Monday, October 23, 2017

Fun Until It Wasn't

This is going to be one of those weird bifurcated posts where I talk like our weekend was normal and fun because it was exactly that until about 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon and then we'll talk about that.

So on Saturday the kids were still buzzing from the Disney news. So much excitement and so many questions about how many days until we go (19 days from today!). We all really just can't wait. James went on a 7 mile run/bike ride with the big kids and then I forced myself to Orangetheory because I still had one more class credit to use up. We went to Claire's soccer game. She scored a goal (!!)- my first one to ever see and her sweet 2nd grade teacher came to watch. Claire was so excited- her jaw dropped open when she spotted Ms. M across the field and ran over to give her hugs the next time she was rotated out. I love our teachers.

We did some errands and then cuddled on the couch to watch the Princess and the Frog because Cora's favorite princess is Tiana but I realized she'd never seen the movie (and I hadn't either!). We're all upping our Disney education. I jumped in the shower to primp for my date night with my friend Kim to see Rent!!

Can you tell something was burned off my nose?

It was stopping through Bass Hall in Fort Worth for its 20th Anniversary Tour and my friend and her husband have season tickets. Except they also have season tickets to the Dallas theater which had Rent just last year, so they offered the tix to James and me, but when James lacked sufficient enthusiasm ("That's great! I'm excited for you to get to see it!"), I dumped him and re-invited Kim and we went and squealed and reveled in every freaking second together.

I started crying in her office when she offered me the tickets and I cried at least three times during the show.

I saw Rent back during one of its earlier tours, probably 2005ish? I've listened to the soundtrack a million times since, but I forgot how much of the little asides and plot points aren't covered in the main songs and it was SO WONDERFUL to just revel in its magic from her amazing 9th row center seats. Seriously a great night.

On Sunday James went to swim and I canceled my workout and took the kids and Winston out for donuts (for them; also maybe me) and Starbucks (me) and drove to our favorite park we hadn't seen in a while. James joined us and there was playing and climbing and general merriment.

Winston loves slides and went down all of them. I got some epic dismount shots.

A bunch of little kids were there and went up to pat him and squish his face and he was a perfect little bulldog.

We drove north to the duck pond to feed some ducks, bother some geese, and see if Winston wanted to chase a duck. (He did not.) Cora told me at least five times, "This is SO FUN Mom!"

It was a lovely morning.

We got back to the house and dove into the usual to do lists. Sunday's round-up included helping James (watching James) mount all the beautiful garage organizational items I purchased on Wayfair while our garage was being redone. All our lawn tools, sports items, and kids' helmets are off the floor and it looks spectacular. Just as I was debating with James the best way to put our garden shears on the new rack I heard screaming. Claire occasionally screams to express what fun she's having, so just as I was about to tell her to knock it off, I realized the screams were sustained and I could hear Cora yelling underneath them. I dropped the shears and ran out of the garage, around the pool, and to the playground where Landon was trying to yank a snarling Winston off of Cora who was sobbing and stuck on the swing while Claire stood nearby and screamed without pause.

Winston stopped the second I leaped in front of him, yelled LEAVE IT, and pushed him away. James was there a second later and picked Winston up and carried him inside to his crate. Cora was bleeding through her leggings but I couldn't tell how bad. I stripped her on the picnic table and found about 10 places he'd broken the skin- very shallowly- but broken nonetheless all the way up her legs. She was still sobbing. Claire and Landon were hovering nearby. They said Cora had been swinging and Winston had run towards her; they thought he was running to say hi to his canine friend who lives behind us, but he lunged right at Cora and didn't stop.

A bath, some Polysporin, and 15 bandaids later and Cora was fine. Calm and watching Frozen, but not wearing leggings under her new dress because her legs were too red and tender and fucking cut up from our dog.

I was horrified and shaking. James called our canine behaviorist, who we'd been working with for 2 months because of some early aggression Winston had shown towards Cora that we thought we had moved past. We'd established our dominance. Each kid ran through his whole training routine every day, including Cora, to establish their own. It had been at least a month since he'd done anything remotely aggressive towards her. He was incredibly patient with her, she adored him, he loved her, we loved him. We thought we were past this.

