Thursday 27 August 2015

Dog Attack - Rabies Alert

Current Location: Ballintoy, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
Distance This Trip: 3,932 km
Most Interesting Town: Derry/Londonderry
Best Value for Money: Hostels rather than campgrounds
What We Like: The accuracy of Irish weather forecasts

It was a bitzer. Sort of medium size, black all over, nondescript. I saw it dart across a triangle of grass to intercept us on a corner. It looked harmless enough until it stopped, retreated for a moment, then came forward on its belly as if to say, you can't see me.

It backed off a couple more times, each time returning and closing the gap. Two boys raced after it. We were going uphill and were never going to outrun it so I tried a different approach - jamming on the brakes in the hope the dog would lose interest once we stopped.

Instead, it ducked around the back of the tandem and there was a loud yelp, which didn't come from the dog.

The yelp was followed by a stream of abuse directed at the dog, the boys and the world in general.

Dog attack on the outskirts of Ballybofey, north of Donegal.

Judy was so outraged she could not find the right word. "Has it been ... (vaccinated) .. has it, does it have diseases, does it have RABIES?"

"Of course he doesn't have rabies," sneered the older of the two boys and ducked away out of more trouble, leaving his kid bro to deal with the Stoker.

"He always bites cyclists," said the younger, more naive of the pair.

This provoked another outburst.

I tried to ascertain the extent of the injury. I couldn't see a stray foot lying on the roadside, nor was the dog gnawing on anything from its vantage point some distance away. There wasn't even any blood spatter and both legs  seemed to be functioning normally as Judy stormed off in an unsuccessful attempt to find the owner.

Once we were back at our hostel, Judy disappeared into the bathroom with the first aid kit and I searched the Internet.

She emerged with a plaster above an ankle and I was able to tell her there had not been a case of rabies in Ireland since the 19th century. 

The next day we had to cycle down the same road. Judy went prepared - wearing her overshoes to protect her ankles, our bike stand in one hand and the dog dazer in the other. Naturally the dog was nowhere to be seen.

By the next morning, the patient showed no rabies-related symptoms - no numbness at the site of the injury, no anxiety, no confusion, no nausea. I turned on a tap and she showed no fear of water. In fact, she seemed in excellent spirits.

"You know," I said,"you could consider downgrading this from a dog bite to getting a nip on the ankle."

"Oh yes, I've already thought of that. Quite a laugh really, now that I don't have lockjaw or whatever."

The wind that blows the barley - east of Raphoe, Co. Donegal.

Hay making time - east of Raphoe, Co. Donegal.

Our guide on one of the almost obligatory walking tours of Derry/Londonderry was Paul Doherty. His father, Patrick, was shot dead by a British soldier during Bloody Sunday, 1972.

Mural depicting a scene from the Battle of the Bogside, 1969. A boy wearing a gas mask and clutching a petrol bomb.

The Peace Bridge in Derry/Londonderry built to try to unite the east and west of the city.

About to begin a delicious descent off Binevenagh, towards Magilligan Point.

Reflections - after a wrong turn on a cycle path in Downhill.

Harbour view, Portrush, Co. Antrim.

Causeway Coastal Route - Co. Antrim.

A gem of a castle - Dunluce, Co. Antrim.

Judy takes a seat among the polygonal basalt columns of the Giant's Causeway, Co. Antrim.

How many people in a selfie? The Giant's Causeway, Co. Antrim.

Seaweed - Ballintoy, Co. Antrim.

Fissure - Ballintoy, Co. Antrim.

Rain shower - Ballintoy Harbour, Co. Antrim.

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