Thursday, January 29, 2015

In which Paddy quite literally saves my life

Here’s the short version: We were attacked by an off-leash dog last night while riding alone on the trails. Paddington was absolutely amazing – he faced down a snapping, snarling, barking dog, didn’t bolt, and didn’t dump my ass in the dirt even when the dog attacked him. Even after the owner finally – FINALLY – got the dog under control, when he was trembling and on high alert, he stayed put and waited for me to catch my breath and talk to the dog owner. We’re both fine, the dog is fine, and I filed a police report. And my horse is absolutely worth his weight in gold.

Here’s the slightly longer version:

I’ve bitched before about off-leash dogs. Wyvern Oaks back to a greenbelt where we often go trail riding, or ride to a few grassy “arena” areas where we can work. We’ve encountered off-leash dogs before, and we have a pretty standard protocol – we keep the horses standing still, facing the dogs, ask the owner to get their dog, and if it escalates, yell “NO BAD DOG” at the dog until the owner can contain the dog. Two times we didn’t see the dogs coming and our horses were chased; both times we all managed to stay on despite some rather harrowing moments.

Last night, Paddy and I were walking home, and met up with a nice guy who told me his dog was up ahead. I pulled Paddy off to the side of the trail and faced the direction the guy had indicated. Sure enough, his dog came bouncing down the trail, and he called the dog to him. The dog started heading toward its owner… and then it noticed Paddy.

Then next 30 seconds are very much a blur. The dog approached, growled, and began to bark. I asked the guy to call off his dog, and to his credit, he tried. As the dog got closer and more serious about Paddy, I did my usual “NO BAD DOG” yelling at the dog. At this point the dog began circling us, trying to get behind Paddy. Dogs are what’s known as “brave cowards” and will often only go after a horse from behind, so I circled Paddy to keep him facing the dog. The dog got closer, and the barking and growling turned from half-hearted into full-on serious. Paddy kept circling, facing the dog. I want to say we made 4 or 5 complete circles… enough so that I started to wonder WTF the damn dog owner was doing, because the dog wasn’t playing any more. The dog finally managed to dart behind Paddy and went for his hind legs, mouth wide, teeth bared. Paddy swung his butt around at the last moment and we managed to face the dog again, and he lunged for Paddy’s nose. At this point I think I yelled something pretty rude to the dog owner (probably “Get your fucking dog off my horse!”) while still trying to maneuver poor Paddy, who at this point had had more than enough. Shortly after this, the guy got his hands on his dog, and pinned him to the ground.

The guy, to his credit, apologized profusely. He asked if we were OK – I couldn’t see any blood on Paddy, and I didn’t think the dog had made contact, so I said we were. Poor Paddy was trembling and wanted very much to leave the scene, and I scratched his withers and told him what an awesome amazing horse he was and what a good boy he was. Eventually the guy put a leash on his dog and headed off in the other direction, and we went home where I stuffed Paddy full of cookies and called the police to report the incident (interestingly enough, the officer who responded knew the dog and owner from the local dog park – said the guy was really nice and the dog was super well trained).

We’re dog owners, and I totally understand wanting to allow your dog to run free and get some energy out. But I am also a big fan of leashes and dog parks and exercising your dog properly and safely. Blogland knows how dangerous off-leash dogs are to horses – one of our own lost her heart horse all too soon. I also know I’m preaching to the choir here, so here’s what I’d like to ask each of you to do. If you have friends who allow their dogs off leash in a public area (not a dog park), ask them to reconsider. Tell them what can happen. It doesn’t have to be about dogs vs. horses, it could be a big dog vs. a smaller dog, dog vs. children, or elderly individual, whatever. Help get the message out. I want to believe that most dog owners are responsible people, they just don’t think that THEIR dog could possibly do that. But any dog can, given the right circumstances.

Be careful out there, y’all. Not every horse is like Paddy, who kept me safe.

He deserves ALL THE COOKIES. Yes he does. 

63 comments:

  1. I'm so glad Paddy kept his head during all of that!

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    1. Me too. Any of our other horses would have either bolted or kicked the dog... and we'd be liable for vet bills. Funny how that works, isn't it?

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    1. He got like half a jar of cookies...

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  3. Off leash dogs are a HUGE pet peeve of mine. I witnessed a horrific wreck on XC caused by an off leash dog and a negligent owner. And things like this. Hooray Paddybear. So glad you were on him for that encounter. It could have been so much worse.

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    1. I know, I WISH people would just keep their dogs on a leash. Is it really that hard?

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  4. What a fantastic horse you have!!!

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  5. What a super boy!!!! I'm so glad you are all okay.

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  6. I am SO GLAD you guys are ok. I have a horse. I have a dog. I feel VERY STRONGLY about off leash dogs, or any dogs without manners, period. It is unsafe and unfair to everyone.

