medieval art history, navel gazing, horizon scanning
Saturday, November 19, 2011
A.-F. Desportes, Dog and Pheasant, 1780s
This painting has always reminded me of Sawyer: change the coat to black and elongate the tail, and there's our hound.Was. I'm so sad to write that we've decided to find another home for Sawyer. Mac is taking him to the Bloomington Humane Society, where he's bound to find a better situation. Things have been progressively worse on the children front (this was the stuff that I couldn't write about: who can't fix this?), and we've now had enough close calls that we couldn't in good conscience live with the risk of his aggression to kids-not-his-own. He was so good to our kids: gentle and he'd stretch out and Iris would rest her head on his great big heart. And he was great with the dogs in our playgroup - a beautiful runner and chaser and always thinking of new games. And we loved our walks (even (especially, actually) the 5:45 a.m. ones) and learned from what he watched and listened for. But a three-hour stand- (snarl, bark and rush) -off while Iris had a friend over two weeks ago started us thinking in this direction. Consultation with the trainer at PetSmart (where he did pass his class, he is responsive and dear, just God, not around children) confirmed that Sawyer probably needs "rehabilitation" to socialize with strangers. We don't know what life was like for him those first 10 months before he was brought to the shelter where we claimed him. Maybe he'd been a guard dog, maybe... I don't know. And now we won't know what happens to him next - although Bloomington is the very best city in the entire state, and Mac has a whole list of specificities to tell the behaviorist there (they have a behaviorist at this Humane Society). This has to sound strange and awful - and it is. We're so sad, and Oliver and Iris, especially, are taking it really hard. Four months with us - three and a half of them under the siege of this one conflict. People had stopped coming to our house (there's aggression with adult strangers, too, but he calms down after about half an hour), kids certainly. How can a dog be so sweet with his family and then so aggressive with everyone else? As I write it down, of course I know that in some ways that's how it works - you're in the pack circle or you're not. But I guess we're not a pack. Shit. It was not supposed to turn out this way, and I keep replaying the last four months in my head: what could have been done differently, did something go wrong, what might still be done? I feel as though I have failed this beautiful dog. I definitely definitely feel a tremendous sense of failure here. I can't bear to think of what he'll feel over the next few days. Mac says that dogs live more in the moment and that Sawyer's good moment will come - that somebody who doesn't have a steady parade of comings and goings in his space will be able to reward his powerful protection of his family. Maybe a big, open farm where he can finally chase the deer that kept crossing our paths.