Back in the 1970s, Saturday Night Live ran a skit in which Chevy Chase played a very clever land shark. He selected his victims by going door to door. And because no one would in their right mind would open the door for a shark, he pretended to be other, more benign things: a plumber, a flower delivery person, a dolphin.
Land sharks, of course, don’t exist. And even if they did, we wouldn’t bring them into our homes. But a dog in a shark costume? We’d kiss its wee fuzzy wuzzy face off.
But consider this: DOGS ARE JUST AS DANGEROUS AS LAND SHARKS — maybe even more so.
Don’t let the cuteness fool you. Like their wild wolf ancestors, dogs have 42 strong teeth — “fangs for grabbing and puncturing, incisors for nibbling, premolars for tearing, and molars for crushing bone.”
Now you’re expecting me to drone on for paragraphs about pit bulls attacking babies and rottweilers mauling old ladies. And, oh Nelly! I could tell you some stories. But instead I’m going to focus on a less obvious, far more common evil: the accidental insults that dogs inflict on their owners everyday.
Most mornings she wakes me by jumping on the bed. She puts her head on the mattress, hoists her butt in the air, and then she writhes, heedlessly flinging her 60-pound body from side to side. To prevent her from slamming full force into my pregnant belly, I must quickly flip my body and scoot to the far edge of the bed. Eventually she lays down. But before she settles, she likes to give my husband a swift kick in the balls.
And we have it easy. Just listen to the tortures dogs have inflicted on others: LWON’s own Jennifer Holland suffered a terrible leash burn when her dog tried to chase something. A deer? Something imaginary? Jenny will never know because she was too busy writhing in pain. You hear stories at the dog park too. One of the regulars told us he ended up with a broken thumb when his large, blonde hound bounded after a rabbit during a leash walk. A parked car spooked a friend’s dog when she was out for a run. He dragged her several feet, scraping the skin off her knees. When that same dog encountered a terrifying tree on a bike ride, he leapt in front of my friend’s bike. She swerved to avoid him and crashed. “My dog is afraid of everything,” she says.
But it’s us who should be afraid.
A friend’s sister bent down just as her dog was leaping to lick her face and the impact broke her nose. Another friend told me about the injury inflicted on her ex: Just as the man leaned over to pet her gentle chocolate lab, the dog flung her head up. The dog’s head slammed into his mouth, busting off the bottom halves of his two front teeth.
And then there are the rarer stories of canine-induced misfortune. A college friend told me about her aunt, who saved a puppy’s life by giving the dog CPR. During the mouth-to-mouth contact, she contracted some dog-borne microbe and ended up with a systemic infection that nearly killed her.
Sometimes the injuries dogs inflict are psychological: Soren’s cousin Dave had a black lab that didn’t like to be left alone in the car. “She would leave a ‘surprise’ in the driver’s seat,” he says. This happened on multiple occasions, but Dave’s sister’s boyfriend had a special relationship with the dog, and he refused to believe that she would shit on the red leather seats of his shiny sports car. “He was wrong,” Dave says. “She not only gave him a surprise in his driver’s seat but wiped her butt across all the air vents and the dash.”
While you can find loads of data on dog attacks, there aren’t good statistics on the more trivial daily brutalities dogs inflict. But these assaults add up. The injuries may not always be life-threatening, but they leave lasting physical and psychological scars. My cousin still sees a chiropractor years after a pit bull that she was dog sitting slammed into her knee. And no doubt my husband will still be shielding his balls long after our beloved Bea is gone.
Let these anecdotes serve as a warning to all those mooning over puppies. And I hope you’ll share your own dog terror stories in the comments. I’m sure you have some doozies.
Video and black dog photo by yours truly