I carry a tennis racquet on the dog walks
| "There's the guy with the tennis racquet and his dog." Why would I carry a tennis racquet on my dog walks? I could be taking him -- Wally -- somewhere where he can run around and I'll hit balls for him to fetch; oh how I wish that he fetched. We could be looking for a match. I could be practicing my grips. It could be for air guitar. Could be for balance. But no, aside from practicing my grips if I ever get back to playing, I carry a tennis racquet on all -- almost -- of my walks with Wally for self defense.
The alternatives -- and I thought all of them out -- were, cattle prod, baseball bat, taser, and gun. The gun was pretty easy to eliminate - I don't own one and won't unless we descend into anarchy and I have to band together with my neighbors to defend our homes from the roving bands of criminals. And using a gun against an approaching dog could be ill-advised and the basis for many bad things. The baseball bat idea was easy to discard also; too heavy/unwieldy and too small of a surface area for defense. Plus, if I had to use it, it'd be hard to control and I could do serious damage to an animal that might not really be a threat. The taser idea, not that great, you can imagine the downsides of that. I had it narrowed down to the cattle prod because I could use that to deter an attacking animal without seriously harming them and it wouldn't be hard to handle. But how would I carry that without seeming "kind of" weird? Cattle prod holster? Sling on my back? No and no.
And then it came to me - tennis racquet. Light, easy to control. The racquet head provides a good sized surface area for blocking an approaching dog and even for a good thwack to the snout if need be though you'd have to make that decision quickly. You can make noise by striking it on the pavement. And worst-case, life or death, you can smash the head frame, which is pretty hard, onto the attacking animal's head or body. Or so I imagine.
Several years ago, Wally -- our smallish dog -- and I were out on a quick morning pee-pee run -- or was it poo-poo? -- , right before my wife and I were to take a flight out of town on vacation. It was dark and there were several parked cars on the street. We were on the sidewalk and suddenly, two large dogs, strays out and on their own, approached from between two cars. Wally sometimes freaks when he sees large dogs on our walks but this time, he was so startled that he just stood there, looking. Next thing I knew, the larger of the two dogs, a Rottweiler mix, had picked Wally up by the shoulders and was shaking him like a doll. I screamed and kicked and after a few seconds, he let go of my pal. Wally immediately set out for our house with urgency, dragging me by the leash. I kept looking back over my shoulder to see if we were being pursued but fortunately, we were not.
When we got inside, Wally ran and jumped up on the chair and it was then that I could see the two deep gashes, one on each shoulder, and the bleeding. He was fairly nonchalant, given what happened, but also may have been a little bit in shock.
We rushed him to the emergency Vet where they treated him and suggested surgery. They were not sure if there was serious damage to any of the muscles but were pretty sure that they had the bleeding stopped and that he was not in any danger. That'll be six hundred bucks. We were then able to schedule an emergency surgery for that morning at our Vets and Wally emerged from that successfully, with no damage to his muscles or nerves.
As Wally healed, I realized that we could have easily lost him, had he been picked up by the neck or head instead of the shoulders. I found out later that a neighbor's 21 year-old mostly outdoor kitty, who hung out across the street from where we were attacked, had his stomach ripped out, most likely by this same dog. This I knew because the neighbor had the cat's body in a box in his garage.
The stray was later rounded up by animal control and id'ed as "animal aggressive" though okay around people and unfortunately, had to be destroyed.
After that, I started carrying the racquet and have used it several times, twice to scare away strays that were approaching and once, to apply a backhand block to a cat who aggressively pounced on Wally on a trail. The cat was quite surprised that I was packing and immediately left the scene.
Every day after the attack was time with Wally that was 'extra' for me and I never take him for granted.
Later on .... We are now into 2016 and our 16 1/2 year old pup is still with us. I love him so much.