded and fired. Understandably
Lela was skittish, and just as the shot was fired she moved causing
the dart to hit her in the small of her back where there was little flesh
to absorb the impact.
wound was shocking, and I’m sure the emotional trauma was even more difficult
for her to deal with. Dazed,
Lela was gathered up, and thanks to the generosity and kindness of several
people, was taken for medical care and boarding at a local clinic.
Unfortunately, after a few weeks of safe haven at the clinic, Lela’s account was depleted. Again a Good Samaritan stepped in to help and offered Lela a place to stay until a new home could be found.
This was where I stumbled in to the picture.
Ever since I can remember I have been with dogs of all breeds and sizes, and generally always got along very well with them. I prided myself as experienced with dogs, but as you will soon learn, I had been more lucky than experienced.
One bright sunny Sunday morning as I showed up to help the Good Samaritan transport Lela to an adoption showing my luck ran out.
Lela had been placed in a large crate so that she would be safe during the car ride to the showing, but at the last minute we decided to let her out to use the bathroom. As I was about to open her crate, the dogs that live there decided to shout and yell their discontent at Lela’s imposition on their domain. After all, who was this strange pretender who was getting all their fuss and attention?
|Perhaps as you read this you will understand why Lela was so terrified and threatened by all the noise and aggression, but I was oblivious to the warning signs. The first thing she saw as the crate was opened was my smug face, and one one-hundredth of a second later I was staring at hot red liquid that was splashing on the ground and Lela was off to the races.
My Good Samaritan, who was not looking in my direction, was verbally reprimanding me for allowing Lela to escape, the canine residents were now barking and snapping at everything in a maelstrom of wild dog, and I was looking in every direction for someone, anyone, to pity me.
Fortunately the Good Samaritan caught Lela before she ran into the road, and as I staggered towards her with blood streaming from the bloody raw gash she turned, took one quick look and burst into laughter; not at all what I expected, or for that matter, what I was hoping for.
I’m in my mid-forties, good health, and an all around macho guy, but at that moment I felt tears welling up. My arm was burning, my ego was toast, and although I didn’t realize it for several long minutes, I’d learned my most valuable lesson in dog handling in forty plus years
Never ever assume anything about any dog and how it might react to stress.
I don’t care how well you think you know your best four-legged friend, given the right conditions and enough stress any dog can become aggressive and defend itself, and don’t expect it to make an informed decision about how it deals with the situation.
It only took a few split seconds, and I ended up with a permanent reminder of this lesson. Lela really is a sweet and gentle dog, and after a few minutes of comfort and reassurance from someone smarter than me, she wandered back with her head hung low. Thanks to the vastly greater experience and wisdom of that Good Samaritan who laughed at my self-pity, the tension was abated and I felt sorry for poor Lela. This time I approached carefully and Lela gave me a warm lick. I was starting to get the right idea, and at least someone felt sorry for me that day.
Thank you Lela, I love you too.
• Petco, Little Rock
12801 Chenal Parkway across from Target and Home Depot.
Adoption showing every Saturday and Sunday from Noon till 6:00
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