Don't Look if You're Squeamish

We interrupt your usual irreverent blogging to bring you something serious. I need advice, y'all, and it's about something I can't find the humor in no matter how hard I try. I'm hoping you can help me make a very important decision.

First of all, let me introduce you to Andy.

He's our Lab/Chow mix, quiet and (generally) well-behaved. He's ten years old, and we've had him since he was a tiny puppy. During the years we struggled with infertility, we thought Andy might be the closest we'd come to having a baby, so we treated him like our child - and loved him as much. He has moved with us from Missouri to Texas to Germany to Nevada to Iowa (because of Curtis's Air Force career - we're not, like, nomadic or running from the law). He's been an integral part of our family since our family was established.

And this is Cameron, our second son, newly two years old. This picture was taken just a few days ago.

And here's what Cameron looked like this morning ...

... thanks to Andy.

We were sitting in the living room yesterday: Cameron, Colin, Coby, and me. Curtis had just left for work. I was at one end of the couch, holding the baby; Cameron was at the other end, standing in an empty laundry basket. I didn't even register Andy sleeping beside the basket, stretched out on his side. It didn't even dawn on me that the unthinkable could happen. But I guess that's the thing about "the unthinkable" ... you don't think about it.

I was watching Cameron play when he tipped the basket over. My eyes saw every movement, from the way he pitched forward and landed on Andy to the lightening-fast snap of the dog's jaws. And it literally seemed to be going in slow-motion to me. I saw, as if watching a movie, Andy clamp down on my baby's face. His jaw opened and closed two, three, then four times, as if he were chewing - but it was in a matter of just a couple seconds. My stomach felt sick as I leapt toward them, tumbling the baby from my lap to the floor in the process (oops, sorry Coby!). All I could think about was Cameron's face. His eyes. His sight. He was bleeding everywhere.

By luck or miracle or both, Andy's teeth had missed Cammie's eye, nose, and lips, instead puncturing several places in his cheek and opening up an angry gash across his lower face. It took a plastic surgeon and 40 stitches - both internal and external - to fix. He's one of the most tenacious little dudes I've ever seen, though (the first words out of his mouth after Andy bit him were, "I'm okaaaay!"), so he's running around as crazy as usual.

Since it was a dog bite, the Animal Control people said we have to quarantine Andy in our house for ten days. After that, it's up to us to do with him as we please. And there's where I need your advice.

I want to keep Andy. I want to keep him and pretend that this never happened - but it's hard to pretend that, looking into Cameron's poor swollen, bruised, stitched-up little face. The reality is, it could have been a life-changing attack. One more inch and he could have been blinded. And this isn't the first time Andy has bitten one of the kids: he bit Colin on the arm when he was about a year old, but he hasn't had any more incidents like that in nearly four years. Until yesterday.

The thing is, though, both times Andy has bitten have been in response to being somehow surprised by the kids. It's not like he aggressively sought them out, chased them down, and used them as his personal chew toy; he was startled. It was reflexive.

On the other hand, Andy's only getting older and less tolerant. And our boys are only getting busier. They understand not to bother Andy, but you see how well that works out! Plus, we've still got Coby to go through, who is yet-untrained in the art of avoiding the grumpy old dog.

I highly doubt we could give him away. People don't usually adopt older dogs, and they especially don't adopt dogs that bite kids - so he's immediately got two strikes against him. And for that reason, I refuse to let him go to a shelter. He'll die there, just as surely as if we put him to sleep ourselves - only there, he'd wonder why we left and didn't come back for him.

And there's our other option. Having him put to sleep. But I can't even type the words without the threat of tears tightening in my throat. I love this dog. He was my first baby. If he were sick, unable to get around, or pursuing people in order to bite them, then yeah - I would grudgingly be able to do it. But Andy's still got a lot of life in him. He still loves to play. Though I wouldn't say he's in his prime, he's far from feeble and decrepit. How can I just say, "Okay, you have to die?" How can I look at him, live with him, care for him as usual throughout this ten-day quarantine, knowing that the end of it will be the end of him?  

What do we do? What would you do? Please, y'all, leave me some advice and if you know of anyone else who could add their valuable two cents, steer 'em my way.


  1. Please don't put him to sleep - he has better chances in a shelter, and I know you don't want him to die there. At 10 years old, your dog could still have quite a few years left.

    I suggest looking around for a rescue group or a no-kill shelter. They can and will find a new home for him. Ask your local shelter or pet store about animal rescue groups in your area. As your boys get older and more curious, they will probably become more annoying to Andy - not on purpose, just the nature of healthy, curious boys to get into things.

  2. We took our two cats to the shelter after they did less damage to our daughter. It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done. But every time I see the little scar on Lucy's face I know I did the right thing. If the swipe had been about an inch higher they could have blinded her.

    Here's my honest opinion, and I'll be blunt. Get rid of the dog, today if you can. If you can't find a no-kill shelter you feel comfortable taking him to put him down.

    I know it's not really Andy's fault. He's just doing what animals do. But that's the problem. You can't explain to Andy that he has to ignore thousands of years of instincts and not bite. You can't trust him to not bite. He thinks biting is a form of communication. He doesn't know better. And that is precisely why you can't trust him with your boys. He's done it in the past. And this last episode is a nasty one.

