3/13/2006

All dogs go to heaven?

Ok, now this is a pity post. I'll just say it right up front. I need lots of pity comments. And, just so you know, it's not really about motherhood. Ok, it kinda is, but really, it's about my dog. My dog, the dog we so righteously adopted from an animal shelter and brought into our home, the canine who vomited copious amounts of gingerbread all over our carpet and gleefully licked my child's poopy bum, bit a child at our neighborhood playground this week. Yep, it was a bite. A real bite. No blood, but only just barely. It was one of the scariest things I've ever seen, and I've already woken up once screaming, "Get away from the dog!" in the middle of the night. It definitely rates up there with one of the worst days of my life. And really, there is nothing more fun than to go to the playground the next day and have your friend say to you, "Hey, did you hear that so and so got bit by a dog, in this playground?", and to overhear other similar conversations. I feel like putting up a neon sign on the entrance to our development saying, "YES, IT WAS MY DOG!" We hired a professional "canine counselor" to come and take a look at our dog, and she also took a look at the child's bite mark. Her opinion? Crate the dog immediately, keep him away from your child, and ship him back to the shelter post haste. My neighbor's opinions? Well, the ones with small chidren clearly want the dog out of the community. The ones without children, the ones with 2 dogs in their home? "Well, I'm such an animal rights advocate, I just can't imagine just giving up on an animal like that. After all, you don't know what the dog's history is. You don't know what he's gone through." Great. So I'm 'giving up' on an animal. Me, the ulitmate dog lover, giving up on an animal. But the Mommy in me is telling me that hey, sorry, nature's cruel, but I'm lookin' out for my own. You want to be in our world? You can't bite. You blew it, dog. And Mommy's instincts always win. So, just saying that we are feeling sad over here these days, because it's always hard to get rid of a pet. I think I'm doing the right thing, taking the dog back to the shelter, and I think the entire community would breathe easier knowing that the dog is gone. Still, it's a hard thing to do. Anybody else have similar experiences? Any thoughts, comments, advice, places you know where to get the perfect dog? And, let me say, once again.... Snakes make great pets.

29 Comments:

Blogger Liz said...

First off, I am so sorry. As a life-long doggie lover and mom, I understand your dilemma. My Lab is basically like another child and I love her more than I can describe. She is amazing with kids. There is just something about dogs that is good for my soul.

That being said, if she BIT a child unprovoked and illness was ruled out, I would find her a new home ASAP. Was the child teasing the dog? If the child was hurting the dog, I might give the dog another chance. However, while kids should be taught never to tease dogs, dogs in households w/ children should be able to take at least moderate levels of abuse (pulling tails, etc) from kids without nipping, let alone biting.

I might get flamed for this, but I think getting a purebred puppy that is trained properly from day 1 can minimize the possibility of serious problems. Breeds have definite personalities and while you can never be 100% positive, if you can interact w/ the puppy’s parents, you can get a very great idea what the puppy will be like. Labs and Golden Retrievers generally are good w/ kids. Sure, there are some great adult mutts out there, including some of my doggie’s best buds. One of my friends got her amazing dog from a servicewomen who was being deployed to Iraq. (BTW, we looked at several shelters before deciding to go the breeder route.)

Early, positive socialization w/ kids and other dogs is key to developing a good adult dog. If a dog has not had positive experiences w/ children or has not been properly disciplined, than it may very well decide that biting a kid is a great idea. Properly training a puppy is a lot of work. However, the payoff is amazing - you gain a wonderful companion that loves you and your family unconditionally. Once they are adults, they rarely need more than good food, fresh water, a walk, and some tummy rubs. :) Best of luck!

3/13/2006 09:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

My husband and I have two dogs and I am pregnant with out first. So, needless to say the dogs are in for a rude awakening. One of our dogs is 4 years old and the other is about a year.

I am worried, to say the least. The older dog was raised on a farm and therefore was not very socialized. We were living in an apartment at the time and had friends come over to help her with it. She is much, much better. A little hesitant around strangers, which is good, but good once she gets to know someone. The puppy is just a happy guy. He likes everyone.

