But I suspect you'd like to know a little more about the details than that. After all, 'Leslie is an idiot' will hardly come as a revelation.
Let's start with some background:
Bella had been off the painkiller she takes for her shoulder inflammation for several days. We had been taking her off the medicine when she showed signs of gastric distress from it - balancing her achy shoulder with her upset tummy. At the time of the incident, she had been off the painkiller but not yet showing any signs of benefit to her tummy. So basically, she was feeling pretty flipping crappy.
A week before Christmas and all through the house...
The Friday before Christmas, I had gotten home from work late due to 'issues' and, while I thought my stress levels were pretty much under control, it's entirely possible Bella thought otherwise. Jan said she had been a little snarky with him earlier in the day and when I tried to take some photos with her, I noted she didn't seem especially cooperative this night. I gave up, poured a glass (or two...) of wine and went downstairs to watch some TV with Jan.
I don't remember what we were watching but it was something with bangs and booms and Bella was not impressed. I noticed she seemed to be a little 'off', maybe in need of some kindness and even thought she might be looking for comfort.
She was sitting in front of Jan willing him to share his popcorn. I got down on the floor next to her and reached my arm around her as I have done a thousand times before. I must/may have startled her or leaned a little more than usual because all of sudden she turned, snarling and snapping at me. She muzzle-punched my chin and snapped at my left hand (the one wrapped around her).
I actually told Jan to 'stay out of it' thinking that she would let up in a moment and, given their previous encounters, I thought his interference could possibly make it worse. Well, I didn't need Jan's involvement to make that happen - I made it worse all by myself. As I was trying to stand up and get Bella to calm down, I used my right hand to grab her collar.
And we'll just chalk that up to one big, huge, colossal, gigantically stupid mistake.
Had I not grabbed her collar, the situation would probably have left me with a bruise on my chin, some scratches on my arms and a relatively minor bite on my left hand. Instead, Bella turned and latched onto my right arm with no intention of letting go. Damn it.
Seeing this, Jan ignored my warning to stay away and grabbed Bella's collar from behind at which point she let go of me and I immediately walked away. I headed upstairs to the bathroom knowing there was clean up to be done.
And yes, I also walked away because she frightened me. I didn't want to her to bite me again. My right arm was smarting. Not to mention dripping sticky red stuff.
Upstairs, I took off my over shirt and began to assess and clean the wounds. Jan came up and we locked Bella out of the bathroom while he finished cleaning me up. I am a horrible patient and make an even worse nurse as the sight of blood makes me queasy. As a result, I kept getting light-headed and Jan had to change the dressings for the first few days.
|I'm not bad, I'm just photographed that way. ;)|
Anyway, as usually happens when Bella has one of these episodes, she was immediately contrite. It's almost as if she doesn't even understand what just happened. And in this case, I noticed her apparent confusion for several days afterwards. As I mentioned previously, we avoided each other for a few days. Jan has always been so quick to forgive - almost immediately willing to reassure her that he is not in fact the big scary monster she sometimes envisions.
But Bella's not afraid of me. We all know that so I was confused. If she's not afraid of me, then just what the hell happened?
Over the next few days we thought about it and talked about it. We acknowledged the last two 'attacks' had been decidedly worse than the ones that originally sent us to seek professional assistance from Dr. Dodman. In these attacks it was like Bella wasn't even there any more.
When these attacks happened, Bella was solely focused on the 'threat' in front of her. Jan cannot get through to her when she is going at him and I couldn't reach her when she was going at me. However, as soon as Jan grabbed hold of her collar, Bella let go of me and ceased her attack. The same was true when she attacked Jan in September and I stepped in between them to break it up.
That's an important piece of information to remember - it will come into play later on in our story.
I've been bitten by dogs a few times in my life. I'm not proud of that fact and I don't present it as a badge of honor so much an acknowledgement that things happen. Dogs mostly do their best to communicate with us but sometimes we miss the signals they're sending. Or sometimes we get complacent and forget that they are entitled to their own moods and issues.
Preoccupied with my own concerns, I made the mistake of ignoring my instincts that told me she was "off" that night. I went on to make an even bigger mistake by grabbing her collar. The lesson I learned is to remember that even dogs have their own rich inner life to which we are not always privy. And we need to be ever mindful that mounting pressures can push any dog over their limits, never mind the crazy ones.
We're all back to good: Bella giving me snuggles and kisses, me trying to remember to give her the space she wants and needs. Bella's never been shy about asking for comfort. Next time I won't try to second guess her. I'll wait to let her tell me what she wants.
Next week I'll cover our meeting with Dr. Dodman and fill you in on our conversation and his advice. Thanks for hanging in there with us and our crazy dog. She really is worth the effort.