Six Year Anniversary of Being Bit by a Dog

June 15th, 2014 No comments

It was on this day 6 years ago that I was bit by a dog. Not just any dog. It was my own dog and his name was Abbot. It wasn’t the kind of bite a band-aide could take care of either.  It was a bite involving lacerations above the eyelid and on the scalp, plus a badly bruised wrist with puncture wounds. I remember that day like it was yesterday. The physical and emotional scars still remain.

I don’t talk about it much because it is not an easy thing to talk about for a lot of reasons. The post over on No Dog About It titled The burden of euthanizing an aggressive dog” does a good job of summing up the guilt, the multitude of “what if’s” and the feelings of failure you go through after an event like this.  It’s given me the courage to speak up now, as I feel there are probably others out there struggling with these issues.

It is very hard to reconcile how a dog you love, that can be super sweet and affectionate, is capable of such an action. After something like this, your trust is broken and your nerves are shot. The physical wounds heal, but the emotional ones…they stay with you. To this day I still tense up anytime I hear a dog getting snarky about something.

As sweet as Abbot was, he had issues.  He was territorial, shy and had major separation anxiety. He was a stray at the shelter I volunteered for. He did not “show” well at the shelter. He would charge the cage door anytime someone would pass by. That is the reason I wanted to foster him. He was never going to get adopted as long as he stayed in the facility. Once out of the cage, he was super sweet and affectionate, but potential adopters could never get past the image of him being an ass in the cage.

I fostered him for 3 months before deciding to adopt him. My head was telling me that I was not the right owner for him, but my heart was telling me otherwise. I worked all day, which is not a good scenario for a dog with separation anxiety.  I had a dog sitter come during the day, but in the end I really don’t think that helped any. If anything, I think it just added to his anxiety. I’m sure Abbot was thinking: “Yay, someone else is here to play with me. Wait, you’re leaving now too? Nooo! Come back!“.

He really should have been in a home where someone was around most of the day.  I justified keeping him as my own by telling myself there was no guarantee that the shelter would find him a home which would meet that criteria. Even if they did, that person is bound to leave the home every once in a while to run errands. How would they handle his separation anxiety? Maybe this issue is why he landed in the shelter in the first place.

The separation anxiety wasn’t his only issue. I wasn’t his first bite either. He bit the neighbor kid through the fencing. I was outside standing next to Abbot at the time monitoring and in a blink of an eye it happened. Thankfully the bite did not cause any damage, but it was still a scary moment. I explained this one away as him being territorial. From that point forward, if the kids were outside, Abbot was on a tie out so he could not reach the fence line. I’m managing the environment. Everything is going to be fine. Now I’m starting to wonder “Had he bitten anyone long before we ever met? Is that the reason why he landed in the shelter?”

Then comes the incident with my friend’s little girl, who I’ll refer to as Ann. She was around 7 at the time. They had come in from out of town for a visit. I kept Abbot on a leash the entire time because I was unsure how he would be around her.  There was a moment where Ann went to give my parents a hug, and Abbot went berserk over it. If he had not been on a leash that day, there’s no doubt in my mind that he would have attacked her.  Not good! I couldn’t even begin to explain his actions on this one.

I took him through dog training classes and consulted with the trainer on this. The separation anxiety never got better, but I told myself I was managing the situation and it would be fine. During the periods of time when he was alone, he would have potty accidents and he would destroy things. He just couldn’t help it. The anxiety was too much.  I resigned myself to the fact that I would be cleaning up after him on a daily basis. Not just the accidents, but the destruction too. Take a look at the picture to the right. His crate started out where you can see the Collie standing. By the time I got home the crate was in the kitchen with the carpeting pulled into the crate. How the heck did that happen?! This was a common occurrence.

The day he bit me, was quite frankly, my own fault. We had come home from a visit to my parent’s house and I let him and my other dogs outside for a potty break. Abbot did both while outside. I brought everyone in and went upstairs to work on my computer. The dogs aren’t allowed upstairs. I was upstairs for maybe 40 minutes. Not long in my terms, but long enough for Abbot to have a panic attack. I came downstairs to find pee and poop in the house. I got mad. He was outside not even an hour ago and did both! Why would he do this now? I was at a loss.

