Dog Days

Some canines beat the heat (courtesy of Photobucket)

The phrase dog days normally refer to the sweltering heat associated with the summer months of July and August, but an argument could be made for things starting a little earlier this year. Consider all the stories popping up about extreme heat in the news recently: a 69-year old man died in 110-degree heat while hiking near the Hoover Dam; a 15-month-old child was accidentally left in a car and perished before his mother realized what had happened; and dogs left in cars are, pardon the cliché, dropping like flies all over the country.

For the sake of this post, however, this last example is most relevant since my focus won’t be on extreme heat, but rather on our canine friends and how their recent exploits and experiences give new meaning to the dog days of summer.

And lest we forget that summer has just begun, so I’m sure there will be more dog-related stories to come. For now, though, here are some recent tales about our furry little friends that caught my eye.

We begin in Oklahoma, the site of that massive tornado last month that more-or-less leveled the town of Moore. It twisted along a 17-mile path, causing more than $2 billion in damages, injuring hundreds of people and ending the lives of 24 Americans, including children.

Fortunately, some children survived, among them a 5-year-old boy and his 2-year-old sister. While their parents worked to recover from the devastation, the kids stayed with 50-year-old Lynn Geiling, a family friend in nearby Jessieville.

A bull mastiff (courtesy of The Dog Ranch)

Last Sunday afternoon, the boy apparently got upset and threw a temper tantrum, which is understandable given all he had been through. Here he was living in a strange house, separated from his parents and having trouble dealing with all the trauma he experienced recently. Geiling did her best to comfort and console him, but nothing seemed to help. And before she knew it, his crying had upset someone else in the house: her dog.

Likely believing that his owner was being threatened or harmed in some way—and being somewhat unfamiliar with his new house mates—the 150-pound bull mastiff raced through the home, lunged at the boy and attacked. Geiling fought to pull the dog off of him, frantically called for her husband to help and managed to pry him loose, but it was too late.

Even though the boy was bleeding profusely from puncture wounds to his head and neck, he was still clinging to life when the ambulance arrived to rush him to the hospital. Sadly, there was nothing to be done and he was pronounced dead a short time later.

The bull mastiff that mauled this poor child was immediately shot and killed by a neighbor, and there’s no word yet whether Geiling or her husband will face charges for this deadly attack. Of course, the most heartbreaking thing about it all—aside from the death of a child, which is always terrible—is that a huge, record-breaking tornado couldn’t kill this young boy; it took a dog protecting its owner to do that. And sadly, they both ended up paying the ultimate price.

Talk about adding insult to injury. My heart truly goes out to the parents who returned from their tornado clean-up over 200 miles away to find they had lost something even more precious than their home and belongings. It has to be devastating.

I wish my next dog-related story was more uplifting, but sadly this isn’t the case. It happened in Youngstown, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh last week and again resulted in the death of one of Man’s best friends. Only this time the animal doing the attacking wasn’t a canine; it was a human.

Crystal Snyder lives in a rural area and often hears guns being fired near her home. This is par-for-the-course in places where hunting, target shooting and other NRA-approved past times are popular. So when Snyder heard gunshots while taking a shower recently, she thought nothing of it.

Her Husky was killed and her Red Heeler barely survived (courtesy of Crystal Snyder)

Her Husky was killed and her Red Heeler barely survived (courtesy of Crystal Snyder)

Of course, that all changed once she finished up, went outside and noticed that both of her dogs—a Red Heeler and a Husky—had accidentally gotten out. And when she found one of her dogs injured and bleeding—and the other lying dead on the ground nearby—Snyder knew exactly what happened: her neighbor shot them.

The police were called and spoke with the neighbor, who of course claimed the dogs had attacked him and that he fired his shotgun in self-defense. Unfortunately, no charges were filed since there were no witnesses, which means no one could prove or disprove his story. That doesn’t make Snyder or her family feel any better, though. And now they even fear for their own safety, given the trigger-happy nut that lives next door.

What a sad state of affairs, but it gets worse and, in the case of this next story, even slightly surreal.

Roger Brown is a diabetic who lives in the small town of Brazil, Indiana. Recently, he was suffering from a foot infection, taking medicine for it and sleeping a little more than usual.

Dog owner suspects pit bull gnawed off toes

Next time, try puppies, not pit bulls (courtesy of Pin It)

On Wednesday morning, Brown awoke to find his dog—a pit bull—licking his toes. He thought nothing of it until he made a startling discovery: two of his toes were missing!

Apparently, the foot infection and medication prevented Brown from feeling any pain, so he had no clue his devoted pet was actually gnawing off his big toe and small toe while he slept. Medics arrived on the scene, wrapped his foot and transported him by helicopter to IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, his toes could not be saved.

The good news is that of all the stories I’ve mentioned here today, this one comes with a tiny silver lining. Since the dog was a family pet, Brazil police did not report this as an animal attack, which means Brown can keep his dog. Of course, he should also consider sleeping in steel-toed boots from now on, but I’m sure this has already occurred to him.

We call dogs Man’s best friends for a reason. They are among the most loyal and loving animals on the planet, but they can also be some of the most violent, especially where so-called “bully breeds” are concerned. Does this mean all dogs are bad? Of course not. Even pit bulls and other aggressive breeds are, in my opinion, largely products of the way humans raise and train them. So when attacks like the ones mentioned here make headlines, I always find myself asking the same basic question.

Is it really the dog’s fault?

Posted on June 14, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I agree a lot of the actions that pets take are based on how they’re raised, trained, and allowed to interact with other pets and people… However, the pit bull story… The dog was in it’s own way trying to help it’s owner, but it’s just plain strange… Lastly, sadly the laws protecting pets are insufficient in most areas. Were the dogs still on her property? Were they oriented towards the access road to her house, meaning did he stopping by for some legitimate purpose or were they pointed away from the road or house? Was he skulking around on her property (trespassing)? Dogs are usually very good at determining friend or foe, so why would they want to attack this neighbor? The list questions regarding this one is endless…

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