By Martin Ruffell
A MAN who had half of his nose ripped off by his dog in a fluke attack describes the devastation he felt at having to put his best friend down – after hearing that the erratic behaviour may have been caused by a cancerous tumour.
Artist Manuel Morales (33) from Washington, USA, rescued a husky and pitbull cross as a puppy in 2016 which he decided to name Arghh due to his love of pirates.
Over the next four years, Arghh became Manuel’s best friend and Arghh would even pull him through the streets on his longboard.
On December 1, 2020, after returning from his daily walk around the local park with Arghh, Manuel went to fetch a cup of coffee. Making his way from the kitchen to his bedroom, Manuel spotted Arghh sitting at the top of the staircase wagging his tail.
As Manuel went to give Arghh a scratch on the chin, the pooch lunged at his face without warning, sinking his sharp teeth into Manuel’s nose. With his jaws clamped tight, Manuel wrestled to break free of Arghh’s grasp as blood poured from his face onto the carpet.
Using his right hand to stop the vicious attack, Arghh then latched onto his fingers, almost ripping through Manuel’s thumb in the process. Manuel was finally able to separate himself from his dog who quickly cowered on the floor whimpering, knowing that he had done something very wrong.
Manuel was losing blood at an alarming rate and knew he had to get to the hospital quickly. So great was the emergency that Manuel’s roommate, who hadn’t driven in 10 years and didn’t even have a license, navigated the busy streets of Seattle in order to reach the hospital.
With a huge chunk missing from Manuel’s nose and a mangled hand, he was immediately rushed to the trauma ward on his arrival, but doctors soon realised that he would need to be sent by ambulance to the nearby Harborview Medical Centre, which would be better suited to deal with such an extreme injury.
Hysterical and in an enormous amount of pain, Manuel was given an IV drip of painkillers and surgeons attempted to sew up the gushing open wound in a procedure that lasted no more than 15 minutes.
Whilst Manuel’s roommate had managed to find the remainder of his nose in a pool of blood on the carpet, the bite marks had made the tear too jagged for the nose to be successfully reattached.
During his week-long stay in hospital, Manuel had visits from security personnel who told him that he would either have to surrender Arghh to them or have him euthanized himself. Manuel decided on the latter and after taking Arghh for one last road trip to the coast, he took him to the vet to be put to sleep.
After losing his best friend and most of his nose, Manuel fell into a deep depression and drove to the Washington coast whilst drunk with the intention of driving his car off a cliff and into the sea.
Fortunately, Manuel’s car got stuck in the mud, giving him time to realise that taking his life wasn’t going to solve anything or help those who cared for him.
Luckily, Manuel’s close friends have rallied around him in his time of need to provide him with the emotional support he needs. However, Manuel misses Arghh desperately and even has dreams that his dog is sleeping at the end of his bed.
“Arghh was rescued from my partner’s sister’s landlord who discovered that residents where she lived were breeding their husky and pitbull,” said Manuel.
“There were seven pups stuffed inside a cage and they had never been let out, so were covered in urine and feces. It certainly was a sad start to his life.
“After becoming part of our family, he went everywhere with me. He would pull me on my longboard through the streets of Portland, and run with me through the neighborhood in Richmond where we were living for a few months before moving to Seattle.
“He was very smart and took to his training like a champ and was potty trained within the first three months of having him.
“He knew a plethora of tricks including sit, stand, roll over, speak, lay down and shake.
“The day of December 1, 2020, came around, like most days I took Arghh for a walk to the park.
“We went home and I fixed myself a cup of coffee and then made my way up the stairs to my room. He was sitting on the landing at the top of the stairs, wagging his tail with a big smile on his face.
“I made it up to face level with him and reached out to give him his favorite chin scratch.
“Without any warning of any kind, he latched onto my face, taking a chunk of my nose with him.
“I used my right arm to stop him from getting a hold of my face again, but he latched a hold of my hand ripping and shaking aggressively.
“My roommate was in the bathroom and heard me yelling for him. He was met with a bloody mess at the top of the stairs.
