By Rebecca Drew
THIS WOMAN thought she was ‘GOING TO DIE’ when she was savagely attacked FOUR TIMES by her own PET DOG – after he almost ripped her entire NOSE AND LIPS OFF.
On January 14, 2020, Rebecca Oelker (24) who works in the military police, from Connecticut, USA, started her morning like any other; waking up early and going downstairs to let her blue heeler dogs, Maverick and Apollo go to the toilet.
However, that morning Rebecca noticed that Maverick was behaving differently and wasn’t listening to her like he normally did and when she tried to take hold of his collar to encourage him to sit, Maverick growled at her and started attacking her by biting her hands and arms.
Rebecca was knocked to the ground before Maverick proceeded to attack her face, almost biting her upper lip and nose off, coming back four times to attack her again. Rebecca feared she was going to die and rang her partner, Stuart, who was at work, for help.
With Stuart’s encouragement, Rebecca managed to find the strength to get upstairs to the safety of the bathroom, away from her dogs. Six minutes later, the paramedics arrived to take Rebecca to hospital, where she was admitted to surgery to reattach her lips and nose to her face with over 100 stitches.
Rebecca was in hospital for a week before being discharged and suffered severe swelling to her face, which she still has some now, as well as loss of sensation in her nose and upper lip. In addition to her facial injuries, Rebecca had to learn how to feed herself and hold a cup of tea again as her nerve damage to her arms and hands meant she couldn’t hold utensils to feed herself.
Maverick was put down and since her ordeal, Rebecca has spoken to other dog attack survivors who say they felt isolated after sustaining their injuries, so she is sharing her story to show that survival is possible.
“At around six-thirty in the morning, I was in the process of letting the dogs out to go to the bathroom. It was very routine, something we did together every morning. However, on this particular morning I was having trouble with one of the dogs, Maverick,” said Rebecca.
“He wasn’t listening to me like he should’ve been. When I tried to take his collar to encourage him to sit, he growled, snapped at me, and began to attack me. He bit my hands, arms, and managed to knock me over, which was when he managed to get at my face and rip my upper lip and most of my nose almost completely off.
“He came after me about three or four times, and I thought I was going to die. I managed to get on the phone to my partner, Stuart, who was at work at the time, and he told me to get upstairs, away from the dogs.
“I was in the tub when the paramedics arrived. I was admitted to surgery about two hours after they got me. Luckily, I had an amazing plastic surgeon, who was able to reattach everything. I was in the hospital for a week, with severe swelling to my face, and nerve damage to my hands and arms so bad that I couldn’t hold a cup or feed myself.
“I still have a decent amount of swelling on my face, and no feeling in my nose or upper lip. My surgeon thinks that will come back eventually, but only time will tell.
“It’s changed my perspective of life, of death, and of how quickly everything can change in a heartbeat. It’s rocked everyone’s world, but I don’t think there was ever a doubt in anyone’s mind (including my own) that I would pull through. I think it’s brought us [my family] all closer.
“It’s been a slow process, but I’ve tried to give myself peace and love and let myself take as much time as I need to get back to ‘normal’.
“All in all, I feel pretty good. I’ve connected with so many people who have been attacked, and it’s shown me a side of things I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise, so it’s not all bad.”
Incredibly, Rebecca is still a proud pet owner to her dog, Apollo, despite what she has been through.
Rebecca toyed with whether she should share her story on Instagram, but she refuses to be embarrassed by what she has been through and she is proud to be a survivor.
She hopes that through sharing her story she’ll bring light to others who have faced a similar ordeal.
“Sharing my story was my way of controlling the narrative, making sure I was the one who put the information out, and made everyone aware of my condition,” she said.
“It was freeing to do that, and empowering, and the support I’ve received has been overwhelming. I’ve not felt alone for even a moment throughout all of this.
“However, this is a part of my story now, and I feel a lot of pride in that, as crazy as it sounds. I won’t hide my face, act embarrassed, or pretend nothing happened. These scars represent the fact that I am a survivor.
“I met death and she said, ‘Not today’. So, my point is this; if you are alive, right now, reading this, there’s a reason. You were put here for a purpose and you’ll be here until it is fulfilled.
“But when your last moment on this planet comes, just know that there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. I know you might not believe me, but it’s the truth.
“I have so much to be thankful for. For my life, my will. For every person who has crossed my path in the last month and shown me kindness and compassion. For my surgeon and all those nurses.
“For Stuart, who literally spoon-fed me my meds for a week and dripped water into my mouth when the nerve damage kept me from being able to hold a cup. And for a dog who reminds me every day that most boys are good boys.
“I’ve been put on a road I wasn’t expecting, and I have no idea where it’s going to lead, but I am ready to embrace it and whatever it brings.
“I want people who have been victims of dog attacks, and who may feel alone, to know that they’re not alone. It’s an incredibly common thing, and it affects hundreds every year.
“I want people to know there is hope, and healing, and a community of others who understand exactly what it feels like to go through something like that. I hope I can convey even a portion of that throughout all of this.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/gypseysol