February 14, 2023

Physically I'm Healing Mentally I'm Not

Combined with great weather, warm enough to spend time outside, and my hand healing with no problems so far ... things are good. Sad but good. I realized Sunday morning I must have been in shock Saturday night and possibly the reason that the officer said I was the calmest person of his three dog bite calls that night. Since that time I have sorted and analyzed what happened. Why did I call animal control so fast after I walked back inside from the garage? I have second guessed myself on making the call until I remember how he acted towards me and the two control officers. There was a reason they shot him with a tranquilizer.

Monday morning I called animal control to see how Samson was doing. Did he attack those trying to feed him? Did he have any more episodes of vicious barking and attacking inside his kennel? For all dogs in quarantine they have a "no touch" process to feed the dogs. The dogs have no contact with people or other dogs, they are in quarantine. She said "he has just been sitting there". 

She was the one feeding him and checking on him. The image of him sitting there so confused, and that sad bloodhound look crushes me with sadness every time I think about him. That image of him in my head and the vicious attack from Saturday night go back and forth in my head most of the time. Even time spent laying back on the patio chair facing the sunshine and closing my eyes ... the hot sun feels great but those two images don't go away.

I will admit that for the third early morning around here, things are too quiet. There is no playing inside with two big hounds. Henry and Watson so far, do not play running in the house chasing each other like they did before Samson showed up. They have played in the yard but not nearly as much as before. That will change I think over time.

Walter is just Walter. Even keel, checking each of us by sniffing us to see if we are here and okay. His routine hasn't changed as he barks at himself in the morning as he imagines fighting off the other hounds, trying to get Watson and Henry to play with him.

The second owner and the guy that brought me Samson started talking after I asked him for Samson's rabies shot records and a photo of his rabies tag. He too had been thinking and had a lot of questions. I told him I had seen Samson's first owner on Facebook one time when the breeder asked all of us to submit photos for their album on Facebook. I saw him again in a Facebook search a few days ago too when I was looking for any puppy photos of Samson that I could add this his photo folder that I have here on my computer in Apple's Photo program.

Yesterday I sent the first owner a private message in Facebook, asking him if he had ever seen this type of aggression and what was the cause of Samson nipping at his kids and biting him. That was what I was told happened to them before I chose to get Samson. Since we are not on each other's Facebook Friends list, I did not expect an answer.

But I did get a message back. That led to a discussion up through last night. Not a solid discussion but one reply to another whenever we had logged into Facebook. Comparing everything I was told before and after I got Samson, the stories were not adding up. The only information that was totally accurate based on my experience was what the second owner told me they day he brought Samson over. He was totally transparent even letting me know that for some reason, at times, the switch would flip and Samson would be crazy aggressive. We talked for two hours on the phone the day before he drove over to deliver him.

After talking to the first owner, my assumption based on what I was told by the breeders assistant, was incorrect. He had not abused the dog in anyway. Samson had not shown this level of aggressiveness at anytime in the 19 months that he had him. He sent me a screenshot of the text he sent the breeder the very first time asking the breeder if he wanted Samson (Enoch) back because he was needing to be re-homed.

He also told me that he requested that the bloodhound not be adopted out to a family with kids. Samson had bitten one of his kids and snapped at two others. I was told something different before I chose to take him. When I relayed that story to the second owner, who had a two year old and a 6 month old ... his question was "what did the breeder adopt him out to me when he knew I had young kids" ??

A confusing but a very valid question.

The more I heard from the first owner, combined with the information the second owner gave me ... the biggest mystery was how did Samson get to this point of being a big aggressive hound that literally attacked me ???

I heard "he did get very aggressive and defensive when he had something he knew he shouldn't have". Or "he got aggressive when we tried to take a towel and sock away from him". Aggressive but not attacking. All of them were shocked that he attacked me out of nowhere, as I was just about to walk through a corner of that dark living room. A couple of times Saturday night I was asked what did I do to provoke him. 

Does that look like a sad bloodhound to you? Sometimes a camera will catch what the human eye does not.

It is a state requirement by the Health Department to quarantine any dog that bites someone and that bite is reported. It is also a state requirement that the dog be put down, no questions asked, after their ten day quarantine IF they have to tranquilize them. Samson signed his own warrant when he refused to let the officer(s) take him ... instead he attacked both of them from inside the crate. Believe me ... if you would have seen him attacking me or the way he acted inside the crate vs those two officers ... you would not recognize him as the happy go lucky, laidback clumsy bloodhound.

As you have seen in the photos, taken Sunday and Monday, there is not the same level of high activity since Samson left. I will say when it comes to my sadness, it is a different kind compared to having to put an older hound down because they were sick or in pain. Yet it is a deep sadness even after living with him for only ten days. I remember all the little things he did around the house, how he would sleep under my computer desk blocking my feet and making it hard for me to get up out of the chair.

Or how he would not mind while he was eating to have Watson walk into the room and pick the pieces of kibble on the floor around his food bowl that had fallen out of Samson's jowls while he was eating. Or how he would let Walter tuck his face/nose into Samson's side while they took their afternoon nap the floor. 

