I loathe hospitals, and yet I was sitting in one at 2 a.m. waiting for a surgeon to examine the bite mark on my face I received just an hour earlier. Unfortunately, this was not a new event for my future wife and I. Just a year earlier, I would find myself in the same emergency room as a surgeon sews six stitches into my upper lip to reconnect the previous bite. The first time was harder on me than the second.
Our lab is a great dog but has issues. He was severely abused growing up and while we lack the full details, the scars on his neck and his temperament to being left alone should tell enough of a story to understand that his upbringing was harder than most. We adopted him four years ago and love him to bits.
When I was bit the first time, a flurry of panic and anger washed over me. I vividly remember holding my lip together with a paper towel feeling my blood boil at the slightest glance at the dog. We had loved him for over a year, he loved everyone and everyone loved him. Why would he turn like this?
The first bite led us to getting the proper training and medication he needed. The journey was fueled by feelings of disappointment and anguish. When we adopted him from his unsightly foster home, he was on heavy sedatives (being locked in a crate 23 hours a day will do that) and we decided that he needed "hugs not drugs". Everyone deserves to be loved, we wanted to give him that chance; and yet here we were distraught by our decisions to put him on a mild form of Zoloft.
I talked openly to friends and colleagues about the incident, many who gave their thoughts whether asked or not.
I would've put him down
This always bothered me the most. It was said multiple times by multiple people. It bothers me because it demonstrates to me that these people give up when times begin to get hard. It shows they cower in the face of adversary. It's thinking of a solution before knowing the problem.
We don't know our dog's full history, we are not to judge what he might like and doesn't like. Both incidents we were warned of his rough playing and it got out-of-hand. We've accepted that and we are always cautious with it but sometimes, things happen.
I suppose we could have put him down, and I suppose we could have this time too - but we're not, and I won't.
This recent incident, as I was shuffling around the house looking for a paper towel to hold my nose together, I felt sympathy for the dog. I felt upset, not at what he did again, but why he did it and how I wasn't helping his situation in that moment.
In the emergency room, with the understanding this might be the last straw for our dog, Kim told me, "I respect whatever decision you make." Without hesitation I knew we were still keeping him. He's our dog and we love him to bits.
I wish more people would be open to seeing different perspectives, especially in trying times. When life gets tough, it's hard to pause and see a different side of things. Ultimately, we need to though. It might save a life.