The Kind of Post I Never Thought I Would Write.

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.

 

 

32 thoughts on “The Kind of Post I Never Thought I Would Write.

  1. Thank you for being open and sharing that story. I don’t know if I would be brave enough to do so but know that the times I’ve shared a story that hard to share, I’ve gotten more support than I thought I deserved. But you do deserve support and please don’t beat yourself up. It was a tough lesson and Maggie paid a price that I’m willing to be you’d be more than happy to pay in her stead.
    We do what we think is best for our dogs and sometimes we know what is best but let our human emotions get in the way.
    I haven’t been reading here very long, but already can tell that you are an amazing mom to your pups. Don’t beat yoruself up.

  2. Wow. It took me a whole to actually formulate thoughts after reading this. First, I am so sorry. Nola was attacked by another dog when she was a puppy and two years later I still can’t get the images of her bleeding out of my head. It must have been horrifying for you. Second, don’t blame yourself. You totally have the right attitude about it. You learned from your mistakes. Your intentions were right, it just so happened things didn’t go well. I agree with you completely in writing this post. If it can help people avoid something like this with their dogs then at least something good came out of this. I have always been a ‘better safe than sorry’ girl myself, so although we don’t crate Nola, when we have a foster, the foster is crated in a locked room. If the foster were to escape there would be no chance of interaction.Hindsight is 20/20, but you’re a good person and you do good things for dogs, so you have to remember that. How are the girls feeling now?

    • Unfortunately, if a dog’s mind is set on it, even a locked room might not prevent an escape! My husband met a guy with a purebred Doberman puppy at the dog park. He’d gotten the dog from a breeder with an accidental litter. They were not planning to breed their female because they didn’t have homes lined up for a potential litter. They closed their male in a separate room to keep him away while the female was in heat, and I believe he chewed through (or broke down) the door to get to her.

  3. Oh, Morgan, I am so sorry this happened and all of you had to go through this. My first instinct is to tell you that I really don’t think you are to blame for this happening. You are a wonderful dog mom, and the fact that you are working with the girls to make sure it doesn’t happen again is the proof. Much love to you and Rich and the rest of the pack.

  4. It’s very brave of you to share this story – I don’t know that I would be able to do so. We’ve always had the discussion of whether to leave dogs alone together, and sometimes do after a few months of them successfully staying together at night, on short runs to town, etc. I strongly prefer to separate Edwin and Gambit when we are away, because Gambit sometimes wants to convince Eddie to play even though Edwin does not enjoy playing with other dogs and can be rude about listening to another dog’s very clear signals that they do not want to play. The vet who runs Edwin’s adoption program agreed that separating dogs when away is best, so we may start having to do that with all dogs, and possibly crate training Gambit in case we foster an escape artist. We do not have the option of separate rooms in the summer since we only have one A/C unit, and our tiny apartment doesn’t have room for a second crate, either.

  5. Well first and foremost, you are NOT a failure of any kind. That’s just dumb! (disclaimer-I personally know Morgan & she knows I say that lovingly.) Unfortunately things happen sometimes that we just couldn’t see coming. I can imagine how scary of a scene that was, but let’s look at the positive (hard, I know). How did Maggie react? She was ok, she is still loving, & wants to be back with her best gal pal. YOU have helped her to be that way. She didn’t go back to being the terrified dog that you once knew. This proves how resilient dogs can be, and how much trust she has now. You are a wonderful advocate & foster mommy. Don’t ever think differently! And on another note, I completely agree about keeping dogs seperate when away. I tell people that all the time! It doesn’t mean that you don’t trust your dogs, but rather you do it for their safety. Sometimes you have to expect the unexpected. What if something scares one of them? What if one isn’t feeling well? Put their safety first, just in case. Anyway, back to the point, which is…YOU ARE AWESOME. xoxoxoxo

  6. First, thank you for your honesty, it’s not easy to share a story like yours. And, second you are certainly not to blame for what happened. So please don’t beat yourself up over it. I’ve only just started to follow your blog but from what I’ve read you are an awesome dog mom and will do what you need to to make sure they are safe and happy. It’s obvious you love them and all the fosters you take care of. I know you’ll find a way to work things out.

