I loved and trusted dogs from an early age. Here I am saying hello to the wonderful St. Bernard that lived at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood in Oregon. St. Bernards are lovely dogs, and they love to lie down most of all. We had one in our dog obedience class, and the instructor said they were one breed that never needed to be told to lie down more than once! Meanwhile, our dogs were cavorting around the room.
But twice I was bitten by dogs. The first time was by a pair of black Labradors owned by Cyrus Walker, a neighbor. I had to pass the Walkers’ house on the walk home from school. Usually, but not predictably, the dogs were behind the hedge. But one afternoon, they ran out and charged me. While I froze, they circled me and then one bit me on the thigh. Fortunately, I had a dress on, so the bite was not deep. Still, I had been terrified. Regretfully, the only response I got at home was that I was bitten because they knew I was afraid. While I thought it was reasonable to be afraid of those dogs, I kept my mouth shut. I learned to circumvent the Walker’s yard by cutting through another, dogless, neighbor’s lawn.
The second bite was also from a Labrador named, ironically enough, Walker. Walker and my German Shepherd were about to go at it and I kicked out between them without thinking. Walker sunk his filthy, broken teeth into my shin. Surprised as I was that he had bitten me and not my dog, he slunk away. The doctor didn’t dare stitching up the hole because of the real risk of infection. I got a tetanus shot and instructions to keep it clean while it healed. I have a dent on that shin forty years later.
I never stopped loving and trusting dogs, despite my two experiences. I remain cautious, of course, but my deep affection of them remains. Two dog bites weren’t enough to change my belief that dogs are a wonderful addition to the world.