So, we already have a planned laid out for when the kid comes - how to introduce him to them. Hope it works. Matt is already working with them...pulling on them and teaching them not to bite - that sort of thing. When nieces and nephews where here...they were ok.

Having said that, I will give them a few chances when the new one comes, but three strikes - you're out. I am planning to not leave the baby on the floor for about 6 months (play-pen or car seat) just to make sure the dogs get use to him first. Hopefully all will go well.

If the dog bit the kid for no reason, then out you go. If the kid was pulling, taking bone when chewing on it - maybe.

OK, this was long and didn't have much useful information in it. All I can say is I feel for you!! Thinking of maybe getting another dog??

3/13/2006 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Just to be clear--the child wasn't even looking at the dog, much less provoking him. We were standing in front of the swings, and she ran up to get on the swings. He went for her as she was running. It wasn't a protective instinct, either, because Jacob was far away on the other side of the park, and clearly, he shouldn't feel protective of me, the Alpa Dog, such as I am. The best my husband and I came up with is that he has a strong chase instinct, like any dog, and attacked her, like he would a squirrel. The Canine Counselor said that it wasn't a chase instinct, it was a victory for him, a way to assert himself higher in the pack.

No dog should be higher than a child. Ever.

Also, even if the dog thinks he IS higher than the child, he still shouldn't attack one, because then the child should not be a threat to his position, especially a child as young as this one is. (She's 6).

Liz-

The counselor said that interacting with a dog's parents AND grandparents is really the best way to go, like you said. Even then, though, you have to look at the temperment of the dog, bottom line. He could have great parents and still be a little loopy.

Amy-

Good luck! I hope it goes well for you and the new baby.

3/13/2006 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Theresa said...

I guess I take a no B.S. stance on this topic. Any dog that bites, no matter the circumstances, will bite again. Period. Ask any professional animal behaviorist. A biting dog must go when there are children in the house or when the dog will be exposed to children. To give the dog another chance is to court disaster.

I am not a fan of adult shelter dogs. They are there for a reason, and rarely is it good. Some puppies may be ok, but then again, unless they have been properly socialized by their mother and humans, you may have a lot of work to do.

I've gone through this myself, and I have 4 kids. If you'd like some suggestions on breeds I would suggest looking at, please feel free to email me at thismomblogs@gmail.com

3/13/2006 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

Bye, bye, Jack. You are absolutely doing the right thing, taking the dog back to the shelter, and I would even go visit the shelter in a few weeks time, just to make sure they have a restriction on him on placing him with children.

So sad, though! Dogs are awesome, and it's sad when you have to get rid of one. So, mourn him, and grieve him, and remember him, but do not keep him.

My pound puppy has worked out great, but we got her as a puppy and before we had kids. We figured that if we got a dog that wasn't good with kids, we could take her back before we got pregnant. Fortunately, Maggie has been great, but next time we get a dog, I am definitely going the breeder route, because we do have kids and I can't take the chance of getting a dog that's not good with them.

3/13/2006 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

Basically, ditto what everyone else said.

It's hard, but a biter has to go, especially an unprovoked biter. You don't even want to think about what a dog could do a kid, and don't take the chance of finding out. Sorry Jack.

I am a dog person, but our old dog passed away when Jeffrey was only about 2 months old, and we have not replaced him yet. Maybe when the youngest is in school, but for now I don't need another creature that required me to clean up poop. The DH likes the idea of a snake, and as long as I don't have to watch it eat, I can live with that.

Sorry about your dilemma. You're doing the right thing.

3/13/2006 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Nichole said...

Oh sad, sad day!! What a nightmarish experience.

We had our full breed dog for four years when finally I said no more pets, at least until my youngest is 8 or so. My two year old chased that poor dog around until it would bite him. It was just too much for our family and for doggy. Small kids and dogs are a hard combo, and I'm a dog groomer! I worked at a vet clinic! I should be a pro, right? Nope. It's still really hard.

