the attack

She lunged at my face; I raised my arms to shield the attack, and her incisors clenched my right forearm as she shook her head from side to side, driving a canine deep into my flesh near the elbow. I came up to my knees and grabbed at her neck with my left hand, prying her off my right forearm but hyper-extending my left thumb. My 3 children screamed at first, started crying, and then yelled at me not to hurt her as I continued trying to free myself from her grip. She released my right arm and lunged at me again, catching the top of my left wrist; I picked her up by the nape of her neck. I was on my feet now. My wife opened the back door to the sunroom where the 5 of us had been enjoying “The Simpsons” on what had been a peaceful Saturday morning. I threw her outside, finally freeing my left arm. I slammed the door. She jumped against the glass door where I stood, finally protected.

The attack was over.

I knew I needed to remove my fleece but did not want to look at my arms. My bride helped me pull it off as blood splattered onto our kitchen floor. “We need to take you to the hospital.” I wrapped my right arm in a kitchen towel and ice wrap, went into the garage, and sat in the back of her car, unwilling to open the garage door to the animal outside.

We got to the nearest emergency clinic and unwrapped my arms for cleaning, debridement, and disinfecting. There was a lot of blood on the towel. The right forearm appeared to be a level four bite; the left a level three perhaps.

I thought I’d need stitches, but apparently puncture wounds from animals can have bacteria in them and shouldn’t be stitched, so the doctor used a medical adhesive of sorts and several little butterfly bandages that will keep it closed; then he wrapped it in gauze.

The left wrist was left exposed after it was cleaned. I got a prescription for antibiotics. We went home and crated the dog.

I awoke Sunday morning to Scout tearing at my arms again, trying to get to my neck. My body jerked; I opened my eyes and lay awake until sunrise. Though she stayed in her crate all day, the flashbacks continued throughout the day.

We made some phone calls and researched where to take her. Monday morning, my bride took her to a no-kill shelter just west of downtown. They told her she had to have an appointment; she told them she can’t go back home with the dog to whom 3 children had already given tearful “goodbyes.” They produced some paperwork and led Scout out of our lives forever.

I spent my entire childhood with dogs. I gave a speech in 6th grade about Pokey, the basset-beagle from the Humane Society that was our pet from the mid-’80s until my last year of undergrad; Pokey got me an “A.” We had multiple Labrador Retrievers that helped my dad fetch fallen ducks but also served as playmates for my brother and me on Old Hickory Lake near Nashville. As soon as I was finished with school and bought my first home with a yard, I adopted Winnie 15 years ago. My children have always had a family dog.

Scout was with us just over a year but never really warmed up to me. She slept in the kids’ beds on a rotating schedule; she loved my bride, too, but she always seemed skittish around me or any other adult males who came by for such enjoyable activities as appraising water damage in the basement, eradicating rats in the attic, repairing the broken dishwasher and oven in the kitchen, or fixing the leaking mini-split HVAC (all within the past few weeks!). She reacted the same way to anyone delivering a package, groceries, or meals–common occurrences at our home in 2020. In short, Scout feared and disliked men, but I never thought she’d actually attack one, certainly not the one who signed her adoption papers and paid for her food.

It’s Thursday now. Every time I check my watch, I’m reminded of the last time I tried to pet my dog, Scout.

Any time I use my mouse, and touch my desk with my right elbow, I remember the last time I tried to play with my dog, Scout.

Scout was 5 when we brought her into our home from the Humane Society via the Pets for Patriots program. We knew nothing about her past except that she was surrendered for “landlord issues.”

I’d love to get a known family-friendly breed if we ever bring another pet into our home, perhaps a young Lab like the ones I grew up with. But for now, our family will be a family without a dog.

A heartbroken family without a dog.


  1. Oh man- thank you for sharing. I am still haunted when I was attacked running in the woods. Scary stuff- even more so from the family dog. So sorry.

  2. Wow! That’s terrible. When I met my wife she had cats, and one hated men. I told her that if we were to move in together that one had to go, as I did not want to live in constant fear of the cat hunting me while I slept. She agreed, but she was sad for a long time afterwards. Hope you recover enough to get a dog without landlord problems or a puppy from a friend.

  3. Deborah Moebes

    You are the most courageous man I’ve ever known. ❤️

  4. Mije Heenan

    Thank you. This helps as we’re going through this now. 🙁

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