Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Right and Wrong

I drove Guidry, our 11 year old weimaraner, back to the weimaraner rescue organization from which we got him 10 years ago.  It was fitting, though heartbreaking, that I was the one to take him.  It was a long drive, over an hour, to the rescue lady's house.

My husband and I rescued Guidry before we were even engaged, though I'm pretty sure Jonathan was carefully selecting the ring I now wear at the time.  We wanted an energetic dog, one that would run with me, and we liked the idea of taking in a dog that somebody else had rejected.  Murphy was a dog whose family had three small children and a live-in, very ill aunt--they had too much going on to take care of his neurotic, spastic moods.  We changed his name and thought that we could change his behavior just as quickly.

We were wrong.

Within a few months of adopting him, he had bitten our neighbor's nanny and nipped a child at a dog park.  Both were eye-opening incidents, and rather than correct Guidry's behavior with serious training we enabled it by shutting him up anytime anyone came over.  When walking him, I'd cross to the other side of the street if someone was coming on the side Guidry and I were walking on.  When we had company over, he went into the garage (crating him made him foam at the mouth--I tried it once with disastrous results).  My sister, having been attacked by a dog she knew well, politely refused to let her growing brood near him.  Having a dog with aggressive tendencies was tough.

One wedding and three kids later, Guidry was still as nervous and neurotic as the day we got him.  We got another weimaraner a year after rescuing him in an effort to provide a calm companion.  It didn't work.  We moved from a house in the suburbs with a dining room table sized yard to a house in the ex-burbs with five acres in an effort to provide space to run.  It didn't work.

Noble, crazy Guidry.
Guidry paced the floor every morning for an hour, trotting back and forth, preparing himself to be shut in the garage for the morning when our sitter watched our youngest son.  His scared, little brain never realized that it was only twice a week when we did this; he paced and worried and fed his anxious mind every day…just in case.  My mornings were already full with kids and school prep: one child in school, one child in preschool, and one child waking up too early seemingly for the sole reason to add more--of everything: motion, noise, love, laughter, demands, cries--to the mix.  And I still have my husband, whose good mood impossibly requires utter peace and happiness from all those around him.  I said, "Guidry!  Go lie down!" a whole lot.  Like, every minute on the minute, if not more.

And then he bit my neighbor's son.  And then her other son.  And then, a friend.  I realized, sadly but surely, that it was probably just a matter of time until he bit one of my kids.  I made the call to the rescue organization, hoping they'd take him despite his behavior issues.  I'm grateful they did.

So I drove him back.  I stroked his long, silky ears and patted his strong back.  When they weren't tightly shut and sleeping, he looked at me with sad, droopy eyes.  Crazy Guidry.  Poor guy.  I weighed this decision the whole way to the rescue lady's house.  Yes, I rationalize it.  It's not completely wrong--it makes sense for my family, to protect them from a likely bite, and to decrease the stress and strain among us.  But it's not completely right--I'm giving up on him, un-committing to him, un-becoming his Person.  I have to live with the discomfort of doing something mostly right, but a little wrong.

My front seat empty, I cried the whole way home.


  1. Oh, oh, how hard but you did the right thing. My son got a blood infection from a playful nick with our family dog. You did what is right - took the responsibility to be the parent and adult.

  2. I've had to do this myself, Kate, but we waited too long and my son was bitten dangerously close to his eye. As hard is it was, you did the right thing. Bravo!

  3. Long ago, I had to put our beloved Rocky, of first hairy child to sleep as there was no rescue for his aggressiveness due most likely to inbreeding. My husband and I still talk sadly and yet happily about that first addition to our family; yet when it came to the safety of our children, we did what we had to do...My thoughts are with you all....it will never be a day you forget....but you will always know in your heart that you did what was best for all of you.