25 June 2016


I can honestly tell you that I never... EVER... thought I would find my family in the situation we are in right now.  I know misfortunes sneak in, sometimes appearing out of no where.  I know there will always be the opportunity for shock waves to be sent through our life together.  I know tragedy happens and does not discriminate.  Life, quite frankly, isn't fair all the time.  But - again - I never thought I would be faced with the decision we are now forced to make.

This past Tuesday evening - typical.  I was drained from a long day of work and worry, but I superwomaned it up, and mustered up the energy to cook the boys an early dinner since they wouldn't be eating with us.  Chicken tenders and fries, apples with peanut butter, a pickle, a vitamin, and a drink of their choice.  I am always surprised by what I can pull off under such physical and mental exhaustion... even if it is just putting frozen food on a baking sheet.  But whatever... I am trying to survive here.  Food groups covered?  Yes = Success.  So... I patted myself on the back by cracking open a beer.  Again, typical.

Liam and Collin are totally different beasts at the dinner table.  Oddly, a role reversal.  Collin, who is normally a tornado of a child, fast and loud and unmistakable, leaving debris everywhere he goes - he is meticulous about his food.  Nibbling, savoring, wiping obsessively after every bite, dancing/singing/talking to himself/pretending to be SpongeBob.  He is SLOW at the table.  Liam on the other hand, the sweetest, most cautious and thoughtful boy in the world, wouldn't hurt a fly (too scared), careful about everything - he transforms into a ravenous, impatient beast at the dinner table.  He cant scarf food down fast enough. So, like every other night, he was done before anyone else (except Bren...the other a wild animal at the dinner table).  Liam excused himself from the table, morphing back to his rational, human self, took his plate and cup over to the sink, threw away his trash and put his place mat away.  Typical, and so wonderful.

He then awkwardly bounded off into the family room, eager to watch the next episode of Clone Wars.

BTW - The theme of my home life is either Star Wars (Clone Wars) or SpongeBob.  Occasionally, we will be blessed with the riveting sounds and cinema of Power Rangers or Ninja Turtles.  But that's if we're lucky.  

Back to Liam.... he went to continue his evening in front of the television, but first, and like always, decided to greet Jagger, our 2-year-old Shepard/Pit mix.  We rescued him in November 2015, and we all fell in love quickly.

Jagger attacked Liam, biting him in the face. We were right in the other room (thankfully) and while we didn't see it, we heard it loud and clear.  We think that Liam may have unintentionally startled him while he was sleeping. This was the last reaction any of us would have expected from Jagger.  Not only was he a big, furry baby, but he was completely in love with our whole family, especially Liam. And like I said earlier, the feeling was completely mutual.

He was supposed to be our (Liam's) forever dog. But that all changed in a split second of chaos and confusion.   If you have ever had something like this happen, anything that SHOCKS you, you know that it is as if time is standing still and flying by all at once.

Confession for those that don't know me too well: I am awful is crisis situations.  I scream, and curse, and cry, and FREAK the F out.  For this reason, Brendon will forever and always be the emergency room representative for our children.  I just can't.  I actually consider it a favor to the kids.

So, yes, Bren whisked Liam off to the hospital while I held down the fort, (i.e.- continued to lose my mind), trying my best to tend to Collin, who was still eating his dinner.  By this point, Jagger had taken several shits all over the house, I can only assume out of fear.  He was now hiding upstairs, shivering uncontrollably.

I discovered him when I zombie-walked my way upstairs, still in a haze, with the intention of getting something out of my bedroom.  As soon as he saw me, he began to walk toward me, showing his teeth and growling.  He looked like he had gone mad - like completely berserk.  I know he was scared that I might be there to retaliate, so I know it came from a place of defensiveness and feeling helpless. But this was enough to snap me out of my panic just enough to partially rely on my sensibility.

I called 911 (Animal Control was "closed").  The first operator I talked to was the complete opposite of what a civil servant should be.  She was impatient, short, and an all around rude, unhappy person.  NOT MY PROBLEM!  Especially in my current situation.  So I let her have it and hung up on her. Like I said, my sensibility was only partially in tact.  So I called one of the most rational people I know - My father in law.  Probably the best decision I made that evening.  That man talked me off the ledge.

I called 911.  Again.

30 minutes later, Jagger was dragged out of my home, his home, by an off-duty Animal Control officer, who had been reached by cell phone and come out to help on his night off.

Jagger did not go easily, but he was finally wrangled/strangled/forced into the back of the truck.

That would be the last time I will ever see him. My last memory of him.  

Liam was in the hospital until midnight, and he had to have 4 stitches placed in his face as a result of this terrible incident.  He will have a scar on his face for life, that will progressively get smaller with years of care.

It amazes me how brave he has been throughout this week, dealing with the residual feelings of sadness and bewilderment, the pain of his wounds, and learning that he would not be able to say goodbye to a dog that he loved with his whole BIG heart.  His spirit, and strength, and understanding has been remarkable, not surprisingly.  He is truly an old soul.  Truthfully, I was initially worried about this derailing him... rightfully so. I worried about his emotional state more than anything, but he has handled this with such dignity, I no longer have any concerns about him being to bounce back from this.

So here's the deal with Jagger:

Animal Control and the Health Department are required to have any animal that bites a person to this extent quarantined for a total of 10 days.  After this time has passed, I will have to do one of two things: Claim him or kill him. Without a doubt, a decision that has my brain and heart battling.  Brendon as well.

The simple facts are these - We cannot allow him back in our home. Our main priority is and will always be the safety and well being of our children. There is no guarantee that Jagger will not do this again... in fact, it's a likelihood. I simply cannot take that chance.

We could claim him, and immediately turn him over to a rescue organization, along with a thorough depiction of his "issues," in hopes that this will attract the right home for him.  The most serious recommendation I would make, sadly, would be that he not be placed in a home with young children because of their unpredictable nature.  But even that does not assure that a.) the rescue would fully disclose these things to potential owners, and b.) that he would never again be in the presence of children (nieces/nephews, family friends, grandchildren, etc). I cannot live with the thought that he would do what he did to Liam, or worse, to another human, especially a susceptible child. It would be selfish of me to choose my love for him over the safety of another potential victim.

An additional factor: When we adopted him, we were unaware of a serious condition that he was harboring - Heartworms.  We have spent close to $1k over the last few months as he has gone through treatment. His condition was far along, and we believe it may have played a factor in his eventual undoing.  His quality of life, be it in a rescue or with another family, would be grim and unfair.  Much like these last few days have been for all of us, Jagger included.

This decision is literally gut wrenching. It has totally occupied my mind for the last 4-5 days, and it has flared up a tendency of mine to feel an overwhelming sense of guilt and personal responsibility. What a ripple effect this has had!

I recently googled for sources of possible relief, commiseration, and advice. I wasn't looking for facts, but more so, understanding. I found this blog. It describes the feeling better than I ever could, and it directed me to several other posts that were also super comforting and informative. Thank you google, and thank you bloggers.  This is what motivated me to post this on a blog I was once obsessed with, but have since abandoned completely.

One of the best AND worst parts of this is that it is OUR decision alone. No one else can make it for us. We take solace in the fact that we took great care of Jagger, and he was happy here.

This is a total loss for our family.

We will literally love him to death.

We will never forget him as the wonderful companion he was for us.

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