Words in a Row

Spelling and grammer and all that stuff--supposibly its like, real important!

Sasha the Rez Dog

Our dogs got into a fight Mon­day. They say not to break up a dog fight, but I’m not gonna sit and watch them fight­ing in the liv­ing room.

Sasha had pro­voked a num­ber of fights with Pep­per, and Pep­per would grab Sasha by the scruff of her neck and just pin her down while Sasha snapped and snarled; we’d grab a tow­el or blan­ket and cov­er Sasha’s head, then grab their col­lars and pull them apart when they start­ed to calm down.

We’d been dither­ing about Sasha’s behav­ior and what to do. She’s total­ly sweet and lov­ing with peo­ple, but for some rea­son she turned the nor­mal play fights dogs have into real fights.

I looked into no-kill or res­cue shel­ters in the area, but no one want­ed to rehome a dog with the stip­u­la­tion that she had to be an only pet. They all had lengthy wait­ing lists anyway.

Pep­per’s our big­ger dog; she’s a Cata­houla Leop­ard Hound and she’s insane­ly pow­er­ful. Sasha’s a Black Lab/mumblesomething mix. If Pep­per want­ed to hurt Sasha she could have ripped her to pieces, but all she ever did when Sasha attacked her was pin her down like Sasha was a puppy.

Any­way, when they fought on Mon­day I pulled the blan­ket over Sasha’s head and the S.O. grabbed Pep­per’s col­lar; as we start­ed to gen­tly pull them apart, Sasha pulled her­self loose from Pep­per’s grip and tried to lunge at Pep­per again. My left arm got in her way as I was try­ing to pull the blan­ket around her, and she nipped my forearm.

Pep­per pushed for­ward and pinned Sasha back down again, but much hard­er this time. I pulled Sasha away again and she howled.

I got her in a bear hug and held her while The S.O. put Pep­per in her ken­nel; Sasha stopped strug­gling, so I moved the blan­ket to see if she was hurt.

She had a super­fi­cial cut on the back of her neck, but as I tried to exam­ine it I real­ized she had­n’t just nipped me; she’d bit­ten me three times. I had two good chomps on my fore­arm with five or six punc­tures, and then a real­ly nasty punc­ture between my index and mid­dle fin­ger knuckles.

We cleaned the punc­tures and I would have been okay with ban­dag­ing them up, but the punc­ture on my hand was too deep. I tried to approx­i­mate the edges and see if but­ter­fly tape could close it, but no good.

So we went to the ER. They sutured me up and sent me home.

Ani­mal Con­trol called Tues­day morn­ing, as I expect­ed. The offi­cer said he need­ed to come assess the sit­u­a­tion and that Sasha would have to be quar­an­tined for 10 days, but he thought we could prob­a­bly do that at home.

I told him about their pre­vi­ous fights; I’d got­ten a minor nip dur­ing a pre­vi­ous one; My Best Half got a nip and a jammed fin­ger in a dif­fer­ent one; Pep­per had got­ten a lit­tle tear on her ear in yet anoth­er one. The lit­tle nips here and there had pro­gressed into more seri­ous injuries. We were heart­bro­ken, but it was just too risky to keep Sasha anymore.

I said I did­n’t know what to do; we were seri­ous­ly con­sid­er­ing putting her to sleep since we could­n’t rehome her or get her into a no-kill shelter.

Turns out the Prescott Val­ley Humane Soci­ety is a no-kill shel­ter, and Ani­mal Con­trol could take her there with the con­di­tion that she need­ed to be placed with a fam­i­ly as an only pet.

Sasha was already a res­cue dog; we’d adopt­ed her from the Coconi­no Coun­ty Humane Soci­ety. She’d been found liv­ing fer­al­ly on reser­va­tion land (I found out that hap­pens so often they actu­al­ly have “Rez Dog” list­ed as a breed in Ani­mal Con­trol’s data­base). She was in rough shape; she had a nasty case of demod­ec­tic mange and seem­ing­ly every species of worm there is.

When we adopt­ed her, she’d been spayed, dipped and dewormed, and she just need­ed TLC, rest and food. She was 7 months old but she did­n’t have pup­py breath; her breath smelled like feces and gaso­line from the worm meds. Her fur was brit­tle and greasy, she was still skin­ny, and she was afraid of everything.

I want­ed to name her Dob­by, after the house elf in the Har­ry Pot­ter movies. She had big flop­py ears and looked per­pet­u­al­ly ner­vous. I was vot­ed down.

We gave her a nice gen­tle oat­meal bath and just let her rest in her ken­nel; she seemed to feel safer in it. She did­n’t take long to blos­som into a won­der­ful dog, crammed with ener­gy and per­son­al­i­ty and all the weird idio­syn­crasies dogs have. Until cou­ple of months ago, we were enjoy­ing her and look­ing for­ward to a long, hap­py life with her.

So the offi­cer came to the house and I signed the paper­work sur­ren­der­ing her to the Humane Soci­ety. I gave him Sasha, her med­ical records, the info on her chip and her favorite blanket.

And then she was gone.

We’ve been wrestling with the feel­ing that we made a bad choice, or that we failed her or gave up on her. 

When you adopt a dog, though, you’re tak­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty not only to pro­vide for her, but also to do right by her when it’s time to make tough deci­sions on her behalf.

She’s only 3; I thought those tough deci­sions would be years away when she was old and the time had come to free her from suf­fer­ing at the end of a long, hap­py life. I nev­er imag­ined the tough choice would be to pick her up, put her in a cage in an ani­mal con­trol van, and close the door on her puz­zled-but-trust­ing face.

All I can do is believe we adopt­ed her when she need­ed it, and we nursed her to health and enjoyed her for a time, but that time drew to a close, and we had to send her on to be some­one else’s beau­ti­ful, goofy, lov­ing dog.

I hope they let her keep the blanket.

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