“Right away Arghh started to whimper knowing he did something wrong and cowered on the ground.
“My roommate Endymion had to drive me to the hospital. He hadn’t driven in nearly a decade and didn’t have a license, but we couldn’t wait for an ambulance.
“Blood was pouring from my face at an alarming rate. The towel Endymion had given me was completely saturated with blood by the time we made it there.
“I was becoming light headed from blood loss and was completely in shock at what had happened.
“After a short analysis of my injury, they called for an ambulance to take me to the Harborview Medical Center, which was better suited to handle this level of trauma.
“Endymion went home and cleaned up the bloody mess from the carpet and found, much to his disgust and surprise, the detached chunk of my nose.
“Hoping the severed tissue could be reattached, he promptly returned to the hospital but the doctors informed me it was too jagged of a tear to have it reattached.
“I was given some pain killers and hooked up to an IV drip. After a few hours, they finally numbed me up and did their best to sew me up.
“I had to wait a week for the wound to start healing, so they could approach the reconstruction with better results.
“While I was in the hospital, I was met by a member of security personnel.
“They told me that they will have to file a report requiring me to either surrender my dog to them or euthanise him myself.
“They gave me until the end of the month to make my decision but left me with no paperwork which just added another layer of stress and devastation.
“My face was never going to be the same and I had no choice but to put my best friend to sleep, with no chance of rehoming, training or anything.
“For that month it was so hard for me to be around him in fear that he might attack me again.
“I felt defeated thinking that it was my parenting that caused him to lash out.”
In a desperate search to discover the possible reason for Arghh’s uncharacteristic attack, Manuel consulted a friend of his who works as a vet. Tests showed that Arghh was suffering from cancer which, according to the vet, could have been a catalyst for the Arghh’s actions.
Despite not changing what happened, nor Arghh’s fate, it does provide Manuel with some comfort.
“A friend of mine who worked at a veterinary practice offered to do some blood tests and a scan on Arghh to see if any underlying health conditions could have caused the change in his temperament,” Manuel said.
“The results showed that he did in fact have multiple small brain tumours which could have led to the sudden and unexpected attack.
“Before taking him to the vet, we went for a road trip to the coast for one last hike before having him euthanized.
“I wanted to pack up the car and run away with him but my roommate reassured me that it wouldn’t solve anything.
“His behavior would have most likely gotten worse and more unpredictable due to his cancer.
“After my first procedure and then having to spend Christmas without him, I went into the deepest depression I have ever experienced.
“I got so upset that I drove all the way to the Washington coast, black out drunk, and tried to drive my car off a cliff into the ocean.
“I got stuck in the mud and left the car running half hoping I wouldn’t wake up.
“I slowly made my way back to Seattle, realising that ending my life wasn’t going to solve anything and would only cause the people I care about more pain.
“I hopefully have only one more procedure before my nose is fully reconstructed and reshaped.
“I have a hard time seeing photos of Arghh and I often see him in my dreams and think he is at the end of my bed.”
Despite the numerous physical and mental challenges that Manuel still faces, the love and generosity he has received from his close friends and strangers online has given him hope that the next 12 months will be much more positive than the last.
With nose reconstruction planned for later in 2021 and a GoFundMe page set up by his friend Rachel Goland, Manuel’s circumstances are finally looking up.
“The entire experience has tested me and now ultimately helped me appreciate my life,” Manuel said.
“I don’t think Arghh is ever going to be gone, he has just moved to the non-physical realm.
“The love and happiness we have felt from him is still with me.
“The amount of support I have received from complete strangers has been life changing.
“I had no idea there were that many people out there wanting to help.
“I’m amazed at how many individuals have gone out of their way to send me supporting messages and even donate to the GoFundMe account Rachel set up.
“This has helped me realise that I am only as strong as I let myself be and I can only make it through the challenges of life one day at a time.
“There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
“Right now it might seem impossible, but when you survive it, you’ll be able to look back and be stronger from it.”