When I see little dogs headed in my direction while I run, I’m now immune to all diseases and viruses that dogs may carry. Although I laugh about it now, at the time I was really bitter.
By Susan Finkelstein
After months of recovering from an injury and slowly building up my mileage, I finally got the OK to do a long run. I even bought a Garmin for my big comeback. It was a beautiful Sunday morning, a little chilly, but I was equipped for the weather with my new tights and gloves.
At a little over 3K, I spotted two dog owners with their little, fluffy white dogs on a leash. They were on the edge of the sidewalk, and as I got closer, I noticed that one of the dogs started to get aggressive. In my experience, it’s the little ones that seem to be threatened by runners. So, I veered off onto the road with my head held high, not even glancing at the dog. I did not want my fear to be evident to the dog. Apparently when they sense fear dogs get scared.
However, the barking continued and before I even knew what was happening, I felt pressure on my right thigh. Did that dog actually jump up and make contact with me? Apparently, so. With my eyes still looking straight ahead, I checked my Garmin to make sure I was on-pace and continued my run like nothing happened. I just chalked this up to a weird running experience. But about five minutes later, my leg started to throb. Did that little dog really bite me? I couldn’t stop on the road and pull down my tights to check, so I just ignored it until I got home. Runners are good at ignoring pain. When I got home, to my amazement, there were bite marks. That canine actually bit through my running tights! Even more bizarre? If my memory serves me correct, the dog was on a leash!
I took some pictures of my war wounds and sent them off to some friends. In my mins, irwas more like a badge of honour. The adventures of a road runner: who knew that running could be so dangerous? Even still, one friend was particularly concerned and suggested that I look into getting rabies shots. When the bruising around the bite marks started to set in, I phoned public health. Because I have no information about the dog or the owner, I cannot follow-up to check the vaccine status of the dog. Public health suggests I see a doctor and ask to be vaccinated against rabies.
The doctor then confirmed that, indeed, I needed a rabies vaccination because it is 100% fatal. Even if there is only a slight chance of getting the disease, it is imperative that humans get vaccinated. So, there I was receiving four shots of the immunoglobin in the wound site and starting the protocol of four intra-muscular vaccine injections in my arm, spread over the next two weeks. All of this hampered my push-up regimen and interfered with my new shoulder extension technique that I was trying to master in swimming. I also felt slightly feverish and nauseated after each shot.
Now, when I run and a small, excitable dog, I insist that the animal be on a tight leash. Instead of looking straight ahead and ignoring the dog, I stare right into the owner’s eyes and command that they have control of their pet. And then a little voice in my head says “Go ahead, little fluffy… bite me!” And I keep on running.