I yelled at him and he went running into his crate. I don’t hit dogs, that’s not my style, but he doesn’t know that. I should have known better and taken a second to cool off, but I didn’t. I approached his cage still mad at him. I wanted to get him out of the cage to go back outside. In his mind my body language was communicating to him that I was a threat and he is now trapped in his cage. He had nowhere to go, so he did what he thought he needed to do to protect himself. As I reached in to get him, he nailed me.

I understand why he did what he did that night, but there were too many things going on with him prior to that night which I couldn’t understand. His reaction to Ann hugging my parents being one of them. Some dogs just aren’t wired correctly. How can I justify keeping an aggressive dog, when so many well-adjusted dogs are dying in shelters every day?

Rehoming him was not an option. He was a time-bomb waiting to go off. The next time it could have been a child. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone. Keeping him was no longer an option for me either. My nerves were shot. I no longer trusted him, and I was now afraid of him. That’s not a good combination.  This was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, and I did not make it lightly.

I used to believe that all dogs could be saved. They just needed time, love, training and patience. Between what happened with Abbot and what I’ve witnessed in my rescue work since then, my opinion on this changed. I have a new found respect for what dogs are capable of doing.  Some dogs will just never fully adjust to living harmoniously in our world. It’s been a hard pill to swallow.

This all happened 6 years ago. I’ve learned a lot about animal behavior and options for aggressive dogs since then. If I had known then some of what I know now, I might have handled things differently. Would it have made a difference? Obviously there’s no way to know that now. I made the decision that I felt was the best one at the time for him, for my family and for the public in general.

I’m sure there are many of you out there that will disagree with my decision to euthanize him, and feel he had a right to live out his life. I understand where you are coming from. If I had not gone through this myself, I would be feeling the same way. The only thing I can say is this, until you can walk a mile in my shoes, you really have no idea how you would handle the same situation if the roles were reversed. I hope you never have to walk a mile in my shoes.

Categories: News & Views

Dogs that Eat Cat Litter

August 24th, 2012 No comments

How many of you live with dogs and cats in your home? For those of you that have both, how many of you have dogs that enjoy eating cat litter? Both Charm and Daisy enjoy eating cat poop, and it’s been a constant source of frustration for me. I did switch over to a corn based litter a long time ago, because I felt it was a bit more consumption friendly than clay.

Having said that, I’m also trying various things to deter them from even getting into the litter box. Currently, the litter box resides inside a soft-sided crate and I have it wedged in the corner of the room. I didn’t think they could get to the entrance of the crate, but I was wrong!

My latest attempt was to install an extra tall baby gate with a small pet access door to the room that has the litter box. The small pet access door would let the cat come and go as he pleases, but would keep Charm out. I knew keeping Daisy out would still be an issue, because she’s small enough to fit through the pet access door.

So my next brilliant idea was to also install a regular sized baby gate at the entrance to the hallway which leads to the room with the litter box. This one would keep Daisy out, but not Charm. He can jump over this one. No worries though, because he can’t jump over the extra-tall one.

So between the 2 baby gates I thought I had my problem solved. I should know better than that! Charm’s one smart/determined dog. Check out the video below, and you’ll see why I’m back to square one. Does anyone have any dog-eating-cat-litter deterrent ideas that actually work? Please post in the comments below. I would love to hear about them.


The Incredible Journey – by Duke

August 13th, 2012 No comments

Life is a journey with lots of ups and downs. As we go on this journey, the path we take isn’t always the easiest one, even for us dogs.  But we trudge on because we know there’s a purpose and the turn up ahead will lead us to where we’re supposed to be.

My journey certainly wasn’t an easy one. The first two years of my life are a blur, but I do remember being homeless and my fur being badly matted. But I didn’t let that get me down. I knew there was someplace better I needed to be. I just wasn’t sure where it would be or when I would get there.

Duke's First Day Home - September 11, 2002

The first stop in my journey was at a rescue group. They cleaned me up and ridded me of those horrible mats. I was starting to feel better about myself and my future. I had a good feeling that things were looking up for me.

