Monday, 17 November 2008

The RTA & Franco

I was driving to the kennels one morning. I was setting up to turn left. (In Tenerife driving is on the other side of the road) when WHAM some idiot tail ends me. I was grateful for seatbelts, had l not had one l would have been in the wind shield and in a mess.
I pulled to the right hand side hard shoulder as did the person that rammed me, and half of Tenerife. If an accident takes place there are long lines of parked cars in Tenerife as people park up to go and look, and hopefully for them see blood. Thankfully there was none just shaken drivers.

I was very shaken and as it was going to involve police and explanations, my language skills, normally ok at that moment had gone down to nil, l could not even think of the word for "hello". I was shaking and l guess in a mild shock, l knew l needed help so l rang Elsie who was fluent in spanish.

While waiting for her, the guys from the rubbish (basura) depot, stationed on the section above the kennels, came over to help. They were always very helpful and a nice bunch. They insisted while l waited for the police l go and wait in the depot.

As l walked in l saw Franco the Presa Canario (bull mastiff breed) chained up. He was loose at night and named Franco after General Franco as he was so nasty. Everyone but those that handled him avoided him. He was all business. After he almost killed a couple of would be thieves the basura yard was left well alone. There was better targets.

Down along from him was the German Sheppard about 8months old called Eccle. It was the nearest l came to pronouncing his name, but he seemed happy with the way l said it. Eccle was too sweet to be nasty. I gave him his vaccinations and regular cuddles, treated his cut foot and gave him his medication. I got nothing but slobbery kisses back. Everyone agreed he would not make a good guard dog but they liked him, so he stayed.

As l say, I was upset and defiantly not thinking right. I walked up and started to stroke Franco. There was total stillness even Eccle was heard to draw in a gasp in shock. One of Franco’s handlers saw what was going on but was to far away to do anything. Franco looked at me for all of 30 seconds… then he attacked.

Before anything could register in my head, both of my hands were deep in his mouth and he was ragging his head trying to rip my hands off my arms. Everyone was staring in horror even Franco’s handlers were not sure what to do. *They had not ever seen anything like this, although handlers they fed him and kept an eye on him but were not trained.

The fact he was chained had saved my life, there is no doubt about that. He was an attack dog, trained to work on his own without command and had an idiot in front of him. Normally he would let go when the person who he was eating had escaped, he was bored of their taste, the person was dead or if the person was lucky and the handlers* were around if they could persuare him to let go.

At moments like this the world clears and everything goes into slow motion.
I knew that he would not be able to come forward due to the chain, and he would want a better grip at some point. So l put my weight backwards and stood as still as the ragging would allow. The only sensible thing l could do, given the stupid thing l had just done. Not easy though when a 50+kg bull mastiff is doing his best to rip your hands off.
As Franco tried to get a better grip his mouth opened enough that my backward leaning weight pulled me free.

I stumbled backwards pouring blood from both badly bitten hands and lower arms. This broke the tableau around me and everyone came running. I yelled to everyone NOT to blame Franco leave him it wasn’t his fault, it was mine. His handlers were trying to calm him without getting bitten. Elsie had turned up just as it exploded and l was yelling at her to translate. She was trying follow what l was saying, speak to the lads and examine my hands to see how bad the damage was.
As things subsided Franco was pushed off to sit in his kennel growling and licking my blood off his lips.
Elsie herded me back to wait in the car for the police, l was still yelling not to blame Franco over my shoulder. The basura men went off shaking their heads at the confirmation l was weird.

I had just placed my backside in the car, l am told l was white as a sheet. Elsie was trying to find something to stem the blood when the police turned up. I had seen them around town in the past and they had looked round the kennels. Many police and Guardia civil did. They looked at my damaged and bleeding hands and you could see the wheels turning in their head. The car was hit from behind and l was pouring blood from my hands and arms but there was nothing to cut myself on and no blood in the car just around the car.

Elsie chimed in trying to be helpful that the dog bit me. I was now in a fairly deep shock and remember saying over and over don’t you go blame Franco it wasn’t his fault it was mine.
Of course there was no dog around which added to their confusion, had l been able to l would have laughed but nothing seemed real.

The police decided that l was not worth speaking to. They wanted a nice simple report not lunatic babbling females, invisible dogs and bleeding hands so went to speak to the person that whacked my car. They asked Elsie to get me to the hospital if she wouldn’t mind. I never spoke to them again nor did they ask me for papers etc.
I found out later from the Basura guys that the Police booked the person behind me for dangerous driving. (driving to closely and driving to fast)

The basura men continued to help and kept an eye on my car while l was at the hospital and one of them checked that all the dogs in the kennels were ok and had water. They were always brilliant, which is more than l can say about the general council workers (bar 2) based at the lower depot, but that’s another story.

At the clinic yet another argument, the Dr said dangerous dogs and l let loose. Not the dog’s fault it was mine.
“No no he and the nurse were saying it was the dogs fault”
Don’t you dare blame him he was doing his job… Elsie tell them l won’t have Franco blamed”
There was a little crowd gathered now and poor Elsie was getting flustered again trying to explain what had happened to the crowd, calm me down, and translate my ravings. I did not need a translation back for what the others were saying. "Loco" (crazy) featured strongly.

I have this feeling the clinic were pleased to see me go. The nurse rammed an anti tetanus into my backside, but l didn’t feel a thing. My hands had a decoration of steri strips patterning them. The Dr wanted to do more, but l just wanted to get out and check my dogs, so we compromised and l had a list of antibiotics, with instructions to keep my hands clean and if they broke down or looked nasty to go back asap. They didn't exactly look nice at that point, but he did not see the humour in my comment when l said that.

Hub came over to help that day as did Judith and Elsie. We managed to get things sorted. It took about a week before l could hold anything, great for dieting. Even then it was sore as hell, but l couldn’t sit on the side so started to work again. I felt that my helpers had enough to do without trying to run their lives and the kennels while l sat around feeling sorry for myself and giving them orders.

I am pleased to say that Franco was not blamed, it was all allowed to die down. I think they were too scared to do anything as they would have had to deal with me, and there was probably doubt on my sanity!!.

Franco and l would look warily at each other from a distance. Me thinking of his teeth Franco wondering if he could do a better job if there was a replay.
I gave him and Eccle a bag of treats by way of apology for bringing confusion into a nice normal morning.

Many thanks to Judith, Elsie, the basura men, and all those who helped me out that week.

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