Help Save the Dog that Bit Me (He’s Available for Adoption!)

The little guy passed his temperament test!

I passed!
I passed!

Bungee–as the shelter has named him–passed his temperament test and is approved for general adoption!

Which means anyone can adopt him, not just me! Which is great, because my boyfriend was unhappy at the idea of a third animal in our apartment (willing to put up with it to save a life, but unhappy). For the background on what happened, you can see my original post about the little guy: How I Got Bitten in the Face By a Dog (And it Was My Own Damn Fault).

I repeat, the pup was not at fault. Just scared.

If you know of anyone who’d like to adopt a cute little terrier, please send them to his profile.


How I Got Bitten In the Face by a Dog (And it Was My Own Damn Fault)

Last week I got bitten by a stray dog I was trying to rescue. My neighbor (JG) had knocked on my door to ask for my help with this stray he and his wife (L) had coaxed into our shared driveway. I’ve fostered three dogs in the time I’ve lived at Tortuga, so I am the “stray-dog-expert” insofar as we have one. I am not a professional and I made a mistake.

First, take a look at the little guy who bit me.

Dog ID# A933383


Not terrifying looking at all, right? And not a vicious dog.

We’d managed to coax him closer to us with the use of slices of ham and sitting calmly on the ground so we weren’t a threat. He came close enough that L was able to pet him. He seemed to be calming down. And this is when I made my mistake. I tried to pick him up.

First I grabbed hold of his collar (he did have one, though no tags) and then I scooped my other arm under him. He started freaking out and struggling. Which I should have expected. But I didn’t.

I should have put him back on the ground and possibly tried to hold onto his collar. Or I should have let him go. But instead, I instinctively pulled him closer. This works great with wriggly toddlers. Not so much terrified terriers.

He started snapping at everything in reach. My hand, my arms, and, unfortunately, my lip. He didn’t even leave a scratch on my hands and arms, which is one of the reasons I don’t think he’s an inherently violent dog. That’s a dog trying to get away. Not trying to hurt. Not trying to latch on. But he managed to catch my lip.

Lips are fragile, in comparison to regular skin. He got me good. Note–he didn’t try to hold on. He could have hurt me a great deal more than he did. He’s a terrier. They’re made to kill things (yes, really, terriers are intended to kill rats and other rodents). But he let go.

Meanwhile, blood is pouring down my face.

This is me being amused at everyone else freaking out.
This is me being amused at everyone else freaking out.

L saw the blood and shrieked (this seems a perfectly normal reaction to me). JG, who had gone indoors, came running. I sent her off to get me a paper towel, told him where the key to my storage unit was and how to find my small dog crate. And I calmed the little guy down.

He actually did calm down while I held him and cooed at him.

We got him into the crate and then JG drove me to Urgent Care. Which is actually only two blocks away, but I figured I might get light headed if I walked.

Let me tell you, when you walk into Urgent Care with blood pouring down your face and neck, they respond right quick. They took down information and got me to a doctor. Ultimately (after a brief phone consultation with my Dad) the doctor sent me up to plastic surgery.

Normally, he said, they don’t do much other than cleaning mouth wounds. However, one of the cuts crossed the Vermillion border (there’s a name for that boundary between lip and regular skin!). That, he said, can be tricky. The injury only barely crossed it, so he said it was a toss up as to which to do. I called my Dad, who then talked with the doctor. I let my Dad decide. Because, at that point, I wanted to just sit and do nothing.

JG stayed with me and walked me over to plastic surgery. I deliberately had not washed the blood off myself because, again, people respond quickly when you’re covered in blood.

The plastic surgeon cooed over me, cleaned me up, and set to stitching. That hurt more than the bite.

Fast forward to Animal Control arriving. Because bite reports go to them. I was worried (and rightly so, though hopefully I can still work this out) that they’d want to put him down. The woman I spoke to was actually very helpful, explaining to me what would happen and why. She said they don’t normally adopt out dogs that bite (which I read as code for: we put them down).

