Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Difficult Decision

It all started on a warm, summer day in August 2011.  My day began like most days that summer, with a run.  I ran from the home Ty and I had just moved into after our wedding in July.  I was running along and looked over to see a brown puppy (about the size of Harper) hanging from a rope that was attached to a tree, swinging through the air.  What a hilarious dog!  I wanted to tell the dog how silly and cute it was, but I ran on, not wanting the dog to follow me.

No such luck.  Next thing I knew I was being slapped in the back of the leg by large puppy paws.  I looked back to see the brown dog.  I yelled at the dog to go home and to go away.  She just wouldn't.  She followed me over a mile back home.  Across busy streets.  By yards with other dogs.  Past cats lounging on the sidewalk.  I couldn't shake this dog.

I went inside and showered thinking she would leave.  When I got out of the shower I heard her still crying at the front door.  I was worried she was thirsty so I took her a bowl of water and then did some chores.  She still wouldn't leave.  She continued to scratch at the door and cry. 
How could I say no to this face?
Here's where I made the first mistake.  I thought maybe she'd like to play with Harper so I let her in the backyard.  She and Harper ran and played and had a grand ole time...  Until it started to rain.  Harper came inside and I made the brown dog get out of the yard.  She went back to the front door, scratched, and cried.  I knew I was in trouble.

I called Ty, who just happened to be in Minnesota for a work trip.  I cried, I don't want this dog, but she won't go away.  Then I made an even bigger mistake, I let her in the house.  I just knew we'd find her a home and I hated her being out in the rain.

We tried to find her a home.  I took her to our vet to get checked for a chip, she didn’t have one.  Ty called different no kill animal shelters, they were all full.  He advertised her on Craig’s List, no hits.  After a few months we stopped trying and kind of gave in to the idea that we would keep her.

Once she became full grown we started having problems.  She would start fights with Harper.  Harper is a 30 pound dog, the brown dog we dubbed Halle grew to be 65 pounds.  Anytime food was around Halle would growl at Harper and if Harper got too close she would attack her.  We started putting them outside when food was around and fed them separately and the fighting diminished.
During a sweet, sharing moment.
Then we came home with Carter.  Something changed.  The dynamics were different and all the sudden the fighting re-emerged.  One weekend Halle attacked Harper in the backyard and Harper had a deep wound on her neck.  We came to the realization that at some point whether intentionally or not, Halle could kill Harper.  I was terrified.

Harper has always been my baby.  When I lived alone she was not just my roommate, she kept me from feeling lonely and made me feel safer.  The thought of something happening to her made me sick to my stomach.  We started separating them a lot more.  
The day I picked Harper out.  She's right in the middle of my lap.
One day I came home from running with Carter and started getting the dogs’ food ready for dinner.  I heard Halle’s fight bark coming from the other room and I took off running.  As I entered the room I saw Harper on her back with Halle’s mouth around her neck.  I pulled Halle off and put myself between them.  In the chaos I ended up with a bite wound on my hip.  I walked shaking from the room and decided that was it.  We couldn’t live like this anymore.  It wasn’t fair to Harper, it was potentially unsafe for Carter, and honestly it couldn’t be the best situation for Halle.  I called Ty and told him we had to find a new home for Halle.

A month later the day had finally come.  We were on wait lists at all the no kill shelters in our area.  That was my stipulation.  Halle couldn’t go to a shelter where they’d put her down.  She’s a big dog, there’s no way she’d find a home soon enough to be spared.  Ty got a call today.  They had a space for Halle and she needed to be there by 2:00.  I was out of town visiting my grandma so I didn’t get to say goodbye.
She is such a silly dog!
I know we made the right decision.  I know our home was not the best home for Halle.  I see how happy Harper is.  I didn’t realize how nervous and on edge she was until Halle was gone.  She has been running around the house playing with her toys.  She couldn’t play with her toys with Halle around because Halle would steal them away from her.  It makes me sad that we allowed Harper to live like that for almost 2 years.

As right as I know it is, my heart is heavy tonight.  I worry about Halle.  I hope she’s happy.  I hope she doesn’t miss us and wonder where we are.  I hope beyond hope that she goes to a family who will love her for all her quirks and strange habits.  She really is a good dog, she just has dominance issues and Harper sure isn’t the kind of dog to back down.

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