    We exercise my dog by jogging and biking with our dog - ON LEASH. My husband has wiped out twice on the bike with off-leash neighborhood dogs coming after my dog.

    I'm glad you filed a police report. People need to take this sh*t seriously.

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    1. Yeah... if you can't walk/jog/bike enough to get your dog the exercise it needs, maybe you don't need a dog. Grumble grumble. Thanks so much for keeping your dog leashed and safe!

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  7. Way to go Paddy!!! I'm shocked he didn't end up kicking the dog (he had every right to). You should get a giant hug for going through that.

    I don't care how well trained a dog is, letting it off-leash in a public place is just asking for trouble! My 100lb shepherd mix does not do well with other dogs and we always have him on a leash (and heeling) when we walk to the park or around our neighborhood. While we've gone past many an unleashed dog minding their own business, several times we've been harassed by an unleashed dog who FOR THE LOVE should not be unleashed because they have no obedience skills. Frankly, if an unleashed dog is going to harass mine, he's risking experiencing how little our dog likes other dogs and that's on them.

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    1. We always keep our dogs leashed when off-property, ALWAYS. And yet I've had people with tiny little dogs who allow them to come up to our dogs, and Elias does not like dogs he does not know. I always tell the other dog owner that my dogs are not friendly, and they always walk off in a huff, offended. Um, at least your dog is still in one piece?

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  8. So scary!! I've struggled with off leash dogs a lot, usually while running with my own two dogs (who are typically leashed). My own dogs are only allowed off leash in public areas with some other sort of control on them (a shock collar). I am confident the shock collar works to pull my dogs off anything (including chasing a herd of fleeing deer...). That said, I still think it's important to stay alert and "think like a dog" when handling my dogs. The same way we all "think like a horse" when riding out. As the human, I feel it's our responsibility to try to see and react to things before our animals get the chance.

    I am very callous when it comes to misbehaving off-leash dogs. If an aggressive dog chases my dogs and I on a long run? I dart into traffic on the busiest road I can find and try to lose the dog in traffic. I always hope they don't get hit by a car, but dammit if that pit bull dragging a chain is going to come after me, I don't care if it gets sideswiped by a car. We encounter aggressive dogs so often that I actually examine my escape routes the moment I spot a dog in the area. I've had big rotweilers break loose from their owners and go after us, I've had snarling labradors drag their owners on their knees into the street after us, I've had beagles rush me and cause me to fall, and I've had a large stray attack my big black dog (who fought him off in just a bare moment, because my black dog is a fucking terrifying bad ass, and I wouldn't mess with him). Basically I have almost everything terrifying happen, and like to be prepared. I've even been known to add extra miles on to a run because I spotted a loose dog I didn't want to engage with. So many owners are stupid, and we have to watch after ourselves.

    Good for you for filing a police report. Aggressive dogs are a huge problem. People today do not seem to understand how to train or react appropriately to dogs, creating an epidemic of poorly behaved animals.

    Wow. I talked a lot. Clearly I'm passionate about this.

    Paddy is a star, he deserves all the treats and loves. Seriously. What a star.

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    1. Wow, you've had some super scary experiences with off-leash dogs! Glad you've managed to come out unscathed!

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  9. Holy crap Jen! How much MORE could you even love brave brave Paddy?! SO happy that you two are okay.

    And - for the record, I walk my dog(s) at least twice a day, every single day, on.leash.always. I make the time, because that is what's best for dogs, and for everyone we encounter. It's a matter of priorities.

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  10. Wow that's scarey! I have a feeling my boy would have completely lost it, dumped me, and took off with the dog chasing.

    I hate it when people have off-leash dogs and unfortunately, my husband is one of those people who thinks our dog is wonderful (he's not). He thinks that once we start trail riding we will be bringing the dog and he'll happily follow along off leash (he won't). I'm still trying to convince him this isn't going to happen.

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    1. It was scary, it's the only time I have really thought a dog was going to bite my horse. NOT fun.

      Good luck with your husband! Maybe let him know what happened to me and to other riders to convince him?

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  11. Glad you and Fabio-Paddington are safe and sound. Super glad Paddy kept his head, listened to you and didn't freak out, which would have escalated the situation. Very happy he took care of you and no harm was done.

    I have no good or pleasant words for the man and his well-trained dog. We meet dogs on trail all the time and so far have not had any issues, although I will say that Ashke will pin his ears and go after them if they get too close. He's not fond of dogs.

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    1. He had EVERY reason to freak out and lose it, and I would have been hard-pressed to stay with him if he had decided to do so. I'm a relatively sticky rider, but when a horse decides it's had enough, you're just a passenger. Not fun.

