When 46-year-old Barry Harris of Essex, England, went through a rough break-up in May, he thought a canine companion would help bring some light back into his life. After seeing an ad on Facebook for a striking Akita available in London, Harris rustled up the £1,500 (around $2,000) asking price and brought “Ted” home.
What he didn’t know was that he had only seven weeks before heartbreak would turn into heart failure, and all because of Ted.
After having the dog for less than two months, Harris tried to remove a bone from Ted’s teeth and the dog bit him, according to the Daily Mail. Apparently, the dog was generally referred to as a “big softie,” according to The Independent, but was known to have food aggression issues.
Over the next three days, Harris developed many concerning symptoms, including headaches and cold sweats, signs that a violent infection was tearing through his body. Eventually, his heart failed and he passed away.
At first, no one really seemed to know why Harris had died. When Harris’ brother-in-law, 62-year-old Mark Day, took Ted in at the request of his wife Pauline (Harris’ sister), he certainly didn’t know it was Ted who had caused his brother’s passing — but he would find out the hard way.
It was on the day of Harris’ funeral that Day was walking Ted and was bitten, however inadvertently. He said that Ted had been on his best behavior, so he went to praise him, and the dog mouthed him rather roughly.
“Ted had been really good so I gave him a treat and was telling him he’s a good boy,” Day recalled, according to Yahoo News. “He had his head back loving the attention and then he just opened his mouth and put it around my hand.
“Ted didn’t even bite me. He just broke the skin on both sides. By Sunday, I remember laying in bed with uncontrollable shivers. Pauline took my temperature and it was 39C [102.2 Fahrenheit]. The next thing she was on the phone trying to get an ambulance. I just thought it was the flu. I never thought for a minute it was linked to Ted. It’s just mind-numbing.”
Day ended up experiencing a variety of life-threatening conditions after Ted roughed him up. He went into cardiac arrest. He had multiple organ failure. He had to be resuscitated twice and was eventually placed in a coma for 10 days.
He had to have both legs and most of his fingers amputated, and spent a total of 82 days at Colchester Hospital after arriving on Aug. 22.
The grandfather was in such distress from his condition that he was actually happy to see his legs go.
“I knew they’d need to amputate my legs the first time I was there looking at them,” he said, according to Yahoo News. “It was like a hideous nightmare. My feet were black almost a third of the way up. All I was thinking was that it’s like laying in a coffin looking at your dead body.
“I was so pleased when they said my legs were coming off. I thought, ‘Get them off and move on.'”
And all because, through no fault of his own, Ted was harboring a dirty little secret: Capnocytophaga canimorsus — a bacteria that can live in dog and cat mouths without harming them, but can cause sepsis in humans who have close contact with them, according to the CDC.
After speaking with medical professionals, the difficult decision was made to euthanize Ted.
“It meant a lot to Pauline to keep him,” Day said of the initial decision to take Ted in. “It was the last little bit of Barry. I decided to take him because it meant so much to Pauline.
“We didn’t have a clue that Barry died because Ted bit him. We never gave it a thought. I don’t blame Ted. It’s just one of those things, isn’t it. It’s a sad old situation.”
Though he’s missing some digits and limbs, Day hasn’t let the ordeal get him too down. He still plans to go out with his family and keep up his hobbies — he even plans on getting another dog, though he wants to ensure it’s from a reputable source and fully vetted this time.
“I’m fairly pragmatic about most things,” he said. “It is what it is. I could lay in a corner and turn into a puddle but that’s not going to happen. There are things I want to do still. I want to take my granddaughter for a walk, and I’ve definitely got to go fishing.
“I’m going to get a puppy. It’s probably going to be a cocker spaniel. The bite won’t make a difference to me. I’ve got no fear of seeing a dog.”
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