This Dog is Loved

"You were sick, but now you're well again, and there's work to do."

Archive for the tag “Thought”

I knew you’d never forgive me.

but I was wrong, and I’m so, so sorry. 

As previously mentioned, my Elsa dog was returned to me this last Saturday. Obviously a lot of feelings were born as a result, relief being the most prominent. I think I was doing the right thing by wanting her to live a rotation free life. For her, and I can admit it was easier for us. I think I was doing the right thing and trying to be selfless because the reason I was so relieved was because I really love and missed this dog. For all intents and purposes, she was my dog and I should have accepted that while different it doesn’t mean our living situation isn’t ideal. If every one is happy, why isn’t it ideal? I digress.

I cannot confirm or deny any thing as I was not physically there, but the circumstances behind her return involved an attack on the adopter’s other dog. I am going to stick the the “facts” as closely as I can, because I will never actually have clear answers, be it what really happened or an answer in which I am satisfied with. The attack resulted in surgery, but the extent of the injuries I am still unclear on- just what they apparently cost in veterinary bills. My initial reaction was that I was very, very sad this happened. Very sad for the injured dog, and very sad for Elsa. The way I know her, something had to REALLY be wrong for her to react aggressively. I know exactly what went wrong with her and Jack McCoy because I made a mistake, but I don’t know what happened here. The story was that while the adopter was out of the country a house sitter was feeding Elsa inside with her, the other dog was outside and eating. I’m supposed to believe that out of no where Elsa suddenly burst out of a dog door she was too frightened to use previously and just attacked. I say that I am supposed to believe this because it’s passed to me third hand and the only witness is not someone I know or will ever speak to, and I’m unaware of their knowledge of dogs. I would consider myself to be above average in regards to understand what I’ve seen when a dog fight happens, but I know that in the heat of things it can be frightening and confusing. It was hypothesized that it was resource guarding, but RGing is a completely foreign thing to old Elsa and the situation itself regarding RGing doesn’t add up. Issues, even ones not previously known, can manifest out of stress. I could only theorize that perhaps her combated barrier issues were reborn under duress of the move and being with a stranger and perhaps seeing/hearing something outside triggered it. I can theorize a lot of things, but I wasn’t there and this is not as I’ve known my dog. I consulted with friends that I trust, and especially trust with dog related things. There was some back and forth over this before I was told a behaviorist would be coming out to observe and then less than a day later the conclusion she just could not be trusted and needed to be sent back.

I reserved some of my issues with this until she was literally in my arms. They begin with the fact that after she was adopted a handful of photos were posted, a question regarding how to teach her to fetch, and that every thing was happy and well. I never heard any thing else about her. In rescue I try to not be an overbearing foster but I was chomping at the bit having received no personal updates about how things were going, and led to believe they were going just swimmingly- until the news of this attack. At that point it still seemed every thing was fine until it wasn’t. This is where the roller coaster truly began. As concisely as possible:

  1. In her very first day, doped up and fresh off the plane, Elsa was given immediately free run of the house and introduced to the resident dog. This gave me a nervous feeling in my gut. 2 months later on the report of the attack I was told she had bitten the resident dog the first week and left a deep puncture wound. I did not hear of this at the time, otherwise I would have likely intervened earlier.
  2. When I raised questions that were not liked, I was told Elsa had been a problem the entire time. She was supposedly a big time resource guarder, leash reactive, and a bully to other animals. That the adopter would have not adopted had she been informed of these things before, and that supposedly (supposedly being a magic word here) a behaviorist had been working with them the whole time. Setting aside the fact that these are not things we experienced and have not experienced since her return, that at no point until it had allgoneverybadwrong I heard nothing of this, nor did any mutual friends to my knowledge, AND such language to imply I withheld any pertinent information, I was extremely relieved she had been returned because if all these things were true and so much so a professional had to get involved I truly question and consider it common sense that you would not leave the country and leave a new, problematic dog with a house sitter and your other dog- a supposed target in some of these issues that had previously been bitten. If any of that is true. If it was I figured I would have been aware from the beginning, or the dozens of other people who have followed Elsa’s life closely over the years.
  3. Elsa was returned to me in a condition I consider unacceptable. I can’t definitively draw conclusions on whether or not it was intentional, but the fact of the matter is she left us at 44 lbs and returned at 37. 7 lbs weight lose, for an already fairly small dog, is drastic. Her coat was so dull she looked chalky. Dandruff and fur fell out with every touch. When I observed her gnawing the life out of her own hip I discovered she was covered in fleas and scabs from subsequent flea bites/scratching herself. I removed a improperly fitted collar to discover her throat bald and a broken, coarse ring of hair around her neck. I could have just chalked this up to a lot of questions that were not going to be answered or proven, until I picked her up in this condition. For reference, the first link has seven pictures:,ULHzI7s,nZnRPEH,TVmwsqN,G8xK0TS,Wg0CHJZ,IOexq7A#0

