Warning: This post is long, will not contain pictures, but has graphic descriptions. All parties involved are fine but if you are squeamish you may not want to go any further.
I have been debating writing this since Tuesday evening. I thought about ignoring the event. I thought about lying. I thought about changing facts to save face. Ultimately, I have decided to share Tuesday’s events with all of you. After all, I started this blog to share my ups and downs, my victories, and now my failures.
Ok, what in the world is all this mumbo-jumbo about? As you all know, we had taken in a second foster, the adorable Bea. On Tuesday Rich went home to let her (and the other dogs) out at lunch and around 1 o’clock he called me in a panic. “Something’s wrong, there’s blood everywhere! Tag won’t put her leg down. Maggie’s face is cut up!” Part of me thought he was over exaggerating. Part of me was concerned. I rushed home, thinking I would find Maggie a little cut up from getting out of her crate again and that would be that. More than anything, I was angry because I couldn’t figure out how Maggie kept getting out of her crate; we have it duct taped and zip tied after her last adventure and I was baffled that she had escaped again.
When I walked in the door I was not prepared for what I saw. Maggie’s face looked like it had been through a meat grinder. Tag was matted in blood and not putting weight on her back leg. Buddy was whining and Bea was barking in her crate. I ran back to the bedroom and found Maggie’s crate in the middle of the room with blood everywhere. Balling my eyes out, I grabbed Maggie, Rich grabbed Tag and we rushed to the car. Thankfully I had had the foresight while driving home to call the vet and tell them to be expecting us if everything was as bad as Rich was making it seem. It was in fact worse.
While driving to the vet I called one of my really good friends and told her to go get Bea. Again, I thankfully had a little foresight and left the door unlocked for her. Bea was in no danger, but I did not want her sitting there in distress and I had no idea how long we would be gone. I can only imagine how horrific everything had sounded and I didn’t want to traumatize her by making her sit there alone and confused. I knew Buddy was stressed out but I also knew that he would be fine once the house quieted down.
At the vet they did an initial exam and then took the girls to the back. Tag was getting an x-ray on her leg and they were going to clean her up. Maggie was getting her face stitched and they were going to put her under so they could inspect her mouth—they thought she would need surgery because her gums were torn so badly away from her teeth. I sat there crying while the realization sunk in, “My girls got in a fight. A bad one.”
I never ever in a million bajillion light years would have thought that my two girls would get in a fight. Not with each other. Not on a regular old Tuesday. They were best friends? Not with each other! My mind was racing with questions: Why? What caused it? Who started it? Would things ever be the same?
This was the biggest question of all. Would we ever be normal again? Would we ever all cuddle together on the couch again? Would we be able to all sleep in the same bed, like we had done for the past 10 months? I felt like my perfect life was slipping away, right before my eyes.
A good friend of mine has dogs that she must keep separated at all times. She lives her life rotating dogs, making sure they all get attention, but always on edge because she lives in constant fear someone will get loose and they will fight. I didn’t want that life. I love that we all are always together. I couldn’t fathom one dog having to be left out until it was their turn to get attention. That’s no life for them. That’s no life for me.
The vet came back and said Tag just appeared to have sprained her ankle. She wasn’t certain but she didn’t even think there was a torn ligament. Maggie was going to be fine, she just looked terrible. They said to call back at 5 and they would let us know if we could pick them up or if we needed to take them to the emergency vet for overnight observation. We left the vet’s office and immediately went to the store in search of a new, Maggie-proof crate. I also wanted new collars and leashes for the girls. The old ones were soaked in blood and I know I could have cleaned it, but I didn’t want that bad juju in my house.
When we got home I immediately got to work cleaning the blood off the walls and throwing away the duvet and pillow covers. The mattress had a significant amount of blood on it and I was debating if we could get it out or if we needed to just throw the damn thing away. I called the vet and they said to come get the girls, they were going to be drugged up, but being at home was best.
We picked them up, loaded ourselves down with medicine, drove home, and went straight into separate rooms. Tag’s tail was wagging and, dare I say, she seemed almost back to normal already. Maggie was not. Her eyes were nearly swollen shut and her entire face was covered in stitches and about twice its normal size. We bought wet food since they told us her mouth was going to be very sore and I hand fed her bits of it so she could get the medicine and a little something on her stomach. Rich went out to the car to clean up the blood and then he assembled the new crate (super fancy one that actually looks like furniture but should truly be escape proof.) I spent the evening bouncing between the two rooms, checking on the girls, and I slept that night in the spare room with Maggie.
