Monday, March 12, 2018

Sweet Stella

Good grief, it's been a tough start to 2018.

First GG passed away and then we had to say goodbye to Stella.

I can't even believe that I had to write that.  Stella has always been a hyper animal.  She would lose her mind if the doorbell rang, would jump up on people and on occasion snap as she was the type of dog that would play with you using her mouth.

Last summer, during our street block party, one of the boys on the street went into our house to play with Logan.  He didn't knock and instead of coming through the main door, he went in through the garage and into Stella's room.

This kid has dogs at home and went towards Stella the way he would with his dogs, but Stella is not that kind of dog and she jumped up and nipped him in the arm.  It left a red mark, but other than that all was well.

Sort of.

It shook me and I was really upset.  After that we took Stella to two sets of training classes, bought her special anti anxiety jackets and supplements, but nothing seemed to help.  She was good with Brad and I, but she never warmed to the kids and would never let them pick her up.  Despite that, they loved her very much.

Increasingly over the past 6 months, she would start to growl and the boys and snap at them if they came too close to her.  Not fantastic.    We spoke with my cousin who is a vet, and she gave us some suggestions, so we tried them all, socializing her, taking her to classes, recommending some good books to read etc.

Nothing seemed to work.  It was getting to the point where I wasn't inviting anyone over and if they did come over, I spent the entire time on edge wondering if she was going to lose it, which is not a good vibe to have around your dog.  I was especially nervous when our friends with little kids came over.  I knew that Stella needed to be exposed so that she would learn to relax around them, but I didn't want my friends kids to be the test cases you know?

In doing some research looking for help, we found out that the chihuahua/terrier/pug is right on up there with the worst family dogs.  Apparently since they are small, they are nervous with kids picking them up and are very territorial.  They tend to pick one member of the family as their favorite and that's that.  In our case it was Brad, but she was always sweet with me, sitting on my lap, sleeping beside me at night.

Awhile back we found out there was no insulation in our roof, so they came and repaired it, but there was still some work to be done on the drywall in the living room.  We set up the appointment and I took they day off to be there.

The doorbell rang and Stella lost her mind as usual.  Our door plan was to pick her up and hold her until she calmed down and then we would let her go.  At which point she was usually ok.  Not sure what happened this time, but she lost it.

The guy came in the house and I brought him to the living room.  Stella would not calm down and when he held out his hand for her to smell, she jumped on him.

Growling, snarling and barking, she bit hard into his leg.  I pulled her off and got her into her room and quickly ran back to check on the guy.  He could not have been nicer about it.  He explained that he had dogs, and likely smelled like them which set Stella off etc etc. 

I asked him if felt comfortable staying to do the work as I would completely understand if he wanted to go.  He said it was no problem and we cleaned up his leg and he carried on with his work.

I was beyond upset.  BEYOND.  What if this was one of Logan's friends?  What if this was my friends beautiful one year old daughter?    What if this was either one of my boys?

I called up Jill asking for advice.  Jill understood what was going on as we had been dealing with this since day 1.  Everytime we took Stella to the vet she would go after Jill.  At her last appointment, Jill had to go get these big leather gloves to protect herself from Stella biting her.

We talked about our options, rehoming etc.   The trouble was that Stella is not a good candidate for re-homing since her aggression has started to escalate and she had already had two incidents of going after people.

Basically our options were that we could never leave her unsupervised including everytime she was with our boys in the house.  We would not be able to have anyone over to the house without kenneling her the entire time, which means that the boys could not have friends sleep over anymore without Stella being locked up 24/7.

Our other option was euthanasia.  Jill explained that sometimes dogs just aren't wired right and have aggressive tendencies that cannot be trained out of them.  Stella fit into this category.  Jill and I spoke for a really long time.  I wished more than anything for someone to tell me what the right answer was.

I didn't want to put Stella down.  I adored her.  However, I also didn't want to be a prisoner in my own home, not being able to have anyone visit without being completely on edge she would attack, or having to be on constant watch when she was around the boys.

If we took her to the humane society, she would likely sit for a couple months, not be adopted and then ultimately put down.  We didn't want her to spend her last few months scared sitting in a cage, so we made the decision to put her down and would be with her the entire time.

Telling the boys what we had to do was one of the hardest things I have done.  They were devastated.  Everyone was crying.  Not sniffling, not wiping a single tear.  Full on, gaspy crying.

Once we made the decision, there was no point putting it off as doing so would make it even harder.  Plus, we didn't want to wait until there was another incident as I couldn't live with that either.

We asked the boys if they wanted to come, but they both said that they couldn't handle it.  I thought I was going to go, but when it came time, I just couldn't.  I couldn't get into the truck.

Brad ended up taking Stella.  We knew it would be hard, but it was awful.  Because Stella was a healthy dog in every other sense, she had full energy and as Jill went to give her a needle to relax her, she lunged at Jill.  Thankfully Jill is well prepared for these type of situations and Stella didn't get her, but it was close.

It took Stella a really long time to settle down enough for them to give her the final needle.  Brad said that he was glad that the boys and I didn't come as it was a very hard experience even for him.

The house feels pretty empty.  It been a few weeks, but it still feels like something it missing.  When I go to sleep I miss her warm little body tucked up behind my knees.  I can even still feel her paws on my leg begging me to pick her up when I came in the door or the way she rolled on her back with her paws up asking for a belly rub.

We all still think about her often.  Logan has her collar on the shelf in his room and he says goodnight to her each evening.  I would love to get another animal, but I don't think I can handle saying goodbye.  We have tried before with cats, and had to give them up because of Zach's asthma.  He has since outgrown it for the most past, but being around them still makes him wheezy.   We got Zach tested for a dog allergy and specifically chose a short haired dog to avoid any problems and then this happened.

As much as I would love to go out and get another dog, I can't.  Maybe sometime in the future, but for now it's not in the cards.

Rest in peace sweet Stella.  We love you.


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