How my dog being attacked reminded me to live in the moment

Oscar lying down with head up
Oscar

I have learned a lot by watching my dog, well puppy. He’s a 9-month old golden Labrador called Oscar.

Among other things, as I wrote in a previous blog, I’ve learned to play more and also that I’m worthy of being loved.

A few days ago Oscar was attacked by an aggressive dog. It clamped its teeth onto his back. I can still hear his squeals of pain in my mind as its teeth held Oscar’s back in a vice-like grip.

It just wouldn’t let go. I eventually had to punch it to get it to release its grip. It was instinct as I’m certainly not prone to violence.

Oscar had a bowel movement on the pavement on the way back home as his body processed some of the shock.

I called Elizabeth, my partner, on the phone and we went straight to the vet who, upon inspecting his wounds, proceeded to shave a 3-inch square on his back, clean the bite marks, and inject Oscar with antibiotics and pain relief.

When Elizabeth and I returned home we were so upset. Oscar? As the day progressed, he just wanted to play, as usual. We enjoyed games of ‘tug’ and ‘fetch’, and he also excitedly chased a ball as I tried to dribble it around him. To Oscar, it was over, done, forgotten, in the past. He was living in the moment. Humans are not like that at all.

Seeing the wound on his back throughout that day was a constant reminder to Elizabeth and I of what had happened. I had a wee cry later after I returned home from a short trip to the shop. The event was traumatic for me and I kept replaying the attack over and over again in my mind. I kept seeing the dog’s jaws clamped and hearing Oscars screams.

Oscar can’t see the wound. His only awareness of it has been the occasional flinch when he moves in a certain way. He then stretches his head around to his back, wondering, I assume, what the strange sensation is. But other than that he’s just, well, normal.

It’s been a reminder for me about living in the moment. Why can’t we be more like dogs? Life would be so much simpler, less stressful. So much stress for us is a product of processing events in our minds from the day, week, month, or even years before, reliving them over and over again. We complain about how things are or what a certain person said to us at work, or we stress about what might be.

We visit therapists who use clever techniques, which are helpful. We also learn how to forgive. Dogs? They just kind of shake it off.

I have often felt we can learn a lot from watching nature. Nature thrives by adapting to its environment. We mostly resist changes and, if we’re really honest, we mostly complain that things change. Dogs just go with the flow.

I’m taking a leaf out of Oscar’s book now. I’m spending more time living in the moment. The past few days have been more enjoyable. I have laughed more. I feel more relaxed. I find myself wondering why I don’t do this more often. But we get so caught up in what we need to do. I’ve found that I’ve actually got more done in the past few days, even though I feel I have done less.

When I know that I have work to do, I have a tendency to withdraw a bit from anything else I’m doing at that time. My mind shifts focus. It’s my thing, I suppose, that I’m working on changing as it can create stress. Even if I’m in a conversation, part of me is thinking about getting back to work. Now? Well, I’m giving what I’m doing my all. There’s no resistance, no stress, just more enjoyment and peace. Then I actually get more done, which is funny, and there’s then no guilt at thinking that I hadn’t given someone my full attention.

Oscar is on the road to full physical recovery. He is probably fully recovered already. He doesn’t know that some of the hair on his back has been shaved. It will soon grow back, covering up any indication of a past event. In his mind, it’s as if nothing has happened. He’s just enjoying life the same as he has done so these past 9 months.

He inspires me. I feel so blessed that he is in my life. I am much happier. He causes me to notice what’s around me with heightened awareness. Life’s colours seem richer than they were before, scents more descriptive, sounds more 3-dimensional. They’ve always been like that. I just haven’t always noticed. That’s the thing with living in the moment. We notice what has always been there.

We are more blessed than we realise. Start noticing your blessings now. There are more around you than you think!

23 thoughts on “How my dog being attacked reminded me to live in the moment

  1. Elsie Teixiera

    Dear David. I also have a dog named Oskar and can imagine the anguish you went through. Animals are treated worse than that every day to satisfy men’s greed for meat.
    The pain your dog went through is just a very tiny insignificant happening when compared to all the animals who are subjected to pain on a daily basis by farmers who have only profit on their minds. I hope that you are a vegan because you have the emotions of one. Evolve Campaigns in the UK have done a great job of uncovering these atrocities. Man cannot evolve while he hurts animals to eat their dead bodies. Please look up Evolve Campaigns as i know you could do so much towards getting people to be vegans. Kind Regards. Elsie

  2. Hi David,

    You’ve just highlighted why I love nature and animals so much. If ever I feel I’m starting to stress about something, I go for a walk. Animals lift my vibrations and put me back in touch with the here and now.

    I trust Oscar’s wound will heal quickly. I’m sure it will.