On September 11, 2002 I met my Mom. The problem was she didn’t realize that she was my Mom. She was there to meet other dogs. I had to act fast! I stood up in my crate and flashed her the biggest smile I could muster. She smiled back at me and said I looked goofy all shaved down, but I was still cute. Then she left the room to visit with the other dogs.

I was bummed! I thought for sure that I had won her over.  I chilled out in my cage thinking I had lost out on my chance. Several minutes went by and the next thing I knew, one of the workers came in to take me outside. I thought it was just time for my potty break, but to my surprise there stood my soon-to-be Mom waiting to visit with me! Woo Hoo!

We had a blast out in the yard, and I made her laugh a lot. She still thought I looked goofy, but I had officially won her over! She put me in her car and off I went onto my next journey. I never had to worry about being homeless again.

I was totally devoted to her and the family. Grandma and Grandpa spoiled me rotten! Mom took me to see them every weekend.  Two cats already resided in the family when I arrived. Shortly thereafter, Daisy joined the family, then Charm and then Franklin. Not to mention a string of foster dogs coming in and out of the house.

You could feel the love at every turn, and it was the best 10 years of my life. But sadly, if you’re reading this now, I must tell you that my journey must continue on in another realm. I am no longer on this earth.  My body just could not function anymore. Walking was difficult, and I could no longer get myself up from a sleeping position. My kidneys were shutting down as well.

Mom was very heartsick watching my health decline, but she did the best thing in the world for me. She got me to a vet and they helped my pain and suffering go away. I was able to cross the Rainbow Bridge. She was there for me in those final moments, just like she was there for me over the last ten years.

Her heart aches for me. But rest assured, even though I’m no longer on this earth, I will continue to watch over her now just like I did for the last ten years. Thank you to everyone that helped me on my journey to find my way home. I love you all.

 

Categories: Duke's Stories

Angel Among Us

July 12th, 2012 No comments

Brandy - In loving memory (1998 - 2012)

Brandy - In loving memory (1998 - 2012)

I started to write this post on May 8th. The day after my beautiful Brandy passed away. I didn’t get very far, as it was just too difficult to put everything into words. Now here I sit a little over two months later, and not only am I still struggling to find the words, but I still find myself preparing two plates of cat food instead of one. How can a house still filled with a cat and 3 dogs feel so empty and quiet?

Brandy battled kidney disease over the last several years, and she was alert and active up until the final days.  She stopped eating on Friday, and she progressively got weaker over the weekend. I knew it was time, and I didn’t want her to suffer, so I took her to the vets on Monday and had her put to sleep. This is never an easy decision to make, even when you know your pet is suffering. In a perfect world Brandy would have passed away peacefully in her sleep, but this isn’t a perfect world, and we as pet owners have to do what’s best for our pets. Which sometimes means making the decision to assist them to the other side.

Daisy and Brandy sharing the chair. An unusual occurance, and not one of Daisy's good hair days.

Daisy was with me at the vet appointment because she had medical issues that needed tended to as well. It’s a bit ironic that Daisy was with Brandy in her final moments, as Daisy hated Brandy for about 6 years of their lives. It wasn’t until Frankie was added to the family that Daisy started to come around and accept Brandy. Frankie’s cute little kitten ways won Daisy over instantly, and she started to realize that Brandy wasn’t so bad after all.

After Brandy passed away, I was sitting on the floor of the vet clinic holding her when Daisy decided to walk up to her. She sniffed Brandy and then licked her on the ears. It was very sweet, and it just made me cry even harder. I left Brandy with the vet clinic so they could cremate her, but I made sure to return home with the towel I was holding her in. I wanted to make sure I had her scent on something so that the “kids” would have something to sniff when I came home without her. I placed the towel in a crate which ordinarly Frankie avoids, but now I catch him sleeping  in it. The dogs sniffed at it and could sense something wasn’t right, but in general they were pretty unfazed by everything.

Double Rainbow

Probably the most peaceful thing that happened during this time was the day after her passing. I was working late and the weather outside was mostly overcast with some sun peaking through and a light rain. I looked out the window at work and saw a double rainbow. Not only was it a double rainbow, but you could see the complete arc for the brightest one. I’ve never witnessed a double rainbow nor a complete arc rainbow until that day. A feeling of peace washed over me and the only thing I could think of was that Brandy crossed the Rainbow Bridge and hooked up with her sister Sunny that passed away a few years ago. It was an experience I will remember for a lifetime.

