I have two mixed breed dogs, 47 and 55 pounds. Both have had numerous classes through intermediate and some advanced, as well as numerous off leash agility classes. No one who knows me or the dogs would disagree that I've raised them well and they are great dogs.
The older, brown mixed dog, I raised since she was 6 weeks old. She's 5 years now and has passed strict tests to be certified as a therapy dog with two different therapy programs, to visit nursing homes, disabled kids programs etc. We do therapy visits once a month, some with other handlers with their therapy dogs.
Until the other day, she never once bit another dog or person. She did have issues with bullying other dogs when in daycare as a younger dog, and when she was a puppy I paid for numerous extra private lessons and board training to help with that. To this day we avoid dog parks with many unknown dogs - as she does not do well when many dogs are together (unless she knows them all already).
The trainers she had were quality. She is good with other dogs, I have had numerous foster dogs ( only 1 at a time) of many sizes and breeds and she's never bit one.
Two days ago , we were on our daily hike in on-leash only park. This is a park we've hiked in over 1000 times, for over 4 years. I always keep my dogs on leash on the main trails.
A little dog which we've seen off leash in that same area many times was approaching. The dog is often out of control running far past it's owner as it tends to do, and my dogs have tried to lunge at it when it's come past us, before I had the chance to put them in a sit stay or go way off the path to get away from it.
Whenever I see it, I try to get far away off the path and let it and it's owner pass.
My dogs don't usually lunge at other dogs, and they usually walk politely past other dogs on leashes. Even when the other dog is misbehaving, my dogs usually will be good and walk right past when all dogs are on leash.
However, if a dog is running towards them off leash, they may try to growl/jump on it because it's invading their space.
I always try to avoid any dogs that may be loose and let them pass.
On a few occasions, ignorant owners will say "My dog's friendly" and let their unleashed dog rush into my dogs faces, which is a problem because my brown dog hates that and will try to growl and get the dog out of her space - but she never bit one.
The day the bite occurred, it's owner saw us and started to put the leash on.
Meanwhile I walked off the side off the trail and put my 2 dogs in a sit stay to let her pass.
As we did this, the owner picked her dog up and was setting it down again a few feet from us to continue down the path.
Without warning, my brown dog pulled the leash out of my hand and ran and attacked the dog as it was in the owners arms (she then set it down) and bit it twice on the butt!
I could not believe it. I told the owner I was sorry and asked if her dog was ok and she said she did not know. She was mad and going to leave and I said wait let me give you my phone number so if there's a vet bill I will pay for it.
I saw no blood, not on the ground or my dog's mouth or her dog. However, I was not that close and I could see the dog has ripped skin on it's butt.
She took my number. An hour later I get a vm from the lady that the vet bill is $700 for stitches at the emergency vet. Including sedating the dog and medicine. I know that's a good 24 hr. vet and also expensive, and the only one open that late in our area. I keep my word an I pay the bill online through the vet's payment system.
Legally, I was not responsible, where I live the law says I don't have to pay given the circumstances. However I feel I did the right thing by paying, even though it was not totally my dog's fault.
Now thanks to her, I will not ever hike with that dog again.
I no longer feel comfortable taking her on hikes.
My dog always loved her hikes, they were her favorite activity. We have a fenced backyard where she plays with my other dog, and she does her therapy visits she loves, but she was happiest on the hikes. She smiles so much when we're hiking, and off the path way away from being able to see any dogs or people I let her run off leash. She always comes when called.
The only reason I did not call her when she ran after the dog is I was in such shock at what she was doing, and immediately ran the few feet and grabbed her by the collar. If I'd said come and walked away she would have come, but she may have bit a couple more times had I called her rather than grabbed her collar.
I spoke with the park ranger about the dog being off leash and he said there have been birds of prey who have gotten small dogs like that, in that area. He said it's very possible her dog will be swooped up by a bird if she keeps running with it off leash.
Even though she picked her dog up when my dog bit it, she was at fault legally. I felt bad because my dog got away from me, I never dreamed she'd pull the leash out of my hand.
I know that dog was glaring at her as it always does when it passes by off leash, and it's always invading her space while she's on leash.
Anyway I am really torn up about all this.
She was my best trained dog, so reliable.
I never dreamed this would happen.
I don't even like her much anymore. I make her stay in the other room and do not pet her or talk to her anymore.
I do let her out back to do her business, and feed her in that back room. She has her basic needs taken care of still.
She has such a sad look on her face. Barely smiles like she used to. I took my other dog hiking without her, and will continue to do so. My brown dog does not realize why she can't go anymore.
After the bite she was so happy, she looked proud of herself.
I thought about not allowing her to go on therapy visits anymore. However all dogs that are there are trained, calm and on leash, and she knows them all. Not running around uncontrolled as the dog she bit was. She never tried to go after a human. She loves people.
I am going to take her on the visits less often than we used to go. And I am going to be more on guard, over paranoid, and hold her leash a lot tighter. I don't think she'd be a problem but I trust her less than I used to.
I can't stand her in a way, but I don't want to rehome her. I no longer pet her or show her any sign of love and can tell she knows something's wrong. I put a ton of money and time in to training her and she was my best friend.
I feel like a part of her is dead. Now that she can not hike anymore.
She loved going to the high points of the trail watching the sunset with me.
So many great memories.
She never was so happy as on those hikes.
I think I am doing the right thing in never taking her hiking again.
I'm really sad about it.
However, I guess it's something I'll just have to accept.
When I look at her all I can think about is her biting that dog.
How awful it was.
I'm at a loss as to anything else better to do.
I always got a huge amount of joy from taking both dogs hiking, seeing them so happy, it was the highpoint of my day most days.
But I don't see how I can take her when there's a risk she may bite another off leash dog. It's too risky.
If there are any constructive thoughts on all this I would like to hear them.
I feel horrible about what happened, and my other dog - age 18 months - is great and now my favorite - but nothing like the friendship I had with my brown dog before she was so bad.