    Best wishes,
    Stephanie x

  3. Dear David, How very true on all counts! First of all, condolences to Oscar… it is a horrific thing to experience both for the pet and the human… But what a beautiful lesson has come of it. I am “Mom” to 3 cats and 2 dogs and they teach me something every day. One of my dogs (golden retriever) lays peacefully ON my feet as I write this…. My deaf kitty sits in a stream of sunlight in the window grooming himself… All of them taking life moment by moment. I must admit I need the prompting quite frequently, but do aspire to making that my ‘norm.’ Your beautiful article is another wonderful reminder. Thanks so much for sharing… Blessings! Maureen

  4. Sue

    Dear David, I am finding David Berceli’s shaking exercises really helpful for getting body stored traumas out of the system. Of course, Oscar is wiser than we poor folk and will do it naturally. Best wishes, Sue

  5. David J. McMullan

    Really distressing to read about your dog being attacked but equally amazing to know that he’s on the mend and just getting on with things as normal. Good lad, Oscar! 🙂

    I look at my little dog, Angus, and marvel at how his little world is so simple and yet so rich. Nothing is a stress for him and he has everything he needs in that very moment. Ever happy and cheery he eats his dinner with the same excitement every single time as if it’s the very first time. The same if he’s being taken for a walk. It’s gratitude in abundance and we could well do with taking a leaf out of their book.

    We use the phrase, “it’s a dogs life”. HA!….our canine companions must surely be thinking 🙂

  6. Margaret Young

    Hi David, I am so sorry to hear that Oscar was attacked, hope you are both recovering…

  7. Sophia

    Thanks for the reminder Oscar – via David…
    Someone recently mentioned this phenomena and how after a long chase and capture an Impala/Zebra/… which wriggles free fom the jaws of a lion ALWAYS gives its body a powerful all over shake after – IT JUST SHAKES IT OFF – and goes back to eating grass…

  8. Dearest David,
    I so understand the trauma of having a pet being attacked by another, it is an animal world after all, and as you say we have to live in the moment, my concern is you easily forget this, and on your next walks you may find yourself crossing the road if you see another dog, or stopping and turning around…this in turn will instill ”fear” of the unknown into Oscar, and whilst he is a happy puppy, it can easily change by the way you behave, so a gently reminder to both you and Elizabeth, remain calm and observant, allow Oscar to forget more easily, and you will too…love you xxx

  9. Elizabeth Cura

    So sorry to hear about Oscar and the terrible ordeal he went through and so upsetting for you and Elizabeth but glad he is on the mend now. Great article David. Thank you for sharing it.

    Much love

    Elizabeth

  10. Elma Chapman

    Thank you David for sharing your story – I read it and it sort of helped with a personal experience I had last December, when I was viciously attacked by a dog, whilst its owner tried to pull its vice like grip off my arm – I still bear the scar – on my arm and mentally – I am a Reiki practitioner and usually animals are so sweet with me – I never understood why it attacked – it had been a rescue dog – and had attacked before – the owner mentioned getting it put down, but I insisted not to – that I would Reiki the dog at a later date – but they never came back to me – but your story has maybe let me see the attack and its affect in a better light – so thank you – good luck with all you do – kindest Regards Elma ps wish you and your little puppy lots of fun and play

  11. david how true this article is. we have 6 ex- shelter/rescue dogs – all of them have had some unpleasant experiences before we got them . some of them as they often try to learn to live together still have some unpleassant experiences with each other- but my how they move on. Cassie was thrown from a moving car at 12 weeks old. does she remember ? hell no!! does she care? definately not!! billy came over from ireland and is probably the scaredest dog i have seen- each day he gets scared by something, but does that stop him going out and enjoying himself? mmm no! they all work trying to help others learn to live in the moment. its not easy for us humans but if we watch and elarn from our dogs then we stand a chance !!

  12. Michelle

    What a lovely and for me, timely post…..I too wish I could live like that, in the here and now, especially as an inherent angst-ridden worrier! It has also made me realise for the umpteemth time how very much I would love a dog in my life. Thank you!

  13. Louise

    Thanks David

    So sorry Oscar suffered like that, but as you say , he recovered from the mental trauma faster than a human . A great lesson to share . Life throws out painful experiences, yet we can choose to recover .

  14. Francoise

    I am so sorry to hear that Oscar got hurt but how wonderful that he has bounced back so quickly physically!
    My children actually do the same for me in terms of living for the moment and not only that my 2 and a half year old now reminds me to pay attention to the small details in and around me that nature has to offer, things that in our cluttered busy life we forget all too much to be aware of!
    The moon half hanging in the sky still in the morning, the stars at night, the colourful bird perched in the tree, the small flower suddenly blooming on the side of the street, the miniscule spider crawling in our lounge lol, the sound of the beautiful chime next door to us…
    The same goes with forgetting what may have happened in the past, not ever thinking about the nasty fall she may have had but just bouncing back excitedly into whatever she then is doing in the moment. Not worrying about the fact that she may fall again, what may have happened of she had had a nastier fall, what would have happened if she had to go to hospital, then thinking about the last time she was in hospital and how horrible it was ect ect… urgh if only we all took time to declutter our minds and bounce back so easily!

