I find it fascinating how there are so many dogs in London. And I find it equally fascinating that the main type of dog appears to be some form of Pit-bull/Mastiff cross breed. Lots of young people have these types of dogs and they are often used in gangs and/or as a status symbol.
Also, it never ceases to amuse me how, when we arrive at certain jobs there’s always a rabid pit-bull cross-breed going nuts behind a baby cage barrier with foam spewing from its jaws and a hint of recently eaten human flesh hanging from its teeth. I guess its not so much the cliche of arriving and finding the dog so much as listening to the mum trying to convince us that their little puppy is harmless – all the while smoking away at ten Superking Lights whilst her twenty three kids poke the dog with sticks.
I have a very distinct and healthy fear of dogs that aren’t cared for properly. And this fear was heightened on one such job.
We were called to a thirty year old male collapse ?cause (query cause). Upon arrival we were presented with a homeless man asleep in the front alcove entrance of someones flat. The “someone” turned out to be the epitome of a ‘shoreditch trendie’, who, finding this person asleep in their doorway decided to call an ambulance to ‘sort out his problem’.
To make matters complicated, the homeless gentleman was being stringently guarded by a large white pit-bull/mastiff cross breed.
An FRU approached the homeless man cautiously using newly acquired dog-whispering skills he’d seen from TV. After some initial growling and potential throat ripping moments (to which the fast gathering crowd of onlookers had their camera phones ready to record) the dog allowed the FRU to touch the patient (there was clear dissapointment from the crowd). After a few ‘pain responses’ the patient came round and was very apologetic for wasting people’s time. He admitted being drunk and inevitably said that his dog was “harmless and wouldn’t harm anyone”.
I approached and knelt down beside the FRU and the dog became more submissive. Relaxing more, we then started giving advice to the homeless man, who did not want to go to Hospital. I gave him one of the thermal blankets we carry on the truck and started explaining how they work. Mid sentence, and without warning, the dog lept forward and sunk its teeth into my inner thigh. Yelping, I lept to my feet. I confess my initial thought was not of trying to calm the dog but simply one of planting a size 11 steel toe cap boot to the dog’s head. Thankfully though, the dog had already shrunk back underneath the homeless man’s arm – not for the dog’s health but simply because I would have got it wrong, missed my kick, slipped over and would probably have been mauled to shreds in retaliation. The homeless man was now desperately trying to convince us not to take his ‘baby’ away and that this wasn’t something it would normally do.
I stormed off to the Ambulance, shut myself in the back, dropped my trousers and inspected my war wounds. There were two neat vampire like puncture wounds roughly three inches apart and probably two inches from my private parts. Quickly surmising that I wasn’t going to die I relaxed a little.
My crew mate joined me in the back to see if I was ok.
“You see that?”
“Yeh, and I know why it happened too”
“We’d told everyone to keep back but that trendie’s bag was just behind you. He didn’t pay any attention to us and just jumped forward to grab it. It must have startled the dog and you being the first thing in its firing line . . .” She shrugged her shoulders and laughed.
I stayed in the back to calm down – for fear of feeding the trendie to the dog!
The homeless guy was moved on and the trendie, without a word of thanks to anyone, gained access to his flat. We went off the road to get a quick check at the hospital and then back to station for a cuppa.
Of course, everyone wanted to know what had happened, so, by the time I’d recalled the story a few times it had grown to being a pack of Pit-bulls, a gang of youths – with guns, a small child that I protected in the ensuing battle and eventually me fighting for my life . . . “but I don’t want to talk about it – I’m just doing my job”.
They all listened and when I’d finished, the more experienced medics just looked at me, smiling gently and said, “Bless” before going back to their more interesting conversations.