For further reference, this is our beautiful gal the day before she left us:

Hence why I was not pleased. She also seems to have a urinary tract infection. Willful or otherwise, and regardless of the fact she obviously wasn’t emaciated on death’s door, I do not find any thing about the way she came back to me to be acceptable.

I am openly sharing this because I am willing to admit some sort of fault here. I can’t decide what my fault was, but I do know that I miserably failed this girl. This girl that I saved from death from the “rescue” that miserably failed her before, and however many people were responsible for and subsequently miserably failed her before she landed at the rescue we would meet at. My thought process in just adopting her may still not be right, but I know I can protect her here and not fail her again. I can’t protect her from ALL the things, I’m not a god of sorts, but I hope I can protect her enough that she has a happy ending. I have this tremendous amount of guilt and she’s just laying on a ridiculously giant bed covered in toys and chews.

The worst part, though, is that she just keeps looking at me. Every thing seems the same but something I can’t quite put my finger on is off. I have to chalk this up to adjustment period because it doesn’t feel like before and I hope she can feel right here again. A lot of people (in the spirit of good nature and moving forward) have suggested just that- to brush it off and move forward. In the beginning someone said something that resonated with me: “It’s not any different because the dog is Elsa.”

Yes, it is different because it is Elsa.

I should have quit, but instead I took care of you.

I said Elsa’s heartworm treatment went easier than her spay appointment, but I just meant the ride there. The treatment itself was unnecessarily nerve wracking.

As I think it is appropriate to do, I informed our vet of her behavioral history and that she is fearful so special precautions have to be taken at this point in time. I thought to say she would not bite since at no point had she shown any propensity to do so, but that’s not really a fair assessment of any dog. Any dog can and just might bite, it depends on what gets them there. I did stress that despite some precarious positions she had been in, so far she had not so much as bared a tooth at me. The snaggle tooth is just kind of always bared.

I’m not sure if I contributed to the paranoia by thinking it is important to disclose behavioral inclinations, but either way paranoia crept into someone on staff and caused undue stress all around. I dropped her off shortly before 7 AM and then headed into work. She received her first shot of Immiticide immediately in the morning and was to stay over night and receive the second shot the following morning. By 11 AM when I checked my phone on my break I already had a frantic voicemail from a vet tech telling me Elsa was so stressed out that it would be best if I just came and got her right then and brought her back for the next shot the next day, give us a call, thanks.

Er.. what? My initial reaction was to go off the rails and get all worked up. My sweet scared lady was super stressed? I’m at work for another 5 hours but I need to somehow go rescue her RIGHT NOW? Then, as often my reactions are timed, rage set in. Wait a minute, this is a vet clinic and they don’t know how to respond to stressed dogs? They want me somehow leave work in the middle of my shift to pick up, drive home, drive back again the following day and then BACK home again a stressy dog that is even more stressed by car rides that is ALSO currently under going serious treatment? Why I oughta. I had a brief rage fest in my car and then called the clinic back.

I’m pretty certain I was a bit snarky in my return call. I can’t with any certainty relay EXACTLY what I said, but I know I started the call with a deep inhale followed by “Yeah.. I got a call..” but I was more than slightly miffed so we’ll have to give me a pass or something. I was immediately put on hold until a vet could answer my questions. Thankfully, the vet was more than slightly miffed at the notion someone suggested I pick up a dog in the middle of HW treatment. In fact, all she requested to know via the phone call made to me was if they could have my permission to sedate Elsa as she was a bit stressed in her kennel. We weren’t entirely certain how that morphed to OHGODPICKTHEDOGUPNOOOOOW and she assured me Elsa was doing little more than running to the back of the kennel and making bird noises (my words there, because that’s what they sound like. Yelling birds) which spooked whoever had to call me. I was also assured that they would never ask an owner to transfer a dog mid treatment. I gave permission to chill her out, every thing went fine, and I picked my lady up the following afternoon.