  15. Dear David and Oscar

    Thank you for sharing your story. I felt your motions and shed a year. I lie animals and agree they live I the moment especially their unconditional love they teach us. A wonder blessing unfolded for you and that’s the most important thing to take from trauma the positive and the lesson.

    What a great dog Oscar is and a gift to you and your family

    Best wishes

    Darryl ❤

  16. Kate

    Always take a stick with you when you are walking a dog.
    Throw the stick once and Oscar will love you forever, but more importantly an aggressive dog is always wary of a stick and if it attacks, a aggressive shout and a raised stick is incredibly effective. If you absolutely have to use it, smack the attacking dog hard on the haunches and if that doesn’t work the head – in the circumstances you did instinctively exactly the right thing. Clearly it is very unlikely that Oscar will ever be attacked again but the stick will make you feel more confident and as I said Oscar will never tire of chasing a thrown stick.
    You are absolutely right about learning from animals. We had a flock of sheep for a few years and lambing time was a beautiful time. Sheep have no concept of what comes next, they never think about what if …., will it get more painful etc. They just deal with what is happening now. When it comes to child birth or the dentist or anything really scary I try to remember the ewes and just breath. Well it works for me!
    Happy dog walking. Enjoy the sunshine. Oscar will sense your worrying but it won’t occur to him that going for a walk is anything to worry about.
    All the Best – Kate

  17. Carole MacKay

    Hi David,

    Yes, living in the moment, not holding onto grudges, malice, grievances, anger, pain etc etc …and instead appreciating what is ‘now’ We can all learn so much from non-human beings when we open our Hearts… we feel the inter-connectedness and the Universal Love that vibrates through every living thing 🙂

    PS Big hugs to Elizabeth and yourself (we met at Spirit Aid and Lorraine and I often chat about old times)…so lovely to know you are still together x

  18. Pat

    Awesome…what a share….breath&balance…trying to work this every day…this for sharing x

  19. rosalindwoods

    THE STORY OF YOUR DOG REMINDS ME OF MY GREAT LOVE OF NATURE I CAN UNWIND, PEOPLE CANT QUITE UNDERSTAND HOW I CAN GO TO THE ISLE OF ISLAY ON MY OWN DISAPPEAR ON MY OWN, IAM OUT LOOKING AT RABBITS, WALKING BESIDE THE SEA LOOKING AT THE BIRDS, I FOUND A CAVE EVERYBODY KNEW ABOUT., BAR ME I HADNT REALISED THE FIRST TIME AROUND I HAD FOUND THE SMALLER CAVE AND COULD NOT UNDERSTAND HOW PEOPLE COULD HAVE LIVED IN IT, OOPS WRONG CAVE
    THEN I TOOK UP FEEDING THE BIRDS I BROUGHT ONE BIRD FEEDER FROM ISLAY. UP TO THEN I DIDNT LIKE BIRDS
    I RETIRED , BEFORE THAT I HAD PUT ON A STONE AND A HALF AND HAD FLUCTUATING BLOOD PRESSURE , DUE TO STRESS, SO I HAVE NOW LEARNED TO SLOW DOWN AND ENJOY LIFE, JUST WATCH BIRDS FLYING AROUND FIGHTING WITH EACH OTHER, I FEED THEM TWICE A DAY, AND WHEN I COME HOME THERE IS A FLAP OF WINGS , WOOD PIGEONS FLYING AWAY . ONE DAY ONE PIGEON LIFTED ITS LEGS AND AIMED AT THE OTHER PIGEON, LIFE IS SIMPLE FOR THEM

  20. Hala

    Thanks David. The article was a perfect reminder to switch back to the present moment. I loved it.

  21. Lynn Hall

    I was shocked to hear that dear little Oscar had been attacked. It happens round where we live a lot, with more serious consequences, I’m afraid, meaning that it is becoming more difficult to simply walk our dog locally. I don’t know why more is not done about dog owners who deliberately make their dogs aggressive. I’m so relieved that Oscar is healing and is going to be ok. xx

  22. David R. Hamilton PhD

    Thanks for all your kind thoughts, words, and good wishes. I’m quite overwhelmed at the outpouring of compassion and support you have all shown. Oscar is doing great. In fact, he’s sleeping on my feet while I type these words. 🙂

    Love,
    David 🙂

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