    No matter how much you love Andy, and I know from what you've said {and from my own experience with our cats} that you love him A LOT you have to keep in mind that love will not protect your kids, or their friends from further attacks. And, legally, if Andy bites somebody else, you could be in a world of trouble.

    In the end this will be hardest on YOU. If Andy is put down it will be a quiet, painless death and he will never know the difference. Your kids probably don't have the same attachment to him that you do, and having grown up with animals I know from personal experience that kids move on after a pet dies. Ultimately, it will suck most for you. You will miss Andy. You will second guess your choice {no matter WHAT it is}. You will cry, a lot. But only one choice will make sure you're not crying over the injury or {heaven forbid} death of someone Andy has attacked. We love animals, we adore our pets. And sometimes I think we forget that they're not as human as we think they are. Dogs can be dangerous. Is it their fault? Are they "bad" or "naughty?" No, they're being what evolution has programmed them to be. But that doesn't mean we're obligated to tolerate that behavior if it threatens us or our loved ones.

    My advice, take it or leave it, is to say goodbye.

    All that said, many MANY {{HUGS}} for you as you deal with this and come to a decision. I hope your little guy heals fast and that you have a lot of love and support while you're making your choice. My sympathies for you during this very hard trial.

  3. I cannot imagine how that feels. First, I'm glad C is going to be ok. That is MOST important. Second, we had a chow/german shep mix and he bit our 85 year old neighbor. We knew we couldn't keep him with two young boys and countless other kids running in and out. Thankfully the neighbor did not press charges. I put an ad on Craigslist, laying it all out there. The first phone call was from a set of brothers, in their 30s who lived together and wanted him. THey knew up front his personality and they already had an 8 foot fence and were ready to help keep him clear of grannies. It has been almost a year and we have kept in touch. They send pictures of him camping, hiking and playing in the snow.
    I said all that to say, try putting it all out there on CL, see if there are any couples with no children or singles who would love him like you do.
    Its a decision I wish you didn't have to make.
    I'll be praying and sending positive thoughts your way.

  4. ugh this is a hard one! I really dont have any advice. this same thing happened to my son when he was almost three. He is almost 12 now and still has the scars to prove it. same spot your son got bit, missing his eye barely, matter of fact, got the bottom lid. we didnt keep the dog. We got the dog when i was pregnant with my oldest and he grew up with Dakota, even though at 3 the dog was still a puppy, I could not take a chance on my sons life..what if it HAD been his eye..his throat? and I suffer because his face is scared forever. We had our dog put to sleep. it pained me, it still does as I type this. I am a lover of all animals, I am always trying to rescue something! when I was a teen I thought my dad ma kick me out of I brought home another stray, BUT this was MY baby, my real human baby, I just couldnt take a chance. Im so sorry this happened to you, and your baby, its a tough decision to make for sure!

  5. This is such a hard decision and I'm sorry you have to make it. I have to agree with your other commenters that your kids have to be the don't know that he won't do it again. I'm so sorry. We have a beloved dog and I'm not sure what I would do in your situation. Hugs to you all.


  6. I really have to agree with CBSMOM. I would put it all out there, on craigslist, put a flyer at your local shelter if they'd let you... there are plenty of dog lovers out there who don't have kids or can't or are single guys etc that just want a companion or live a huge farm lands with room for a dog to play and would understand what happened. It was the dogs nature to react like that and a true dog lover would understand that the way you do. You know he didn't mean to hurt anyone, but it is your kids first. Or I would find a no kill shelter or rescue place, you may have to drive a few hours to find one, but if it's what you want it'd be worth it. Who knows, if you find a rescue place they may even come pick him up.

  7. This made me cry. I'm sorry to have to admit to you what I would do, but you asked, so here it is.

    We have three girls. The youngest being four, who loves to lay all over the animal portion of our family.

    Our oldest dog is a 15 year old Wolf Hybrid. We've had her since she was a puppy.
    We also have a Male Wolf Hybrid that outweighs her by 20 lbs. (he comes to my waist, and not even full grown!) He's still a puppy @ a year old.
    Then we have a little yappy Pomeranian that's two.

    Our female WH has been such a big part of our family. But, she's getting old, and cranky. My husband and I have already talked about what we would do if she got cantankarous enough to start growling or biting at the girls.

    There is no doubt, even with the deep, undying love that I have for my animals, that I would choose my childrens safety over anything else.

    If a dogs agresiveness is due to age, then it will only get worse.

    I wouldn't put it to chance. The first time one of my guys bit, they would have to be put down. I know how we have raised them, and I know if they bit, (other than protecting our home, of course) that it would be a mental deterrieration that would only get progressivly worse.

    I wouldn't see this happening with the young dogs we have. But there is a possibility that it could happen with our oldest girl. She's moody. But, if we had something like this happen, I would know that she was at a point where she couldn't make good decisions, and that she would have to go. That's just part of being a dog owner. Sometimes, you have to make decisions that you don't want to make. Don't get me wrong, it would be the hardest thing that I would ever have to do. But, God gave me my girls to protect. They come first, no matter what.

    I showed my husband your pictures just now, and told him that you asked what we would do if one of our dogs did this. His immediate response, "They'd be dead!"

    Ten years is a long time to love an animal. But, just remember what a blessing your children are to you. Whatever you choose to do, I hope you never have to deal with anything like this, again.

