A Visit to the Hospital

In early July, something so unexpected was to happen that was to affect the entire rest of the summer. It involved our daughter, Kate. She was visiting us with her boyfriend the Saturday after the 4th of July. We were having a little outdoor “event”, and I was gearing up to get some dinner grilling. I was inside cleaning the grill top in the kitchen sink and Kate came in with her hands grasping her face. She looked pale and alarmed. More than alarmed. I knew she was last seen out on the deck playing and tussling with Niko, the shepherd.

“I think something awful happened, look at my face”, she cried.

Oh dear. Her nose was ripped open and she had puncture wounds elsewhere.

“Geez, what happened, what were you doing!?” I dropped what I was doing and grabbed a handful of paper towels to stem the flow of blood that was dripping down her face, chin, neck and all over the front of her dress.

Kate was crying, “I was just playing with Niko and he bit me!”

Oh boy, did he. I wiped blood and immediately determined without a second thought that we were dropping everything and getting Kate to the ER. She needed stitches, badly. Bob was further out on the deck, I called him in and declared, “We’re going to the hospital, Niko bit Kate”. He dropped what he was doing too, and got into gear. Within minutes, we were all in the car on the way to the closest ER. Saturday night – dog bite, blood, emergency, ER. Flippin’ great. Kate was bordering on hysteria, I was in the back seat with Kate, as Bob drove, trying to tell her during the whole ride that this is “fixable”. Yes you have a cut, yes it can be fixed. I was pretty sure it could be stitched up cleanly without much in the way of marks, but “pretty sure” is not certain, and I definitely was not certain. I was also pissed off at Niko, hauling off and biting her like this, for no apparent reason, but that was in the back of my mind, not the front. I had done NOTHING to Niko before we left, I hadn’t yelled at him, I hadn’t smacked him, and, as far as I knew, Bob had put them in the basement so we could all head out.

Kate needed 8 stitches in her nose, but it did look like it was all sewn up pretty well by the ER nurse. The puncture wounds were just going to have to heal.

So Kate was going to be okay, she was going to heal, and apparently the scar was going to be minimal. Thank goodness. I was quietly seething at this whole scenario, because I have never wanted a dog that was capable of this. It is one thing that we have to be careful with strangers and workmen that come to the house, but another when you have to worry about people that Niko is familiar with. And this is not exactly the first time either. At Christmas, he had bitten our son, Stewie. Bob confessed that Niko bit him in the face too. What was THIS about? Why was he doing it, and what were we going to do about it? The one thing that I am sure of, is that I had NO contact with Niko right before we left on the run to the hospital. My focus was on Kate, and keeping her calm and getting her to the ER. I never yelled at Niko, I did not stop to whack him, punish him, nor did I even think about it. As far as I knew, neither did Bob.

Now you might be wondering, as others have, WHY would we keep a dog that has so far bitten 3/4 of the members of your family? Good question. That day it was hard to answer, but I must say, I did not even entertain thoughts of getting rid of him, because I knew we needed him. It was just going to have to come down to training others to be around him, and working with him for this not to happen again. Of course when you end up in an ER with a dog bite, legal avenues kick in, and you’re going to get a call from “The Authorities”. Which we did. But it didn’t go anywhere, because Kate told the hospital that she was playing with Niko and she was pretty sure on his part that it was an accident.

The reason I sound so defensive above about how we reacted to the biting, is that shortly after we arrived home, things changed drastically in Nuttah’s attitude toward us. Or more specifically toward me. I will write that up in subsequent posts, but it was very obvious to me that I was being vilified for treating Niko like I did. What did I DO?

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