Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sad

Warning: long and sad...

It's been a hard pet week for us.  So hard, in fact, that I'm having trouble writing about it, but so many life-changing things have happened, I might as well get it all out. Last Thursday, as you might know, our little puppy, Penny, died suddenly, and everyone was heartbroken.  But, before that happened, Wednesday morning, we got a visit from our neighbor down the road who told us that she had caught our yellow labs, Bella and Grigio, eating one of her chickens, and she feared it wasn't the first time they'd come visiting, as her flock had been steadily decreasing of late.  We thought we had taught Grigio and Bella not to eat  chickens, but apparently we taught them only to not eat our chickens; the henhouse down the road was fair game to them. 

So, our dogs are chicken killers.  This is a cardinal sin in the country.    It's one thing to have a friendly dog that wanders sometimes, but a dog that takes out livestock is a target -- literally.  A farmer is within his rights to shoot a dog that is into his chickens.  Bella and Grigio had put themselves in danger -- and, needless to say, our neighbors' chickens, too. We felt terrible about it, for the sake of our neighbors and for our own sakes, too.  Poor Grigio and Bella, used to having the run of forty acres (and, um, then some) had to get penned. Thankfully, we have an eight foot tall chain-link dog pen, but it's small, the dogs hate it, and we feel sorry for them when they have to be in there. 

Saturday morning one of the children let the dogs out.  Everyone was working in the yard, so we let them stay out, figuring they wouldn't wander away with everyone outside watching them.  But, as it so happens (because it's been that kind of week), a strange dog wandered onto the property.  He looked like a black lab/pit bull mix, and seemed nice enough -- until he got into a fight with Grigio.  Michelle, instinctively (but, foolishly) got in the middle of this fight to try to save Grigio and got bit on the foot.  So, we got all the kids in the house, penned the dogs, and called animal control to come get the offender. Michelle's foot was OK; it had a couple puncture wounds which we treated ourselves.  We already have three (count 'em, three) hospital bills (due to children's freak accidents) to pay for and decided that, since the stray dog seemed well cared for and not rabid, we'd avoid a trip to the doctor.   

But, the morning's incident was not the end of our worries for Saturday.  After the animal control fellow left with the stray, we got back to work, busily mowing and weeding and taking care of our Saturday chores, giving the dogs in the pen little thought until our lunch time break.  We shouldn't have been surprised, considering our luck so far,  when we went to check on Bella and Grigio and they were gone. The children all promised they'd not let them out, either.   Apparently the dogs had figured out how to open the latch on the gate and had taken off to parts unknown.  Dan got in his car to look for them down the road and the girls combed the property.  In the meantime, I was on my way to run some errands, heading first down the highway to the grocery store a couple towns down.  Running through my shopping list in my mind at the time, I wasn't thinking about the dogs at all, until I turned the corner onto the onramp and saw a back-up of five or six cars, and several people milling about -- and my dogs being held by their collars by a couple of guys at the front of the line.  In the moment it took me to pull in behind the cars, turn off the engine and jump out of my car, my heart pounded: shock, alarm, consternation, embarassment, worry, irritation, worry, irritation, and more consternation.

Agh!  What next? What were we going to do with these dogs?  Chicken-eaters in danger of killing themselves and others on the highway?  I had no idea whether or not they usually wandered as far as the interstate, but if this was the first time, it had to be the last, regardless. 

I called Dan, told him he could stop driving the neighborhood; the escapees had been found.  Then brought the dogs home and had a powwow about what to do.  It was a hard (really hard) decision, but we concluded that  Bella would have to go.  She's always been the ringleader; Grigio is so lazy, he wouldn't go anywhere if Bella didn't lead. And we couldn't have dogs that endangered people, much less chickens.  And, at the rate they were going, they were going to end up getting themselves killed.  So, we took Bella to the animal shelter Saturday afternoon.  We didn't want to waste any time; quick goodbyes are the best.  Since we had dealt with the Dumb Friends' League  before, we knew she'd be in good hands there, and we knew she'd be adopted quickly.  Yellow labs are all the rage right now since the movie Marley, and Bella is a beautiful, sweet dog.  ==sigh== But, Bella is gone from our lives, and everyone misses her -- especially her son, Grigio.