One other thing I will remember is what I found when I got home from work the night of the double rainbow. I found a piece of black plastic on my living room floor. It was the back of a battery cover to one of my portable clocks. It had dropped behind some furniture in the bedroom, and I had never bothered to retreive it. Now here it was smack dab in the middle of my living room floor, and I have no idea how it got there. When I left for work the house was closed off in a way that Frankie was in the bedroom area and did not have access to the living room. The dogs were in the living room and did not have access to the bedroom. The logical side of my brain says that at some point in the last several days Frankie played with it and it ended up hidden under some furniture in the living room. One of the dogs must have kicked it out of its hiding place that day. The other side of my brain says that Brandy came back home and left me a present to let me know she’s okay. I prefer to believe the latter. What do you think?  Here’s a video of Brandy’s last few hours.

Categories: Brandy's Stories

Fun for Your Friday!

January 20th, 2012 No comments

Charm just finished up a bath (he doesn’t like them), and decided to voice his opinion on whether his sister Daisy should get a bath too. Enjoy!


Pet Insurance – Is It Worth It

January 19th, 2012 1 comment

I just wanted to give you a quick update on Charm and Daisy. They both came home from the emergency clinic last week, and are doing fine. You would never know anything happened to them if it weren’t for their shaved legs from where the IV’s were inserted. They did have some diarrhea which was probably a side effect of the medication, but other than that they’re back to normal. Thank goodness!

This whole ordeal got me thinking about pet insurance and how, in this instance, it would have been a big help. This would not be the first time I’ve thought about pet insurance. I’ve looked into it in the past, but I’ve not pursued it because I felt like it would be a waste of money. There are so many things you should consider when you’re evaluating the different pet insurances, it can be overwhelming. This video offers a few things you should pay attention to while you review the different providers.

How to Evaluate a Pet Insurance Policy

Here’s another video that provides a very basic comparison of four different pet insurance plans.

Pet Health Insurance Comparison by VNN.com

When I was doing my research I did find one company (Pet Plan Pet Insurance) that would continue to cover conditions diagnosed while on the plan. They would do that as long as you continued to renew your policy and did not lapse in your payments. Sounds great right? It is until you read some of their fine print. The deductible you have with this provider is PER CONDITION per year. That means if your pet is diagnosed with diabetes and then later on in the year is also diagnosed with arthritis, you are paying two deductibles, not one. I also had to laugh when I read their policy on covering prescriptions:

“Coverage for prescriptions is included in all Petplan policies, provided that they have been prescribed by the treating veterinarian as treatment for an illness or accident and the illness or accident is not a pre-existing condition. All prescriptions must be FDA approved for pets, subject to policy provisions. Nutritional supplements and vitamins are not covered by the policy.”

They might as well have said that they don’t cover prescriptions. Notice the “pre-existing condition”, “must be FDA approved for pets” and “nutritional supplements and vitamins are not covered” statements. Many prescription drugs used in the veterinary world are FDA approved for human use, not pet use. For example, of the eight different things my pets are on, only one is FDA approved for pet use (Derramax), 3 are not FDA approved (Tramadol, Lactulose, Piroxicam) and the remaining four are supplements (Azodyl, Epakitin, Vetri-Liver and Dasuquin).

There is one other thing to be aware of if you’re thinking about pet insurance – You’re still responsible to pay the vet bill. Your vet will want their money upfront. That means you still have to cover the full amount of the bill at the time of the service. You will be the one responsible to submit all of the paperwork to the insurance company, not your vet. The insurance provider will reimburse you based on the terms of your agreement.

If you’re interested in doing further research, I’ve compiled a listing below of some of the different pet insurance providers I’ve found. I doubt this is a comprehensive list. I’m sure there are others out there. I don’t endorse any of the companies, nor have I researched each one. I just thought I’d provide you with a one-stop shopping list for those of you interested in researching further.

So do you think pet insurance is worth it? Are any of you already using pet insurance? I would love to hear your opinions on the topic.

Pet Insurance Providers: