Witness Post: Dog & Dumpster
It came out of nowhere and was growling and barking ferociously. The mangy dog’s sharp teeth dug through my jeans and into my leg before the chain around its neck reached its limit. The whelp from the dog, as the chain snapped taut, was short and high pitched. It lay prostrate at my feet. My forehead felt a wicked thump. Next thing I knew the earth was rotating and I was down beside the mutt, near passed out. It all happened so fast.
Groggily regaining my feet, my head hurt like crazy. I held my head and felt blood dripping from the gash. The dog was regaining his feet and started barking again with currish lust. The girls came running, “We have to get you to the hospital,” screamed Tracy. Blood was gushing at this point and the compression was only helping a bit to contain it. Trying to make sense of it all, I mentally retraced my steps from the car to the bike rental office.
Making a bee-line from the van to the office, I walked through a side parking lot, near some private property. An animal growled under a privet hedge on the right. A guard dog immediately charged as if attacking a trespasser. I was on public property, but this mutt did not care. Having only a long neck chain, he gave it all he had, and scared the living daylights out of me. I madly ran the other way. His teeth tore my jeans when his canines chopped. Having lowered my head while dashing, I did not notice the metal dumpster in the parking lot. My head hit the extended hoisting bar on the side and it nailed me hard. Down I went.
Tracy walked me to a clinic, which happened to be a block away, and we sat down to assess the situation. We were on vacation in Acadia National Park, right after visiting our dear friends, Harry & Kate Caldwell, on Deer Isle in Maine. Our oldest daughter, Margaret, was at Geneva Glen Camp in Colorado and we had our two youngest daughters with us for the trip. We picked blueberries, as in “Blueberries for Sal” and hiked and sailed on the Coast of Maine. There is nothing like it on the planet.
This particular day we were supposed to be day tripping to Little Cranberry Isle. The bike rental place in Bar Harbor said that bikes could be taken aboard the ferry to various remote islands, as long as we returned them by sundown. Finding the rental office was easy; getting me a clean bill of health and arriving at the ferry on time looked to be the challenges of the day.
The clinic consisted of two rooms, a small waiting room (no one else was there this weekday in August) and an observation room. The young doctor who saw us looked as if he were in high school. Tracy tactfully asked where he had earned his degree. He said, “Actually, I don’t have a degree yet. I am taking correspondence courses at the moment and hope to hear from a real hospital in a few months.” His eyes glanced over at the diploma from Harvard Medical School, while he fed us the line, so we got a good chuckle together, at Tracy’s expense. He looked too young to be a full-fledged and licensed doctor.
After stitching me up and putting a large gauze pad on my head, he gave me some ibuprofen and the green light to ride a bike. With the story of “Old Yeller” in my brain, I asked about rabies. The doctor was skeptical. “The likelihood is very small, as we have not had a single case in the two years I have worked here. But you can demand that the owners have the dog tested, to be on the safe side. Besides, it will take a few weeks to determine if there is need for any stomach shots for you. May as well go for a bike ride!” I was dubious, but leaned toward trusting the guy. Besides, it was exquisite outside!
We caught the last ferry before lunch, which we had in our basket. We dashed off to the dock, hoping that we could catch the ferry in time for our day. Eleanor and Kathleen were great peddlers and the islands were magical. The bike helmet kept the gauze in place and before long we were as good as new for the day.
We had a beautiful day in the warm sun, as it was just the tonic to sooth an aching head and damaged pride. The sun in our faces as we headed back to Bar Harbor, we luxuriated in its warmth and light. I wrote a note on the return ferry, demanding two things, that the dog be tested for rabies and that he be held on a shorter chain. In the end I was glad that the dog had not dampened all of our spirits.
Thankfully that dog and dumpster collision did not keep me down for long. Like a Timex watch, my head “takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’!” Here’s to all of those with tough noggins out there. Go for it.