Unfortunately, the story is not quite over yet, though.  (Sorry. This all really is a downer.)  Ever since we lost Penny last week, we've been keeping a close eye on her brother, Nickel.  We'd actually hoped that a spider bite killed Penny and not something contagious, but we really didn't know.  Sunday afternoon little Nick seemed somewhat lethargic, but we thought maybe it was because it was hot and he'd been playing all morning.  By Monday, midmorning, though, we knew he was sick.  He had the same symptoms as his sister, inability to swallow and extreme lethargy.  I know there are pet lovers out there who will not understand our next course of action, but  some life decisions are hard, and sometimes our hands are forced to do difficult things.  We can't afford vet bills right now; we can't even afford to pay for our own medical bills, frankly.  We love Nick -- every one of us loved both of those puppies -- but the only way to possibly save him from Penny's fate was to give him away to the Dumb Friends' League and hope their vets could save him.  So, yesterday afternoon, leaving a house full of crying daughters, I drove him into town and signed him over.  Once you do that, they do not call to give updates -- I'm not sure I can call them to find out how he is, even.  But, I'm afraid to know, really.  It's highly possible he will not be saved -- Penny failed so quickly...  And I think we'd all rather not know, and have the hope that he'll survive and someone will adopt him.  So, both of our puppies are gone now, too.

And it's very strange around here.  Strange and sad. Three of our family members are gone, and we'll never see them again. 


Here are the prayers we said at Penny's little funeral the other day.  They're actually a comfort  for me to read right now.

“Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless this pet. By the power of your love, enable it to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.”

Prayer of Saint Francis for Animals

God Our Heavenly Father, You created the world to serve humanity's needs and to lead them to You.
By our own fault we have lost the beautiful relationship which we once had with all your creation.
Help us to see that by restoring our relationship with You we will also restore it with all Your creation.
Give us the grace to see all animals as gifts from You and to treat them with respect for they are Your creation.We pray for all animalswho are suffering as a result of our neglect. May the order You originally established be once again restored to the whole world through the intercession of the Glorious Virgin Mary,the prayers of Saint Francis and the merits of Your Son,Our Lord Jesus Christ

Who lives and reigns with Younow and forever. Amen.

And, here's an article I found that was comforting, too:

17 comments:

Kim H. said...

Oh Lisa, my heart is heavy for your whole family. Like I've said before, those dumb pets get under your skin and get us right in the heart! I remember my Mom telling me she felt like she cried more tears over losing our last family dog than she did when her own dad died.

I think you did ALL the right things. Clearly, with Bella and Grigio -- I mean, it could have been so, so much worse. Obviously, the two of them could have wreaked so much more havoc -- and worse yet, put one of the kids in danger if they chased the dogs in to a bad situation. It'll all work out.

As for Nick, again, I think you did the right thing. Sometimes we have to make those kinds of decisions. We've had a few "what if" scenarios with our dogs and you get to the point where you have to put a cap or limit on what you're able to afford to do.

Someone recently told me about spending six grand on doggie dialysis and I about keeled over. I mean, I cherish our dog, but family priorities come first.

Just keep turning to St. Francis -- and St. Dominic -- he was a dog lover too! :)

Sending extra big HUGS this morning.

Sheila said...

I'm sorry. It is a very sad week. One of the things that struck me, though, was that your kids are watching you make the right decisions in a hard, hard situation. They will remember the sadness, yes, but they will also remember your example, and I think it will help them make their own hard decisions in the future. May God bless and comfort you.

Natalie said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. But just keep in mind that you did what you thought would be best for them in the long run. Hope the kiddos see the light soon. Michelle is a very brave girl to get into the middle of a dog fight. Hope her foot feels better.

