baa baa black sheep



So, um. I'm really feeling pretty awful and upset about this, but I want to tell you about it.

Here's what happened with the basset: things got really, really, really bad. She got more and more angry and violent. The cats were terrified of her, our dog was pretty upset by her, and the belligerence got worse. The barking got better, but she started wanting to hurt us. She was being aggressive and moody. Last night J walked by her and she bit him (for no reason) for about the fifth time, and I started to think, I don't know if we know how to handle this dog. Later I went upstairs to do the dishes, put things away, etc. I walked into the living room and she attacked me. She actually ran across the room and attacked me (I know she's short, but she weighs 61 pounds and is strong). I was backed into a corner, and I don't know exactly what happened but I covered my face with my arms and kicked at her repeatedly to get her away while screaming my husband's name over and over. It was very surreal, very scary. It felt foggy and slow-motion. Kick, scream, kick, scream. I was wearing baggy pants, or my legs would have been all bitten up, and she only got a good enough grip on the arm that was covering my face to bruise it a little bit. It felt like hours (when it was only seconds) before J got upstairs and somehow dragged her into her crate. I cried for a long time. No skin was actually broken, but she had been leaping at my face, snarling and biting and grabbing at my clothes and foaming. I know enough about dogs to know when they are serious, and if she hadn't been such a weird squat breed (and my reflexive kicking/screaming hadn't set in) she probably would have hurt me. On a side note, have you guys had those nightmares where something horrible is happening and you can't scream? And ever had a fear that, if you ever needed to, you wouldn't be able to scream? I have, but I was wrong. I shrieked my husband's name over and over so loudly I'm surprised no one called the cops. My sister and her boyfriend described the noises from the dog as "attacking, horrible biting and chewing sounds" and they were on a different floor of the house.

It was sort of insane, is what I am trying to explain.

I've had dogs chase me before, and I remember when I was little having experiences with mean dogs. I've even been bitten by dogs before (never badly, but I have been bitten). But this was the first time I ever, ever, ever have felt afraid around a dog. Ever. J and I talked a lot about it, and I cried a ton, but we ultimately decided that we could not provide the kind of environment she needed. The dog shelter woman had told me that a) if I couldn't handle the dog, no one could and b) to please please please bring her back if it doesn't work and I won't ask questions. So that probably should have been a warning. But we? We love dogs. And we gave her a lot of chances after the first bite. It wasn't fair to her, or to us, or to our other pets.

This morning, we soberly got up and took her back to the shelter in pouring rain. J was so nice to me. We felt awful about bringing her back, you know? I can't even express it. Completely and totally awful. To my relief, the shelter woman was so. nice. And so horrified. I kept apologizing: we felt like complete dog owner failures. I mean, it took an all out attack to take her back, it took a lot of bites. But we knew that the dog needed a LOT of time, and an environment that we couldn't provide. I feel that I can handle pretty much anything an animal will throw at me, but not attacking. Not fear. Just...not fear, you know? The shelter woman has been a dog trainer for 25 years. She told us, after I took the basset home, that she had told herself if we had to bring her back, she would adopt the dog herself. She said she knew if we couldn't handle Fred, Fred needed to live there with her (I'm pretty sure she would throw herself into the mouths of bears and come out unscathed). So Fred will live with the shelter woman forever, in a home where she will learn to not be that way. That is where, I believe, Fred needs to be and wants to be. I felt like such a total fool, and such a failure. I believe in providing forever homes. I believe dogs are lifetime commitments, and I felt like I was giving up way too easily. I also felt like an asshole, because I feel I ruined my sister's visit by having to deal with a horrible, horrible situation the whole time. I felt like I let everyone down, especially Fred.

But again, the shelter woman was amazingly nice and understanding. She sent us home with another dog, which I had, um, mixed feelings about. After the last two incidents, I wasn't sure I wanted another dog anymore. But something that J said to her clicked, and she ran through the rain to bring out a dog that she had just gotten in last night. As soon as I saw him, I felt so relieved, because, hey, you know what? He acts just like Monk. He's a Great Pyrenees/Lab mix, so he's similar to Monk in size. He's young and goofy and needs a bit of training, but he ignores cats and love love loves to play and be active. She told us to try him out for a few days, see what we think. She also said we could swap out as many dogs as we want, to make sure we get a dog that fits us.