You are absolutely doing the right thing by taking this dog back. When it comes to your children and dogs you can't be too safe. I once saw a woman innocently pet a dog that was with it's owner and it bit her (just once, mind you) on the lower face so badly she needed 47 stitches and has a permanent scar. I accompanied the woman to the hospital and the doc said she was very lucky it wasn't her eye. The dog that bit her was a beautiful full breed dog that apparently had some aggressive tendancies. You do not want that to be your kids or anyone you know. I've been bitten a lot and seen a ton of really disgusting things while working and it was by far my scariest experience.

That said, the majority of dogs I've worked with have not been biters, even when put in compromising situations. The absolute best dog I've EVER groomed or been around was a show kennel reject. She had been raised and trained in a show kennel but when she reached showing age they found that she wasn't the champion they were looking for, so they sold her. She was by far the best behaved, sweetest tempered dog I've ever seen. The next time I get a dog that's definitely the route I'm going. A lot of people will sell show quality puppies, but if you want to ensure good behavior you want an already trained adult. Unfortunately they're not cheap.

Also, my experience is that a well-trained dog is generally a good dog - purebred or not.

I'm so sorry about your dog! I know how hard it is to give up a furry friend, but you are so doing the right thing. The only time I've seen a dog bite and thought it was justified was when a stranger grabbed her nursing puppy from her. You have to protect your own, right?
Sorry about the super long winded comment!

3/13/2006 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth-W said...

I agree with the vote to let the dog go, and absolve yourself of all guilt.

Just as an aside, there is this great show on public radio called 'Calling all Pets'. The host is an animal behaviorist of some kind. They do call in's, and she seems to always have reasonable advise, and is a really good problem-solver. For people like Amy who are getting ready to add kids to the mix I think it might be a good resource.

3/13/2006 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger mindy said...

I don't have a dog (yet!) but am very much looking forward to us moving so I can have one. I am a member of a "dog list" online, and almost all of those very dog-loving people believe strongly that a dog that bites a person should NOT be kept. There are TONS of great, non-biting dogs in need of homes, so why keep one that is potentially even more dangerous?

I disagree with liz, though. I don't think you shold find a "new home" for a biting dog. As I said above, there are so many really great dogs looking for homes that it is a shame to pass around an unfriendly one.

If you choose to get another dog, I would look into either a breed rescue, or another rescue where dogs are fostered in family homes. You can get a dog that has been fostered with kids, and the foster family will be able to "test drive" the dog for you. This is what I plan on doing when the time comes. Adopting a dog straight from the animal shelter is a bit of a gamble, I think, when you have small kids.

Was the dog off leash at the park? If so, this is a bad idea, as MANY dogs have a chase instinct, and they shouldn't be allowed to chase kids. Dogs shouldn't bite, but the human is responsible to keep the dog out of opportunities where it could get into trouble, i.e. on a leash. If I remember right, you haven't had the dog very long. Off-leash dogs that aren't VERY trained are just bound to get into trouble.

3/13/2006 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Tigersue said...

I'm sorry,
I love dogs, and I have been biten by dogs twice in my life. My daughter was biten by one when she was 5 on the face and the owners never did get rid of the dog. They said it was my daughters fault, but no one was making sure she wasn't around the dog.
You have to do what is best, and a biting dog is a scary thing, and a very sad thing when you want one so much.

3/13/2006 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Tigersue-

I can't believe the owners didn't get rid of the dog after he bit your daughter in the face! If the child is "under the age of reason" (our counselor's term, not mine), meaning under age 8, then the child can not be held responsible for the dog's behavior. Only if an older child is deliberately hurting the dog is a dog justified in biting.

Wow. I'm blown away that they blamed your daughter. What a nightmare.

Thanks for the comments that there ARE non biters out there. We had a similarly nightmarish experience with a puppy who we had to get rid of (although nobody was seriously hurt, thank goodness), and DH asked me last night, "Is there such a thing as a non aggressive dog?"

Glad to hear there is.

3/13/2006 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

Heather-

I have to second the commenter who suggested an young adult show dog who bombs out of the ring. We went that route for our last dog- (the one who died when Jeffrey was tiny)and he was the best dog EVER.

