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Tessa: An Update on my Dog's Condition

Tessa: An Update on my Dog's Condition
Safe after the Ordeal (Author Photo)

As many of you know, my dogs and I were attacked by a pit bull last week, an animal of roughly 80 pounds and considerable viciousness. Having never seen such a massive and truly horrifying specimen before, I was curious and wished to make certain that I had identified it correctly. With that, I checked and was able to verify that the dog was indeed a pit bull. Tessa's vet confirmed that she regularly sees pit bulls that are 90 to 100 pounds, a far cry from the breed that became popular with gang members during the 1990s. At any rate, the important thing is that Tessa received her follow-up vet visit yesterday. Although the pit bull chased Jacoby, quite thankfully, it did not bite him.

With puncture wounds to her chest, air bubbles in her chest cavity, and an injured leg, she is still in much better shape than one might expect. Indeed, things could have been horrifically worse, for all three of us. Back when I was a park ranger, one of my colleagues and I referred to pit bulls as limb-severing devices, owing to their bite force, which can easily amputate hands and remove facial features. And those dogs were the specimens of yesteryear, the modern breed being far bigger, stronger, and potentially more violent--if trained in that manner. Had the Lord not intervened, I am sure that the dog on Saturday--of the massive newer variety--would have torn all three of us entirely apart, such was its relentless aggression and dreadful strength.

I will always recall the feeling of forcing my fingers into its mouth and wrestling with it, doing everything I could to pry those jaws open, only to have it release Tessa, my mini golden retriever, and lunge once again at her, biting all the more ferociously with each attack. A few things, however, worked well for us that day.

First, Tessa remained on her back the entire time, never allowing the pit bull to grab her neck and break it. Second, I make it a habit of leaving thick fur on her chest and throat when I trim her, knowing that it might give her some protection. And I definitely noticed that the pit bull struggled to grip her as she thrashed around, giving me a modest opportunity to block the attack. Third, the dog was still fairly young, perhaps being only a year or two in age, its energy indicating youth. With its lack of maturity, it eventually lost focus and seemed to become confused, biting me with hesitation rather than deadly force. By the time it had turned on me, and thankfully decided to ignore my dogs, I had a window of opportunity and dashed behind a neighbor's tomato trellis--screaming bloody murder all the while.

I now laugh at my chosen hiding place, but the dog seemed momentarily unsure of how to reach me. By the time it began to circle me with a wide arc, the owners had emerged from their trailer to collect the thing. I'll re-post the original narrative that goes into greater detail. Suffice it to say, that was quite a bit of trauma and drama for an otherwise pleasant Saturday afternoon.

I am so grateful that my precious dogs are safe now, and I can focus on nursing Tessa back to health and bolstering her shaken confidence. I now carry my pup out of the rig and walk slowly with her to the nearby grass, standing watch as she does her business and sniffs the wind, periodically looking up to me for reassurance. As for her confidence, she is doing well in that area, much to my relief.

Yesterday afternoon, as our neighbor began to walk around outside, Tessa limped out of her bed, stood at the door and growled. It was a happy moment.

As for the outcome, Utah law favors dog owners in bite cases--the owners of the aggressive dogs, to be clear. It's likely that the dangerous pit bull will simply be returned to its main owner after the citation is resolved. Yes, I take issue with this.

These pit bulls are not family dogs, as you would not acquire one to play Frisbee or to cuddle with on the sofa. No, these dogs are bred and trained to be weapons, used by criminals to kill and to maim, destroying family pets that are unfortunate enough to encounter them. And this needs to stop.

As it stands, negligent owners of killer dogs (who keep them in unsecured spaces) can sleep peacefully at night, knowing that the laws will protect their rights, allowing their violent dogs to roam freely throughout the community. Well, the next vicious dog that tries to attack Jacoby and Tessa will be gutted, beheaded, and returned to its owner by me. I don't play.

Anyway . . .

The dogs and I will be on hiatus for a bit, but I am busy preparing new material for your reading pleasure.