With no answers for the question "why" from four different people including myself, the only assumption I can make is, it was something mental with him. I was told no other puppies in that litter had/has this problem. It is a big sad mystery for a great bloodhound.

As you see the hounds and the dog still like sleeping in the sunshine every morning after a couple of trips outside. I was able to walk Henry and Watson yesterday, using my left hand holding the leash and my right hand guiding the extra length when needed. That was opposite from the norm. I have been trying to keep my right hand elevated as much as possible. Yesterday afternoon though I made a mistake and my hand was never as swollen as it was last night when I got home.

I was visiting my friend up the street while he worked in the backyard. I stood there talking for an hour or so. I didn't elevate my right hand during that time and actually forgot about it enough to follow old habits by sliding my hands into my pants pockets, bandage and all.

No concern though as I put my hand inside a zip lock bag and held it in ice water, yes with ice cubes in the water, for five minutes on two different times. This morning my hand has never felt better. I have full flexibility making a fist without any kind of pain. I have a process I follow to clean the wound. At night I apply a thin piece of gauze to protect it. 

Yesterday using a book as an example for a puncture injury, my old friend described the healing process and/or why it gets infected after the wound closes too fast. He opened a book then closed only the edge of the book leaving the center open ... just like a deep puncture. From pictures my distant friend sees and my friends up the street looking at it in person ... they all say it is healing nicely. I think it looks really good compared to Saturday night.

The yard has recovered nicely since the flooding as it always does. In fact yesterday I swear I could see green grass where I didn't before but probably not. Just wishful thinking. Yet those flooded areas did look a lot better as you can see in the background of some of the photos of the hounds and dog.

It is sad not to see two big bloodhounds chasing each other at full speed. At times stumbling and sliding across the patio deck before regaining themselves, standing up and running. It is sad not to hear that loud deep bloodhound bark even inside whenever he wanted a bone or a toy that Henry or Watson had. There is just something about having two big bloodhounds playing and wrestling together.

But ... that will not happen again. I can guarantee that. I am retired from the "rescue" business and any future Facebook messages I see from someone or some bloodhound group that I follow, "needing to" re-home a bloodhound will go on without me asking a question about them. 

I have a great gang of three that get along, have their own routines and growing older at the same time. Walter is now 3 years old already and both hounds have birthdays soon. Watson in April and Henry in June. Life is pretty easy with the hounds and the dog growing out of their puppy stage.

We won't do much different today as we have done the past two days. Should be warm again to sit out in the warm sun around noon, but rain is in the forecast tonight. Why not? My yard has dried out enough now to have another dose of rain and become muddy. It was 61° yesterday and trying to picture snow again sometime before spring was hard to do. But it will/might happen, it's typical Indiana weather.

Not sure what he was looking at because nobody was outside.

When I bought the new tv eight days ago and wanted to make sure that I would not have more bloodhound damage with it setting low on the coffee table in the corner, I not only moved that new tv back on top of the gas fireplace but also rearranged the furniture.

Giving two big bloodhounds room to operate, I slid the end table and love seat over against the wall from just inside the patio door. Watson refuses to acknowledge that is still "his chair" and will not jump up there to sleep. Finally last night after Walter pressed his nose smelling the front of that couch from one end to the other, then glancing up to where he would jump ... HE was the one that finally figured out it was the same couch that he liked sleeping on when it was on the opposite side of the room.

So that is the latest update here in "the tropics". Life is gradually getting back to normal with deep sadness woven in. 

I'll never forget the good times that big 'ol bloodhound brought to the hounds, the dog and myself. If only I could just get away from those dark images that throw me into deep sadness. I am not sure that "over time" will be the solution to that sadness. 

That photo and the sounds of aggressive attack type of barking/growling just don't seem to match when all of us think about it. Yet, my hand reminds me that it did happen and I did do the right thing. It was not only the best for him but it would be protecting anyone he may have encountered in the future if he had been re-homed again.

Things are quiet here in "the tropics" of Southern Indiana ... too quiet.


  1. Steve - I read your blog from time to time, but never comment. But this event made me do so. First, I am so sorry you are going through this mental anguish over what happened between you and a beautiful but flawed dog. I wanted to let you know that there is/was/will never be anything you could/can do to help this dog. He clearly has what, years ago, was called "Springer Rage" but now is called "Rage Syndrome." The experts are still not sure what the trigger is, but they now believe it is not as rare as it once was thought (early on it was found mostly with Springer Spaniels), that it appears in many different breeds of dogs, and is thought to be genetic. Nothing -- NOTHING -- can help these poor dogs. The kindest -- and safest -- thing to do is to euthanize them. The 2 cases I personally know about (Springers owned by friends) got progressively worse. The dogs cannot control their actions and, as 1 friend said, it was as if he has a seizure only it was violent deadly rage aggression. As a true dog lover, I know how hard it is to make this awful decision, But you are doing the right thing, for Sampson, for the rest of your pack, for you, and for anyone he would encounter in the future. Thank you for loving him enough to make this decision. Hope your hand heals along with your kind heart.

    1. Thank you for your comment and telling me something I had never heard of. It all makes sense and as hard as it is to imagine, it is very likely his issue. I think it is why he looked so guilty later and with the slight wagging tail while looking at me, he knew he had done something wrong.

