Tuesday, 4 August 2015

I'm Turning Into A Werehorse: A bit about bites.

Yes, that's right, I've been bitten and now I'm turning into a werehorse.

If you google werehorse, you get this AWESOME photo.

Seriously though, yesterday my rock solid, ridden by three year olds, totally and utterly reliable and well behaved mare Lilly decided to bite me. I was doing up her girth, which she hates, and she turned and caught me in the arm hard enough to draw blood. I promptly scolded her, then got on with what I was doing and we had a brilliant ride (her third ride back after her second bone infection!). While it was a bit surprising that A) Lilly actually bit me and B) I let my gaurd down enough to get bit, it was kind of a none event. While this is the first time a horse has actually connected with me hard enough do some damage, it certainly isn't the first time a horse has tried to bite me and certainly not the first time I have been injured by a horse.

It's not a very bad wound, but my arm is a bit sore.

Now I know what you are thinking. Isn't this a dog blog? Yes, it is and I promise we will get there. This horse bite got me thinking about the relationship humans have with horses and the relationship humans have with dogs. As a person who rides and handles horses on a regular basis, getting injured is simply a fact of being around horses. I've had this drilled into me since I started riding nearly 20 years ago - while you do everything you can to prevent injuries, at some point you WILL get hurt. It's accepted pretty much across the board that horses are animals and they are therefore unpredictable.

So why is it that we hold dogs to a ridiculous standard of perfection? I honestly can't think of another animal that we expect to be so perfect. It's generally accepted that when compared to humans, dogs are about as smart as a 2 or 3 year old. Toddlers bite people All. The. Time. and nobody rallies to put them down. But once puppies cross the 6 month-ish threshold, we expect them to be totally perfect canine citizens. They are to inherently know that biting is reserved only for people who would attack their owners and break into their homes. Any other reason? Fido should be quarantined, put on the dangerous dogs list and perhaps even put down. Astonishingly, many dogs live up to this task! 

It's a good thing those big, shiny teeth are attached to such a derp.

I have only been "bitten" by a dog once and never hard enough to do damage. I was likely about 8 year old and I surprised our sheltie by grabbing her from behind. And she bit me in the face. Not hard enough to do damage, that wasn't her intent, but enough to be a bit of a shock and to hurt for just a moment. So I marched myself inside and told my parents the dog bit me, to which they replied "Well what were you doing to her?"

And that was the appropriate response. This was a good family dog and I was the first and last person she ever "bit", if you could even call it that. That was the end of the matter.

Today we so many cases of dogs biting people - kids or adults - and the dog being put down. I am positive that the situation I outlined above is still a common occurence, but I think people are holding dogs to a higher and higher standard. An unrealistic standard. 

Cyanide and Happiness is amazing.

I'm not here to trivialize dog bites. Dogs, all dogs, have the potential to be a dangerous animal. I look at Maizy, sleeping at my feet, and it runs through my head "Man, she could tear my face off if she wanted to".

I go into every interaction with my horses with the understanding that I could get seriously hurt or even killed. Every single time. Now I don't live in perpetual fear of my horses by any means and I am extremely relaxed (overly so) around Lilly especially. I have been bitten, kicked, run over, stomped on, squished against walls, thrown purposefully (not to be confused with simply falling off). The majority of my interactions with horses don't result in injury and I have horses go out of their way to avoid injuring me. They are very compassionate animals and most of them don't want to hurt you.

Here I am with my face directly behind Lilly's hoof,
injecting hydrogen peroxide into her abscess. This is
exceptionally dangerous.  Please never show any of my
past or present riding instructors this photo.

Maizy is a very mouthy dog and I consider this a good thing. She knows how to put her teeth on people without injuring them. This is much less dangerous than a dog who never bites and only knows how to bite HARD. 

I can't count the number of times I have been injured by horses. I've been scratched by cats a fair number of times too. Even my rabbits have bitten people. Sheep people get injured. Cattle people get injured. Ever been attacked by a turkey? I have. 

People find this hilarious. Would they if it was a dog?

So why do we think dogs should never, ever bite? Heck, we don't even want them to growl, their most obvious warning for "hey, I'm not comfortable, I may bite!" (As an aside, discouraging your dog from growling is a good way to get a dog that bites.) What a bizzare expection to place on an animal who has the intelligence of a toddler and doesn't speak our language.

The moral of the story? Humans are weird. 

No comments :

Post a Comment