We found him through a pure-bred rescue site, and he was 10 months old, well trained, good parents, but just turned out not to be "show-quality" (whatever that means?) and we only paid $110 for him. His siblings all went for over 1K. This is definately the route we will go again when it's time to get another dog.

Good genes, responsible breeder, well trained, not quite a puppy anymore, resonable price- and he was an awesome dog.

Good luck with this one. I hope Jacob is dealing ok with the possible loss.

3/13/2006 07:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Leah said...

I was bit on the face when I was about 2. I had to get stitches and still have a scar across my nose. The dog was a puppy and was just snapping at me, and hit my face instead. When we got back from the hospital after the stitiches, I sat on the porch and fed the dog potato chips. I wasn't scared, but my mom sent the dog back anyway. We've had a lot of dogs since then and I don't have problems with dogs. However, my parents have a Jack Russell (very high strung dogs) and he is just a little too curious about our baby for my comfort. I know dogs and cats and snakes :) are domesticated, but they are still animals. And they really will always be unpredictable. I love animals but I love kids more.

3/13/2006 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger Mo Mommy said...

I've been bitten twice. Once I was bit by a dog I knew very well while standing outside talking to a friend. The dog just ran up and bit me. The owners refused to get rid of the dog, saying it must have been my fault. That dog then went on to bite 2 other youth in our neighborhood. One of the bites required surgery to repair an eye. The dog was finally removed, but not before my father bought one of her puppies. I am now more than a bit wary around dogs, and refuse to let my kids around my dad's dog.
We bred and trained bird dogs when I was growing up. Our sweet, kind, mama dog lunged at someone once and that was all it took. Bye, bye. I never understood why, until I got bit. It's just not worth the risk.

3/14/2006 02:45:00 AM  
Blogger FrogLegs said...

I am sorry to hear this... :( But, we adopted a black lab a couple days before Christmas (for a present for my son). He is well loved, and well spoiled. But if He *EVER* bit anyone, it would be hard to refrain from breaking his neck- not that I would, but you can bet that dog would be gone just as quick as I could load him up and get drive into Boise.

3/14/2006 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger annegb said...

We have four dogs and if any of them bit a child unprovoked, I'd have them put to sleep. I just wouldn't take the chance, too many little kids around. But I've done things with our dogs to prepare them for little kids, like playing in their food while they're eating, pulling their ears and stuff.

When we get a new dog, and my grandchildren come over, we are very careful about the exposure they get. We let the child around them and teach them to pet and be gentle, but we also warn our dog by our demeanor and tone of voice that any bad behavior will not be tolerated.

We've never had a problem, although Rascal sometimes looks at me and says with his eyes, "it's that kid again, help me."

We have two big yellow labs, outdoor dogs, that would never bite. They are absolutely and have never been--aggressive. You wouldn't believe the stuff my grandkids do with those dogs.

Now with our new little dog, Toby, it is so funny to watch huge Shelby walking around with Toby's teeth in his ear, swinging off Shelby as he sniffs the house.

Some yellow labs are hyper when they are young, though, is it possible the dog was jumping on this girl playfully?-- they bite each other to play.

Because Shelby our young lab jumped a lot till I read Marley and Me and kicked the heck out of him. Not as mean as it sounds, guys. A big dog like Shelby jumping on a little kid can do damage totally unintentionally.

Sad deal. I don't care if my neighbors' dogs crap on my lawn (Bill would say, why would you?:) or get in the trash, but if they bark a lot or bite, I'll object.

What kind of dog do you have?

3/14/2006 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Haven't read the comments yet, just here to share a personal story. My parents dog big a child. From what I understand, it was similar to the bite your dog inflicted. It was a shock. They thought they got things under control. Then my sister was playing with both dogs (by then, my brother and his dog moved into my parents home), and Dog A, the biter, bit her on the face - by the mouth, nose and ear, if i'm remembering right, requiring some serious time in the plastic surgeon's office. As soon as the dog bit her, she backed off, winced, and acted very sorry. Dog still stayed, because the Sister said her actions brought it on. A couple weeks ago, the dog bit again. There's a very convoluted reason the dog is being kept, and the vet appointment to put the dog to sleep isn't. Needless to say, this is a dog that is loving and kind and snuggly 99.8% of the time. I'm as much a dog lover as there can be, but if that were my dog, no reason would be good enough to keep the dog. When children are involved, it's just not worth the risk.

