I adopted a second dog in early summer. A shelter dog. She wasn’t what I went looking for… and when I passed her kennel, she had her back to me. She felt me standing there, and slowly turned around. Then she sat down and smiled at me. We sat there looking at each other for several minutes. I felt a connection to her that I didn’t understand.
The shelter was closing soon, and I only had a quick moment to talk to one of the volunteers… they informed me that she wasn’t good with other dogs. I left with this in my head, but for the next week I couldn’t get her out of my mind.
The following weekend, I was sitting at home and all of a sudden I just knew I had to go. I put my dog in the car, and we drove to the shelter. She was outside with a couple and a child. The man was in a wheelchair and she was playing with the little girl. I found myself praying that they wouldn’t adopt her.
My dog was along the fence line, and she ran over. Friendly. The couple left, and we got to go in the yard with her. This volunteer said she was fine with other dogs and she didn’t know why they told me otherwise.
So, we paid her fee and went home. And she was the biggest cuddle bunny I’d ever had. When I was sitting or laying down, she wanted to be draped all over me. I named her Maggie.
But then I found that she had food aggression issues. Treats turned into fights and twice I had to pull her off my other dog ( who is elderly ) I was afraid to try to take something from her myself, because of the aggression I could see on her face. There was no doubt in my mind she’d hurt me.
Time outside with other dogs in the dog park started with really rambunctious play time… and then it turned into fights. clear signs of aggression. I wasn’t sure if she was trying to protect me.. or what… One time she got away from me because of her strength and her leash wrapped around my ankles…pulled me down and ripped a good chunk out of both ankles. It was painful ( still is ) to walk.
I have huge scabs around both ankles. My knees are scraped and scabbed. I have a huge bruise on my thigh.
It got bad enough that I knew I needed to keep her away from other dogs, except for mine and a neighbor’s boxer that she was friendly with. We avoided the dog park. We stayed inside as much as possible. I did the best I could to avoid any interaction with others.
Then one morning, we were surprised on our walk, and she got away from me. She was so strong I couldn’t control her… and she knocked me down so hard that I lost my bearings. I stood up and fell down….got up and fell down…got up and fell down again.
Finally I was able to get up and go after her. She had knocked a woman down and bit her dog a couple times. I grabbed her and smacked her…she dropped to the ground shaking, and scared… and looked so pitiful and sad, that my heart ripped in two.
I knew that neither she nor I could live like this anymore. I called the shelter, but they wouldn’t take her back. I don’t live in the same city and they have a two week return policy. WTF.
I called my vet, and ultimately made the choice to put her to sleep. He wasn’t going to let me stay originally, but I talked him into it. There were two large dogs in the office and she showed no aggression towards them. I am still confused there… but that was my sweet girl. The real her I think…
It was different than when I let my Sandy go. Sandy was old, and she was dying. Maggie was young and strong, and it took her a while to go. But it was peaceful and I got to hold her, and kiss her. I told her that I hoped Sandy was waiting for her. To go play with my girl and wait for me.
I know in my heart that she was traumatized before I got her. I know that she couldn’t help herself.. and I know that it was only going to get worse. I know that something worse was bound to happen.
But I feel guilty. I feel like a terrible person. I hate myself for the little bit of myself that felt relief.
I’m lucky that I have a friend with psychic ability. She told me that this incident happened because it was meant to happen… it was preventing her hurting a child in the future. I was meant to help her go. And I do believe this. I believe she and I both knew in that moment she turned around…. that she was meant to be with me. I just didn’t know why.
It turns out that the woman whose dog was bitten, has a history with a dog similar. Turns out, she has spent thousands of dollars trying to rehabilitate a dog of her daughters… and after lots of money and training, the dog is barely able to be around people… much less other dogs.
It mirrors what my vet told me… once they start showing aggression, and after they have attacked other dogs, it’s not going to get better. They have “the taste”..
I paid the vet bill and her dog is ok. Thankfully Maggie got the butt and leg, instead of the head or it could have been all over.
This woman has been so amazing and understanding. I know I got lucky there. She’s sad for Maggie too. I told her I surrendered her, but I think she knows. But I won’t put that weight or her.
It’s night now, and I’m sitting on the couch. My dog is snoring next to me.. and I find myself thinking of Maggie and wishing she was here draped over me again. I think about how scared she was in thunderstorms and how she tried to sleep on the bed, but I wouldn’t let her. ( Too big ) I think about how she seemed to have nightmares often when she was sleeping and I would try to calm her… I think about how she tried to please by sitting, and laying down…giving me a paw.
I feel like I let her down. I failed her. It’s deep in my heart and my head.
I know I made the right decision. For both of us. But it doesn’t make it any easier. It doesn’t make it hurt any less.
I sat here and cried halfway through this post. I haven’t really let myself cry much. Punishing myself…. I did this.. I don’t deserve to cry. It’s a fucked up mental message on repeat.
I’m sorry baby girl. I’m sorry for the trauma that you went through before I found you. I don’t know what it was, but I know it all the same.
We were walking once and I went to swat your butt with my palm… just to get your attention… and you dropped to the ground immediately like I was going to beat you. I thought it was a fluke, or you were being funny… until it happened again.
Then I knew, it wasn’t funny.. And my heart hurt for you.
And it hurts for you still.
Please be at peace baby.