Running: When Dogs Bite

I experienced a running first yesterday: a dog bit me. 

I was running on a semi-major road near my house, and I saw the dog and its owners (or more likely owner + friend) up ahead on the same sidewalk.  As we approached one another, I could see that the dog–a mutt, maybe 40-50lb–was very excited, so I slowed to a walk and tried to give it as much space as possible.  The dog was barking, and the owner pulled the leash a little tighter, and just as we passed each other, the dog lunged and grabbed hold of my thigh with its teeth.

“Oh my gosh!  Did he bite you??  Did he bite you??”

“Yeah, yeah, he bit me!”

“Are you okay??  I’m so sorry!  He’s had all his shots!  I can give you my contact information and am happy to pay any medical bills!  He’s a puppy, and he just doesn’t do very well!”

“It’s okay; I’m okay.  Thank you.  I’m sure a band-aid will cover it.  It’s okay!  It happens!”

It happened so fast, and I was wearing running tights (now ripped), so I couldn’t see the extent of the damage.  It definitely hurt, but it was also cold, so I knew my skin was more sensitive.  It was just a very surprising situation, and I didn’t think through my reaction.

I tried to resume running, crossing the street into a neighborhood, and immediately was met with a lot of pain in my leg.  I investigated as best I could without pulling down my pants in public, and the one gash I could see was not pretty.  I can’t promise that I didn’t utter a few four-letter words.  From there I hobbled home, not quite crying, but definitely whimpering.

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24 hours later–Tilt your computer screen as needed to get the full color-effect of that bruise 😉

After inspecting the wound, I sent a picture to Andrew, my mom, and a couple of friends in the medical field, and they all urged me to go to the doctor just to get it checked out.  Friends, that was a funny telephone call:

“Hi, I’m a patient of Dr. So-and-So.  Um, I just got bitten by a dog.  Is that something she could take a look at today?

They were able to to see me right away, and said it looked all right, and it was time for me to get a tetanus shot anyway.  They gave me the shot and some heavy-duty antibiotic cream, and sent me home.  The left side of my body–my leg where I was bitten, and my arm where I got the shot–is super sore today, so I am going to take it easy for a few days, but otherwise, I think I will be all right.

After the incident, I did some research to learn what one is supposed to do if bitten by a dog.  If you happen to find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what to do:

To avoid the bite:
-Slow your run to a walk so you are less threatening.
-Don’t stare, but keep the dog in site.
-Walk in the opposite direction of the dog.

After being bitten:
-If the owner is present, take the contact info!  (I am kicking myself for not doing this!)
-Apply basic first-aid: wash the area with soap and water, apply antibiotic ointment and sterile bandage.
-Go to the doctor.  Just in case.  I know it’s a pain, but why risk it?
-If you took contact information, ask for proof of up-to-date vaccinations for dog.
-Report the incident to animal control.

Stay safe out there, friends!

-Have you ever been bitten by a dog while a running?  How bad was it, and what did you do?

Running: When Turtles Snap

Friday morning I almost lost a finger to a giant turtle’s angry jaw.  I set off on my long run–a full 60 minutes at a delightfully slow pace–and as I approached a semi-major intersection outside our neighborhood, I saw a man standing in the street, just off the sidewalk, taking pictures of a turtle that had made its way into the road.  The turtle was massive–its shell was literally the size of a toilet bowl lid.

“Whoa!”

“I know!  I don’t want it to be run over, but I’m not touching that thing.”

“Hmm.  How much do you think it weighs?”

“15 or 20 pounds?  But look at those claws!”

Yes, I saw the giant claws.  Yes, I know that snapping turtles snap.  I’ll be honest; the image I had (…had…) in my head of snapping turtles biting was that of a cute little turtle holding onto someone’s finger–maybe a bit painful, but more annoying than anything else.  (I just Google image searched different variations of, “snapping turtle bite cartoon,” and none of the results are even close to the mental image I had.  Snapping turtles look like monsters.)

I did not want him to be hit by a car, and I didn’t know if he could get out of the road fast enough.  What if I picked him up from behind?  He couldn’t reach my hand with his mouth, and those legs would just slowly flail, as turtle legs do, right?

 Wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I approached from behind, put my hands on the shell, began to lift, and <SNAP!>  In one impossible motion, before I had him far off the ground, he jumped–yes, jumped–spun himself 180 degrees, and lunged at me with his beak.  I let go, stepped back immediately, and said to the turtle, “Well, good luck, buddy!” and I resumed running.

That night, as Andrew and I approached the same intersection on our way out to meet friends, I began telling him the story.  I told him about seeing the giant turtle and how the man said he would not touch it.  At this point Andrew interjected,

“Uh, yeah, you do NOT mess with snapping turtles!”

“…Wait, why?”

“Because they will bite your fingers off!”

“…Off?”

“Yes, off!  They are nasty animals!”

“Hmm.  I didn’t realize that.”

A quick Google search confirmed that, yes, snapping turtles will bite your fingers right off.  They have sharp teeth that cut rather than crush, and their jaw strength is comparable to that of humans.  Who knew?  (Andrew, and probably all of you.)

Then I started thinking, “What the heck would I have done if it had bitten off my finger??” I do not handle blood well (<–This is the understatement of the year.  More on that another time.)  I do know from a recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy (absolute medical truth, right?) that fingers can be reattached.  But what if it was in the turtle’s mouth?  I obviously couldn’t risk losing a second finger to retrieve it.  Oh, it could have been so bad.  I am incredibly thankful that I’m not paying for my ignorance right now!

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(Source)

“We need to enroll you in a class about which wild animals are safe to pick up if found on the side of the road.  Not snapping turtles.  Not lions.  Not tigers.  Not bears.  Let’s just say, none of them.” -Andrew

Am I the only one who didn’t know snapping turtles could bite fingers off?