Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Goodbye, Salukis

This post is long overdue, but there are some things I find too hard to write down.

Those dogs. Those salukis that we brought home. They really grew on me fast.

We named them Guinness and Bolt, and other than the fact that no one had ever taught them to poop outside, they were pretty much perfect, if a bit jumpy. They didn't bark. They were very affectionate. They followed us everywhere, and when I worked, one or the other always had his head on my lap.

The kids loved them. Ainsley was forever hugging them fiercely around the neck and saying "I lub him, mama!" Shay took them for walks with his dad, with Kyra and Aidan joining in occasionally.

Despite their somewhat skittish nature - they were rescued from an abusive environment - they were quickly making themselves part of the family.

Until Ainsley snuck up on Guinness while he was snoozing. She must have frightened him, but before he ran away to hide, he bit her, right on the face.

Ainsley is okay: his teeth cut her nose, narrowly missing her eye, and left a bruise on her forehead. After she recovered from her fright, she actually started trying to follow him around, wanting to hug him again. But poor Guinness knew he was busted, and he cowered in the corner, away from her and me. He wouldn't come near us for an entire day - and of course Ainsley wouldn't leave him alone.

The dogs had to go.

I felt awful. Awful. After all, if I'd been paying attention, I never would have permitted Ainsley to sneak up on a sleeping animal. But the damage was done, and I can't keep a dog in the house that has bitten a child, no matter the reason.

Because the dogs were littermates and had spent their whole lives together, we decided to send them back to the kennel together. They came as a team; they left as a team.

The shelter sent a driver the very next afternoon - the afternoon of the dust storm, a couple of weeks ago - to pick up the dogs. It was dusty and windy and dark when the driver and handler arrived. The dogs were thrilled to see them again - until the handler tried to load them in the van. They knew they were leaving us, and they clearly did not want to go. Bolt went first, and he stood in the back of the van trembling so hard that his fur was flying off him. Guinness leapt out of the van and tried to run away, but when I called him, he reluctantly came back, and they forced him back into the van.

They got the van door shut and drove away. Kyra waved cheerfully from her perch on her bicycle and shouted "bye bye! bye bye!" to the dogs until the van was out of sight. Then she turned and said, "awww, I wish we still had those dogs," got off her bike and sadly went inside.

Shay took it particularly hard. That's three dogs he's said goodbye to in as many months, and he was crushed.

We all were. But it was the safest thing to do. The shelter is going to try to find a family without kids to re-adopt Guinness and Bolt.

A few weeks have gone by since we sent the dogs back, but the house still seems empty without them.


A Daring Adventure said... [Reply]

First of all, let me just tell you what a HUGE issue this is for me.

Back before State, we used to rescue dogs. The first dog we rescued? A DREAM. There's never been a better dog on this earth, and I mean that. So that made me think all would be wonderful! And amazing! And that rescuing/adopting dogs was so positive and fabulous!

So we rescued more!

Only, then we rescued a St. Bernard. Seemed like a wonderful dog/fit/match. Until some random day when, out of nowhere, and I do mean for NO reason - and I was there when it happened - he bit the son of one of my best friends. Out of the blue. For no reason at all.

The bite was HUGE and damaging. Then he bit me. On the head.

So! I figured... well... huh. Some horrible thing had happened to that dog.

We kept rescuing! Except I started to focus more on puppies.

So then we rescued a puppy, and he grew into the size of an adult. And one day, out of nowhere, for no reason (and I was there!), he bit a neighborhood lady. In the face. And left damage. To her face.

And then she sued us. And she won. Because Florida is an automatic liability state. Which means that I had no legal defense. I owned a dog, it bit a lady, we were sued, they won. Period.

I did some research. How common is it for dogs to bite in the face?

Turns out: QUITE common. Something about that's how dogs communicate to each other that things aren't going as they wish. They bite. In the face. Especially children.

You have lots of children; darling children. I have seen bites to the face/ bites to children for NO REASON. It happens.