    I'll say a prayer for handsome Cameron. I hope he feels better, soon!

  8. Okay ... our family has an 8 year old Siberian Husky. She is an indoor family member and we love her to pieces. If something like this were to arise in our home, here is how I would handle it. I would give her seperate quarters of the house to be in and not allow her to be around my boys (ages 3 and 6). This way she still enjoys the rest of her life with her family who loves her, but the kiddos are safe from any accidents.
    I say accident because that is what this event seemed to be. Andy loves you guys, you are his world. He would never intentionally try to harm your kiddos. He was startled and trying to protect himself, not realizing what he was doing. If he did bite Cameron intentionally, he would have done far more damage. I know that this is a very serious wound (I am not trying to take away from that), but in my opinion I think you can keep Andy, still love him and care for him, understanding that this was an accident. Just take precautions with him and keep an eye around him when he is with everyone.
    Hope this helps ... good luck in whatever you decide!

  9. I gasped at the "after" photo and my mouth hung open the entire time I was reading your post. I'm so sorry you have to make this decision. I think you're so torn because you already know you have to get rid of the dog. No dog is more important than your children and their safety. If you can't bear to put him to sleep I would look for a no kill animal shelter also. People look for senior animals, especially when the shelters offer free food and free vet services for the life of the dog. Be careful with Craig's List. Make sure your confident in who you're giving your dog to. Not everyone has the best intentions with taking on an animal.

    Again, I'm so sorry. I can feel your heartbreak while reading this.

  10. I understand the need to rehome Andy, but please don't take him to a shelter (unless it is no-kill). A dog that old in a kill shelter will almost surely be put to sleep after spending a terrifying 7-10 days in a cage. My husband and I have made it our business every once in a while to pull dogs from high-kill shelters, love on them and help them to recuperate from the trauma of being at a place like that, and then find wonderful homes for them. Dogs in kill shelters are often totally bewildered and badly frightened by all of the barking and commotion, and my heart hurts to think of your dog--a dog who has known nothing but human love and companionship for 10 years--in this type of predicament. Again, I don't blame you for not wanting to risk another incident like this with your son. But please, please, please work on getting Andy into a no-kill shelter or rescue group. They are out there if you look.

  11. I'd say keep him around if it was a little nip like dogs do when they play..but that isn't one of them. That one is big and could scar? It will be hard, for sure, but in the end, it's the right thing to do.

  12. So your question is "shelter" or "Put to sleep"?

    My husband had to put his dog to sleep after we married. His dog bit my son (who still has scars 17 years later). It was the hardest thing he ever had to do and the only time I saw him cry. BUT he would rather have him put to sleep gently, than ever think of him in a shelter. It wasn't even an older dog like yours but hubby's theory was that the dog was not going to adapt since there was subsequent growling, snapping at, and other unhappy behavior.

  13. I think you have to get rid of Andy for every one's sake.
    There are rescue groups that might be able to help. There are people who adopt older dogs. My wife and I have always taken mature dogs. We have one now and go for smaller ones.
    here is a start for looking for rescue groups to help.
    Stock up on tissue. I wonder if there is any counseling available. Does the AF have anything?

  14. Oh my God, I'm so sorry!

    I'm going to have to agree with everyone else and say that the best thing to do would be to find Andy a home with no kids. Is there anyone in your circle of friends or family who might want him?

    Putting him down seems drastic and unnecessary, my best suggestion would would be to find him a loving, childless home.

    I can't imagine how hard this must be for you. Thinking about you! *HUG*

  15. My hubby and I are sitting here torn for you! I am crying..I know how much our dogs mean to us (and of course how much our kids do too)...unfortunately you are right...he could have blinded your sweet little guy.
    I reluctantly agree (only because it sucks to say goodbye) with the previous commenter that suggested a no-kill shelter.
    So sorry you have to go through this and so thankful that Cameron is going to be okay!

  16. Oh Rita. I am so, so sorry. Throughout the years we have known each other I have always heard you talk about Andy with such love. I know you adore him.

    But these are your babies. And accident or no, I think Andy cannot live with you guys anymore. You have 3 little boys - accidents can and will happen, as is the case with Cam. They will happen over and over and you will never be able to anticipate and prevent all of them. Andy will likely continue to respond in a similar way to being startled or annoyed. In fact, with age he will probably get worse. And who knows where he will strike next time, or how many times he will sink his teeth into the flesh of one of your children before he snaps out of instinctive attack mode.

    I don't blame Andy. I know he is NOT a bad dog. But perhaps he is a dog who cannot live comfortably with such a busy, young family. How he leaves your home is your call. You have to decide what you are comfortable with. For me, rehoming him yourself, placing him with a rescue group, or putting him to sleep would all be reasonable options. Putting him in a shelter would not be something I would ever consider. Until you decide how you want to handle this, I would keep Andy away from your boys.

    Do not think the nature of this attack (during an accident) or the fact that Cam's wounds are superficial or Cam's response following the attack (Jonah responds similarly when he gets hurt) makes it less serious or allows for a "wait and see" approach. In my heart, as hard as I know it will be, I believe Andy needs a new family.

