Friday, November 25, 2011

And Then There Was One

I knew this day was coming. I've been dreading it for months.

The dog finally got the boy.

It wasn't anyone's fault, really. He was running through the house, as three year olds seem to like to do, and he tripped. This happens quite often. The problem was that this time he landed too close to where the dog was sitting. Since she's pretty much made it known that she is not a fan of him, it's not a big surprise that she didn't appreciate this, and she bit him.

On the face.

If that dog had hit him half an inch higher, or if she were a younger dog with better teeth, I'd probably be typing this after having spent an evening in the emergency room. Fortunately, all he was left with was a blood-blister looking mark under his eye, and a bit of bruising around it. It looks worse in real life than it does in the photo.

I told myself that if the dog bit him, she would be gone. I told myself that there was no room in my house for a dog that bit my child. Then the dog bit him, but I ignored it because it didn't break the skin. It was just a nip, really. He seemed more annoyed by it than anything.

Then she bit him again. Then there was a third time.

Still, I let it slide. She was just nipping him, just giving him a warning. I told myself that if she really hurt him, and left a mark, THAT was the proverbial line in the sand.

And she crossed it.

Tonight I had to take that dog, that dog that was my baby before my baby was my baby, and surrender her to animal control. She got a big red stamp on her paperwork that said BITE DOG. She was led away on a cheap red leash by a volunteer who informed me that BITE DOGS were not put up for adoption to the general public, and I cried.

I failed that dog.

My husband told me that I shouldn't feel bad. The boy is more important than the dog. I rescued that dog from being sent to the pound seven years ago, so she had received seven years of love in our home. I tried to find her a home. I asked everyone I knew if they wanted a dog, or if they knew someone who wanted a dog. I blogged about her. I tweeted. I posted on Facebook. I tried Craigslist. I tried Petfinder. I thought I had found her a home on three different occasions, but each time, it fell through.

I tried, but how do you explain to a dog that you tried?

Tonight, my heart is heavy. I feel so guilty, but I know I did the right thing. The next time, the boy might not have been so lucky. She wasn't going to get better either, not with another child in the house. What if she were to bite the newborn? She's been snappish and territorial since we brought Bubba home from the hospital, so it's been a long time coming.

I just want to smack everyone who self righteously told me I needed to call the Dog Whisperer. Yeah, let me dial up Cesar; I'm sure he has nothing better to do than to come help me with my dog problem. I don't need to pay my other bills; coming up with money for a personal dog trainer is more important, right? To the people who felt the boy was the one who had to be dealt with; always people with no children who chose to ignore the fact that you just don't choose a dog over your child. The people who acted like I was treating my dog as a disposable plaything, who don't realize how much that dog meant to me, and how hard it has been knowing that I had to let her go.

And now to realize that not only did I have to let her go, but I had her sentenced to death. To them I say, don't judge me; you have not walked in my shoes. You don't have to deal with the guilt from this. You didn't have to choose one life over the safety of another.

And I hope you never do.



Blogger Becky said...

I'm so sorry you had to do that, but you did the right thing. With another baby on the way, the poor dog was only going to get worse and more stressed. And now you know your children will be safe in the house. It's so hard to lose a member of the family. wishing you healing.

4:28 AM  
Blogger Kristina @ A Home Made by Kiki said...

I completely understand your situation. We had our 2 dogs before we had our first baby. We always said that if either of them showed any kind of aggression towards our daughter, it would be gone immediately. This was mainly because we had seen our nephew severely bit by a dog (stitches and staples on his head)...and they still kept their dog (and this wasn't the first time that the dog had bit him).
One day our daughter was just crawling, and cornered one of the dogs between the ottoman and the couch. He growled at her and that was that. He was at the SPCA the next day. We felt horrible. We both cried as we dropped him off. They did some behavioral testing and said he "wasn't good with children." I thought there was no hope for his adoption, but I kept checking his status online. One day, his profile was no longer listed online...I called...he had been adopted.
We still both think that he probably wouldn't have ever bit least not more than a little nip, but we don't regret our decision. As hard as it was, our daughter is more important to us than the dog.
Don't let people tell you what to do or criticize what you is your decision and your life! Other people haven't been in the same situation and shouldn't be able to provide advice on the matter!

6:18 AM  
Blogger Rodi said...

Such a hard issue to deal with as our pets become part of our families. No one should have to make that choice but that doesn't mean you don't have to make it when presented with the situation. The dog was doing what it naturally does but that doesn't change the danger to your children. So sorry you are going through that.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Maggi said...

I'm so sorry, Sara. That couldn't have been an easy decision.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Sincerely Sara Cate said...

I'm so sorry about your little one and the pup. We have a cat that can be tempermental, and we feel like when we start a family in a few years, we'll have to make the same kind of decisions. I'm sure your heart is a little torn, but will mend with time.

4:00 PM  
Blogger GAMZu said...

You are very brave.
We have two cats. One of them is a scratcher/biter, and he does punish my older kids (5 & 7) when they annoy him. He never bit my daughter (age 3. We have that cat since she was 1.)
It seems the cat understands that she is a baby and puts up with more abuse from her (I mean hugging, picking up, petting.)

3:12 PM  

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