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.**
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.