    All my love to you. ((((HUGS))))

  17. Oh Rita. This post breaks my heart but I knew that it was coming after I heard what happened last night.

    As you know, I'm not a mother, so it may leave me with not only the single differing opinion from everyone above me, but also maybe the least understanding (well, I can't find a better word but understanding isn't quite what I mean), in this situation.

    If I were in your position, I don't think I would get rid of Andy. Reading this entry over a couple of times, I think you don't want to get rid of Andy either -- and that's my impression from the general tone of this post, not from any direct words.

    What I would do in your shoes is talk to your two oldest ones about Andy's temperament, and about how he could be easily startled while sleeping. Make them aware that they have to be gentle with him -- just like they have to be with Coby. Keep your eye on them -- if you have to leave the room or have some time away, keep Andy downstairs with a baby gate.

    Like you said, it's not like he's aggressive because he's mean. He was startled, and most likely he had no intention of hurting Cameron. He was protecting himself. When I was up there for that weekend in January, remember how Andy would always growl at me? However, no matter how many times I toed the line by continuing to pet him, touch his face, sit next to him, or talk to him he NEVER acted on his growls and snapped at me. I think that proves that he wasn't just being cantankerous, and was truly hurt/startled by Cammie's fall.

    I'll admit, I tend to attribute too much human emotion to animals. I worry that when you give him away, he'll be so upset and have no understanding of why he's away from his family of 10+ years. I think he deserves another chance, and maybe some extra precautions to keep him away from the little ones until they're old enough to understand his preferences.

    Either way, it's your decision ... and only you can know what's best. That's just my two cents. :)

  18. This is a tough one. My first reaction is to have the dog put down but then I am not an animal lover like yourself.

    Would it be possible to have the dog live outside or in a different part of the house from the kids?

    I am sorry that this happened. I hope that your little guys heals up soon.

  19. I totally understand where you are coming from, however, Andy must leave the house one way or another. I agree with two options: (1) no-kill shelter (2) craigslist. I remember Andy from Germany and he is a sweet dog, but he has to leave, Rita. He needs a home with no children. Huge hugs!


  20. Oh, my heart is breaking for you. I don't have children, but I have two dogs that are our children. What a terrible choice to have to make. I just cannot recommend putting a dog to sleep for something like this. But, I think that finding another home for him could be a good option - a compromise perhaps. Whatever you decide, my thoughts are coming your way.

  21. I'm so sorry for you and your family. My sister and I grew up with german shepherds and a couple of lab/malamute mixes--my dad had the rule that if a dog ever attacked then it would have to be put down. However, I understand that this dog did it out of fear, not anger. I think it takes a really special and rare dog NOT to get frightened when small children either fall or make a sudden movement. As a baby, my sister and I had an adult german shepherd that allowed us to crawl all over it...this dog was trained very well. However, my sister was attacked by a stray chowchow when we were waiting for the school and my father rushed home to destroy it so I understand your fear/protection for your children. We were taught though you never put your hands in your dog's face or taunt a dog (definitely not implying your children do this). I think that you should sit your boys down and explain to them that aggressive behavior, pulling, forceful sudden movement towards/at the dog can disturb and scare him. I think you should either find another family, that you know, that has older children that would be able to love him or arrange your household that would allow your dog a place to be (garage, basement) and keep the youngest two away from him. I'm so sorry!

  22. Oh honey, I am SO SORRY! I would suggest getting in touch with local rescue groups and no-kill shelters and putting out some feelers. There is probably some childless couple or single person who would love to have Andy in their life.

    Also, I know it's not you, but there's a comment above about someone owning wolf-dog hybrids and I can't help myself. Wolf-dogs are NOT dogs. They are not domesticated pets. It is ILLEGAL to keep them as pets in forty states. They are wild animals with unpredictable temperments and their cross-breeding often makes them, for lack of a better word, crazy. Having them in your home at all is highly dangerous, and I cannot even fathom having one with children around. Sorry, stepping off my soapbox now... ;)

  23. Bless his heart! First, I hope that Cameron (and you) feel better. Second, I am going to be blunt. Can you look at your kids and say "Okay,You have to die?" Can you look at your kids, care for your kids, for the next ten days and think, after the quarantines over, that it could be the end of them? I'm not trying to be harsh, and I love animals...but the love for the babies that I gave birth to, and breastfeed would surpass the love of my beloved dog..I agree with some of the other posts that suggest finding someone to adopt him, and love him as much as you do. And, it doesn't matter the breed of the dog..i've had poodles, to pit bulls..With 7 kids inbetween..But my decision would be the same regardless..OUT!

  24. This just breaks my heart, as I know it does yours. Andy is a good dog and I love him, but just look at Cammie's little face! This must NEVER happen again. I agree with several others that a no-kill shelter or giving him to someone with no children would be a good option, but I wouldn't wait too long without a resolution to this whole situation. I'd rather see him put to sleep (it can be done quite peacefully and you can be there with him) than take him to a kill shelter. This is one of those horribly difficult decisions that we sometimes have to make, and I wish with all my heart that you and Curtis weren't in this position. I'm praying that whatever happens, happens soon....for everyone's sake. XXXOOO

  25. Rita, I love you to death girl. I understand loving a dog so much. There are alot of people out there that dont have kids, and could maybe take him. If that cant happen, there is no easy way to say it, but you got to do something.I know this has got to be hard Andy being like your kid. You have to look at it like this. It's the second bite and look at your baby's face, you know as much as I do you cant keep the dog around the kids anymore. Keeping you all in our prayers.. Lisa G.