3/14/2006 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Annegb-

Our dog is your typical black mutt. He basically looks like a small black lab to the untrained eye (you know, mine), but he definitely has some terrier in him, and the counselor said his face structure reminded her of pit bull, though she couldn't be sure. He has long legs, a stout body, and a curly tail. He's actually very cute.

He was not, however, being playful. The bite had pressure behind it, and bruised the child badly. He nipped Jacob once, and I dismissed that as playful, or excited, or whatever, even though it left a mark. I told the counselor about it, and she said that was a victory for him, not a playful action. And then when she saw the child's leg, she said, "This dog has bitten somebody before. No dog bites that hard the first time."

So, sorry. Can't blame it on the playful action.

Julie-

Thanks for the comment, and the reinforcement of the idea that a dog will bite again, no matter how under control you think everything is.

3/14/2006 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger Kage said...

I would not only send that dog back to the pound, I would probably put it to sleep and I know that I am a horrible, rotten, dog-hating person. I actually like dogs, but I like my kids much better. Zinone over at TFTC had a somewhat similar experience recently....and she still has her dog. I don't know if she will make it on to comment, but her dog was provoked by her husband and bit her husband. Dog still lives at home with two kids. Z knows her dog and stands by him. I don't get that whole connection with your dog thing so... I would rather she came on and commented...I sent her the link.

Oh and for the record, I had to put a dog down for healthy probs once and it was so hard and cried a lot. I do have a heart.

3/14/2006 10:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what the laws are where you live, but (forgive me) I just have to ask....Why wasn't your dog on a lead...or tied to a bench or a tree or in your control or something??? I know that you can never know what your dog may or may not do, but you can take precautions. Whenever you take your dog somewhere, you are responsible for keeping in check.

3/14/2006 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Anonymous-

The dog WAS on a leash. Of course I would never take my dog somewhere without him being on a leash. He was also standing right beside me when it happened, because I had pulled him to me after he was distracted by a child running behind us. The girl he bit was less than 6 feet away from us when he bit her (she was probably about 3 feet, if that), and he lashed out so quickly I hardly knew what was happening before he had her. I don't know if I reacted too slowly or not--it's hard to remember when things happen to quickly, but he aboslutely was on a leash. Probably should have brought a muzzle though, huh.

Kage-

I would also love to hear Zinone's take on the situation. I know that FMHLisa's son got bit in the face by her dog when he tried to take food away from the dog, and I have wondered since if she got rid of it.

I think it makes a difference if you have had the dog for a while or not. Our next door neighbor's dog bit her fiance, and she absolutely stands by her dog, as you say. But then she's already invested 6 years into her dog, and we've only invested 4 months. It's easier to get rid of a shelter dog you've only known for a short time than a dog you have basically raised.

3/14/2006 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger fMhLisa said...

My dog did bite my son on the face (as you mentioned) I thought about getting rid of him, seriously, but as there was food involved, and as that is a trigger I could control I decided to just make sure that no kids and dog and food were around each other at the same time.

We've had Hero the weiner since he was a puppy, four years, and he's never so much as snapped at any of my kids or anyone elses since that day. I've taught the kids to be gentle, but even when they forget and clearly hurt him and he cries, he's never so much as nipped at them.

But I still wonder if I've made the right decision.

I think you are making the right decision to get rid of your dog, and I really hope it doesn't come to that for me, because I would cry big crock tears. But you gotta look out for your kids.

3/15/2006 12:18:00 AM  
Blogger fMhLisa said...

Also, I should mention, my son was totally untraumatized by it. He cried for about ten seconds, and then he wanted to play with the dog again. He had to have stitches and antibiotics, it was a bad bite.

