Author: Vickie Hearne
One of my favorite quotes.
There is no end to the topic of dog bites in the sense of an "epidemic" or other Things We Do Not Want in Society, largely because there is no dog-bite problem to speak of in this country. It is a nontopic and therefore endless.
There are real topics that entail an understanding of what happens when a dog's mouth opens and then closes with something human between the teeth, but they are not topics that can be introduced here. Dog bites are real - I am not saying they are not - and it really is important to diminish the chances of dog bites, but the sort of thing that would genuinely help is not the sort of thing that occurs to bureaucrats or humane societies. This is partly because the language in question is confusing. AIDS is caused by a virus that can enter the body in certain ways. Flus and colds are caused by airborne viruses. Rabies can be prevented by a vaccine. Dogs bites are caused by---
This is where the medical analogy leads us astray, because we expect a noun or noun phrase to appear after the preposition "by." But dog bites are a social phenomenon, a function of complex interactions, agreements, and disagreements between people and dogs. A dog bite may be a form of communication. It may also be a breakdown in communication.