Story type: Essay
A “Family Physician,” published in 1883, says, for the bite of a mad dog: “Take ash-colored ground liverwort, cleaned, dried, and powdered, half an ounce; of black pepper, powdered, a quarter of an ounce. Mix these well together, and divide the powder into four doses, one of which must be taken every morning, fasting, for four mornings successively in half an English pint of cow’s milk, warm. After these four doses are taken, the patient must go into the cold bath, or a cold spring or river, every morning, fasting, for a month. He must be dipped all over, but not stay in (with his head above water) longer than half a minute if the water is very cold. After this he must go in three times a week for a fortnight longer. He must be bled before he begins to take the medicine.”
It is very difficult to know just what is best to do when a person is bitten by a mad dog, but my own advice would be to kill the dog. After that feel of the leg where bitten, and ascertain how serious the injury has been. Then go home and put on another pair of pantaloons, throwing away those that have been lacerated. Parties having but one pair of pantaloons will have to sequester themselves or excite remarks. Then take a cold bath, as suggested above, but do not remain in the bath (with the head above water) more than half an hour. If the head is under water, you may remain in the bath until the funeral, if you think best.
When going into the bath it would be well to take something in your pocket to bite, in case the desire to bite something should overcome you. Some use a common shingle-nail for this purpose, while others prefer a personal friend. In any event, do not bite a total stranger on an empty stomach. It might make you ill.
Never catch a dog by the tail if he has hydrophobia. Although that end of the dog is considered the most safe, you never know when a mad dog may reverse himself.
If you meet a mad dog on the street, do not stop and try to quell him with a glance of the eye. Many have tried to do that, and it took several days to separate the two and tell which was mad dog and which was queller.
The real hydrophobia dog generally ignores kindness, and devotes himself mostly to the introduction of his justly celebrated virus. A good thing to do on observing the approach of a mad dog is to flee, and remain fled until he has disappeared.
Hunting mad dogs in a crowded street is great sport. A young man with a new revolver shooting at a mad dog is a fine sight. He may not kill the dog, but he might shoot into a covey of little children and possibly get one.
It would be a good plan to have a balloon inflated and tied in the back yard during the season in which mad dogs mature, and get into it on the approach of the infuriated animal (get into the balloon, I mean, not the dog).
This plan would not work well, however, in case a cyclone should come at the same time. When we consider all the uncertainties of life, and the danger from hydrophobia, cyclones and breach of promise, it seems sometimes as though the penitentiary was the only place where a man could be absolutely free from anxiety.
If you discover that your dog has hydrophobia, it is absolutely foolish to try to cure him of the disease. The best plan is to trade him off at once for anything you can get. Do not stop to haggle over the price, but close him right out below cost.
Do not tie a tin can to the tail of a mad dog. It only irritates him, and he might resent it before you get the can tied on. A friend of mine, who was a practical joker, once sought to tie a tin can to the tail of a mad dog on an empty stomach. His widow still points with pride to the marks of his teeth on the piano. If mad dogs would confine themselves exclusively to practical jokers, I would be glad to endow a home for indigent mad dogs out of my own private funds.