It was the 26th of April, 2015. A Sunday. A routine vaccination appointment with Rico – an adult mixed dog – turned into the proverbial day I will never forget!
I remember the first time I met Rico. He was a big but nervous dog that hated vet visits. He exhibited this nervousness by being so aggressive towards everyone when a vet was around that even his owner found it difficult to restrain him. It usually took about three guys to hold him down except of course when ‘Uncle Kay’ was around which wasn’t often. Being used to having dogs, Uncle Kay was the only one who could restrain Rico singlehandedly.
Over time though, Rico got used to my visits especially as I became family friends with his human family and Rico eventually figured out that not every visit was targeted at him. This made him relaxed and we became good friends. On my visits, I made sure we always had playtime. He especially enjoyed a good rub and I obliged him often.
It became my custom to trick Rico by playing with him and cleverly muzzling him whenever it was time for his routine treatments until that unfortunate day.
That Sunday as I arrived early evening to give Rico his annual vaccinations, I noticed that he was nervous. He was so nervous he wouldn’t allow his human restrain him. Since we had become chummy friends, I resolved to vaccinate him unmuzzled. That was my first mistake!
So I started our little ritual. I rubbed him, patted him, then stealthily gave him the first injection. There was a little twitch then nothing. Rico gave me a look that said: “did-you-just-do-something-doc?” But I quickly stroked him and he looked away seemingly distracted.
By now I was carefully trying to study Rico’s body language as I patted him and when I felt he was distracted enough I attempted to give the second vaccine. I never did! In one powerful moment, Rico turned and the next thing I knew I was flying backwards trying to escape his strong jaws. It happened so fast, I was surprised. For a second it seemed his mouth had contact with my left arm but I wasn’t sure. So I inspected and saw two tiny holes on the sleeve of my shirt. When I pulled up the sleeve to check, I was dismayed!!! A huge ugly gash was starring up at me.
I looked over at Rico (who by now was quietly observing me with a solemn look on his face, I must add) and ran to the nearest tap (which happened to be in the Kitchen), flushing the wound with water and soap. Rico’s owner who was inside all the while came out to ask if I had finished, saw my arm and screamed. He ran outside and gave Rico a beating he wouldn’t forget.
At this point, I honestly felt for Rico. It wasn’t his fault. I knew better and had acted against my better judgement. I knew Rico regretted his actions. He was just trying to warn me off. He was just a dog afraid of injections like most humans.
Over the course of many weeks, I received wound treatment as well as post-exposure rabies vaccination with the help of a good medical doctor and friend., so the wound gradually healed.
Did my experience change my attitude towards dogs? You might wonder. Did it make me scared of them? No, it didn’t. I still love canines fiercely. I chose not to allow such fear paralyze me or prevent me from doing what I love professionally. However, this experience definitely made me more cautious and wiser on handling of animals.
Now, I’m a strong advocate of what my lecturers always reiterated in school, “Never assume that a dog won’t bite no matter it’s disposition.” THE END
Dr Gloria Bakare-Adesina (fondly called Dr. Gbaks) is a small animal veterinarian who enjoys interactions with furry creatures. She can be contacted via email firstname.lastname@example.org. She is also on Instagram: @DrGbaks