We adopted Rosie, our farm dog, from the humane society almost a year ago. She was our first farm animal! She quickly bonded with our family and became our protector. If a stranger entered our property, she barked aggressively and has even been known to growl. I felt safe with Rosie. Over the past few months, her instinct to protect has strengthened and not in a good way. She learned to escape the backyard by opening the gate. She then would run off the property and bark at neighbors in their yard. They would call and complain, afraid she may bite. We wired the back gate closed. It wasn’t long before she learned to throw her body at the bottom of the chain link fence, then roll under the fence. This time a different neighbor called complaining. We then installed electric wire in the backyard. That seemed to do the trick for a couple of months. The problem is, she figured out if she snuck out the garage door, she could get into the front yard, open that gate, and be free to terrorize people. My dad tried tying her to a stake. She chewed the rope within minutes. So we relied on our vigilance. Don’t let Rosie in the front yard unless we are out there or she will escape and cause trouble.
Last Wednesday, we were in our front yard when a well known neighbor entered our yard. Rosie knew her. Yet she still ran over, growled, and bit her on the leg. I saw it with my own eyes. The neighbor was very kind and said she was ok. No broken skin. I knew we had a serious problem at this point. This was the first time she actually bit someone. Granted, it was on our property and she felt the need to protect us, but she knew this lady and should have known she wasn’t a threat. The next day our family was running around the yard playing when Rosie nipped hubby. I think she was just “herding” him, but still. Then Friday morning as I was leaving to go to work, a neighbor we had never met was waiting for me at the end of the driveway. “Can you do something about your red and white dog? She scares all the children waiting for the bus. I saw her bite a jogger the other day. Three times!”. My stomach sank at the news. She bit someone off our property. Three bites in three days. I don’t want anyone to get hurt. I certainly don’t want a lawsuit. I knew what we had to do. My dad had wanted us to get rid of Rosie for months. He agreed to return her to the humane society. I shed a few tears throughout the day. On my way home from work I cried, knowing she was gone. She was so sweet (to me). She followed me to every room I went. She was my protector. I felt guilty. I felt I failed her. I asked hubby if we could go get her Saturday. “There must be a way”, I thought. He said we could go get her, but “then what?”. I could picture her sitting in a cold, metal crate in the loud, stressful humane society. What if she gets rehomed? She will escape and come looking for us. I know it. So I woke up Saturday morning thinking I’d go get her. Then I called my Dad, who assured me we had made the right decision. “She is too smart”, he said. “What if she bites one of the girls?” “You’ll get sued”. I decided to think about it over the weekend.
Monday I called the humane society. Some sweet woman listened to our story. I told her “If you can tell me how to fix her, then I will bring her home. Is there a class? A trick? A muzzle?”. The lady kindly told me, we had made the right decision. Biting only gets worse. She said a behavioral specialist will evaluate her and then make the decision of whether she can be rehomed or whether she needs to be put down. They won’t notify us of the outcome either way. I told her I’d like to be there if they put her down. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. I don’t know if they will actually tell me or not. I’m guessing not.
If you see me crying, it is because I miss my dog. I miss her by my side everywhere I go. Yes, she dug holes. Yes, she ate I don’t know how many sticks of butter I had set out for baking. Yes, she stole food from the kids. But I still miss my sweet Rosie dog.