June 28, 2004

More Bite than Bark

After spending a lovely few days in Coffee Bay, we decided to continue our journey up the east coast towards Durban. With Jim's speedracer skills behind the wheel we were making excellent time ;)

We landed ourselves in Umzumbe, a small town on the Hibiscus Coast where Jim and Greg had a date with the ragged-tooth sharks that swim in the waters.

We stayed at the Moon and the Mantis Hostel - which was *ridiculously* cute - wooden walkways, a sun roof, bar and pool table, nice sitting room, big kitchen, adorable cabins....you get the idea.

There were 4 BIG dogs that also called the hostel home. And I thought they were as cute as they were big, until....

I had the unfortunate experience of watching the dogs - literally - attack 2 different men on 2 different occasions. I had never seen anything like it - and hope never to again.

On both occasions, I was opening the large double gate so Greg could pull the car out when the dogs raced out and just ATTACKED a human being. The first was a man walking down the street at night, luckily he had a big stick with him (most folks carry them when they walk at night) so he was able to escape with torn pants and scratched legs. The hostel manager said he used to work for him and paid him off with 50 Rand (~$8).

However, the gentleman who was taking his gardening out to the curb the next day was not so lucky. Having no defenses at his disposal, the dogs managed to get a good bite out of his hand. The hostel manager brought him to the hospital where he received 2 stitches and tetnus shots.

The experiences proved entirely too unnerving to stick around any longer. I found myself a bit paranoid around the 'pups' (thinking what am I going to do to set them off?). These attacks were entirely unprovoked and just vicious. I swear I'd never seen anything like it - the dogs just raced out of the gate and CHARGED these men. There was no threat to anyone or the property - nothing. It was horrible.

What I found additionally surprising was that this seemed to happen a lot and almost as a matter of course.....I talked to the cleaning and help staff at the hostel and learned they had both been attacked by the dogs as well - one of them on repeated occasions when he comes on the site at night. And they all had stories about friends that had been attacked by bosses' dogs.

And equally interesting, on both occasions I went after the person to see if he was alright (after getting the beasts, er I mean, dogs, behind the gate). The 'victims' never were raging or screaming at me or the dogs (like I would expect to happen at home - with threats of lawsuits and police action, etc). They almost seemed ready to just go on with their day without overt complaint.

When we asked why the dogs weren't prevented from accessing the carport or some precautions taken, everyone's reaction was 'Well, these things happen. It's no one's fault the dogs get out.'

Needless to say these dawgs (being me, Jim and Greg) got the hell out of there!
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