Don’t worry. I’m not going to regale you with tales of vicious mastiffs who turn on their owners in a fit of rage. Nor do I intend to debunk the notion of unconditional love (though people sometimes forget that dogs don’t always demonstrate it — say, when you interrupt their mealtimes).

Rather, I’d like to warn you about the dangers of CRIs©: Canine Related Injuries.*

As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to stroll down memory lane in honor of the fifth anniversary of Frankie’s adoption. Naturally, all kinds of guilt-inducing experiences from our first year together came to mind: How I took Frankie to the dog park to “socialize” him (he spent the entire time hiding behind my leg); how I  put him in a shallow water fountain to cool him off on a hot day (that look of shocked reproach was enough to prevent me from ever doing it again); how I made him walk with a burr in his foot because I didn’t think to examine his paws and thought he was being stubborn (that memory still hurts me!)…

But I recalled that this blog is, after all, a guilt-free zone, and I honestly didn’t know any better. Frankie forgave me — at least he didn’t dwell on any of my gaffes–  so I’m forgiving myself.

Instead, then, this is a cautionary tale about the opposite problem,  a bit of stupidity that didn’t distress Frankie but caused me harm. To wit: When I first got Frankie, I used to let him sit in my lap and rest his little head on my hand while I was typing. I loved it. He was my furry muse, a warm calming presence.

Until I began getting shooting pains in my left wrist.

Oh right. Typing with a weight on your hand might not be the best idea. I banished Frankie from my lap, but it was too late. I was diagnosed with tendinitis.**

Frankie with head aimed at my wrist
Frankie with head aimed at my wrist

Two cortisone shots, a number of wrist braces, and several months of physical therapy later, I recovered, though I still get twinges in my left wrist.

I suppose I should find some solace in the fact that I’m not alone in my stupidity — or clumsiness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an average of 76,500 people per year trip over their dogs. Most incidents occur during walks, when 31.3% reported that they “fell or tripped over the dog” and another 21.2% admitted they were “pushed or pulled by the dog.” These statistics, based on data from emergency room visits, likely represent only a fraction of actual CRIs© because, according to the CDC, “many people don’t seek treatment after injuring themselves in accidents involving their pets.”

Or they seek treatment outside of emergency rooms. The physical therapist who worked on my wrist told me that she has seen multiple cases of dislocated shoulders caused by sudden and vigorous tugging on the leash.

Most CRIs© can be prevented by training — both of you and your dog. Work on ways to get your dog to stop tugging at the leash and to remind yourself to watch for underfoot pups. More difficult is to train yourself to use common sense — say, when it comes to refusing your pup his chosen headrest.

*For some reason, the publisher of Am I Boring My Dog wouldn’t allow me to put copyright symbols in my book, where I first claim the name for this class of injuries (something about house style). But it’s my blog — and my house. So there.

**This is actually a DRSI© (Dog Related Stress Injury),  a subcategory of the CRIs©, which themselves are a subcategory of PRIs© (Pet Related Injuries).

Update: I see I’m going to have to blog about the health benefits of pets — they’re vast —  lest people be put off from adopting dogs based on the stories in my comments section.

Also, by serendipity, I saw two useful posts related to at least one type of DRSI on one of my favorite blogs, Dog Spelled Forward: This one about a command you can use to redirect your dog on a leash, this one about a harness that helps prevent pulling.

13 thoughts on “Will My Dog Hurt Me?”

  1. I didn’t trip over the dog but the door frame. Badger, who lived up to his name, badgered me once too often and I was too tired to pay proper attention. I broke my pelvis and couldn’t walk for months.

  2. My friend in Virginia was walking her standard poodle when Brandi (the dog) decided to take off after something. Friend didn’t let go of the leash, and was dragged down and broke several bones, spent months recovering.

  3. When I got my first greyhound, he got tangled in the leash and I tripped over it and fell to the hard sidewalk. Fortunately, all I did was rip by jeans.

    I have two friends locally who suffered really bad CRIs. Nancy tripped over a bag of kitty litter in her home and broke her shoulder bone requiring complex surgery to the point where she has had to go on permanent disability. Her own osteoporosis exacerabated the problem. Another friend Chris tripped over watermelon rind that she feeds to her pot bellied pigs and dislocated her shoulder.

    So these weren’t CRIs but were CFRIs and PFRIs…cat food related injuries and pig food related injuries.

    1. Gee, I’d better blog about the many, many health benefits of pets, quick, before people begin thinking twice about getting a dog! And actually, everything you describes comes under the category of PRIs — pet related injuries (though I’m thinking that acronym sounds awfully familiar…)

  4. Ouch! Reading this makes my still healing shouder dislocation ache! I was pulled over while retrieving my 130 lb Mastiff early one morning when she followed her brother out the door after some creature of the night. I’d already taken her leash off before she bolted and was holding her flat collar in my hand. Hubby had gotten brother under control and was heading home. Little sister decided to follow faster than I was ready. BOOM!

    1. Hope you heal soon — that’s a big guy to be knocked down by! Yeah, not much you can do if the leash is off already…

  5. When I was a child the family dog, a German Shepherd named Sheba, ran in front of my bike when I was out riding. A combination of my slamming on the brakes and turning abruptly to avoid hitting her saw me go sailing over the handle bars onto the bitumen, skinning my hands, knees, nose and chin (not a good look!).

    These days it is my cats that have it in for me, particularly my tonkinese Sam. With daily regularity he insists on dashing in front of me and between my legs as I walk. We have almost both come to grief on many occasions as a result, yet he perseveres with this behaviour. I am convinced he is on some secret assassination mission, I just don’t know who he is working for, so I keep him around hoping to figure out who has put him up to it and why!

    1. Hmmm….Sam the feline assassin! That could be a good title for a children’s book — or a murder mystery — when you discover who Sam’s handler is.

  6. I’ve met hundreds of pit bulls (I’m a director of a pit bull rescue group in Vancouver, BC) and only once has one drawn blood! I was saying hi to an old foster boy at an event, who in a moment of exuberance leapt up and bashed his giant noggin into my nose. I saw stars and spent the next two hours stuffing Kleenex in my face.

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