The dog's owner, who has known Barney for several months, insisted on meeting us at the emergency veterinary clinic so his wound could be examined.
We couldn't figure out at the time what provoked the incident. In hindsight, I think I know what happened.
Barney routinely breaks up dog fights in the park by physically inserting himself between rival dogs. He never barks or growls, he just breaks away from me, trots up to the pups, and either separates them with his head or walks between them. The fight is over. End of story. I have seen him do this many times when Lara backs herself into a corner by playing too aggressively, and also with strange dogs. He's a peacemaker.
Yesterday a smaller dog was chewing on the golden retriever's ear in play. I think Barney thought a fight was about to erupt. He broke away from me and trotted up to the two pups. I suspect the retriever felt overwhelmed by the two dogs, especially with Barney being so large, and reacted in self defense.
The retriever's owner and I decided to keep the pups apart till next week when she is going to invite her dog trainer to meet us in the park and show us how to reintroduce them. They have been buddies since August, so we're hoping things can return to normal.
A vet tech first examined Barney and said he had a puncture inside his mouth and a laceration on the outside. Dr. Hugh Elliott then took a look and said it wasn't serious and sent Barney home with antibiotics. He wants to look at him again in a week.
In fact, two years ago Joey and I went to L.A. to be in the American Idol audience. Joey sang "Amazing Grace" acapella at a pre-show bash hosted by first-season finalists Justin Guarini and Kimberly Caldwell. When he finished the song, Kimberly pointed to her forearm and told Joey to look at her goosebumps. Justin added, "You could win this whole competition, man!"
You can get a glimpse of what they meant when you see Joey on this video below. He has some competition from Lucy who we were coaxing to do her "Psycho Bird" routine: