Blood on my Boots

Risk and adventure go hand in hand and there are always dangers on the trails.

‘Dogs here can be agressive,’ Munthir briefed me as we sat under an oak tree drinking freshly brewed tea. ‘If they come close then you have to take a stone and threaten to throw it. If they come really close then throw it to the side of them.’ We finished off the tea and carried on.

The sun sets really early in Jordan so dusk was approaching, even though it was only half past three, as we started up the last ascent before our first camp in the Eco Park. We’d done 25km and had just one more to go and I was feeling good.

Up ahead of us, a small pack of shepherd dogs started barking threateningly and moving towards us. Two were chained and three were free. Munthir was ahead of me and started throwing stones to the side of them to ward them off. Then, their owner came out of his house and up to us and they quietened. 

Suddenly, I screamed involuntarily. An agonising pain shot through my right calf. I looked down and blood was gushing down over my boots, dyeing them red. The black dog that had been ahead had circled silently behind, bitten me savagely and run off.

Warning: photos below show close ups of the bite.

Fortunately, both Munthir and I are calm in a crisis. I sat down, we rolled my trouser leg up and looked at the wound. My journalistic instincts kicked in and I took pictures. Munthir knew exactly what to do. He rinsed the wound, disinfected it and bandaged it in gauze. It was bleeding heavily and lumps of fat and meat from inside my leg had dropped out onto the ground but, oddly, I felt no pain.

We were really close to a road at that point and the farmer piled us into his ancient truck with two other men and we set off for the nearest hospital. That drive probably posed an even more severe threat than the bite – we ignored all red lights and stop signs and just drove.

At the hospital, it all became a communal affair. At one point I counted eight people in the room with me. Because, rabies exists in Jordan, the protocol is clear and the nurse readied the first 4 rabies jabs and a tetanus. My weight was proclaimed to all and at one point I was pretty sure that everyone was going to watch as I got three jabs in my bottom – but fortunately the room was cleared.

The care was fantastic and, thanks to the public hospital system and WHO, who provide the rabies vaccines, free. Then, I had to provide a police report. Munthir had all our documents ready with permissions for me to do the trail from the Ministry of the Interior and letters from the Ministry of Tourism which made life so much easier. I was asked if I wanted to file a complaint but I said no. Actually, now I am going to because we just heard that the same dog bit another hiker yesterday. Apparently, that black dog is well known.

After all was done, we went back to Farraj’s house. Farraj is a fellow guide, who’d given us a tour of the Roman ruins of Umm Qais, and he couldn’t have been more kind. His  family cooked us a huge meal, which I thought I didn’t want but actually was so delicious that I ate heartily. Afterwards two doctors came to the house to have another look at the bite and bandage it up for the night. My drama high had worn off by this point and I wasn’t feeling perky. Farraj held my hand and patted my back as they prodded and poked, ‘Thanks be to God for a safe delivery,’ he repeated.

The upshot of all this is that now I am back in Amman. The doctors’ advice is to wait for a week, keep the wound clean and open and then see if I can continue. I am very optimistic that I can.

Being bitten by a ferocious dog is not the way I wanted to start this adventure but it has taught me a lot. There are some real lessons and affirmations for me.

The first is how important your adventure companions and back up are. Munthir, Fouad and Treks have been truly brilliant. If I had been on my own, I think the outcome of this attack would have been infinitely more serious. Not only that but I have had companionship and support at every stage, and lots of teasing which makes everything easier. ‘Your face might not be famous in Jordan yet – but your leg really is,’ from the lads.

Secondly, take out insurance. I had no idea when Battleface came in as a sponsor that I would also be calling on them to help me in a crisis. This accident happened on the very first day of my adventure and to be honest I am not sure I could have avoided it. I didn’t do anything stupid or reckless, I just hit on one of the genuine dangers of the trails. Battleface was on the phone within minutes of me telling them what had happened and has been following up daily, including with detailed medical advice.

Lastly, once again it has been proved to me how kind people are. I have had excellent treatment in Jordan and I feel very secure in the care and advice I have been given. This is a great country. Not only that, everyone has taken time to reassure me and to wish me well. Also, my sponsors have been really understanding and supportive.

So, wish me luck. I am currently being looked after by the Fraiture family in Amman who have opened their home to me and my (still) unpleasantly bleeding leg. I’m going to review the situation on Saturday with Treks but we are hoping to set off before dawn on Sunday morning. I really wanted to walk the Jordan Trail before this happened. Now, I’m totally set on it.

You can hear more on the podcast – new one every Thursday – and see pictures (I hope they’ll be less gruesome) on Instagram.

For less bloody stories, do check out my books.

71 comments on “Blood on my Boots

  1. Rochelle on

    Loved reading this Alice!

    I have no doubt you will be on that trail soon enough. I’ll be reading to find out. 🙂

    Take care of yourselves 🙂

  2. Jcqui on

    oh my Alice!
    I’m glad you have been blessed and so well looked after by your crew X x x X speedy recovery love being send in abundance

  3. Linda on

    Oh my goodness Alice , glad that you are now safe and well and have great support around you, and thank goodness for travel insurance. Will be thinking of you and wishing you a safe and speedy recovery.

