Ponta got bit today. We took him to the hospital and had him treated. The wound was about an inch long and required four stitches.
We usually take Ponta to Koganei Park, a large park to the south of here. It has a three-pen dog run, big with good trees and running area. The pens are separated into large dogs, small dogs, and an exercise area for retrieving and so forth.
Ponta is small, but too big for the small-dog pen, so we always take him to the large pen. He is aloof from other dogs, but plays with partners that are usually his own size. Today, for example, there was a Shiba mix named “Penne” that Ponta got along great with.
Sometimes there are aggressive dogs. The first time we came, a Shiba mix named Sakura kept bullying Ponta, but he got over it. Several months ago, a chocolate lab named Cocoa was very aggressive with Ponta, to the point where I had to pick Ponta up to protect him.
Today, there were two white shepherds, dogs we had seen at the run several times before. They are sizably bigger than most of the dogs in the run, and tend to be pretty forward—not so much aggressive as they simply are big and imposing. Ponta got along OK with them, at least up until today.
Below is an image of the white shepherds and their owner.
Today, we were at the run, and everything was okay. At one point, a few new dogs, a pair of border collies, were introduced. Ponta didn’t seem to like them very much, but had approached one. He growled and barked a bit, and the other dog growled and barked back—nothing really unusual, but enough for me to get up and stand over them, ready to pull Ponta out should things get dicey.
Just as Ponta and the collie had a bark-and-stance, with one other dog close in, one of the white shepherds jumped into them, and it devolved into what I suppose you could call a scrum—all dogs at close quarters, barking and making such close contact that there was no space between any of them. Almost immediately, within a second or so, I saw the shepherd bite into Ponta’s neck, and had no doubt that this was way more serious than usual. Ponta yelped and more or less screamed, and it was clear that his teeth were deep into Ponta’s neck.
Within a few seconds, the scrum separated, but the shepherd kept coming after Ponta. Ponta was unmistakably scared and defensive, trying to get away. I placed my body between them—the shepherd did not seem like he was dangerous to humans—and then I picked Ponta up. At that point, I was not sure that Ponta’s skin had been broken, but I was fairly sure he had taken some damage, even if just a bruise.
But here was where I became livid at the owner of the shepherds: the jerk didn’t do anything about his dogs. He hadn’t when the one got out of hand, and he didn’t when they started harassing me. I was holding Ponta up, but the shepherd was still going after him, jumping up next to me, barking, and scaring the crap out of Ponta.
And the ass who owned the dog still did nothing.
After 5 or 10 seconds, I got Ponta away from that area and the shepherd lost interest. The owner still took zero interest, though Ponta was clearly hurt. I probed Ponta’s neck and was shocked when I felt my finger go through a puncture in Ponta’s skin—easily big enough that it was clear the wound was bigger than my finger. It felt warm and wet, and when I drew my finger out, it had blood on it.
I turned to the owner, who was peering at us, and I said, rather clearly, “Ana ga aru! Chi ga deru!” (“There’s a hole! Blood is coming out!”)
The owner did not react, but simply turned and walked away, apparently unconcerned.
Ponta was a wreck; he was whimpering and his tail was down, and when I held him his heart was beating like crazy and he was shaking awfully hard. Sick with worry, we got Ponta out of there, back to the car, and took him to the nearest animal hospital. Our usual doctor’s office is closed from 12:30 to 4:00 pm; by the time we got out of the park, it was almost 3:00. The vet’s office answered, and Sachi explained Ponta’s injury while I drove—but they refused to treat Ponta until their break was over.
So instead, we drove to a hospital a bit farther from our house (but very close to our old apartment) where they opened up at 3:30, which was five minutes or so after we arrived. As we were waiting, it became clear that Ponta was bleeding a bit—but his neck fur is so thick, it’s kind of hard to see anything, and it holds the blood in.
That doesn’t look like much, but when I pulled his fur back, the seriousness of the wound was somewhat more clear:
We got in to see the vet, and they started treating Ponta right away. The vet said that they would have to shave the area (which I expected), and then they could assess the damage and do whatever they needed to do. They took Ponta in, and Sachi and I waited outside.
After a few minutes, we started hearing Ponta make frightened noises, so I asked the receptionist if we could come in and calm him down. After another minute, they called us in. As they treated Ponta, we were able to hold him and tell him what a good boy he was. This calmed him considerably, and I am really grateful to the vet for letting us do that.
Ponta was sitting on an exam table, being held bodily by a nurse, with a plastic cone around his neck, the wound being enough below it to not cause a problem. This also helped as Ponta could not see anything but us.
We could see the doctor working, however, and saw the damage—an inch-long crescent-shaped tear (the vet had clipped away excess damaged flesh). I am including the photo, but am hiding it behind a link—it is pretty graphic.
Image of Ponta’s neck wound (will open in new tab or window)
The doc gave Ponta a local anesthetic, cleaned the wound, and then stitched it up and applied an antibiotic ointment before wrapping it; again, I’ve put an image behind a link, this time of the stitches (less gory, but still kind of disturbing):
Image of Ponta’s stitches (will open in new tab or window)
The doc applied gauze to the wound, and wrapped Ponta’s neck with long bands of tape, presumably made to not stick disastrously to fur. He said Ponta would be fine, but told us to bring Ponta in two days later. One thing we like about this hospital: not only do they have better hours, they are open 365 days a year, no holidays. This is Golden Week, a huge vacation season, and two days from now is a national holiday.
We took Ponta home, gave him some nice treats (including some rice with his antibiotic medicine), and lots of love. He seems to have recovered emotionally for now, and is resting fine.
Sachi later called up the park office which oversaw the dog run. To our dismay, they refused not only to identify the owner so we could contact him, but also refused to take any action beyond simply making a record of our call. What the hell good is the registration for the place if people can bring dogs that bite and injure other dogs with no repercussions of any kind?
At the very least, I want to confront this guy and hand him the vet’s bill—though, considering his alarming unconcern at the time, I have the feeling he’s not the kind of person who would take any sort of responsibility for his dogs.
Another possibility I am mulling is to make a handout, showing the dogs and the owner, and a photo of Ponta’s wound, describing what happened, and warning people to watch out for those dogs. Maybe post it up outside the run or something.
But then, I am still more than a little pissed at the jackass; maybe I’ll calm down eventually.
One point about all of this which is less bad than expected: vet bills in Japan are much lower than you’d expect. For injections, shaving & cleaning the wound, stitches, ointment, dressing, and the time spent by a vet and a nurse, in addition to a week’s medication, I expected a bill at least in the hundreds of dollars.
Instead, the bill came out to ¥8,295—just $85.
Sachi, meanwhile, simply does not want to return to the dog run at all—a shame, because it’s the only dog run less than 10 minutes’ drive away; we have been going there every two or three weeks for more than a year and a half now. There’s one in Tokorozawa to which there is no direct driving route; there’s another in Nerima we haven’t tried yet. Both would take about 40-45 minutes to get to. We’ll see….