Frankie McMack bit me in the groin. My wife says I deserved it.
Before I proceed, I should clarify that Frank is a cattle dog. I’m sure, to most, that clarification is unnecessary. If the truth be told it would be very difficult for a human (unless he or she is very short or flexible) to bite my groin while I’m standing. But luckily for Frank, and unlucky for me, my inner thigh was at Frank’s eye and mouth level.
I can’t say I wasn’t warned. When Frank’s owner, Wes, released his dog from of his van he said, “Frank can be a little protective around the van so give him some time to get used to you before you approach him.”
I didn’t have to be told twice; for some reason dogs find me savory. Frank’s nibble was the third time I’ve been nipped by three different curs, just since New Year’s. So, for several minutes, I gave Frankie a wide berth. It was only after seeing my mate, Ellie, pat, stroke and nuzzle the that I relaxed. Frankie considered me warily as I approached, I held out my gloved hand for him to sniff and he bit it. I pulled my mitt out of the way, giving him a clear path to my inner thigh for his second bite. Neither nip broke the skin. I was more startled than injured.
What did sting was my mate’s assertion that it was my fault. Wes rushed over, scolded his pet and offered a heartfelt apology. He also assured me that, though his dog was protective, I was the first person he had ever actually bit. (I can’t say I was flattered.)
I totally forgive both Wes and Frankie. The dog is a spirited puppy-pound puppy and Wes is a conscientious and skilled dog owner and trainer. It was in the middle of Wes’s heartfelt mea culpa that my dutiful wife interjected, “Don’t be too hard on Frank, Jeffrey is always getting bitten. Animals feel threatened by his pungent male smell and extra-large yang.” (Ellie has long insisted that my yang — as in yin and yang — is excessive.)
Being raised French/Irish Catholic, the yin-and-yang principal in Eastern religion is somewhat foreign to me. My mate was raised Methodist and thus is more inclined to hocus-pocus. But from what I gather in Eastern faith, yin and yang is the balance among man, nature and the cosmos. Yin is female, passive, negative, cool and shady. Yang is male aggressive, positive, sunny and succulent to bite.
I’ve been told by acupuncturists and Eastern practitioners that I do have a yang imbalance (especially while wearing bicycle shorts), but none has ever mentioned how that might threaten dogs.
I’m not sure if I buy any of that, but I do know this: I seem to get bitten a lot by dogs. As recently as a few weeks ago I was cross-country skiing when a young lady was caroming out of control down the trail. I quickly stepped to the side to give the gal some room. She was preceded by a large, goofy-looking hound. He left the trail and ran toward me. I only had time to say, “Hey, good boy” before he gave me a nip as he ran by. The young gal seeing this tried to stop, couldn’t manage and exploded in a heap. She got up from the snow and asked, “Did my dog just bite you?” I answered, “Affirmative.” She was mortified. “I am so sorry,” she said. “He has never bitten anybody, and you were so nice getting out of my way.” Again, due to thick ski clothing, no skin was broken, but I do wonder, why me?
My mate’s contention is that in addition to my yang and pungent male odor, dogs can also smell my fear. But in truth, I love dogs and — due to my poor short-term memory — I am unafraid of them, right up to the point they bite me. When that happens I’m always surprised and hurt.
I certainly do not want to make light of aggressive dogs. It is a dog owner’s responsibility to make sure his or her pets are not a danger to others. But it is also a good reminder to all of us that, in addition to being pets, dogs are animals.
Just as it is the owner’s responsibility to train, control and monitor a dog, it behooves us all to remember that dogs are descendants of wolves, only a few hundred years removed from the wild with inbred protective instincts and a heightened ability to smell yang and pungent manly odors. Of course, this is just according to my mate. But she sleeps with her head under the covers so she should know.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias Biff America, can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org