I stayed home the next day to watch them and again, spent my time bouncing between the two girls or cleaning blood out of the carpet and mattress. Hydrogen Peroxide is amazing and I was able to get basically everything out. I also had to take Tag back for laser therapy because her wounds were oozing pretty bad. I sat and talked with the vet and after describing the “scene” and analyzing the wounds on each of the girls, we were able to put together an idea of what we think happened.
As best we can tell, Maggie got out of her crate and then something caused Tag to snap. We think Maggie jumped on the bed to escape and slid down, pinning herself between the bed and the wall, and Tag then attacked her. The pooling of blood between the mattress and wall, and the fact that the mattress was slid a little out from the wall, and the fact that Maggie only has wounds on her face, support this theory. Tag’s wounds are only on her chest which further supports the theory that she was standing on the bed and attacking down on Maggie while Maggie fought to get herself up. Tag also only has scratches (deep, but just scratches) will again supports the theory that Maggie was basically defending herself.
I think that having Bea in the house changed the dynamic. I know how delicate pack orders and all that good stuff can be so I had been watching all of them very carefully for signs that Bea was causing stress, but I thought everyone was fine. Obviously I missed something. Bea is now being fostered by another very good friend of mine (check out Bea here.) I hated handing Bea over to a different foster when she was doing so well with us, but it was the right thing to do. I didn’t want to further stress my own dogs and I also didn’t want to risk anything happening to that sweet baby. I know she is getting loads and loads of attention at my friend’s house AND we already have an application from a wonderful family for her. They adopted a dog from Last Hope and I am praying that they meet her and fall in love because their home would be absolutely perfect for her.
After Maggie started perking up on Wednesday it became obvious that she was extremely upset by the situation. She missed her friends and wanted things to go back to normal, I could just tell. Wednesday evening when Rich got home we took them all on a walk and I closely observed body language. When we got inside we kept the girls on their leashes and all sat and watched a movie together. Everyone was displaying good body language and more than once Maggie tried to crawl on the couch and snuggle up to Tag. I wasn’t ready for that just yet and wanted to take things slow. I slept again with Maggie in the extra room that night and by morning felt comfortable letting them all loose in the house together. Rich stayed home all day with them Thursday and kept an extremely close eye on them. At lunch time he sent me a picture of the girls cuddled up on the love seat.
I will never again leave the dogs unattended. All three will now get crated in separate rooms when we are gone. It is not worth risking something like this ever again. In that aspect, my life will change. I can no longer fly out the door to run a quick errand and leave the dogs all out. Trips to the gym will now require making Kongs before hand and settling everyone in their places. I don’t’ mind. I am just happy beyond words that there does not seem to be any lingering animosity between Tag and Maggie. I will be a little on edge, and paying extra close attention to body language, but I think things are going to be ok.
If Maggie is not absolute proof that pit bulls have the most amazing spirit, I don’t know what is. Her best friend in the world attacked her and she didn’t even seem to fight back. Instead, she was upset that they were no longer friends. She would lie in front of the door to the room Tag was in and whine. She just wanted her friend back.
I know this was graphic but, if you are reading this, thanks for sticking it out. If you’re thinking I’m a miserable failure of a dog owner, well, we are on the same page. I have been beating myself up like crazy. I should have gotten a new crate after Maggie escaped the first time. I should have been crating Buddy and Tag. I should have seen this coming. So, the reason I ultimately decided to share this, was because I am hoping it might lead someone to reevaluate a situation that they could have their dogs in that might potentially lead to something like this. Trust me, you’re thinking, “Yea right, my dogs would never do something like that.” Well for what it’s worth, that is exactly how I felt too. I would have rolled my eyes, felt sorry for the person writing the post, and gone about my business. Please, stop and just look around. Is there anything that could trigger a fight that you hadn’t ever thought of? Are there any hidden dangers you could prevent? Anything you have been meaning to get around to fixing but just not thought it was important enough to rush? Just look for me, please? If something good can come out of this then I will at least feel a little better.