I’ve had a nibble or two in my career, but I’ve been fortunate to never have any serious bites. Some of it is luck, I’m sure, and a lot of it is planning. If I don’t feel comfortable around a pet, I’ll muzzle it. It’s not an option, it is the condition on which I will complete an examination.
Which is why I was so rattled when a husky tried to bite my face off the other day.
He was nervous, in the way most huskies tend to be. He was an intact 8 month old dog who had zero training or socialization. I was going slowly during my exam, keeping an eye on him while talking to the owner.
It’s the stethoscope that usually does it. Something about extending this scary tubing under them while sticking your face near theirs is particularly intimidating for a dog. For this reason, I approach them gradually and pause if I’m concerned to put on a muzzle. The dog was acting nervous, but not agitated.
He lunged at me without a peep. The owner tightened on his chain so that he stopped short when I fell back, but I felt his jaws grazing the skin above my eyebrow and below my cheekbone. He intended to hurt me. I know I’m no Christie Brinkley, but be that as it may, I do like my face. It is pleasingly symmetric, what with its two eyes, one nose, etc. I would be most perturbed would those numbers change on me.
I backed out of the room, shaking. “I don’t know what happened,” said the owner. “He’s never been like this at home.”
I don’t spend much time thinking about the possibility of injury in the workplace. It definitely happens, but I hope to think that our precautions help to minimize that. Fortunately for me I came out of it with nothing worse than bruised nerves, and a reminder that I can’t afford to be worried about people’s feelings when it comes to protecting the safety of myself, my staff, and the owners themselves.