Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Black dog syndrome

by Jorn Lier Horst, Norway

I've been away from the blog for a few weeks and have not had the opportunity to write my Wednesday posts. There are two things that have prevented me from writing. Firstly, I have published a new novel. A book launch always means busy days. Interviews and appearances. The second thing that happened was that I was attacked by a dog. A large black Rottweiler.

It happened one morning when I was out walking with my own dog, Teodor. On a forest trail, we met a woman who was out with her two huge rottweilers. Even from a distance I signed that one of them was very aggressive, and I chose to turn. The excitable dog managed to tear himself away from the owner and came after us. It attacked my dog that I had to lift up and to safety. Then I was next. The big black dog tried to tear me down and bit me badly in the arm and back, and was not satisfied until the owner got him torn away from me. The incident sent me to hospital, but also on the cover of the newspapers. For you who read Norwegian you can get you the details here. The rest of you'll have to manage with the pictures of me and Teodor.

I've always been afraid of big dogs, and I know why. When I was 13 I was scared by a book. It all started when I was visiting a neighbor kid, playing in his room. He told me that his mother was reading an exciting book about a boy and his mother who had gone to a farm, but that their car had broken down in front of the barn. On the farm there was a mad dog that had killed the farmer and eaten up his wife. Now the dog walked around the two in the car and drooled and wanted more blood. Then I could not help myself. I tiptoed out to his mother who sat on the sofa and read. I hid behind the sofa back and began to snarl, softly. From where I sat I could see that her hackles rose. So I yelled and barked loudly. She was so frightened that she jumped high above the couch and put her legs well under her before she landed again.

Some might have guessed it. She read Cujo by Stephen King. I borrowed the book from her afterwards. One thing was that it made me afraid of dogs (such as Jaws made me afraid to swim in the ocean), but the reading experience also told me about how books can take us to a completely different place. How it is possible to immerse ourselves in a story. The book came in 1981. Have not you read it? Do it, or watch the movie! (Cujo was a St. Bernhard dog, by the way - not a Rottweiler)
From the movie "Cujo"

I'm probably not the only one who is scared of big, black dogs. Black Dog Syndrome is a disputed theory that black dogs are the last to get adopted at shelters because of superstition or a perception that they are aggressive. But my fear is irrational. When I met my wife, her parents had a Rottweiler as a family dog. It was probably one of the nicest dogs I've ever met. All dogs are special, with individual differences. Rottweiler has nevertheless gained a reputation, partly because it had military tasks for the German Army during both the first and second world war. Rottweiler is normally a balanced, peaceful and persevering dog, which often form strong ties to the family. A typical Rottweiler is fearless, stubborn, courageous, faithful and very patient. Usually an's best friend.

Jorn Lier Horst


  1. What a horrible experience, Jørn. I assume the dog that attacked you will be destroyed. Or perhaps the owner.

    I had an almost similar experience with two Dobermans running free through the woods near my home but luckily the owner came by on horseback and called them back just as they'd reached me. Frightening.

    And before all the letters start coming in, Barbara has a pit bull and I love him.

  2. Jorn, this is the stuff of nightmares. I too want to know what happened to the attack dog and more importantly, to his owner. Both my daughter and her son wave been bitten by dogs (though not so badly). In both instances, I had to argue and threaten even to find out the identity of the owner. I hope you are healing. Please come back and tell us about the new book! We need some good news from you.

  3. What a guy! Throws his body between his pet and deadly danger. This is the stuff heroes are made of. You should write a book... oh, wait.

    Hope you're healing and no long-term damage! And I echo, AmA, tell us about the new book! Will it be translated to English?

  4. Hi Jørn. Hope you are well on the mend after your experience! And your dog, also! I am reminded of something a dog trainer once told me: "There are no problem dogs, only problem owners." You have to wonder how true in this case.

    I love dogs, but whenever I went out on my bicycle I always seemed to end up being chased by errant dogs. Actually, the worst thing was not those running free, but those on retractable dog leads. When the wire part of the lead is fully extended it's very difficult to see and if the owner is wandering along one side of a cycle track, and dog is on the other, the lead become a tripwire for the unwary cyclist!

    Oh, and tip to dog owners. If by some mischance your dog does happen to gallop the full length of your garden, zip out of the open gate, leap up and bite a passing pedestrian, who's minding her own business with her hands in her pockets at the time, please DO NOT tell her, "My dog doesn't bite." Trust me, this doesn't help. At. All.

  5. My Norwegian is very tenuous on a good day, but I got the gist of the article in VG. It is unfortunate the owner is not capable of training or handling the dog, but I am glad it was not any worse. Glad you and Teodor will be okay. I am patiently waiting for more of your work to be translated to English. :)

  6. Thanks to you all for your concerns. The dog has got a second chance. It is chemically castrated in an attempt to curb anger and aggression. The owner is an experienced dog owner and has performed with responsibly.