Thursday, December 2, 2010

Knowing When to Say Goodbye.

(It's Never the Dog's Fault. It's the Owner's, Even if That Owner is You.)

No, this is not going to be post on how to know when you have over stayed your welcome as guest.  It isn’t even a post on how to give a guest tactful hints that they should leave and let your baby go to bed.  Any of you who know me, know that I am not tactful, so advice from me at being tactful would be useless to you anyway.  No this posting is not about anything like that.  Sorry.  Today’s post is about knowing when it is time to say good bye to a cherished furry family member, a pet.  My dog bit my son yesterday.

It was my fault from the get go.  I am relatively dog savvy, but I didn’t see it coming like I should have.  Like many parents that have pets, I grew to trust the beloved furry member of the family when I knew not to.  Dogs and young children are just a recipe for disaster and heart break if you let your guard down.  They need to be closely supervised and I got lax.  I am not one to blame a dog when something goes wrong.  I constantly am saying that it is never the dog’s fault.  It is the owner’s fault.  I firmly believe that this is true, even when it is my dog.  To me, blaming a dog for misbehaving is akin to blaming a nine month old for making a mess.  It just doesn’t make sense.  They both need supervision and guidance, and as a parent and a dog owner I cannot afford to be lackadaisical.  There is just too much at stake for me to make stupid mistakes like the one I made yesterday.  Unfortunately, my beautiful baby had to pay for my mistake and so did my dog.

Yesterday started off great.  My son and I were playing on the floor like usual and having a great time playing tag.  I had the barrier up so my dogs couldn’t come into our play area and thought that everything was fine.  After an hour or so of playing I noticed that the littlest dog, Moosewood, managed to squirm his way under the barrier. “No big deal” I thought.  I will socialize him with the little man.  It will be fun right? Apparently not.   You see my son, who loves animals as much as I do, spotted the fluffy Pekingese fix and decided to head over for him.  Instead of stopping him, I decided to push myself up and follow him over.  That was my mistake.  Had I stopped him right there the bite never would have happened, and I would still have three dogs now instead of two.  But no, I had to let the little one crawl towards the dog.  Anyway, by the time I had gotten to my feet the dog had already met my son in the middle of the room and latched onto his face.  I was horrified and my poor baby boy was screaming.  I couldn’t get to him fast enough.  I was almost panic-stricken.  Then my much larger, much older hound mix, Zane, who witnessed the event decided to jump the barrier with the elimination of Moosewood on his mind.  The situation just escalated.

As I scrambled to my crying son all hell was breaking out.  Zane was silently trying to kill Moosewood, and Moosewood was screaming frantically trying to escape Zane.  By the time I had finally reached my baby, which may have taken all of a second or two, Zane had already tossed and subsequently re-attached himself to Moosewood.  I let it happen because I needed to get my baby out of harm’s way before I could stop the mayhem.  I did a brief check on my son to make sure he wasn’t hurt too badly.  I placed him in the pack and play and then I went after the two fighting dogs.  I say two fighting dogs, but it was more like one dog systematically trying to destroy the other while the other was trying desperately to escape the much larger and faster dog.  It was really terrifying to watch, but it ended the instant I called Zane off.  It’s not like I called him off.  All I said was, “Zane sit!”  He did so instantaneously.  I am not sure what I would have done had he not.  Yes I do.  I expect complete obedience from my dogs when I want it.  If he hadn’t sat when I told him I would have taken Moosewood out of his mouth and pushed his butt to the floor and told him to stay.  But, because Zane knows that one way or another he is going to be sitting he did it right away.  Truthfully, there was a part of me that wanted Zane to succeed in destroying Moosewood because that little shit hurt my baby.  But, I can’t stomach seeing animals in pain, and I will not be party to it.  I’d never be able to look in the mirror again for shame.  Anyway, after Zane sat and dropped Moosewood I quickly rushed the dogs to their crates and did a quick check on Zane to make sure he was alright.  In my book, Moosewood didn’t warrant that kind of courtesy even though I knew it was my fault the whole thing happened in the first place.  You just don’t let an infant crawl towards a dog.  What was I thinking?  Anyhow,  I was pissed and right then didn’t really care about Moosewood’s possible injuries.  Then I sprinted back to my son and did a thorough check on the damages. 

He had a puncture wound in his mouth that was bleeding, other than that he was alright. I thought that something terrible had happened by the amount of blood that he was spitting out.  You can’t believe how thankful I was when I discovered that it was just a little puncture.  I quickly soaked a wash cloth in cold water and put it in his mouth and the bleeding stopped momentarily.  Then I called my wife and the pediatrician.  My wife decided to leave work immediately and the pediatrician said that as long as the bleeding was stopped my son was probably alright, but if it seemed sore he would need antibiotics.  Boy was I glad to hear that.  I needed the reassurance at that moment that the doctor thought he was fine and in the worst case scenario antibiotics needed to be administered.  Phew!  What a relief.  I don’t know what I thought they would say, but I am glad they said that.

When my wife returned home we promptly had a hard discussion on how to proceed.  Rightly so, she wanted Moosewood dead or gone immediately.  However, I am a believer that all dogs can be worked with.  I also believe that if you don’t know for sure if you can remedy the problem you should cut your losses.  I wanted to exhaust every option before we got rid of him.  You see I help other people with their dogs occasionally, and I frequently I have heard myself telling others in the past that if they can’t control their dog they must either learn to or get rid of it.  If there is any question of feasibility you really can’t take the chance of it hurting someone especially a child. That goes double for my child.  It is bitter advice to swallow, but I had to take my own medicine today.  I just don’t have the facilities to work with a dog while keeping my son safe right now.  As much as it hurts for me to say this, the dog has to go.  So with the hopes that possibly our veterinarian, who I happen to babysit for and who is one of our closest friends, can find him a better home we signed him over to her.  

Man that was hard for me to do, but what choice did I have.  I screwed up and now we all have to live with it.  The only thing that makes it better is that I fully trust our veterinarian friend.  In fact I think of her and her husband and kids as my second family.  My wife does too.  So, that makes it a little easier for us to release our dog to her veterinary clinic.  What a crappy day though!  My son got bit, I had to get rid of my dog, and to top it all off I went off the road to avoid an accident on the way to baby sit for our veterinarian friend.  I won’t tell that story though.  It’s not embarrassing or anything.  It is just that during the first snowfall of every year a lot of people have a really hard time driving.  Unfortunately, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time when someone was having a hard time driving.  We’ve all been there at some point in our lives, so I won’t dwell on it.  I am just glad that I made it to the house on time to meet the kids off the bus.  As much as I believe that they are little monsters, most days they make me smile at least a little while, and I love them almost like my own child nonetheless.  Yesterday, they were excited about their new snow clothes and we just had to get thoroughly soaked to test them out.  We ended up building onto their slide with snow and launching down it in a tube.  I did the launching.  It was great fun and the perfect opportunity for me to forget the rest of the day for the time being.

P.s. Remember.  It is never the dog’s fault.  It’s the owner’s, Even if that owner is you.  

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