A dog from hell

Our perfect pet suddenly turned into a beast...

Published by: Jai Breitnauer
Published on: 4th October 2010

Keys in hand and a packet of dog treats under my arm, I dashed out to the car.
My daughter Nicole, 13, was already there, jumping around by the passenger door.
‘Come on Dad!’ she squealed excitedly. ‘We can’t keep Lennie waiting.’
We’d had a phone call that morning from the animal rescue centre, saying our new dog Lennie was ready for collection.
Nicole nearly exploded with excitement, didn’t even want to wait for her mum Julie, 51, to get home from her nursery nurse job.
‘Let’s go, let’s go,’ she’d begged, tugging my arm.
We’d always been doggie people, had previously rehomed a lovely Staffie-cross called Honey from the center. But, with her gone it felt like there was something missing at home.
So, we’d gone back to the centre and, amazingly, they’d just had a Staffie brought in.
‘His white fur and the pink blotches on his nose, remind me of Honey,’ Julie had said the first time we’d seen Lennie.
‘He knows how to sit, lay down and give paw,’ Nicole had grinned. ‘He’s really well trained.’
‘And he’s been well looked after, there’s meat on his bones,’ I’d added. ‘Hard to believe he’s a stray.’
‘I don’t think we’ll find a better dog,’ Julie had smiled, letting Lennie lick her face.
So we did the paperwork, had the house checked and, a week later, were picking up our new pet.
He was so excited to see us…
‘Lennie, gerroff!’ Nicole snorted as he jumped on the back seat of the car and nuzzled her neck. ‘Dad, tell him!’ she laughed.
‘He’s just excited,’ I grinned. ‘We’re his new family, and he wants to make a good impression.’
Pushing his head between the seats Lennie started licking my hand and pawing my lap.
‘It’s great to have a dog again, isn’t it?’ I laughed as I scratched his neck.
Back home Nicole ran all over the house with him, showing off every room.
‘Just keep his harness on for now,’ I warned as I flicked the kettle on. ‘He’s very excited and still getting used to us.’
But Lennie was no trouble – he didn’t try to chew the furniture, and waited until Nicole showed him the garden to have a wee.
As she threw a ball for him to fetch I couldn’t believe our luck, he was such a lovely dog.
Remembering the treats in my back pocket I wandered into the garden.
‘Hey Lennie,’ I smiled.
‘Woof!’ he replied.
I let him nuzzle my face as I bent down to sit cross-legged on the grass in front of him.
‘Sit Lennie,’ I smiled, and he did.
‘Paw Lennie,’ I chuckled as he shook my hand.
‘I can’t wait to bring my friends over and show them how good he is,’ Nicole laughed as I pulled the treats out of my pocket and tossed one toward him.
‘Fetch your ball,’ I smiled.
But Lennie wasn’t wagging his tail anymore…
In an instant he’d changed from the friendly pup we’d brought home to a snarling, growling guard dog, his tail low and pointed.
‘Good boy Lennie…’ I said slowly. ‘There’s a good…’
Before I even had a chance to try and calm him though, his white fur flashed through the air as he leapt at me, sharp, white, teeth sinking into my face.
‘Argh!’ I cried, grabbing his neck, but he was too strong, I couldn’t get him off.
‘Daddy!’ Nicole screamed as I wrestled with our new pet.
But his teeth had sunk into my cheek, like he was taking a bite from an apple.
‘My face!’ I screamed. ‘Get him off.’
Rolling over, I tried pulling Lennie off me but his snarling, spit drenched jaws were locked on tight.
Suddenly I felt a tug, and looking up I saw Nicole pulling him back by his harness, tears running down her cheeks.
With a sound like ripping leather, she managed to pull him free. Clutching the side of my face I ran into the house.
Blood pumped through my fingers and I fell through the door into the loo downstairs.
Hands shaking I peeled them away from my face, looked in the mirror…and gagged.
Where my right cheek and bottom lip had been was just a huge hole, revealing my teeth and the muscle underneath.
That dog had ripped my face off! The noise I’d heard was my cheek being torn off in his teeth.
Suddenly I realised Nicole was still outside. Running into the garden Lennie, who was sitting calmly beside her, began snarling at me again. His white fur was smeared with blood.
‘Get him in the garage!’ I yelled. Dizzy with pain I sank to my knees.
A red patch was soaking into the grass, blood ran down my chin and onto my t-shirt.
He’d been so friendly…seemed so well trained…
As soon as Nicole had him locked away she dialled 999, then called Julie.
‘Mum, the dog attacked Dad,’ she sobbed.
Julie turned up later, the same time as the paramedics.
‘Babe, are you…Oh my God!’ she screamed as I turned to face her. Falling back against the back door she began to sob.
‘I’m sorry,’ she croaked. ‘I should have been here…’
Just then the paramedic interrupted.
‘Mr Hamnett, a whole section of your lip is missing. If the dog didn’t swallow it we might be able to sew it back on.’
To my horror Nicole ran outside, began searching the grass for the missing piece of her daddy’s face.
‘It’s not here,’ she wept, her shoes splattered with blood from the grass.
At hospital I was in surgery for three hours while they tried sewing my face back together. They had to pull the skin from my cheek down to join it with the bit of my lower lip that was still left.
Sat on the ward afterwards I didn’t feel sorry for myself though, I was angry.
Lennie could have attacked Julie or Nicole, I’d put them both at danger.
My blood ran cold when I thought of my daughter in the car with him, Lennie licking her face.
He’s back in kennels now, and they’re still deciding what to do with him. Meanwhile, it could be 18 month’s before my face heals, and it will never be the same again. My mouth is smaller and where my skin has been stretched I’m in constant pain.
I’m a bag of nerves too, I can’t even go to work as a delivery driver – I’m too sacred one of my customers might have a dog.
I’m just glad it was me that was bitten or it could have been so much worse.

Pat Hamnett, 47, from Anstey, Leicestershire