Our behaviorist said frankly that she was surprised. That most dogs with aggression issues don't respond well to basic training because they don't like being commanded. Winston had done great. She'd seen his improvement and our dedication to his teaching. He responded immediately to her corrections without any negative behaviors. She said his 99% perfect sweet bulldoggish behavior and excellent response to training would make it really difficult to pinpoint what his trigger is that's setting him off with Cora, but she did feel like he would be fine without any small children as all the other normal canine triggers didn't elicit any response with him. We took that information and called the rescue club. They knew we'd had some issues in the beginning and that we'd been working with him. They were so sorry this had happened and understood immediately that he had to go. He's going back to his foster mom tomorrow. He has, of course, been perfect since Sunday afternoon and Cora, being the brave joyful little spirit she is, is back to adoring him and telling him she loves him at every opportunity.

from last week, just discovered on my big camera

We are so sad. We are not torn- of course this is the right call and I am horrified this happened to Cora and SO THANKFUL it was not worse (she is completely fine today, fully dressed and bouncing around the house with her usual verve), but we are so sad- sad at the situation, that this is where our story with him went, that he can't stay with us. We loved him. I love him. He's been a joyful, stinky, squishy-faced part of our life.

We told the kids after we talked to the rescue club. We knew our decision right away, but we wanted to be able to tell him where Winston would go next. They were sad, but no one voiced any objections. It was a scary situation. They don't seem to be scared of him, or other dogs, or even to remember the details now a whole 24 hours later, but they understood it couldn't happen again. We explained that our job is to keep them safe, that we would never allow anyone or anything around them we didn't trust and we can't trust Winston. That we know now he can react this way- we have warning- and it would be deeply irresponsible to continue allowing them and their friends around him without strict supervision and we aren't willing to live like that or keep him crated all the time. That we could in fact get in trouble if something were to happen again and we should, because we've been warned and it's our job to keep people in our house safe.

It helps very much to know that we did everything we could. We saw some early signs (though obviously, nothing like Sunday), did behavior training, did his homework every day, reinforced the training, and loved him and gave him structure and affection. He's going back to the rescue club and he will find a home that is right for him- one with only adults or with older children. After four months, countless accessories, purchases, training classes, a Halloween costume, and a large crate set up in our TV room, we will not have a Winston.

So I'm sad and I very much wish it had worked out differently.


  1. I'm so sorry. Sorry Cora was hurt. Sorry you're losing your pup you loved so much. Sorry for the scare. I hope that he will find a home that loves him well and that Disney will be a sweet soother for the sadness.

  2. Absolutely the right decision. He will benefit from your care and find another home that is a better fit for him. I'm sorry this happened.

  3. Oh I’m so sorry. That’s so terribly sad for all of you.

  4. Poor Cora and poor Winston. And poor YOU! We all loved Winston with you. We just adopted 2 kitties on Sunday and I was thinking this morning, what if they had to go back? We already love them so much! So I know it's hard. But absolutely the right call.

  5. I’m so sorry that this happened to your family. I hope all 3 kids bounce back from it.

  6. I am so sorry. We had a similar situation several years ago, and it was so, so hard. Our new pup is sometimes aggressive, and I'm so glad we have teenagers now because there's no way we could have kept him when our kids were small. We love our pups, but kids absolutely have to come first. I hope poor Cora heals quickly.

  7. I'm so sorry. That is terrifying for you and I'm so glad it wasn't worse, and relieved for you that it never will be. Winston is better for his time with your family and will find the right home. Hang in there!

  8. So sorry this happened! Glad Cora seems to be bouncing back (as kids tend to). You're doing the right thing even though it's so hard for everyone.

  9. Oh honey (I say this like we’ve met and you’re one of my friends but you know...) — I’m echo what others are saying and my heart hurts for you and your family because it was so evident how much you adored Winston. But I’m thankful (a) that Cora wasn’t hurt more severely and (b) that you’re taking the time to return him to the rescue group and not a shelter.

    I also hope that this won’t turn you off from future pet (dog) ownership. You guys have so much love for each other and are such responsible parents and pet owners that it would be a real shame not to share it!

  10. Oh gosh, what a tough tough situation! I am so sorry about all of it. You worked so hard with him and I know this outcome is bitterly disappointing. I am glad Cora is healing well and wish Winston the best in his new home.

  11. I'm so very sorry to hear this has happened and glad to hear Cora will be okay. I can imagine how much it hurts for everyone to say goodbye to your beloved pet. You already know you are doing the best thing for your family and the best thing for Winston. I can't help but think how very brave (and scary!) it was for Landon to try to pull an attacking dog off his baby sister!