You are not to feel badly for sending them back. What happened to your daughter could have been a THOUSAND times worse. You are so very blessed that it was not a highly damaging bite. It could have been.

Dogs bite to the face. That's what they do. And if this comment stirs up issues, feel free to delete it. I'll know you read it, and that you know that I totally support you. It could have been SO much worse.

And, um, after being sued (and going through all manner of bites from rescued dogs), we stopped rescuing. Because I realized that not only could I be bitten (and I was! And yes, out of the blue and for no reason), and not only could other children in my home be bitten (and one was), and not only could my own children be bitten (they never were, by only by the grace of God), but the responsibility/risk was just too great.

Bfiles said... [Reply]

how sad. I'm so sorry and so glad that your little girl was not hurt badly.

SHEA said... [Reply]

Hi, I am married to a danish diplomat but I am American. We might be stationed it Beijing. Did you like it there? Are the schools there and quality of life? Our other choice might be D.C. which would be nice to be close to family again but I enjoy living abroad. Thanks

Vicki said... [Reply]

I'm so sorry. I hope you can get another dog soon and that those Salukis get a nice home.

Becca said... [Reply]

oh that sucks.

Erin G said... [Reply]

This made me cry. I'm so sorry, I know you miss them, but I understand why you had to do it. Poor pups. Poor kids. Poor aching mommy heart. :(

A wife, a mom, an observer said... [Reply]

We had a similar situation with our rescue and our 3 year old daughter. We had to remove our dog, our first baby in many ways, from our home. It was difficult for everyone.

I know it was a very difficult thing to do, but your children do come before any pet. You may want to have your children write a note to the caregivers of the dogs with some tips about the dog. We did this with our daughter and it seemed to help (the note was not delivered in our case).

I still can't buy those Life is Good t-shirts that have a dog on the front. :(

Jill said... [Reply]

I'm so sorry ... dog bites are actually one of my biggest fears. I can't even begin to imagine how scary that was for you or your daughter. Ugh.

Elaine said... [Reply]

Our daughter was bitten in the face by a neighbor's dog--she was bending and looking into his eyes, which I gather is 'a challenge' in dogdom. We didn't sue (and the neighbors did not offer to help pay for the ER visit, though the dad did babysit while I took Laura back to the ER when infection set in.) Now, 20 years later, the scars are pale and barely noticeable. Everyone hoped that Laura would finally have some degree of trepidation about approaching strange animals....and she WAS afraid of that ONE dog.

You did the right thing. A bit of reminiscing and shedding of tears helps...

Oh, and our daughter (now 30) has cats.

American in Norway said... [Reply]

So sorry for all of you! ;-(
Of course you did the right thing.. :-)Hang in there.

Kami said... [Reply]

Oh, Donna. How awful. It's a double whammy: your child got hurt and you gave up your dogs. What a punch in the gut. You have to protect your children. Returning the dogs clearly conveys your lioness heart. But how sad.

A Daring Adventure said... [Reply]

The Fitzcrap era has come to an end:

But you are still one witty lady! :)

Connie said... [Reply]

They are incredibly sweet dogs and I hope someone gives them a good home. They deserve it, and a new family will be lucky to have them. One of the reasons we stick to cats is that I have no idea how to raise puppies, and am equally clueless about grown dogs. I know it's not all play and poo-scooping, and I haven't the experience with their behaviors to be a good dog parent! Your experience with animals is showing here... you know what's right for them, AND for your kids. Hard as it is, you know you've done the right thing. I hope the shelter focuses on finding a single person or no-child household for Guinness and Bolt.

Diplo said... [Reply]
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diplo said... [Reply]

I recently had the same experience with a dog we adopted and had some aggressive streaks, I did not have the courage to write about it because I still feel bad about giving her up.Sometimes I really miss her, but sometimes hard decisions like that just has to be made, especially if it endangers people around you. However still, it's really hard to get over the sadness when you think about it.

Please. Write your own stuff.