I’m going to be doing a series showing the mistakes we’ve made and learned from. We don’t preach to look down on people, to make them feel stupid, or to just be jerks about everything. We preach to save others from heartache that we have experienced first hand. If even one dog owner changes their ways and prevents an accident due to one of our posts, then all the drama, time, and effort will be worth it.
Here’s one of my stories:
Years ago, my dog killed my pet rabbit. I was asleep and my son didn’t check to make sure the bunny was in his cage. I failed my sweet bunny, who had just been hopping around, having fun, and cuddling me and giving me kisses before I fell asleep.
I woke to my son screaming and my dog with my precious bunny firmly in his mouth. I ran over to them and used my hands to pry open the dog’s mouth. No, my dog did not bite me, but the pressure from his teeth was enough to cause some pretty gnarly damage. Watching my bunny struggling to live, I imagined yanking him out of the dog’s mouth and the horrific result that would have so I knew the only option was to get the dog to open his mouth. I could not simply pull bunny out, I had to take my time. If I had a breakstick and knew how to use it, my rabbit would likely still have died but he may have been saved from suffering even longer as I screamed and struggled to free him. Eventually bunny plopped out of his mouth and the dog was put back in his crate. We rushed to the vet but it was far too late.
I didn’t want my dog after what he did. How could this dog who had been given so much love and such a good home be a killer? For about a week, I didn’t look at him. I couldn’t. He was taken out 4 x each day and fed and given water but other than that, completely ignored in his crate. I even put a blanket over it. I wanted him to die, I wanted revenge for what he did to my friendly pet bunny who did nothing wrong but be sweet and cute and bunnyish. I raised him right, didn’t I? My other dog would never dream of killing one of our other pets. My other dog was the best dog in the world. This dog, this dog was evil, nasty, uncontrollable. I hated this dog.
Of course, as time went on, I found it harder and harder to continue to ignore him. I realized that it was my fault it all happened. It was a terrible accident. I knew my dog was a bit too interested in the bunnies and that is why we didn’t have them out together, like we could with my other perfect dog. We had only adopted him a few months prior. But I was really really tired after work. I didn’t feel like getting up and putting bunny away, and I didn’t think my son would decide to let the dog out. After a quick nap, I planned to put Mopsy back in his cage. Instead I was digging a grave, and planting a purple kale above it, one of his favorites.
As time went on, I realized what my perfect dog had allowed me to deny: dogs are dogs are dogs. They sell rabbit-based dog food. My dog did nothing other than behave like many dogs would. I invested $600 in private professional training sessions for “the killer” as we had started to call him, disgust in our voices. It was the only way I could feel like I trusted him. Don’t get me wrong, the training wasn’t to stop him from wanting to snack on small furries. That was instinct. The training was to remind me that ultimately, I am in control of my dog’s actions.
The training was to help me learn to see him as I once did but with a new found respect for what he wasn’t.
Today, he’d kill a rabbit with glee the first chance he got but that doesn’t surprise, shock, or scare me anymore. He’s not perfect and no amount of training or raising him “right” will make him perfect. Perfect dogs are rare. I was blessed to have one for 10 1/2 years. I’ve also been blessed by my imperfect dog. He’s challenged what I thought was true; he’s made me a better dog owner, and hopefully, that will help me to help others be better dog owners.
Founder/Director, Pit Bulls Against Misinformation