  12. Oh, I'm so sorry. This made me tear up at work. Is it strange to say I'm so proud that you instantly did the right thing to keep your kids safe? Crushing responsibility. :(

  13. I'm so sorry things turned out the way they did. I can't even imagine how scary that must have been for you and the kids. You are doing the right thing for everyone but I am sure it is gut-wrenching given how much you clearly love Winston. I hope Cora is feeling better.

  14. Glad that Cora is okay and that Winston will have a new home. Not an entirely happy ending, but it could have been much worse!

  15. I'm sorry about Winston but you're totally right that it was the right decision. The only decision, really. You guys did so much work with him and really tried. It makes me wonder if you didn't get the entire truth about why he was surrendered. I worked at the Humane Society in college and you could tell a lot of people didn't give us the whole story.

    Glad Cora is ok!!!

  16. If these are bites, they can be deeper than they appear. I had a dog bite recently that I thought was nothing but the doc wanted me on a 10 day course of antibiotics because he said dog bites often get infected.

    I'd hate to see her get infected and then habe it interfere with your trip.

    I'm sorry you all went thru this trauma.

    I know the adoption agreements usually stipulate that the dog must be returned to them if you choose not to keep it. But in this case, I think I'd report it to animal control and ask them if they want to know where the dog is going next. This is to protect future owners from getting hurt by an unpredictable dog. Usually 2 bites and they're put down. So it would be a shame for the problem to just keep getting passed along because the bites are unreported.

    The very fact that he loves the kids so much but still can't stop himself from going after her makes him a dangerous dog imo.

    Even if he goes to a household with no children he can still come into contact with children accidentally if he manages to wander out of his new yard or a child wanders into his yard. Or what if the new owner goes away and a pet sitter comes in and happens to bring a young child on their rounds?

    If he bites again I think he should be put down. There are tens of thousands of dogs put down each year. Many of them would never bite anyone. Since we can't save all the dogs, each time we place a biter, that's one less non-biter who will be placed instead of euthanized.

  17. Please do take Cora to the doctor to be on the safe side. Infections from dog bites can be really bad. It must have been so scary for all of you. I hope you are doing OK today.

  18. Man, that is a hard decision. We had to rehome our dog too when he showed aggression toward our toddling toddler and I (heavily pregnant) fell twice separating the two. I was putting him in his crate more than was fair and I didn't trust him with our toddler and knew things would not get better for him when we had a newborn.

    It's a tough decision, but you did all you could. I'm glad Cora is ok.

  19. How awful for all of you but especially Cora! I am glad to hear you feel at peace with your path forward (which definitely seems right to me!)

  20. Oh I'm so sorry. You are obviously making the right choice, but I'm impressed by how graciously you're making it. I'm afraid that we would not have been so kind to our dogs had something like that happened. I'm glad to hear that the kids all bounced back so well.

  21. I'm so sorry about this; I feel sadder/sorrier possibly that I did about your family and parents' sad tribulations and losses in this season's storms. Maybe because no one was hurt and they can still live together happily, even in tough times. :( . I can only think that maybe the swing set him off? I know some dogs are deeply disturbed by bicycles, panic, attack, etc. Don't EBDs have poorer vision than the average breed? Anyway, you were a wonderful, loving family to him, and did your best to meet his needs. I'm so glad that both he and Cora will be able to live safely and happily even after this; the just-not-together part will become more okay with time.

  22. So sorry to hear all of this happened. My heart hurts for you all, but it seems clear that Winston needs a different kind of home so he can thrive. And that's certainly no one's fault. You're doing the best thing for everyone. Sending you all hugs!

  23. A rescue dog is tricky -- maybe a puppy next time. Love to all.

  24. I’m so sorry Cora was hurt and that your family had to go through that scary experience and now has to deal with losing Winston.

    We recently lost our 13 year old dog and a few weeks ago brought home a puppy from a shelter. We rehomed him about a week later because he showed aggression. Our 8 year old was bitten twice as a toddler by rescue dogs of extended family members, and like you, we were unwilling to risk that happening again to our kids or visitors to our home.

    Again, I’m so sorry for the trauma and the loss!

  25. Oh no. Poor Cora. I'm glad she is doing well after being bitten.