  26. This is horrible and it breaks my heart. I don't have kids, so I tried to look at it from Cameron's perspective, if I was bit by my dog how would I feel? I guess my first question is how does Cameron feel about Andy? That was probably a pretty traumatic experience for him. I don't think I would ask Cameron if Andy should go away, but maybe just watch Cameron's reaction to Andy. Also, I may try to talk to a dog trainer to see if that is something that maybe could be trained out of Andy. I realize that it was just a reflexive action, but there are dogs that have been trained out of that behavior.

  27. Before you get rid of Andy talk to your Veterinarian. They may know of an expert that can do an assessment on your dog and let you know if the lash out was a startled response or if your dog has agressive tendencies due to age or any other factor. And have you Vet look at Andy as well. With him being an older dog it is possible that he could have the beginning of athritis, kidney problems, ect. If C landed on him and hit a tender spot, he's going to react.

    I have the same cat that I've had for years. He was and is very tolerable to my son. There was one time that my cat bit him. My son grabbed his fur so hard that my normally silent cat meowed in pain and he lashed out. When my cat got away I noticed the white hair in my sons clenched fists.

    Andy is a part of the family as well and I think that he should be evaluated before you make any decisions. What happened was a horrible accident, but it might hurt C more in the long run. Not only would he also be losing someone that he considers family, but it may also cause him to fear dogs as well. I wish that I could tell you that it would never happen again, but noone can tell you that.

    While I was in Vet Tech school, we were told the times you need to fear your pet around your children is when your animal refuses to be near them. If they do that it is a passive aggression and they are more likely to harm them. Of course that is besides obvious agressive behavior, such as bearing teeth, growling, etc. But it sounds to me like he's comfortable around your children, aside from a couple of years ago.

    It's a tough call, but again I don't know how old your dog is or his history. I suggest you get him checked out before making any decisions.

  28. Oh poor little guy, he looks like he is toughing it out though... I hate to say it, I have a dog and love dogs, but you probably need to find a home for your dog. Kids are kids... especially boys and although the dog doesn't mean to hurt anyone, they will naturally protect themselves. Maybe when they are older you can revisit the idea of a family pet, but when your kids are in more control of their own behavior, not so much the dogs. Good luck, be praying for you. Please stop my blog, I have an award for you!!!

  29. I had said I wouldn't read this entry, as I emotionally would probably have a horrible time reading it, but I eventually (obviously) did read it. I was right, I have been in tears for 15 minutes, reading the entry and responses.

    I wish I had advice, I look at Drake and I worry what if this happens with him and Bandit. I know it won't happen with our dogs as I simply put them in my bedroom when he is here, no reason to risk anything because I can do that for the periods of time we have him. But I do worry it could happen with Bandit in much the same way it happened with Andy. And it would be the same situation you face. Morgan has had Bandit since before his birth and he is her child, and she loves him much like she does Drake.

    I have no wisdom or idea what choice I would make in this situation. The only thing I know is that I could never put him in a shelter. Chief was a rescue dog from a shelter and it was a horrible experience for him, and it left him sick, depressed and facing death. My vet has told me that if, for any reason, we could no longer keep our big dogs (both 8 years old), it would be better to put them down than put them in a shelter. They are no longer able to deal with the loss of affection they thrive on.

    That said, when the kids were little, we had to get rid of our beloved Rottie. We could no longer care for him and watch him around the kids as he deserved. We put out an ad in the paper (now I would go with Craigslist) and it took us almost a month, but we found the perfect man for him. He was recently divorced, had lost his dog in the process to the ex and needed Maxx as badly as Maxx needed someone like him. We kept in touch for a long while and Maxx had the best life, riding in trucks, running his land and being the baby in his life. That would be the best I could hope for with you for Andy.

    My heart is simply breaking for you. Hugs.

  30. oh, and post note, to Ann about wolfdogs, I must say.... education with wolfdogs is the only way people can comment and understand them. There are all different levels of wolfdog content - and yes, most are illegal, but not all. And a wolfdog, just because of the content of wolf in their blood, doesn't mean what most people assume (aggressive, dangerous, etc). Most properly bred wolfdogs are timid around strangers, highly attached to their human family and often extremely shy. I know, having had one, I am defensive of them. While I was always cautious of exposing him to children or strangers, I never worried about him hurting anyone. I can say, without any doubt or reservation, my poodle was always far more dangerous than the wolfdog, he would bite in a heartbeat and cause great damage.

    Just like pittbulls, dobermans, rotties, and other "scary" breeds, wolfdogs are a product of their masters, not their breed. Some would be surprised to know, the dogs that bite the most are those cute dalmations.

  31. Rita, I'm so sorry you guys are going through this. :( When Brady was little his dad's best bud was his dog, and he ended up biting Brady's brother, Bryan, and well, let's just say the dog met his demise pretty quickly. Not saying that is right or wrong, though. If I were you I would just explore every option possible, and hopefully when it's right, you'll just know. Good luck and praying Cameron makes a speedy recovery!

  32. This is just heartbreaking. I would have to agree with some of your other readers who advised that Andy should go, as tough a decision as that is for you. Andy clearly meant no malice, as he was just reacting to being startled, but there's no guarantee that this kind of thing couldn't happen again, since children are upredictable. I am so sorry you have to go through this, and I am wishing C a speedy and full recovery.