  7. Morgan you and Rich are amazing foster parents and your babies are lucky to have you. This kind of thing I KNOW how scary it is and how it leaves you feeling afterwards. I’ve had a scrap or 2 here at DDH, if you can imagine..lol..and sometimes it just happens no matter how careful we are. I”m glad they are all ok. Like with kids, we learn as we go
    Thanks for sharing

  8. You poor thing. I wish I could give you a GIANT hug right now. Deep down, you know that this is in NO WAY your fault. That’s just silly. You thought the pups were bomb proof together, and we have all been guilty of making those assumptions with our dogs. I have had people tell me that I am stereotyping pit bulls, bc I crate both of our girls whenever we leave. But for me, I’d just rather be safe than sorry. It has nothing to do with their breed, but just our pack dynamics. Your babies will be fine, and they are so lucky to have a mama that understands their behavior. I am just so sorry you had to go through this. Did you know that today is national margarita day?! Go get a drink lady!! Wish it could be on me 😉 kiss your babes for me.

  9. First off, and most importantly since your mental state is the key to this situation moving forward, there is no room for fault. You are wonderful, selfless dog parents. You are me. You are everyone reading this blog. This happened to you, but it could have happened to whomever you find to be ‘the best dog person’. Could you have worked out the crate issue, sure. Could this fight have happened if you were in the same room as them, yes! We can only read so many dog signs as humans, at the end of the day, they are dogs, we are people — our languages don’t always translate. What ifs, could haves, if onlys… none of those change the fact that something terrible happened (so sorry that it did), the dogs are ‘OK’, seeming better every day (isn’t it amazing how they move on, I’m still pissed at some girl from high school for something I can’t even recall) and although you will likely never forget the vision of it all (this part breaks my heart), you will become an even better dog mom than you already are, advocating for why (most) dogs should be separated when humans aren’t home. We are here for you, we wholeheartedly support you. The funny (not ha, ha) thing is I just posted about this topic (leaving dogs alone) this week. I posted it as a question not as someone who has any experience to share. What happened to you is one of my worst fears and I have learned so much from what you shared. Thank you and go easy on you. Agree with the get a drink comment above, get 4!!!

  10. Having to go through all this is really hard–don’t blame yourself and don’t blame the dogs. Dogs will be dogs, but unlike us they don’t dwell on the what ifs and the if onlys. They shake it off and continue on about their life. Being human, though, it is hard not to ask yourself these questions.

    I see this sort of thing happen all too often (I work in a 24 hour day and emergency vet practice) and it is a powerfully shocking and traumatic scene to come home to. Thankfully, both of your pooches will recover. You may never know what started it and it may never, ever happen again, but you are making the very smart and rational decision to crate all parties when not supervised.

    I crate 3 of my 4 when I’m gone and always will separate the dogs when I am gone. Only the old dog gets free roam of the house. Like Maggie, Grimm ate his way through 2 crates when younger, so after spending lots of money on a ProSelect, doggy Alcatraz crate, I have realized it has been totally worth it. Keeps him safe and I have some peace of mind knowing he won’t have torn up the house or started something with the other dogs.

    You are an awesome dog owner and advocate–don’t blame yourself. We can’t predict the future and you are doing something to prevent this from happening again. That’s why we all admire you–even after all this, you still keep the woofer’s best interests at the forefront of your mind.

    Glad the kiddos are healing and remember to not be so hard on yourself. Thanks for sharing a tough story.

  11. Heartbreaking, made me cry. I can’t imagine coming home to find this. You are an exceptional fur Mommy and don’t even for a second think otherwise. Sadly, it happens. Many many years ago one of my best friends down in Miami came home after a day at an Art show to find her 2 dogs tried to kill each other while she and her husband were out for the day. Those 2 dogs had spent the last 7 years together and the only explanation the vet had was that there was no explanation. One of them snapped that day and the reason why would always be a mystery. I never have forgotten that incident and how mortified my friend was over it. Some things in this life can’t be explained. You’ve given Maggie more then just a temporary home, you’ve given her confidence and love beyond measure and as sad as this incident is, Maggie just proved to you that your hard work has paid off by her resilience and her ability to continue to love.

