Thursday, June 10, 2010

Goodbye is so hard to say.

I haven't been around the last couple of days, because on Monday, the decision was made to euthanize Jessie. It was a very hard decision, and it hurts a lot. However, the combination of events leading up to it made it important to go ahead.

First off, Jessie was epileptic, and she had some pretty heavy aggression issues to begin with. Now, we worked very very hard to get her to a point where she could live with people. She had food aggression, and I went through a couple of years of work on that to get her to a point where *I* could take her food or mess with her. Even with that, she bit five different people, not including her biting me while in the midst of breaking her and Missy up. I don't count bites that happen during a dog fight, as those are such high stress situations that it's a miracle NOT to get bitten. The two bites that concerned me the most were when she bit my daughter for picking up some garbage, that apparently Jessie had pulled from the trash can; and when she bit The Mate. That wasn't a severe bite, but it was scary, and made me realize that we needed to watch her closely.

During the months after that, we brought in two more dogs, Krissie, and Missy. I think where things went wrong with Missy was when they first started to get to know each other, and Missy misread Jessie's signals. At the time, I wasn't nearly as educated about dog to dog aggression as I've gotten now (and I'm certainly no expert). So, with the help of our vet, a trainer, and lots of research, we determined that the best path was to keep them separated, get Missy through a training class so she would learn to listen, and then work with the trainer to re-introduce them at a much later date. The only problem with that plan was that Jessie refused to give up. Every time she saw Missy, she would react with a huge show of aggression, and Missy, of course, would react in kind. Unfortunately, Jessie was willing to break through, jump over, or otherwise get around any barriers we set up, including eating her way through a door.

On top of that, she started to get angry all of the time, and would only behave like a civilized dog when just she and I were together away from everybody else. She bit Lassie for walking by, growled at Krissie constantly, and snapped at a couple of the cats. The final straw was when The Mate went to move her, and even though he called to her and talked to her, when he reached out, she bit him pretty severely. This wasn't during a fight, this was really just human aggression in general, and even though I was right there, she wouldn't listen to me at all either. The only way to describe it is that she was literally out of her mind. It wasn't even like my dog at that moment. It hurts my heart a lot, but there is just no way to keep a human aggressive dog in a home with people, and a dog aggressive dog with other dogs. Missy has never shown any aggression to other dogs, and though Jessie usually doesn't, she has in the past.

As I listed before, there were a lot of choices possible, but in talking this over with the vet, trainer, and The Mate, it became pretty apparent that the best thing for all of the people and animals involved was to go ahead and euthanize Jessie. Just taking Missy back would not have fixed this, as Jessie was getting reactive with the other animals. And really, getting rid of all the cats and dogs, still would have left her with her human issues as well. She had allergies, which we worked on pretty well, but she was still pretty much constantly itchy. Granted, we were treating that as much as possible, but I'm in a unique position to understand just how horrible it can feel to itch ALL OF THE TIME.

I'd like to say I have no doubt that this was the best thing, but of course I will probably never really lose the doubts I have, no matter how many people tell me I did the right thing. I'll just have to take comfort in knowing that right or wrong, Jessie will never suffer again, whether it's from a seizure, a fight with Missy, itching, or any other terrible thing that could happen. Now I'll share some last pictures of Jessie, after we shaved her for the summer.

And now, I can't see very well, because I'm crying again, over the loss of my black monster, so I'll just leave this quote:

"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my Heart with them. And every new dog who comes  into my life gifts me with A piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my Heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they Are."