The new guy and Monk have been playing together (this is why we wanted another dog, a playmate for Monk) a ton, and sleeping, and acting like happy idiots. He's active, but gentle, and he's not dumb. It's sort of like he's always been here, he slipped into place with Monk so naturally, and we may have finally found our guy. I still feel terrible about the hound, but I think she's now where she is supposed to be, and the new guy is where he is supposed to be.

Also, my sister came! I love my sister. I cooked for her. That is how much I love her. I hope they had fun.


This is my sister and her man, looking energetic:

This is me hugging Monk:

This is J, trying to eat Monk:

This is how I look when I'm cooking:

Maybe you wanted to see the new dog? Or maybe you don't. I wouldn't blame you, after the incident with the blue heeler and then the vicious basset. But, you can see this guy and tell me what you think. Meet Cab:

Cab looks happy, right? Maybe we should see how Monk feels about Cab:

They're pretty much in love with each other.

I still feel bad. It's sort of weird, maybe, but I was nervous about writing about this. Writing about taking Fred back, writing about how she attacked us and we gave up after only three days. You all left such nice comments, and I felt like you were rooting for us. I didn't want you to think I was one of those give-up-easily people, because I love all animals. You know I do. I even felt shitty about kicking her away from me when she was attacking me. I felt shitty that I didn't know what to do to help her. I felt bad that I didn't know how to provide what she needed. This morning, as we were driving to the shelter, even after she had bitten both of us and proved herself to be in serious need of professional help, I was still wondering if I should turn the car around and try for a few more days. I still thought we should try.

I'm crazy in a lot of ways. But I think everything worked out, and I think the right companion finally came along:

black sheeped


Blogger jen said...

1. I love the pic of you hugging Monk!!

2. I think you put your all into it. I'm so sorry you got attacked. I'm glad you're ok. And if you guys say you did everything, I'm totally confident that you did, and you did it the right way, and not the halfhearted way either.

3. Cab it SO CUTE!!! He just looks like a dumb happy oaf of a dog should. I hope they are happy together, they look it already!

7:24 PM, October 14, 2007  
Blogger Shannon said...

Don't feel bad about the other dog. Once they get aggressive like that, it is hard to keep them around.

I will tell you my dark secret and why we don't have a dog anymore. We adopted a 6-month old lab/great dane mix from a shelter. We brought her home and while she was a terrible and destructive dog, we loved her. Her name was Maizy. Anyways, one weekend we had to go to California so we checked Maizy into the vet's place for a weekend. When we got back, they said they would never keep her again because she tried to bite the keepers...and was really really aggressive. So, we found her another home because you know, young children and aggressive animals don't mix. It was the hardest thing EVER. She had been a part of our family and had chewed everything we owned and then one day she was just gone. So, no more pets for us, at least not for awhile. I love dogs and cats so being without is very, VERY difficult for me.

I'm sorry. I am glad you found another dog! I want more photos!

8:08 PM, October 14, 2007  
Anonymous Swistle said...

Oh, I am sorry about this bad, bad experience!

I know nothing on the subject--NOTHING--but in my non-dog-owning, non-knowing-things-about-dogs opinion, a dog who attacks aggressively and scarily (rather than playfully) is like a boyfriend who hits: it's not the kind of thing that could have worked out if you'd tried harder or been more understanding or given it more time.

I am glad to hear that, about the screaming. "Not being able to scream" happens so often in my dreams, I'd kind of assumed it would also happen in real life.

Cab looks like a sweetie.

10:19 PM, October 14, 2007  
Blogger Black Sheeped said...

