While this year has been full of fun and exciting milestones, we have also had to say good-bye to some beloved friends. Late in the summer months one of our four legged family members was struck down by tragedy. One afternoon while picnicking with my three favorite littles and our dog, a cane brake rattle snake approached our littlest who was playing on our picnic quilt. Our feisty little pup sprung into action. As the snake lunged for the baby our pup lunged for the snake. It all happened so quickly. I was able to grab the baby and get the other two littles to safety thanks to our super-pup's quick spotting and brave action. However, by the time I made it back to my pup he had sustained 4 deep strikes to his abdomen that would, in the coming hours, prove fatal. His sacrifice humbled me and my gratitude for our sweet pup is something I don't think I will ever be able to put into words.
One of the most important parts of our super hero pups story, in my opinion, isn't the way he died, but rather the way he lived. Our puppy was lovable, sweet, and HIGH ENERGY. We adopted him before we had children. We soon learned that he tended to be "male aggressive". Even though he was a smaller pup he had a BIG bark. Every time men would pass by or come to visit he would bark his head off! We went to training classes, read every dog book we could find, DVR'd and watched Dog Whisperer religiously. Some things worked mildly but his anxiety around men was a tough nut to crack.
Then it happened, I dropped him off at a groomer with the promise that he would be ready for pick up before lunch. When I called to check on him at 11 they said he was ready. When I arrived to pick him they said, "Oh, so sorry he isn't ready. We need 30 more minutes." So I agreed to wait. Moments later I heard unmistakable screaming and barking. The manager came out and said, "We are sorry. We forgot about your dog. He was in his kennel, quite and the tech skipped him. When we took him out to groom him he was very anxious and squirmy, so we accidentally cut him." That would mark the last time he would ever go un-noticed at the groomer. From that moment on, getting our little pup groomed would always be a HUGE ordeal.
While he was always anxious, struggled with house breaking and could be aggressive towards strangers. At home he was a lovable fellow never aggressive towards the children and a beloved member of our pack. The demands of raising a young family though often left us questioning whether or not we had what it took manage our pups needs.
I hope a truth you take away from our story is not just that our super hero pup is a super hero, but also that he was a dog with behavioral challenges before he was a super hero. I cannot tell you how many people encouraged us to abandon our dog full well knowing that a dog with his issues would struggle to be re-homed. If you find yourself facing a challenging season with a pet please consider reaching out for help before you walk away. There are so many more options available than you realize! And if you have a healthy pup around your table this thanksgiving give him an extra scratch for me.