  33. We are actually in a similar situation. Our 11yo mix has started to snap at the baby when she grabs at biggest fear is if she should make contact and hurt the baby. We are consideringn putting her down because of her age and health issues and now this is snapping stuff is coming into play. There is no easy answer, but what I do know is that once the agression starts, it will be hard to get back to the place where the dog was before. And most important, I can't trust a dog again that has done that to a member of the family. It is time for Andy to go.

    I'm sorry, it sucks. We are making a decision this weekend about our dog. Hugs.

  34. I followed over from Twitter.

    I am so sorry you are having to make this decision. When we were younger my brother and I that is, we had (well he is still around) a dog. My brother laid back on him while he was sleeping, which startled the dog and caused him to jump up and latch on to his ear. Steven (my brother) lurched forward to get away and it nearly ripped his ear off.

    We kept the dog, but then, he was about 2 years old at that time.

    Right now we have a one-year-old and I am always very careful about letting him play with Bailey because he is nearly 10 now and like you said, only getting more irritable. If it happened that Bailey would bite anyone else I am sure he would be put down or put in a shelter. Which is so hard because he is loved by us all. But let's face it - Dogs aren't human. They are animals. And while we can domesticate them all we want, it's hard to take that dog instinct away.

    Is there any way you can possibly have Andy as an outside dog?

    If not - maybe you know of someone who might take him, maybe someone without kids?

    I am so sorry you have to go through this. I can't imagine how sad it must be for you. I'm glad your little one is okay, and I hope you can come to a decision that you will be comfortable with.

  35. Our family just went through this in October.

    We put our dog down.

    And we are still not over it.

    But it was the best thing for the safety of my children.

    Before we made the decision, we contacted three rescue groups, none of whom would take him because he was aggressive towards children.

    We took him to Cornell University's Animal Behavioral clinic. After a few months, the verdict was to put him down.

    We contacted our shelter, who said they would not adopt a dog out who was aggressive towards children for liability reasons.

    We worked with our local kennel club; every single person said there was nothing we could do, that we had gone beyond what most people would do, and it was time to let him go.

    We worked with our local breed club. They tearfully told us the most humane thing for both our kids and our dog was to put him down.

    We also worked with FIVE additional private trainers. Only one said there was hope if I followed her program...which amounted to removing my kids from the house while I worked with the dog for a few months. This lady didn't have kids of her own, so maybe that's why she thought this was valuable advice.

    We STILL love and miss our dog dreadfully. He was our family. My daughter and I held him as the vet gave him the injection, and I made myself look the dog in the eyes as he went. He deserved at least that much.

    And while I write this with tears streaming down my face, I know I made the right decision. It would be far worse if he had killed/permanently maimed one of my kids or another child.

    Only you can decide what is best for your family. Ultimately what anyone says here doesn't matter. But, as you asked for advice, I'd say thank goodness that this is ALL that has happened, and ask yourself, how much more risk do you want to take on, knowing what Andy is capable of doing? How comfortable are you having Andy around the children, especially the baby? What if this happens to one of your kids' friends--what will you do?

    Also, it sounds like Andy is getting older, if not an old dog. Have you had his thyroid checked? As dogs get older their thyroids can get messed up, which can cause aggression. A simple pill could fix all of this. Or contact your local kennel club--they should be able to offer recommendations for treatment, even if he isn't a purebred.

    Good luck to you! I'm glad your son will be okay. This is heartbreaking, I know...but ultimately make the choice that is in the best interest of the safety of you and your kids.

  36. Good gracious, you poor thing! What a terrible decision to face. Here is my advice. Contact a local rescue. Explain to them exactly what's going on, and see if they will work with you to find him a proper home. There ARE people out there who will adopt older dogs, it just may take a little time. I'm sure he would do great in a home with an older couple. As long as you are willing to house him in your home(Perhaps gate him off away from the kids?) until another home can be found, I'm sure they will work with you.
    I think it would be best for all of you, Andy included. It's surely sad though and I'm so sorry you're going through this.

  37. Oh my, I am so very sorry for what happened. I too gasped when I saw the second photo. And then sighed when I realized that, more or less, he was okay.

    I know when we had a dog growing up that started biting kids our vet, with great sadness, told us that once they start aggressively biting kids, they don't tend to stop.

    I don't envy your position and wish you well during this difficult decision.

  38. As a mother, I have to agree with Holly and Professional Manager, 100%. You cannot watch your children and your dog every moment of every day. He needs to go now - possibly to a temporary home without kids until you can find a permanent home for him, a no-kill shelter, or be euthanized - but I agree it's urgent. Seven years after euthanizing our beloved lab, we still miss her and cry together over her photos. Pets are wonderful, loyal, and integral parts of our lives - but they are not children, however much like them they may behave.

  39. I'm sorry to hear you're going through this. We went through something similar with one of our dogs, who was a rescue. We made the decision to put him down, because we realized that even if it was a reaction, we could not trust him not to do it again if he were surprised in a similar way.

