Monday, April 20, 2009

Why Do Bad Things Come In Threes?

We spent all of last week away from home. We first visited my father-in-law in Fort Collins for a few days and then on Thursday we came down to Denver to stay with my sister. That night my husband, my sister and her family, and I went out to dinner. When we got back to her house her three dogs and my dog greeted us as they normally do. Then, with no provocation that we could see, one of her dogs attacked one of her other dogs. It was both a shock and a total surprise to all of us.

My sister has three rescue dogs. Two she got within a couple of months of each other from the Dumb Friends League, both of those dogs are miniature American Eskimo mixes. They have been with her for six years. The other dog came from the east coast where she was rescued from a women who was trying to run a no-kill shelter out of her house. She had about seventy dogs, which were about seventy dogs more than she could handle, living on her property. When the dogs were removed from her care they were farmed out to as many people and no-kill shelters as would take them. My niece's aunt, who is a animal activist, took thirteen of the dogs. My sister adopted a female beagle mix about four to five years old from her. The poor dog was emotionally damaged, we think she was kept outside and tied up most of her life, and it took about a year for the fearful look to leave her eyes but once she felt safe she blossomed. After three years living in my sister's house Sasha, as my sister named her, seemed to be mostly over whatever had happened in the past and was part of the family. Then last Thursday night she assaulted one of the smaller dogs.

No, that's not right, Sasha didn't just assault the other dog, she tried to kill her. She had the dog by the throat and was violently shaking her trying to break her neck. My sister and her husband got Sasha off the other dog and then instantly told her to sit, which she did. The smaller was lying on the floor motionless when suddenly Sasha attacked again even though my sister and her husband were right there. They got the dogs apart and then my brother-in-law shut Sasha in one of the bedrooms while my sister examined the other dog for wounds. American Eskimos have very thick coats and although she could not find any blood on the traumatized dog, my sister was worried about soft tissue damage so she took her to an emergency vet clinic. When the vet technicians shaved her fur they found numerous puncture wounds on her back and around her neck. They also found some older partially healed wounds and bruising. This was not the first time the poor little dog had been attacked.

There was only one thing to do and that was to remove Sasha from the house. She could no longer be trusted around the other dogs. The hard part for my sister was deciding what to do with her. Although Sasha could not be trusted around other dogs she was find with humans. If my sister took her to the Dumb Friends League there was a good possibility that she would be put down. She thought of the MaxFund but, given Sasha's history, Sasha could end up living there the rest of her life. Then she talked to my niece's aunt who said she would take Sasha to live with her. She wanted Sasha because she was was worried that if Sasha was adopted out of one of the rescue shelter the family who adopted her would at some point think, since Sasha is a sweetheart with humans, it would be fine to get another dog.

So on Friday my niece's aunt drove down from where she lives in Greeley to pick up Sasha. Saying goodbye was hard because Sasha, who my sister had kept away from the other dogs, was very pleased to be with us and had a big smile on her face and was wagging her tail nonstop. We gave her goodbye ear scratches and pats as she happily got into the car that was taking her away. It was sad but it was also a relief since the stress of having a dog that was a danger to the other dogs was now gone.

I am happy to report that the dog who was attacked is doing well. She does have her body shaved from her neck to just past the middle of her back and about a quarter of the way down on her sides so that from above she looks like a convertible with its top down. All that exposed skin means she will have to wear a doggie t-shirt for awhile to protect her from sunburn when she goes outside but she is healing up just fine. We are all grateful that this incident ended the way it did since the outcome could have been much worse if things had not happened just the way they did.

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