Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Man Bites Dog

Okay, so I'm a mailman. I enjoy it, I've got a lot of cool people on my route, including fellow blogger Mollie. But it is a government agency, meaning no one in power has any clue as to what they're doing. Case in point, today's adventures.

Roughly once a year, this private company, whose name I won't mention to avoid completely embarrassing them, is hired by the Post Office to give the carriers a training talk/demonstration on how to avoid dog bites. A team of about a half-dozen people and 3 dogs come in their Winnebago. The dogs are trained to attack for demonstration purposes (the fact that they're wearing electric shock collars doesn't help either). The main trainers/speakers spend plenty of time throughout the demo telling us that dogs in general, while somewhat predictable, can never really be trusted, because this could be the time that the dog goes from barking only to maybe this time finally biting. Except, of course, for their dogs, who are completely under their control, and only bite when they're told to (they were very insistent about this point, being sure to repeat it several times over the course of the demo).

So they asked for 3 volunteers amongst the 100 or so carriers in my office (I work out of the largest office in Henderson). The 3 volunteers were brought into the Winnebago to, one at a time, put on the protective dog bite suit. It's the kinda big, puffy, multi-layered thing that makes the person wearing it look like Ralphie's little brother Randy in his snowsuit in A Christmas Story, except they're also wearing a full cage helmet like college hockey players wear. The sort of thing you'd love to be wearing in the middle of the desert in late summer.

The first victim...sorry, vlounteer, has a German Shepherd released from about 10 yards away. It comes bearing down on him, makes a flying leap, and bites the suit as it's supposed to. Pretty scary if you're in the suit, I imagine. I say "I imagine" because I'm not one of the volunteers. I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid...

Now we move on to the next person. We have a similar attack, except he was told to stand with his arm extended. A different dog again covers the same 10 yard distance in the blink of an eye, and built up enough speed and momentum to actually knock this carrier over. There was a trainer-guy standing behind the suited-up carrier, and he did his best to keep him from completely falling over upon being mauled. So as he helps the carrier back to his feet, the main trainer comes over, puts a doggie toy in front of the dog to attract its attention, and starts to walk him back towards the Winnebago, showing and telling us that this is really a friendly dog, and again, will only attack and bite when told to...

...or when the dog can get a look at, or smell, exposed fingers. You see, the suit has long sleeves on it, long enough that you can retract your hands within the sleeves. But as the dog was being walked around the carrier on its way back, it turned its head away from the doggie toy and started to look at the sleeve. And then he stuck his snout into the sleeve. And then he bit down on what he was able to get a hold of in the sleeve, which turned out to be the carrier's hand. He was quickly yanked away, so no one was quite sure if anything had happened. And then this dog was given 2 more runs at this same carrier in the suit. Now the carrier is brought over to the Winnebago to remove the suit while the trainers continue talking to us. It's only when the sleeves were removed, and the carrier's right hand was exposed, completely covered in blood, that anyone realized just how serious this was.

After a couple minutes, with frantic Postal managers running around getting paper towels and things, the third volunteer to be brought before the firing squad emerges from the Winnebago, all suited up for his impending demise ("I regret that I have but one life to give for my Post Office..."). But I noticed something interesting, in that this time, the carrier was wearing what looked like boxing glove mittens that completely covered his hands, which I thought was odd, seeing as how neither of the first 2 volunteers had these on when they were presented as raw meat for the dogs. I asked the bite victim about this later, and he told me that the trainer guy who dressed him for the slaughter was fairly new, and had forgotten to put the gloves on him. Can you say, "lawsuit"?

So what have we learned at todays' dog bite class, children? Well, we learned how to get bit by dogs and have blood drawn, that the Post Office only works with the best, and that you should never trust anyone, no matter how many legs they stand on.

Blog Post Soundtrack; Brant Bjork, P.J. Harvey, The Police, Anthrax, Megadeth, S.O.D., Infectious Grooves (covering David Bowie), Jimi Hendrix, Rollins Band, Clutch, Blondie, The New York Dolls, The White Stripes, The Misfits, Louis Jordan, The Bakerton Group

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