  2. Steve---I've read your blog for several years and have enjoyed following your travel and dog adventures.
    I've raised and trained many dogs, and participated in competitive dog events for years and have some experience dealing with dogs with behavioral issues...and I agree wholeheartedly with fellow poster Lynn...this sounds like a case of a dog afflicted with Rage Syndrome. Just as you cannot engage with or gain the attention of a dog in the throes of an epileptic seizure, a dog in a rage episode is also unreachable. (Cocker spaniels are another breed commonly associated with rage syndrome, but I've known of cases appearing in many different breeds...even in golden retrievers.) Mostly commonly, the first episode occurs between 1 and 3 years of age, and it happens in male dogs more frequently than females. Sometimes you may get a few seconds of warning before an attack---the dog may freeze or stare off in the distance just before the over-the-top aggressive behavior begins. But in some dogs, it's like a light switch is flipped.
    It's hard for some dog-lovers who haven't ever seen a dog raging to picture the agitation/intent/violence projected by the dog. It's very scary...and then afterwards, you tend to doubt yourself...did you really see what you indeed did see in a dog that you trusted???
    I'm very sorry for both your physical pain and your emotional pain, and while choosing euthanasia for a loved dog is always difficult, you made the only choice. You didn't trigger the attack in some way; you are not responsible in some way for Samson's behavior. Steve, you are very fortunate you weren't more seriously injured given Samson's size and strength. Your quick-thinking, reflexive responses, and physical agility allowed you to escape a grave situation that a lesser-equipped person might not have.
    Best wishes to you. Enjoy your wonderful dogs.
    And thank you for your blog.

    1. Along with Lynn's comment and yours I have a much better understanding of what happened. I no longer have to go through each second and analyze everything trying to find a reason for his actions or if in some way was I at fault. It was definitely scary, I won't lie about that. Thanks for the information, your best wishes and your wonderful comment about my dogs.

    2. I'm glad I could offer some insight.
      I forgot to mention...if you are comfortable doing so and haven't already done so, I would suggest sending a letter or an email to Samson's breeder(s) Samson, explaining in detail the attack event. Any professional, ethical breeder worth their salt wants to know the good, bad, and ugly about the puppies they produce, and there is believed to be a genetic component to Rage Syndrome. In light of that, they may wish to consider pulling the sire and/or the dam from their breeding program even though Rage Syndrome is rare.
      Also, you mentioned that your dogs are acting differently. I'd suggest that they are responding to your current level of sadness, angst, distress, etc. rather Samson's attack or absence. Dogs are such keen observers of their humans and tend to reflect or mimic their person's mood or state of mind. Being aggressively bit by a dog is emotionally upsetting so you are most likely behaving differently. (Hard to believe, I know, but you may even smell differently to them due to your different emotions.) As you process and recover from the event, the way you walk around the house and talk and interact with your dogs will return to what they usually experience with you, and they will begin to act "normal" again. They are ok.

    3. If you would email me at the address on my contact page I can give you the answer about the breeder. In public I can say I called and talked on the phone with the breeders assistant as the breeder is very ill right now. I also sent them a copy of your comment here but ... I think you know what I am trying to say. If not email me.

      Her answer to me was "there have been no other reports that the other puppies in that litter have acted this way."

      I had not thought of it that way but yes you are right. They do respond to how I feel and I have known that but forget that side of their emotions. Watson did go out and pick up his ball in the yard today and brought to me on the patio wanting to play fetch. I went out in the yard at one end and we played until he lost interest or got tired. When he was finished he took his ball and went back inside the house. LOL

  3. Excellent and informative comments from Lynn and Anonymous. I am hoping that their comments will bring some peace to you.

    With regards to Watson and Henry not playing, etc., a couple of thoughts. When we had to put our Black Lab down due to old age and health issues, our Yellow Lab was very confused as to where her friend had gone, didn't want to play, laid around, etc. We decided she was mourning and missing her friend. It took her some time to start being her old self again. Another thought is in their minds, are they wondering if they too will be taken off in a truck and not come back to you. They have no understanding why Samson had to leave. JMHO

    1. That sounds about right. Yes it was great informative comments by Lynn and Anonymous. It did help me and the previous two owners understand what took place, although hard to believe. Everyone I sent those comments to agreed that had to be the reason.

      In the past I have had hounds grieve when I have had to put one down. Heidi took forever to get over Winston leaving. Winston would howl when Bertha was gone. Stella would go out and stare longer than normal when Sadie was gone. I have tried to assure them they are okay. I forget sometimes that they witnessed what went on with Samson and that has to be traumatic for them.

  4. I have no great words of wisdom as your previous posters. Just know that I deeply feel what you are feeling, & also that it will take a while to get past your sadness. At the very least, Lynn & Anonymous have hopefully set your mind & heart to rest that it was nothing you did, you have nothing to feel guilty about, & it was apparently an unavoidable -- although heartbreaking -- thing for you and Samson. Hugs from NM. -- Renee in Aztec

    1. 4 days later it is still hard to believe what took place. Their comments helped me a lot.