A dog walk could change your life
On this past Saturday morning, my wife, Janet Cain, was two miles into her 20 miles training run, cruising along behind the high school. Suddenly and violently, she was struck from behind by two frolicking dogs. She was hit low, and with such force, that her feet flew forward, she spun backwards on an axis through her hips and struck the pavement head-first, so hard her head bounced back up.
The owners of the dogs witnessed the collision and result. One owner described Janet’s head striking the ground as “horrific.” They were apologetic and clearly, deeply concerned. They insisted on calling 9-1-1. Janet was immobilized and transported to the ER at Sonoma Valley Hospital. One dog owner went with me to the ER to provide a firsthand account of the ferocity of the head-first impact.
Amazingly, a CT scan and X-rays indicated neither subdural hematoma nor fractures. All is good so far. If the result is only a severe headache and shoulder, neck and back pain, we are very lucky. I thank these dog owners for their integrity and continued concern. It contrasts with Janet’s experience being bitten by a dog on the bike path last year. That dog’s owner showed no concern for her well being, provided no name, and walked away with his dog. Both of these incidents involved unleashed dogs. In one instance, the dog had bad intention; in the other the dogs had no malice at all. But Saturday’s outcome could have been far worse, even fatal.
So as we discuss dog’s rights, let us remember that a human should have the right to go for a run and not have to fear being put in the ER by happy or vicious dogs. My wife and I are animal lovers. We adopt rescue cats and support Pets Lifeline. We support designated leash-free areas where dogs have room to run and play. Finally, we are not prone to litigate and, due to the genuine concern expressed by Saturday’s dog owners, all we ask is for medical expenses to be paid.
I do admit that, had Janet’s neck been broken, I might have a different attitude. In conclusion, I suggest that if you are a dog owner who lets your dog off leash, you should have adequate liability insurance. Otherwise, a simple dog walk could change your life. It is that fragile.
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Dr. David Cain is a Sonoma Valley dentist. His wife, Janet Cain, is a clinical psychologist and an elite masters marathoner and former national age-group champion.