So, I asked if I could adopt him.

I told her it was my fault. I told her why I didn’t think he was a vicious dog. I told her about fostering.

She was concerned that I already had a big dog who didn’t get along well with other dogs (she also knew exactly which houses on our block had dogs and how long they’d had them…). I noted that he’d done okay with the fosters and she got this considering look on her face and murmured. “Maybe he just reacts when the other dog acts like prey…” (I have found this to be true.)

She told me there was a chance they’d adopt him out to me. After all, I already knew he bit. She told me to tell them in writing that I wanted to adopt him. To just email them saying I wanted him and giving his ID#. (Here’s his profile from the shelter)

She put up handwritten signs around the neighborhood describing the dog, since the original owner could reclaim him easily. If they knew. If they wanted to. If, if, if.

I also put up posters with a picture of the little guy. A couple of the neighborhood kids helped with that one.

And now… we wait.

He’s in isolation now, so they can be sure he doesn’t have rabies. The clock on isolation runs out on 2/21. And isolation will only make him more skittish. And less adoptable.

So I’ve applied to adopt him via their web contact form. And I’ve sent a follow up email asking about him. I haven’t heard anything back, but he’s still listed on their found dogs page.

I look at that first picture and I just want to cuddle him and reassure him. I hope his original owner claims him. Or that they let me adopt him. I really, really hope they let me adopt him. He doesn’t deserve to be put down for my mistake (and no, I’m not beating myself up, just wishing I’d been smarter about it).

In future… I’ll call a shelter first. I hadn’t wanted to, because I didn’t want him to be at risk of being put down. But now he is, more so than if I’d called them first.

I will say that I found out other people in our neighborhood had seen him and even had him in their yard and done nothing about it. They let their kids pet him. But they didn’t try to do any of the things they should have. Hell, don’t let your kids pet a strange dog. They should have called Animal Control, instead of ignoring the problem. And that upsets me, too.

Ugh. I’m thinking of a lot of “what-ifs,” even though I know it won’t help.

Cross your fingers they let me have him.

He's adorable.
He’s adorable. (Dog ID #A933383)



Puppies Make Everything Better

photo (2)This is Gracie, our latest foster. She’s about 3 months old, fearless, wriggly, happy, and absolutely determined to pounce Ragnar at every opportunity. She hides under the coffee table and waits for him to walk by so she can nip at his feet. At which point he, of course, flops down on his stomach and lets her chew on his ears and try to fit her mouth around his skull. She fails at that one, but they both seem delighted by it.

I… am feeling overwhelmed. Not by the puppy. A few weeks ago my primary care doc noticed something funny when I swallowed a sip of water. So she sent me to get an ultrasound of my neck. Which took a rather long time. The impression I got was that it was longer than it should have been, but I don’t know how long these things normally go. I knew better than to ask the technician what she saw; she wouldn’t be allowed to say, anyway. And the results came back. And I saw them before my doctor’s office called. Because I’m the kind of patient who *always* logs in to PAMF’s MyHealth Online service. And I saw that there were a lot of nodules. Which worried me.

But it wasn’t until the nurse called to tell me I needed to set up an appointment with endocrinology to get the nodules biopsied that I really started worrying. I think it was her tone of voice. She sounded very uncomfortable. Very solemn.

It could just be that she’s used to patients freaking out at all sorts of things. I don’t know. I’m not prone to freak outs when discussing medical things. I think my father would have disowned me if that were the case. Well, not really. But I’m his kid. I’m not afraid of needles, I want to see everything (like my tonsils once they were removed–they were each the size of a golf ball–or my intestine pictures after they did the celiac biopsy), and I don’t freak out at test results. Also…. I have a spreadsheet where I’ve kept all of my test results going back to 1984. Which, let me tell you, sure helps with getting a diagnosis. I’m the gal who, when the ER doc asked me, “I don’t suppose you happen to know what size your ovaries normally are?” said, “Oh, yeah. This is how big they were when I was 19, and this is how big they were when I was 25, and this is how big they were two months ago.” And I showed her my spreadsheet.