Kim H. said...

Oh yes, I forgot about poor Michelle -- what a bad friend I am, having just been through this with my Patrick. I hope it's feeling better and yes, how brave of her. It's natural instinct to want to help in a situation like that.

Aubrey said...

That's very sad. :( Hope that your family's hearts heal!

Diana said...

Hi Lisa,
I'm sorry that you and your family had to deal with all of that sadness. And of coarse the pets. I do understand about the vet bills though as I have so many Dr. bills myself. But it is a blessing that you were a responsible pet owner. We have to deal with people around here that don't have a clue as how to take care of pets and it makes me sick.
You did the right thing even though it may not have been what you would have liked to have done. We do the best that we can given our circumstances. There are others that do not. Prayers to you and yours Lisa.
Love Di

Linda Higgins said...

OH MY GOODNESS that is the sadest story every! I can imagine how quiet the house must be now. I am sure everyone reading has had a similiar loss of a pet. We too had a horrible loss heartbreaking loss where one sons pet had to be put down by his older brother when a car hit and ran! It was horrible! The hardest thing my oldest son has ever done in his life because he knew how much his younger brother loved his chocolate lab! I know there is another puppy or maybe 2 just waiting for your loving home! Our prayers are for your children and you. :)

Bia said...

Well...my heart goes out to all of you...Bella, Grigio, Nick, and especially all of you.

All the decisions you made were done with love, compassion, and faith...

I'll say a special prayer for you tonight.

Aimee said...

Lisa, what a hard, sad situation you've all been in. I am praying that your smiles return and the clouds pass.

Sara said...

I'm sorry you're having such a rough week. I think your decisions were sound, and I hope everyone understands. God bless you all!

MightyMom said...

what a sucky week.


we had to get rid of a cat when I was pregnant cuz he wouldn't be good with kids, thing was he hated strangers and would attack rather than run (the reason we had to get rid of him). The shelter will euthanize automatically any animal they can't put a collar on. (believing that if they can't get a collar on them they can't in good conscience place them in a home). This cat was about 18lbs and had never worn a collar...add that to his natural dislike of strangers and strange places and we knew taking him to the shelter was a death sentence. So we did the best we could. hubby took him on a drive and let him loose in a neighborhood. We can only hope that he found another owner...one who didn't have babies.

We don't want to know the rest of the story either.

MightyMom said...

what a sucky week.


we had to get rid of a cat when I was pregnant cuz he wouldn't be good with kids, thing was he hated strangers and would attack rather than run (the reason we had to get rid of him). The shelter will euthanize automatically any animal they can't put a collar on. (believing that if they can't get a collar on them they can't in good conscience place them in a home). This cat was about 18lbs and had never worn a collar...add that to his natural dislike of strangers and strange places and we knew taking him to the shelter was a death sentence. So we did the best we could. hubby took him on a drive and let him loose in a neighborhood. We can only hope that he found another owner...one who didn't have babies.

We don't want to know the rest of the story either.

Aussie Therese said...

oh Lisa,

what a heart ache for you guys. I am so sorry you had to go through with this.

I have become so attached to our animals that I know the pain you must be feeling.

Prayers for the children and you as you adjust to life without the two dogs.

GrandmaK said...

Oh, I am so sorry! I know how you feel! When our pets really become embers of the family is is sad and lonely on their passing. I hate to leave Duchess and Sam when we travel. I do miss them when I am gone. Have a good day and God be with you all! Cathy

Kaila said...

I'm soooo sorry for your losses. (((((Mrs. Lisa and family))))

I'll be praying for all of you.

diana said...

how very sad. i'm sorry you've had to make so many hard decisions that affected part of your family. will you get any new dogs?

Mama to much! said...

I'm sorry to hear about your pet troubles. We had a dog kill a neighor's chicken as well...but this was a pet chicken and it was a horrible mess. thank God it was an onlyone time thing, but I was real embarrassed!