    It was a difficult and painful decision, but I was confident at the time, and I still am, that it was the right decision. I knew that we had rescued him from a terrible situation, given him years of good living in our home, and when the time came we made a humane decision, based on our experiences with him, and were able to hold him as he was put to sleep. (In fact, I said at the time that if I can control it, that's how I'd like to go - calmly and held by people I love!)

    Anyway, it was a difficult decision but the right one. I had to protect my family, and as much as I love my pets, I feel strongly that my duty towards them is to give them a good life for as long as I can, and to see them into the next world when that time has passed, and to feel comfortable knowing that I gave a rescue pet love and a comfortable, happy home.

    I imagine you've already made your decision, and perhaps already taken action on it. In any event, though, my thoughts are certainly with you and your family.

  40. Oh what a truly horrible thing to happen, and what a truly horrible decision you've got. I am glad you've got the decision to make though, in Australia the dog would already be snoozing beside a basket in the sky - with or without your permission.

    I think that's harsh, given that many incidents are just as you described: in response to being surprised by kids. As you said, it was reflexive.

    All I can say is that I hope you are able to make the decision that will be the right one, and you'll always look back and be glad you made it! Whatever it is.

  41. I'm so sorry about what has happened. Maybe you've already made you decision, but to me, you should wait and see what happens next. If he shows any signs of aggression towards your children again, the it's time to move on.

    I hope Cameron gets well soon.

  42. I've read through all the other comments, and you have a lot of good suggestions from people.

    My opinion would lie with those who have said to talk to your vet first, and also the one who suggested a way that the dog is separated from the kids.

    The salient point to remember is that ANY animal could hurt a child if that animal is suddenly frightened or hurt by the child grabbing or falling on them. That is a natural reaction by the animal, and doesn't make the animal vicious.

    From everything else you said, it doesn't sound like the animal normally has a problem with the kids at all. In this incident, Cameron and a basket landed on Andy. Andy went from asleep to awake in one sudden - and maybe painful - shocking moment and just reacted.

    I don't have a dog. But my father in law did, and every time he brought the dog over (she goes with him everywhere) I would lay down the law that the dog not be alone with my children EVER. Despite the fact that she was the most gentle and loving dog, very patient with them, and had never harmed a person in her life. She never did harm the girls, but she growled at one once when patted too hard.

    Another option - and certainly one that you can use in the interim - might be a soft muzzle on the dog when the children are around. That would ensure that the dog cannot bite.

    The safety of the children is paramount, obviously. But if you could find a solution that keeps them safe and keeps your beloved pet as part of the family it would be perfect.

    I think it would be wrong to put an animal down for behaviour that was provoked from fear. If you decided that you had to get rid of him, I am certain that someone might come forward and offer him a nice home.

  43. Oh, Momma! Thank GOD he is okay, poor little baby! Poor ALL of you. . .

    I have 2 dogs, and honestly - I would get rid of the dog. I understand that he was sleeping and got startled, but. . .like you said - he isn't getting any younger, and you have a tiny one that's still learning.

    Even if this happens once every 4 years - its once too many for me. I know its hard, and he's been with you for such a long time, but. . .

    I wouldn't want to put him to sleep, but I would definitely find a new home for him. I agree with the suggestions of a no-kill shelter, or even try advertising for a new family. You never know, he is a well-trained, well-behaved dog. Even if he's getting up there in years, there are some older people who are just looking for a companion and don't want to deal with all the puppy stuff.

    Whatever you decide, I'll be praying for you and your family. This is such a hard decesion for you guys. . . Glad the baby is okay. Wow. Thank God the baby is okay. . .

  44. I'd probably bring him to the shelter. I understand that will probably be painful but if he's getting less tolerant, it's probably for the best.

  45. i am so sorry that you are in such a horrible and heartbreaking situation. i love animals. i am just mad for them. i don't have kids, so i am pretty close to my cats (my babies). but i also know the value of human life, and it just trumps that of pets that can become dangerous. if that sounds harsh, please forgive me. i think i would probably put andy to sleep if i couldn't find a friend or relative (WITHOUT YOUNG CHILDREN) that wanted to take him. i am so sorry, and i would never judge you for what you decide to do. this is a very tough thing to handle.

  46. Oh, wow, this is hard. I read this and looked over at my rescue, Lucky, who is passed out asleep on the floor. He came to me after being severely abused, and I was incredibly worried about how he would react to my rambunctious then three-year-old. Luckily, he is incredibly docile with him, but it's not the case with strangers, specifically men.

    I understand how a dog is a part of the family, and as a single parent I'm probably more attached to Lucky than I should be. But, if I ever, for an instant, worried about my child's safety around Lucky, for any reason, I'd have to find him another family.

    I'm so sorry you have to go through with this.

  47. As tough as it is, the children's safety must come first. And there are people who will adopt an older dog who don't have children.

    Sorry for your dilemma. Just stopped by from SITS; hope you'll do the same.

  48. Oh no, I'm so sorry to hear that you're in this terrible situation.

    It sort of feels presumptuous of me to offer advice since this is the first time I've visited your blog, but I can tell you that I would *never* keep a dog that injured my child like that. I might try to find an older, childless couple to take care of him, or I might give him to a no-kill shelter--I might even have him put to sleep (although it pains me to say it)--but I would *never* keep an animal in the house that put my children at risk. Your boys are likely to surprise him again in the future--maybe not intentionally, but accidents happen with kids--and if he bit one of them and caused lasting damage, you'd never forgive yourself.