So I have a bunch of nodules in my thyroid. Both sides. Both have a large main nodule. One side also has a lot of smaller ones spread throughout. People can get nodules in all sorts of places. Most thyroid nodules are benign. Even most cancerous ones aren’t a huge concern when it comes to the thyroid. When I talked to my dad his mode of reassuring me was to say, “If you have to get cancer, thyroid is the one you want.”

And maybe, at a different time in my life, it wouldn’t stress me so much. But in a year when Jay died of cancer, when my mother is still recovering from the chemo she got for her breast cancer… And I feel guilty for not doing enough for either of them… Some lizard brained part of me feels like that would be appropriate punishment.

I get that I shouldn’t be thinking that way. I get that it’s superstitious and counter-productive and my guilt has little basis in reality. But. Yeah.

I am stressed. A little scared. A lot overwhelmed. I go into shutdown mode when that happens. Kinda numb. Flat affect. I see the endocrinologist next Tuesday. It’s an hour long appointment and they’ll probably do the biopsy right then.

And I keep thinking about that Edna St. Vincent Millay line. “It’s not one damn thing after another, it’s one damn thing over and over.” And I’m very glad I have a puppy around.

Rabbi Plans to Kill Dogs Because he Can’t be Bothered

Or at least, that’s what he’s trying to do. But I’m not going to let him. And I’m asking for your help.

My grandmother died in March, leaving her rabbi & tenant of the last 15 years as her primary beneficiary. Which makes perfect sense; he was her family. She left him lifetime tenancy in her house, $50k a year that will likely last him the rest of his life, and two small dogs.

When I first spoke to her lawyer, he told me the rabbi was unhappy about having the dogs and that he was worried the rabbi would put them down. At the time, I thought my parents or I could take them. But I’m a freelancer and currently I don’t have a gig. My savings were wiped out when my cat needed an emergency surgery and I already have three rescues. I can’t afford it.

We’ve also learned that my mother needs to have a surgery soon, which will require roughly two months recovery time in which my father will be taking care of her.  My parents can’t take the dogs.

I explained all this to the rabbi a few weeks ago. I pointed out that my grandmother, in her will, specifically left the dogs to him; clearly she expected him to care for them. I thought it was settled at that point.

Yesterday I received an email from the lawyer’s office telling me the rabbi is going to have the dogs put down. They argued with him, trying to convince him to at least take the dogs to a shelter where they’d have a chance. Or put up a notice at the vet’s office saying the dogs were up for adoption. He seems to have agreed.

He also left me a voicemail saying that if I want the dogs put down, he’ll do that but he obviously can’t keep them. He’s trying to put this on me, to salve his conscience, but it’s his responsibility. It’s his choice. He *owes* my grandmother this.

He’s right, though. I won’t let him kill her dogs.

Within two minutes of searching, I found a no-kill shelter not far from the house. The dogs will be going there. But I would much rather find a home for the both of them. Which is why I’m asking for your help. Give this a signal boost. Maybe you know someone who would want them or could offer suggestions.

I’ll post a picture here of the dogs as soon as I can get a hold of one.

The dogs are in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A mini-dachshund and a terrier mix.

And the angels sang…



We adopted a dog.

Back at the end of March I predicted that it would take me six months of steady campaigning to convince Jason we should adopt a dog. In truth, it only took five months. We adopted Arthur/Ragnar at the end of August. He’s part mastiff, possibly part boxer or lab, and at the moment he’s snoring, crashed out on the floor by my feet.

He’s a smart pup, though a bit skittish. We’re working on that and seeing major improvements.

You know what the trick was? To convincing Jason? Finding a big enough dog. Which makes sense when you consider that the only dog he has ever liked is a friend’s Great Dane.

Meet Ragnar, named in honor of a Norse pirate-king:

Ragnar hiding behind the driver’s seat of my car.
Sprawled on the kitchen floor.