One of my major complaints about the animal care industry as a whole is the inability to read a dog’s body language. My second complaint would be those in the industry afraid of being bitten/clawed/body fluided on/etc. No one wants any of those things, but they ARE going to happen, so do your best to avoid them and get over it when they do. The biting part though, a lot more of that could be avoided with a little behavioral brush up. Dr. Sophia Yin should be your own personal animal Jesus if you’re involved in the veterinary field, especially her low stress handling techniques:

I think we can all agree that it’s easier to get through things if you’re not stressed- human and animal alike. You ARE more likely to cooperate for a physical at the doctor’s office if you’re not afraid, on all fours on a table, ball gagged and in a headlock, yes? Well so is your dog. We have to meet with our vet staff in the middle. On our part it’s important to be forth coming about what your dog’s behavior, and physically work on those things at home. There is no bad age to start working on accepting body handling, but man is it ideal with a puppy. There are even youtubes, people! Youtubes:

Also a good idea to acclimate your dog to the office itself. Drop in before the appointment days and let them scope out the place. Positive familiarity with the surroundings and staff.

If your dog needs to be muzzled, muzzle your dog. On a whole we’ve been conditioned to fear muzzles and not want to use them. Muzzled dog = that dog bites. In reality, a muzzle is a tool no more frightening than a bike helmet. I don’t want to crack my head open riding down the road, and I don’t want my veterinarian or vet tech bitten if my dog has not reached a point where they can handle necessary actions. DO condition your dog to accept wearing a muzzle. YOUTUBES:

And most importantly, don’t panic. We have a neat vet with a staff we like, so we keep going back. Your vet staff is capable and good at what they do, and if they aren’t the good news is it’s OK to never go back and find someone who is. You’re in it for your dog and I know lots of neat vets who are too.

Elsa came back from her HW treatment to a 30 day quarantine. Minimal activity, no free running around nonsense, and 30 days of doxycycline. The first week of doxy went down easy and then suddenly she realized she had some choice in the matter of taking the pills. I think the hidden pill progression went from canned food to pill pockets to cheese to hot dogs to smothering them in peanut butter and putting them as far down her throat as possible.

Towards the end of her quarantine she became a bit more cheeky than her pre-HW treatment self. I don’t think dragging out a stinky rolled up carpet to roll on it was what the vet meant by minimal activity:


Every thing is quiet since you’re not around.

I’ve been meaning to stay on a roll with this blog. Update at least once if not twice a day. I have so much to say and tell that the first immediate entries weren’t a problem, but I haven’t even made it any where of substance (assuming I’m gonna write any thing of substance, I’m very lazy) and I already hit a wall. Reliving all these memories, some of which I had even forgotten about, started out really exciting and sometimes nostalgia feels good. Well, it always starts off feeling good and then realization that those times are over now sets in and it’s suddenly hollow. Like when some jerk plays a song on the radio that brings you back to a distinct moment in your life and you go through the same wave of emotions. “Hey! This song!” followed by a smile then followed by the sinking feeling.

It’s no secret to most following this blog that Elsa was adopted. A week ago yesterday, in fact, so the enormous loss is still really fresh. I want to keep this blog in order and hopefully by the time I get to telling you about her adoption it won’t be as fresh. That was the end goal, and it’s always the end goal with fosters obviously, but this time it really, really sucks. We spent nearly two years of our lives with that sweet gal and how much she was apart of our lives didn’t creep up on me, it leaped out into my face the first morning I woke up after she left and I sincerely thought I heard her making her weird bird noises. Our routine was so solid I am still having brief moments of panic when we’ve been out for a few hours thinking I have to get home and let her out. No one steals my coffee any more. My chest is getting super tight writing about it already. More so than the angry, tight feeling it still gets when I think about how she was going to be killed.

We love her, a lot of people who never met her love her, and her new family loves her. This dog is loved.


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