But he LOVES the dog, ADORES the dog, has absolutely zero fear of the dog. I think if there was any fear or trauma on his part, I'd have been much more inclined to get rid of the dog. Not that "no fear" should be the only factor in the decision, because kids don't know what they should be scared of, however, if they are scared that matters. If that makes sense.

3/15/2006 12:24:00 AM  
Blogger annegb said...

Yeah, you better get rid of that dog. Black labs are territorial. And terriers are aggressive and high strung. I'm with Kage, I'd have it put to sleep. The long curly tail indicates it might also have some chow, which is a very bad breed around children. Our neighbor's chow killed our dog right in front of my then-10 year old.

We love our dogs, too, but if one of them got aggressive towards kids, out they'd go. That's why we're obnoxious with them as puppies, playing with them while they eat and stuff like that. And we are so careful around our grandchildren. Those dogs know their butts are grass if they hurt the kids.

So Shelby runs up and knocks Rowan down and licks her to death and she hollers indignantly.

I'm thinking especially if your dog was on a leash with you standing right there, and he still bit, that's bad. sorry. How is Jacob with all this?

3/15/2006 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger melissa c said...

You have quite a few comments here so if you don't mind reading one more, here goes. I had to do the same thing once. Felt terrible about it but you are right to do what you did. It's not worth the stress. We are Godlen Retriever people. I'm not so picky as my husband is. He says he will never have anything other than a Golden Retreiver.
Not only are they beautiful but they are great family dogs. SOOOOO gentle. My kids can sit on Duke and rough house and stick their hands in his mouth and he does nothing but look at me and ask with those beautiful brown eyes how long he has to sit there! He is 9 and we just got a puppy that is now 2 months. We want Duke to be around to help us train this new one. They are so smart and so obedient. Try one of this kind and I promise, you won't regret it!

3/15/2006 06:52:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie J said...

I agree with Melissa. Goldens are sooo gentle and good mannered. I grew up with them. I got bit once by a friend's weiner dog. It has the nastiest temper I have ever seen in a dog, but the owners never did anything about it. They had to literally lock that thing outside anytime any one came in the house and it would still jump up on the glass, bare it's teeth and bark the whole time I was there. I hated that dog. I'm pretty sure it's bitten others too, but they still have it. Blows my mind. It should be put to sleep.

3/15/2006 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger Kage said...

Since we brought up weiners. I grew up with 2 and both were nasty. The second one is very loyal to the pack: mom, dad, four kids. She has cozied up to my mom's parents and the two spouses that have joined the family, she tolerates Pukey and Poopy (my kids), but has snapped at them a few times. We watch her VERY carefully around my little ones, she is not a nice dog. Her only successful attack was as a puppy, she bit a guy's face when he was holding her...a day before Prom (your welcome)...but I guess my parents dismissed it b/c she was just a puppy...but she is not nice...no sirree bob.

3/16/2006 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger mindy said...

i realize this thread is dead, but after the last couple comments I just wanted to say that ANY dog can bite. It is usually indicative of insufficient training, unless the provocation is very severe. The problem with small dogs (like the dachshunds mentioned) is that owners don't feel like they need to train them much because they are small & "manageable". Ha!

3/21/2006 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Mindy-

I agree with you--any dog can bite. The question is, will any dog bite? I also don't know if insufficient training is the reason all dogs bite. I have been told by two trainers that genetics always wins. I grew up with dogs, and we only had 1 that bit. (It almost cost my family a lawsuit, too. Did my mom get rid of him? Of course not!) I don't think my mom trained the others in vastly different ways to not bite. Genetics are just very, very strong indicators of what is going to happen with your dog.

Training, of course, plays a huge part, too, but the trainer who saw our dog said that under stressful situations, dogs revert back to who they are. If that includes biting, that's what they'll do.

Also, this woman said that most likely, our dog had bitten before. It was too hard and too purposeful a bite for it to be his first time. Once a dog bites, as has been mentioned, chances are he will bite again.

We are taking our dog back this week. His 2 week stay of executiong is up. Poor dog.

3/21/2006 03:43:00 PM  

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