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  12. I'm so glad you are ok! I seriously have tears in my eyes. I love dogs, but they have to have responsible owners. A friend and I were walking to our trailer at a horse show and a dog ran out an bit her hand and wouldn't let go til she literally beat it in the head with her soda can. We were a solid 15 feet away from the trailer and it was on a freaking long ass leash, the worst part: the owners watched the whole thing and never tried to help all the while glaring at us. Again, so glad you and Paddy are ok.

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    1. Oh my goodness, you poor friend! That's horrible! I hope her hand was OK, that's just disgusting. I hope you were able to hold the dog owners responsible. Ugh, I would have lost it.

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  13. holy eff I would have lost it on the owner...so glad you are both safe!

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    1. Man, it was tempting but I KNEW I had to hold my temper... he could have just as easily let his dog go, you know? And then we would have been back to square one, with my butt in the dirt and Paddy headed for home with a dog hot on his heels. Better to just get the horse away from the dog and deal with the owner later.

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  14. Paddy is an angel - i am so glad you are both ok!

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  15. So glad to hear that you are both safe and sound!

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    1. Oh man, me too. There were some moments where I really wasn't sure how it was going to turn out...

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  16. Glad it didn't turn out worse.

    I've been chased by rogue dogs before too, but I've let my mare kick them ;)

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    1. I wish Paddy had been more interested in defending himself, but if he'd hurt the dog, I would have been liable for the dog's injuries. You just can't win.

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  17. I'm so glad you're ok. How terrifying!

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    1. Definitely not an experience I want to repeat.

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  18. Ahh what a perfect animal!!! And what a terrifying situation, I'm glad you guys are okay!

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    1. He's perfect and adorable. What more can you ask for?

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  19. Oh wow, what a good boy Paddy is. <3

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  20. I want to squish Paddy's perfect little face. What a good boy -- I'm so glad you guys are okay!

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    1. He is super squeezy-smooshy and I luff him for it!

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  21. very scary situation - i'm glad you're all ok!!!

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  22. So glad you are both okay. I wish people would just keep their dogs on a freaking leash, its safer for everyone that way!

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  23. OMG! What a horrible experience. Off leash dogs make me insane. My dog doesn't play well with others (people are OK - just not new dogs). She is ALWAYS on a leash when in public. I can't even count the number of times a loose dog has galloped at me while the owner says " it's OK - he/she is friendly ". Um, not OK, because my dog isn't friendly. And most people's dogs don't recall as well as they think they will. As evidenced by your experience.

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    1. Totally with you. Our dogs are not good with strange dogs, especially when they are together (that pack mentality). Augustus is really well socialized, but if your 8 pound Chihuahua attacks his face (not kidding, I had someone let their dog run up to Gus at Petsmart) I am not responsible for my dog having yours for a snack. Gah, people are clueless sometimes!

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  24. Glad to hear you're both okay! Paddy is a superstar.

    I've never had an experience with a dog trying to attack one of the horses, but last summer a stray hung around the barn for a while and would try to jump up Gina's legs to get to me. It seemed like a friendly dog, but it was REALLY irritating.

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    1. Ugh, I'm glad the dog was friendly at least, and Gina put up with the antics!

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  25. Glad to hear you're both okay! Paddy is a superstar.

    I've never had an experience with a dog trying to attack one of the horses, but last summer a stray hung around the barn for a while and would try to jump up Gina's legs to get to me. It seemed like a friendly dog, but it was REALLY irritating.

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    1. Ugh, how not fun. I'm glad Gina was OK with the dog's antics, though!

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  26. Oh my goodness -- what a scary situation! I am so glad that you made it out okay!!

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    1. It was definitely not something I want to have happen again. EVER.

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  27. Go Paddy go! He did so well, I'm so glad you are both safe, because that sounded like a seriously scary situation... *shudder* I don't even like it when dogs are charging at fences and trying to get over them and all. Especially the big ones! I'm braver if it's just me, but when I'm riding, I'm so not cool with it....


    bonita of A Riding Habit

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    1. Dogs and horses really don't mix all that well, unless the dogs have been brought up with horses.

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  28. Loose dogs scare the hell out of me. It is the reason that I carry a dressage whip when I trail ride. I do not understand how you could be liable for vet bills if a dog attacks your horse and gets kicked. Is that really the law?

    Paddington the Brave!

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    1. Val, a dressage whip would have only made the situation worse. The sound of it would have scared Paddy more than the dog, and I couldn't have hit the dog with it from the saddle without endangering my seat.

      And yes, you're liable for any injuries your animal causes.

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  29. A year and change ago, I owned the worst horse who would eventually dump me and leave me for dead, no dogs involved. But the one time we faced down a barking, chasing dog, I leaned forward and said "GIT 'IM" and I'll be damned if that horse didn't start stomping. Dog went home immediately, tail between legs. I really need to see if I can train my current horse to that command.

    I own dogs and love them, but I would also understand entirely if one of mine got loose and got stomped by a horse. Predators and prey animals just can't mix in a fully predictable manner.

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