  4. Deirdre Johnson on

    Gods speed for a quick recovery and thankful for the kindness of people. Sending you love and safety for you and your guides.

  5. Helen McBain on

    Oh Alice I’ve been so excited for you to start this trail what an awful beginning. I really hope that dog gets put down and your wound heals properly so you can continue. X

  6. Liz Ward on

    Bless you Alice, I hope you heal rapidly……scary stuff but so glad you’re intending to crack on with your journey… continue to inspire me hugely.

  7. de Bastier Barbara on

    Oh poor darling…have had the same experience, but closer to home… wishing you well…new facets to your trails…and hopefully the mean one will be taken care of !!!! biggest hugs, Barbara

  8. Kathy Wsudby on

    So sorry this happened. You know I am a dog lover and at first felt a little defensive when you mentioned throwing stones. I was bitten by a dog in HK when I was a child and remember the rabies injections very clearly, with horror. So I have completely set aside my natural instinct to defend dogs and hope that bad dog is restrained and muzzled from now on.
    Wishing you a very rapid recovery. Love Kathy ❤

  9. Helen McPherson on

    Dear Alice, I wish you a speedy recovery and hope you will be back on the trail soonest. A good lesson for me too – Max and I encountered two very unfriendly strays this morning. Stones sufficed but one can never be too careful. Sending love. xx

  10. Christine on

    OMG Alice, that looks very nasty. Do give yourself enough recovery time before you go ‍♀️ on with the trek. Thank God for the efficiency and hospitality of the Jordanians.
    Take care

  11. David Rogerson on

    Hi Alice. Wishing you a speedy recovery Alice. I know you’re resilient and you’ll soon be on your way. Rest up and take it easy until your leg heals. Warm regards Kathryn

  12. Sylvia on

    Wow Alice, that is a sore one.
    Really glad you have top care. I hope it heals well and you can get going again.
    Remember, better to wait a few extra days if it needs more time to heal.
    Wishing you a healthy, friendly, injury free journey x

  13. Elaine on

    Goodness Alice, that’s one bad bite. The dog definitely needs restraint at the very least especially having bitten before.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery and hopefully a fresh start soon.

  14. Vinny on

    What a shocker Alice! That is one hell of a wound.
    Such a blessing to have such wonderful support to ease you through this. I do hope the healing is rapid, and that you manage to get back to your adventure soon. Love from us all here ❤️

  15. Iona on

    Sending you all the best wishes Alice! Hopefully you’ll heal quickly and be back on the Trail in no time. Really interesting to read what happened and how it was dealt with 🙂 sounds like have an amazing team!

  16. Tony Howard on

    Gosh, so sorry about that, Alice. And sorry we forgot to mention dogs, both shepherd’s dogs and, further south, Bedouin dogs. Stones and sticks are, as Munther said, normally sufficient. A terrible thing to happen especially on your first day on the trail. Heal well, take care and our best wishes, Tony & Di.

  17. Rachel Morrison on

    Thank god that you are ok Alice… Georgie had already sent me the video which was fairly traumatic to look at let alone be the one it had happened too. I hope the pain hasn’t kicked in too badly. Sending our love xx

  18. Tara Fraiture on

    Alice, we are thoroughly enjoying having you despite the awful situation! You are most welcome anytime in our home (as long as you don’t mind being a stand-in “judge” in preparation for Remi’s audition, which you have done with shining stars already! xoxo

  19. Louisa on

    So sorry what a horrid thing to happen. I wonder if you taught your friends some choice new Scottish words!! Wishing you a speedy recovery and a successful onward journey.

  20. Liz Ward on

    I broke my arm very badly in Jordan (not on the trek to Petra but partying in the hotel afterwards!!!) and had excellent care! xxx

  21. Anne T on

    A truly horrendous start to the adventure. You describe it so well and I am sure it will turn up in a book sometime which I look forward to reading .
    I am so glad you are well looked after. That dog sounds viscous.

  22. Nick on

    You almost lost me at ‘lumps of fat and meat from inside my wound dropped onto the ground’ but glad I read on! Great show of bulldog spirit (forgive the turn of phrase 😉 all the best for a speedy recovery and the rest of your adventure!

  23. Barbara on

    Oh dear! What an awful thing to happen to you – and right at the start too. I follow your adventures on your podcast and will be listening to this week’s with interest. You are so brave! I think that something needs to be done about that dog. I hope your wound will heal well and you’ll be able to finally do the trail. Good luck and keep safe.

  24. Heather ONeill on

    OMG Alice. So relieved to hear you are now with Tara and family. Rest up and back at it. You’ve got this.
    xo Heather

  25. Mary Mimouna on

    Alice, I’m so sorry this has happened to you, and hope your leg will recover all right. I’m so glad you were able to receive decent medical care. Such a wonderful article you wrote about it all. It sounds like the man is not in control of that dog.

  26. John Kitching on

    Ouch that looks disgusting! Hope you recover well, and the dog is reported and dealt with. Have a good trip, get going when you’re ready, not before!

  27. Phil M on

    Hi Alice,
    Ouch! I hope you make a speedy recovery and can get back on the trail soon. I won’t be sharing the article with my 7 yr old – he thinks every dog is after him!


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