Jen--He IS an oaf. And sweet. He is a big gentle goof, and he and Monk have been doing nothing but the following for 12 straight hours: wrestling, humping, licking each other on the mouth, sleeping, and then starting the cycle over again. We're not encouraging the romantic side, but it's awesome they're having so much fun. They're attached at the hip, I think. Or tongues.

Dogs are gross!

Shannon--That sucks. I hope one day you can bring another (calmer) dog into your family, and that it will be happy and fun. Poor Maizy.

Swistle--I know, isn't that weird? I've always been afraid I wouldn't be able to scream, because of those dreams. Terrified, in fact. And it turns out, the screaming was so automatic that I didn't even realize I was doing it, or think about it at all. It just happened automatically, it just poured out without me knowing what was happening. It was an odd comfort, to pull from the situation, but there it was.

10:32 PM, October 14, 2007  
Blogger PixelPi said...

Thank heavens you weren't hurt. I can't believe the shelter lady is going to keep Fred, because that kind of behavior is hard to eradicate in dogs and cats.

We had to have one of our cats put down this past spring. We had him 11 years. But for the 2nd time in 3 years, he lunged at me for no reason and bit me. Both times required the ER, antibiotics, and in one case, I had to talk my way out of being admitted to the hospital. It's a problem that some cats have where they take out their aggression against another animal on the closest target. That target would be me.

We gave him a break after the 1st time because he had never done it before. But Mr. Pi witnessed the 2nd attack and was very upset with the depth of the wounds, the bruises, and the severity of the infections (2 rounds of antibiotics). We hated to do it, but we decided that we couldn't live with the cat with such unpredictable behavior.

Don't feel like a failure with Fred. I think you did the right thing. If anything, Fred should have been returned much sooner. Sometimes the behavior/aggression thing is why they're in the shelter in the 1st place.

But I tell you, your Cab and Monk look like buddies already, and you and Monk make a great couple. Don't tell J. I said so.

So happy you're enjoying your sister...I love sister visits! Hugs and ice bags!

11:05 PM, October 14, 2007  
Blogger Flibberty said...

Cab is so sweet looking, and they seem to have big goofy smiles on their faces, so good work finding a buddy for Monk! It's not right for the dog to be in the wrong home either, so you did not let Fred down, she just needs a different kind of rehabilitation, and it sounds like she'll get that now. You definitely did the right thing for all humans and animals involved!

7:27 AM, October 15, 2007  
Blogger Tessie said...

Well, you did the right thing, even though it was hard. And you still saved an animal.

7:56 AM, October 15, 2007  
Blogger Jess said...

I'm glad you did share this with us, and you're right that we were all rooting for you, but we were rooting for things to work out with the dog, not for you to keep the dog through hell and high water while it actually attacks your face. I think this actually proves what good dog owners you are--that you were so thoughtful and careful about it, and really thought about what would be best both for you and the dog, and managed to make a difficult decision because you knew it was right. And the new dog is so cute.

8:34 AM, October 15, 2007  
Blogger Mommy Daisy said...

I don't have time to read all the other commments, but in reading this I can see you made the RIGHT choice. The other dog needs something more, and it would never work there with you. Seeing the pictures of the new dog...he is right for the family. And Monk looks terribly happy about him too.

1:01 PM, October 16, 2007  
Blogger Fine For Now said...

I'm still catching up to current time in your archives and just wanted to comment on this one. My parents had a really mean/bad dog for 7 years until he died of cancer last year. He attacked everone in the house and strangers on the street. My parents kept him because they were attached, when they really should have done something about it, I am surprised they were never sued for him attacking people. I believe it is just a dog's nature to be aggressive or not and really there is nothing us non dog trainers (and maybe even them) can do for these type of dogs. I remember when he used to bite me how bad it would hurt my feelings, oh how I also loved this dog, being my first ever dog, it hurt my feelings worse then the pain. You did a good thing, there is no reason to live in fear, when all you want to do is love on a dog, but you can't trust it enough to give it a hug. And Cab? Oh he is just about the cutest dog ever. Love LOVE that picture with both dogs smiling! So happy for all of you :o)

1:41 PM, November 05, 2007  

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