Monday, September 15, 2014

The Fear of Rabies: 100 Years Ago & 1 Year Ago

I have been having a lot of success lately with, my favorite site for newspaper research. Their search engine seems to work better than than the other sites, or at least I've figured it out better! Or maybe they just have more newspapers that are relevant to my family!

Ben Payton & family take serum after attack by a mad dog
Ben Payton and family, Haskell NewsHaskell, Oklahoma, 04 Oct 1917, page 5, column 3;
digital image accessed 14 Sep 2014)
This weekend, I decided to research some of my husband's family members and I came across the above article about one of his ancestors, Ben Payton. It looks like the family was attacked by a mad dog and they were taking a serum to combat against rabies.

Mad Cat Wounds Three, Haskell NewsHaskell, Oklahoma, 13 Sep 1917, page 1, column 6;
digital image accessed 14 Sep 2014)

After a little more research, I was able to uncover an article about the actual attack. The father, Ben, and two children, Audrey aged three and Frank aged seven, had actually been attacked by a mad cat, not a mad dog! But, their dog had also been infected.

Last summer, I had a rabies scare, too. I was running in my neighborhood when two dogs came from behind me and the larger dog, a female pit bull, started jumping on me. The jumps were painful, but with the third jump she also bit me. I ran up to a house, and both dogs stood staring at me. At the time, I didn't understand it, but I've been told that I was no longer a target for them because I stopped running.

(Remember, you can't outrun a dog and it will be more likely to see you as a target if you are running! You are better off walking slowly away while keeping your eye on the dog. Do not make eye contact. Do not smile and show your teeth.)

The back of my upper leg the evening of the attack.
This is the bite mark and you can see the bruising from each tooth. 
The areas where she jumped on me with her nails bruised about the same amount.
The biggest light area on the bottom has a red spot - this was the only puncture wound
but it was enough that I could have gotten rabies is she had rabies.
The possibility that these two dogs had rabies is very low. They weren't exhibiting any symptoms and they had a reason to attack me... I was running. But, they didn't find the dogs and I ended up having to go through the rabies shots. I've heard the shots used to be incredibly painful, but now they are almost like normal shots.

(For more information on what to do if an aggressive dog threatens you, check out this CBS News link.)

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or write me at

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