Tuesday, October 26, 2004
UNDER A FULL MOON
As I left the subway station- straight from the barber’s -sporting a zero tolerance haircut- I rushed home eager for beer and dinner. On my way down I passed by the furniture shop and peeked inside to salute the proprietor- an acquaintance. Seeing he was not there I moved on- watching a group of children approaching me in the company of a supervisor and two dogs.
The agile, medium-sized dogs were both attached to long leashes. One roamed the outer edge of the pavement while the other clung close to the buildings. The dog approaching closest to me had a long bony face- with a sharp grin and protruding eyes. It's agile body- skeleton-like- resembled a Doberman's. As I passed the animal, he suddenly and unprovoked- lunged out at me, clenching his jaws around my lower left arm. Due to my thick coat and passing speed, he had to let go instantly- causing no signifcant physical damage. I brushed myself off and resumed my way leaving the stressed supervisor to the task of disciplining the dog.
I am well experienced with dogs from early youth onwards. Once an avid game angler- I had experienced confrontations by territorial dogs of different size and breed. Rule of thumb had always been- not to engage them directly and to continue whatever I was doing. Since I had not provoked the dog’s attack- not blocking him nor looking him directly in the eye- I guessed that the animal hadly briefly assumed Alpha privilege over his makeshift pack. Or possibly, had sensed a metaphysical phenomenon surrounding me? (-)
Why do dogs bite? Either under stress or at play, and why they sometimes fail to contain their hyper-perceptive skills? As I was looking for answers to my question, I found some clues on the Manila Times web pages.
Why do dogs bite?
Dr Roberto Constantino, D.V.M
There are two primary causes why dogs bite: A medical reason and provocation.
A good-natured canine that suddenly starts biting may well be suffering from certain illness. These are hypothyroidism, lead poisoning, and other diseases related to epileptic seizures. Such illnesses cause dogs to bite inadvertently.
In some cases where a dog is suffering from diseases such as ear infection, traumatic injury, or cancer, severe pain and discomfort caused by such illnesses instigate reflexive bi-ting. And anyone (even an owner) who attempts to touch a dog in pain should take more caution.
Circumstantial reasons also trigger dog biting, most common of which is provocation. Also, a harshly disciplined dog has a greater possibility to bite because of fear.
In certain confrontational situations, a dog bites to defend itself or to show dominance and aggression. For instance, dogs that immediately bite in response to a gentle pat on the head perceive the friendly gesture as a challenge to their dominance.
Moreover, a dog at play could also bite fortuitously to express playfulness (play aggression), while a dog that bites a pas-serby, a bicyclist, or any other stranger is being summoned by its natural predatory instinct—a canine’s way of defending its territory.
The type of a bite could also help you determine the biter’s intentions. A quick, snapping bite intends to warn the adversary to "back off." Multiple bi-ting (with the jaws tightly fastened onto the bitten area) means the dog really intended to attack and seriously injure its aggressor.
Close encounters/Lunar cycles
To what level are dog attacks determined by cosmic conjunctions and overwhelmed senses?
Do dogs bite more during a full moon?
The power of the moon is often used to explain a wide range of events – from human insanity to traffic accidents – but do animals feel more inclined to bite humans during the full moon than at other times? Two new studies have come up with different answers.
This week's British Medical Journal (BMJ) carries two studies - one from the UK which finds that you are more likely to be bitten by a dog when the moon is full, and a study from Australia which finds that you're not.
A study by Professor Simon Chapan and Stephen Morrell of The University of Sydney showed no positive relation between the full moon and dog bites requiring hospital treatment. They compared dates of admission for dog bites to public hospitals throughout Australia with dates of the full moon, over a 12-month period. Overall, full moon days were associated with slightly lower admissions (4.6 compared with 4.8 per day). Of 18 peak days (more than 10 admissions per day) the maximum peak centred on the New Year break. Full moons coincided with none of these peaks.
A study by a team in Bradford, UK on the other hand, has found that animals do have an increased propensity to bite humans during the full moon periods. During 1997 to 1999, they identified 1,621 patients attending the accident and emergency department at Bradford Royal Infirmary after being bitten by an animal.
The chance of being bitten was twice as high on or around full moon days, indicating that an association exists between the lunar cycles and changes in animal behaviour. However, the authors suggest that further experiments are needed to verify these results.
So why the difference between the UK and Australia? Are dogs in the UK more aggressive?
"The only explanation I have is that maybe because of a general drabness in England more people take pleasant walks under the full moon and are therefore more available to be bitten by dogs," speculates Professor Chapman who submitted his article to the BMJ without any idea that the other paper was being submitted.He decided to do the study after a comment from a farmer on randomised controlled trial he had done on the use of school programs to prevent dogs biting children.
"Don't you scientists know anything?," the farmer said to him. "You should be looking at why they bite - it's because of the full moon!"
posted by Walter at 10/26/2004