In case you were wondering, he’s at most 10 months old and weighs 75lbs. We’re hoping he’ll at least top 100lbs by the time he’s full grown.

Puppy Dog Tales

rescue dog

I never told you about Bruno, did I? Bruno was our second foster dog from Copper’s Dream. Look at him. How could anyone not love that face?

When he came to us, he was terrified. Cowering when you tried to pet him.

He mostly ignored the cats. Began to relax after a few days. If you crouched down to face level with him, he’d let you pet him without wincing.

Then, one morning, he made a play bow at Tabby: the only one of our cats who actively dislikes dogs. She began to trot, and then to run to get away from him. He thought she was playing chase, so he ran after her. Poor Tabby was cornered and terrified (and lost control of certain bodily functions).

Jason and I yelled, without even thinking. We ran into the dining room (where Tabby was cornered) and separated the two. Bruno very clearly was confused. He just wanted to play and had no intention of hurting her.

We put him outside while we cleaned up after Tabby, and he whimpered. He cried. He pawed at the door, desperately trying to get back inside. For the rest of the day he was back to being that terrified dog who cowered when we came near. We thought it was because of the yelling. But it wasn’t. It was because we had left him alone outside.

He probably was locked outside a lot before we got him. And hit or kicked if he tried to get into the house. Poor guy was terrified of door ways…

He just shut down.

Luckily, I knew someone who had a magic touch with dogs. She came over, had a toy Bruno actually liked and treats he would actually eat. She figured out he had issues around food. His prior owner had probably taken his food or hit him when he was at his food bowl. So we gave him his food and went into the other room, and once he realized we didn’t want it, he ate.

Happy Dog Face

She and I spent the next three or four hours sitting on the floor of my kitchen with Bruno. We just pet him. His body relaxed. He made that whuffling exhalation dogs make when they’re happy. And he got  happy dog face, you know, the expression where their mouths are wide open and their lips are relaxed and they look almost like they’re grinning? That.

I’d been so careful not to invade his space, not wanting him to feel threatened, which had been completely counter-productive. He needed contact.

After that, he was a completely different dog. He was happy and playful. It was so amazing to watch him bound after a toy and pounce. Utterly amazing.

By the time the adoption fair rolled around, he was willing to be around a crowd of people. He’d been terrified of that on walks with me around the neighborhood. But he was great.

At the adoption fair.

A man who reminded me a lot of my dad fell in love with Bruno. I told him about the history of abuse. Told him about Bruno’s health issues (Bruno limped and had something wrong with his hip, and we didn’t know how serious it was). And the family just said, Well, then we know we’re getting a disabled dog and that’s okay.

He got along with their other dog. He licked their son’s face. He walked on leash with the father and trotted happily after their dog. And they loved him.

So now, he lives with a family in Cupertino, with another dog he gets along with. She’s not so interested in playing with him, but he keeps trying. And the family adores him. Turns out his hip problem was from a fracture from when he was a puppy, probably a result of being kicked.

This — this is why fostering is wonderful. Because you can take an abused and frightened dog and make him feel safe again. And you can find him a family that adores him.

Meet Addie

Addie in the backyard

She’s absofrickinlutely adorable. And incredibly well behaved. Nine months old; we think she’s some mix of Chow and German Shepherd. Poor girl had ear infections and an allergic rash when she came to us, both of which are doing much better now.

We’ve had her all of five days, and tomorrow we’ll be sending her off with a very nice college student who adopted her. We’ll also be picking up another dog to foster. Who, hopefully, will get along as well with our cats as Addie does (which is to say, she wants to play with them but not hunt them, and they completely ignore her).

So far, absolutely worthwhile. Yes, it will be sad to let her go. But she’s going to someone who adores her. It will probably be harder for us in future, when we’ve fostered a dog for longer than five days.


In the meantime, have some more Addie photos.

J with Addie; actually petting a dog!
Addie in the late afternoon

And an Addie video.