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The Most Difficult Thing...

This is going to be hard to write, but I am the kind of person who needs to write things out to come to terms with them. This is also going to come as a shock to some of you who haven't spent much time at our house. It definitely won't be a surprise to those of you who have witnessed first-hand what has been happening over the years.

Some of you might remember when I wrote about the trouble we were having with India's behavior. She was growling all the time, lungeing at the cats when she was on the bed, and worst of all, fighting with China. Since then, we've tired just about everything - short of medication (the vet discuraged us from that, saying it would degrade her quality of life). We consulted with the vet. We saw a behaviorist (who was very alarmed at her reactions). We did a lot of training. We actually got to the point where we didn't have to deal with her growling or lungeung from the bed anymore - we trained her to lay on a dog bed beside it. We took more walks and I got to the point where I can walk loose-leash with her. We kept the cats out of the bedroom and that stopped her from going after them when she was half-asleep. I frosted over all the windows so she wouldn't be territorial and bark at people walkingby. But, the more serious problems didn't end.

That post I made about India was the only one. I didn't want to write any more about it because the situation was sad, embarassing, and would probably have frightened my dad if he knew all the details. He is not a dog person, but I wasn't ready to give up on her. If I had written about every fight India started, there'd be a dozen posts. If I talked about us geting injured breaking up their fights, you'd have heard from me twice. If I wrote an update every time she saw China laying across the room and started growling at her, I'd be writing every few minutes.

The fights were getting harder to break up. We had one that felt like it went on for 2 minutes. I've got scars from breaking up that one - not from being bit, but from my hand being in the way of India biting China. Danny has a scar too from an earlier fight. We decided after that fight that we would not break them up with our bodies any more. It put us at too much risk. We would only use inanimate objects as sheilds between them till they paused and we could grab one. That decision was a scarey one, because the fights always seem like they will go to the death. We didn't know if they would stop...

This week was bad. India had been growling the same amount as usual, but the layout of the new house made it harder for China to avoid her. china had to climb up and over our bed at night to get to her crate because India would block her way, growling. China would lay across the room giving India calming signals - head turned all the way to the side, licking her lips. Indiawas oblivious to her signals. It's like she missed some sort of important lession in her first few weeks as a puppy. They had another fight on Friday. I was weak and emotional from the medical condition I am being treated for - all I could do was try to untangle myself from them and scream for them to stop. Danny ran in thinking I was being hurt, luckily I just got bruised up cause I was stuck between them and the wall. I think he used the empty fish tank to break them up. I don't really remember anything until I realized I was sitting at the bottom of the stairs holding a baby gate so India couldn't come down for another round. I put India in the master bathroom to keep her separate and clean her wounds. China, being thickly furred, was just bruised and soggy from spit and India's blood. India was all scraped up and had a puncture on each leg. She also bit her tongue. None of her cuts were serious, and we had to go out, so I gave her a bowl of cold water for her tongue and left her in the bathroom.

In our old house, if we separated them after a fight, India would just unlock the room she was in, open the lever handle, and rejoin China. We thought we were safe here - only doorknobs. But I guess the bathroom door will bounce open if you hit it the right way. We got home to a 4 sq ft hole in the carpet and carpet padding at the door to the master bedroom. The padding was in chunks. The carpet pulled back with about a foot of it completely shredded into fuzz. There were scratches in the floorboards and door and streaks of blood from her panic. She had pooped and walked in it. I found the mess when I went up to get her for thier walk. Danny already had China outside and we were going to let them get back together on neutral turf. I didn't even know how to describe the mess to him, beyond the word "ruined".

We knew it was final decision time. The moment we hoped it would never come to. We are at a stage in our lives where we may start a family. We can't have a baby in this environment. And, India was obviously unhappy. We had made so much progress over the years, but when it came down to it - she hates China. She is fine with other dogs - loves the dog park, been to daycare. She even got off her leash the other day and happily ran up to another dog out walking and wanted to follow him. She is a sweetheart with people, though sometimes shy. I'd hold my breath when guests were over, and I wouldn't let anyone stand with both of them at the same time forr fear that India would start a fight. But what do we do? She is my baby girl...

The first part of our decision, though painful, came easy. She can't stay here. It is too dangerous for all of us. We are all unhappy and scared. The second part... what to do... not so easy. We couldn't find any rescues that were accepting dogs. We didn't know anyone who could safely foster her. Danny talked to the county shelter and they said outright that if she looks even a little bit pit bull (and she does) they would euthanize her. The is no way in hell I'd ever support a place like that. They told him they'd prefer if we could just bring her to our vet and have her put down so they didn't have to do it. I started looking online though all the rescues and shelters in the area and came across the Animal Welfare League. I called them and had a long conversation with an adoption councelor about the situation. I felt so good talking to them. They don't breed discriminate - they've placed plenty of rotti mixes. They do a full temperment test and tightly screen all potential homes. They understood that sometimes two dogs just don't get along (something you run accross every day in dog daycare). She said they would evaluate her with other dogs to see if she should be placed in a home with or without siblings. I felt really good about them. They even let you call and check on her, where the county shelter would tell you nothing. They have the resources and training we don't have to place her in the right home. We would be giving India the second chance she deserved.

I tried to reason with her. I took her head in my hands and asked her if she understood that she was breaking up our family. She didn't get it. I tried to enjoy our last day together but she kept growling at China. Luckily, I have a million happy memories of her in my heart.

Bringing her in was hard. She thought she was going to the vet and didn't want to come out from under my legs. She was wearing the new pink collar I made her Thanksgiving night and a bandana with turtles on it. I brought her newest toy - a stuffed hedgehog. I had to walk towards the back with her after saying goodbye in order to get her to go. The image of her disapearing behind the door will forever be burned into my brain. I cried the whole time we discussed her history and filled out her personality profile. I gave them a large donation to support their cause and help cover her care. When we left without her, I felt like I left my heart.

I know we made the right decision, but it is going to take a long time for me to adjust. I miss my baby girl. I don't miss living in fear of what will happen next, but I miss the kisses, her love of playing, the way she rolled around on her back after eating... The house and my heart feel so empty. I am trying to fill both with all my happy memories. It is so hard though. I felt guilty for keeping her in a bad situation, and now I feel guilty for letting her move on. I have to keep reminding myself that this is her only chance at a happy life. I wonder if maybe we made things worse for her by not rehoming her sooner. I do at least have confidence that if anyone can find the right home for her, it is the Animal Welfare League.

I'm not sure how to react to all my photos of India. I think I will end up keeping most of them up in celebration of all our happy times together. I'm sure we'll eventually consider a second dog. we are two-dog people. But I won't be ready any time soon. And, this time - no pet store puppies. We will research carefully and find the right fit for our home.

This has been hard to write, but it has been a huge relief to get out. Unlike danny, writing here has always been my therapy. Thankfully, I've gotten to a point where most of you who read and comment are resepctful, and I thank you for that. I am leaving comments turning on for this post, but they will be screened so they are private between you and me.

I am ready to start posting about happy things. I will start taking pictures of the new house to share with you.


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