  12. My blood ran cold while reading the start of this post. I’m so so glad for all of you that it turned out okay. You seem to be an amazing dog mumma and foster mumma and absolutely did the right thing by all of your fuzzy loves: temporary and permanent. I just feel for you that you had to go through this. It would totally have rocked me. Sending you hugs.

  13. You are an awesome mom and nothing is going to change that. You couldn’t predict something like this happening and it’s insane to take the fault. This incident does not make be think you are bad at caring for dogs at all. Not even 1%. Not even .00000001%. Things happen, brush it off and move on man. Dogs need you.

  14. What a terrible thing to happen! I know when Norman got his jaw caught in Kaya’s collar it was so terrifying and I’ll never forget it. The good news it that the girls are still friends and their wounds will heal. Your dogs are very lucky to have you as a dog mom no matter what!

  15. Thank you for sharing your story, Morgan. Fostering can most definitely change a pack’s dynamic and it is good for people to see that so they can prevent something from happening to their pups. You are not a bad mom and you dogs are not bad dogs. Things really do just happen. It is how you handle them that defines you. It sounds like you are doing everything right! Your dogs are lucky to have you and Rich as parents. It takes a strong person to be so honest and to help others. Best of luck to you and your family!

  16. Oh bless you! You’re definitely not a failure. Our family have 3 German Shepherds and there’s a very clear hierarchy between them. They are a pack. The ‘puppy’ has already overtaken one of the dogs as she’s got bigger and we wonder what will happen when she starts to overpower the boss. They all get along fine for now but it always something we are aware of and monitor. Our three are all rescues and they see a behaviorist once every couple of weeks. I hope you and your furfamily get back to normal soon! Thank you for sharing.

  17. Pingback: The Kind of Post I Never Thought I’d Write | And Foster Makes Five

  18. Hi there, I found your post through And Foster Makes Five – and I’m really glad I did. The part where you talked about what was going through your head while you waited at the vet – I felt it. I have never (thankfully) dealt with a dog on dog fight, but my own late dog sent me to the emergency room and I spent an hour waiting for treatment wracking my brain and my heart for what I had to do next. I just wanted to send you my support for doing what you have to do to keep your dogs safe and happy. Separated dogs are better than no dogs. My situation was different because it involved my dog attacking me and he had always had problems, this was just the giant ton worth of feathers that broke the skin in several places on my body. I had to make a different decision. I’m glad yours is different. You’re very strong. Bless you.

  19. So glad in the end, every one is ok! Pack dynamic is a funny thing. As humans, we think we got it, but we forget … we are part of the pack. We are the pack leader. When the rest of te pack is left to their own shananigans without their pack leader, anything can happen and anything can trigger a reaction. Without their pack leader there, they do know how to react “properly” or in a calm and balanced manner. Lesson learned, never ever leave the pups unattended and free-roaming.

    I had to learn the lesson the har way too about leaving my pups outside in the 6ft fenced in back yard, not even while running a quick errand. My dogs had gotten out, into the neighbors fenced in back yard, and out of that yard and into the next neighbor’s yard …. through their doggy door, and inside him home to play with their dog!! In addition, even my pups that are angels when we’re home … like to get into mischeif when left roaming and we run an errand.

    You are a wonderful foster mom and luckily lessons were learned and no one was truly seriously injured. Keep doing what you do!!

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  21. Ugh. I am so sorry this happened. We too have had similar experiences and it is absolutely gut wrenching. But now we just have to separate the dogs when we are not home to supervise. It sucks…but it just has to be that way for their own safety. I hope your dogs heal up very soon.

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  28. I am so far behind on reading blogs, I actually found this one on the ping back from the one where you are thinking about stepping back from fostering. Your statement that you weren’t sure you should even mention the fight – let me be the first to Thank You for keeping it honest.

    I don’t know if you read them, but see http://ranchrunamuck.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/something-happened/ and http://ranchrunamuck.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/the-explanation-of-the-new-life-with-a-mentally-incompetent-dog-category/

    We’re kindreds. The more we share, even when it’s bad, the more we are able to help each other out by, hopefully, making each other see the signs and stop it before it happens.

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