    Again, I'm so sorry. I wish there were something I could do to help.

  49. When my first born was around 10 months old the same thing happened with our then 12 year old baby girl Button. Jacek was already walking by then and he had stumbled on her..and she bit him. It was a horrible sickening thing to witness. The image remains.
    I tried for awhile to get her rehomed with a friend or family so I could still have her in my life. She was my first baby, just like you and Andy.
    We took her to the vet and had her examined. She was worse off then we had thought. She was going blind, deaf, and had some hip problems. They said her chances of being adopted out were slim and she could spend a few months waiting before they put her down (without me)
    From that point I was scared to leave the room while her and Jacek were together. Scared by her going to lick him which she did so readily because I know she loved him but the WHAT IF kept nagging at me.
    I made the, maybe selfish, decision to put her down just a little after her 13th birthday. I got to hold her as she crossed Rainbow Bridge. I got to decide her last days and her last breath.
    I still struggle with wondering if I made the right choice but I had her in my life for 13 years (longer then any other significant other)and I felt I had to KNOW how her life played out. I couldn't bare just taking her to a shelter with out knowing how she'd fair.

    You will always be'll second guess yourself no matter the choice you make.

    I feel for you and am so sorry you are faced with this decision.

  50. Hi, found you through SITS.
    First of all, I've worked with animals my entire adult life, including K-9 SAR.
    We have rescued many animals, and sometimes things go wrong.
    The fact of the matter is this; a dog is not your baby - in that, he does not see himself as your baby - that is purely a human emotion. He sees himself as a member of your pack. If he were in a pack and attacked the alpha females cubs he would have been either chased off or worse, regardless of age.
    I realize this is not the warm cuddly response most people expect, but it is honest.
    As a dog ages it is not uncommon for things like this to happen, and with the Chow in him you need to understand that that is just part of his genetic make-up. This is not to tag any specific breed, but we have to understand that we have breeds because we chose to enhance certain traits within a specific group, and the Chow - as cute as it might be - was bred for certain responses.
    Bottom line. As hard as it will be (and I have certainly been there with animals, many times) you need to protect your children at all cost. Either find him a home without kids that might surprise him, or do what you need to to protect your real babies.

    I wish you the best. I know it's a heartbreaking time, but better to take care of it now than be regretting things down the road with a blind child - or worse. This is one of those times when you need to be super mom, and do what you must, even if it hurts.
    You know in your heart what you need to do to protect your kids.
    My thoughts are with you.
    Regards -

  51. I'm so sorry that this happened. Thank God C's eyes and lips weren't damaged.

    I'm sure you've already made your decision as I'm late to this post but I think I would get rid of the dog. Maybe you can find someone to take him or a no-kill shelter. Can you check with the Humane Society?

    With another little one coming up it could happen again. It's not the kids' fault - they are being kids. It's not the dog's fault - he is just being a dog. My heart goes out to you.

  52. It would take me about 1/2 second to take the dog to be put down. Children cannot be expected to be able to stay out of a dog's way and this is just way too serious to let go. And why possibly place him in another home where it could happen?

  53. What did you do??? Just found you on my blog hopping insomniac ride and I don't see what was decided.

    Reading through the comments was heartbreaking and your story so difficult. I am so sorry you are in this situation.

  54. Sad! I had to make this same decision earlier this year. My dad hadn't bitten a child yet, but he would have eventually. I hired an expensive dog behavioralist to work with him, but when the problem is being "surprised," it's hard to prevent an incident. I was actually able to find a new home for him with an older single man who lives in the country. I get e-mail updates on him all the time, and I've even been to visit. If you decide to go that route, use your social networks to get the word out. I made a little site that told Tucker's story and posted it to Facebook. Good luck!

  55. I was scrolling through and was caught by this pots. My ex was a veterinarian and it was his opinion that a dog who will bite a child does not understand its place in the "pack" - dogs are social creatures and absolutely have to realize their place as below any human in the household. A child should be able to take food from the family dog's mouth without risk. We had a greyhound, normally very gentle dogs, who nipped our son's face below the eye and we got rid of her immediately. This may sound harsh, and I know I'm a stranger to you, but the only two sane options are to place the dog with a family that has no children or to put him down. Dogs can blind, maim, or kill small children. If the dog bites again and does more serious damage, will you be comfortable explaining to your child when he's older why you chose to keep a dangerous dog in spite of a very clear warning from the dog that it wasn't safe? No dog is ever worth more than a person.

  56. P.S. I don't mean that as a criticism in any way - I know it's an agonizing decision to make and I hate for you that you have to make it.

  57. I went through this same exact thing. My dog was 12 years old and bit my 18 month old daughter. It wasn't NEARLY as bad as the bite your son has experienced, there wasn't even blood just a small red mark where the teeth grazed but it scared me. We agonized what to do with the dog for 6 more months (without a repeat incident). We tried finding a home or shelter for her during that time but nobody wanted her because she had bit and if they would take her they would just put her to sleep immediately. So, after much heartbreak we decided to put her to sleep.

    I'm sure you'll make the right choice for your family, no matter what you decide.


Post a Comment

Commenting makes you big and strong! Okay, maybe just strong. Okay, so it's only your fingers. But still ...

Popular Posts