My Personal Experience With Fear Aggression (Chapter 2)
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As I said, we are human and we made mistakes…costly mistakes.
We worked with the trainer in our efforts to do what we thought we needed to do to manage our current situation with Frisbee. We still didn’t understand what “snapped” in him and how we ended up in this situation.
How could we go from this dog literally laying by the door so my husband couldn’t leave without him to now having to be so careful introducing him to people?
He was no longer allowed to go on outings because we just didn’t know what to expect and now he couldn’t be trusted. Poor Frisbee was now stuck in the house. But, maybe that was better for him. It’s really too bad dogs can’t talk.
The next situation we had is the one I truly regret the most. I take full responsibility because I put Frisbee in a situation that set him up to fail.
What do I mean?
I’m the one who worked the most with the trainer. I’m the one who understood his body language the best. I’m the one who was taking the most responsibility for trying to minimize his fear and create as much of a normal life for him as possible.
And yet I failed. (heavy sigh as I type)
One night my daughter my oldest daughter and her boyfriend were hanging out along with his 2-year-old daughter who I love dearly. We decided to hang out in the living room because it was getting late and we wanted to have the baby wind down. Every other time we would hang out in what she considered “her room”, a room filled with toys that any child would delight in.
You might be thinking, okay so what’s so bad about that?
Well, I knew that the living room couch was a “hot spot” for Frisbee, meaning an area he was territorial over. I knew not to let him on the couch when and if people were over. On top of that, Frisbee had a very odd relationship with the boyfriend, almost like he considered him one of his pack mates. I can’t explain it, but he just behaved differently around him, in a good way.
We were all watching a little TV, enjoying Baskin Robbins ice cream and the baby was falling asleep on her dad’s lap. I decided to go upstairs and take a hot bath.
Here’s the mistake. I left Frisbee on the couch sitting next to the boyfriend with the baby asleep on his lap (or so I thought).
Are you imagining the worse?
I was just getting in the bath when my daughter came running in screaming Frisbee bit the baby in the face.
I grabbed a towel and literally made it down the steps in probably 3 lunges. My heart was racing and I was full of panic. I reached the baby to find her cheek bleeding. I told the kids to take her to the emergency room and I would meet them there.
My husband was out of town but I called him hysterical as I headed to the emergency room. I couldn’t believe what had just happened or how I could have been so stupid.
Lucky for everyone it was just a wound to her cheek, not her eye, and no permanent damage other than a scar from the five stitches.
As you can imagine, I felt horrible. In fact, I’m not sure when I’ve ever felt worse. And trust me as I write this my eyes are welled up with tears.
Whenever I think about that night I just ask myself how I could have been so stupid? What was I thinking, or not thinking? And was this Frisbee’s fault or mine? I’d say mine.
So, what happened is that the baby woke up (or wasn’t fully asleep) and followed my daughter into the kitchen for more ice cream. I guess she came back into the living room on the side of the couch where Frisbee was sleeping. I’m not sure what happened next but I’m guessing whatever happened, Frisbee was startled and either bit or scratched her. The emergency room doctor wasn’t sure of the exact cause (paw or teeth) but either way, it’s not the response you ever want from your dog.
The baby has healed quite nicely but I’m not sure I ever will. The memory of that night I believe will always haunt me and I will always feel guilty both for the injury caused to the little girl I love so much and for setting Frisbee up to fail.
And it didn’t end here of course. The hospital is required by law to report a dog bite to Animal Control so we had a visit from an Animal Control Officer and a report was filed regarding the incident. It seemed that Animal Control was quite used to these situations and just filed a report. Strike one. I’m also guessing she could sense my anguish over the situation and believed we would do everything we could to prevent any further situations.
And I can tell you, we feel like we are doing the best we can. We love Frisbee and feel we did something wrong to take him from a carefree dog who loved to go on outings to a dog that was unpredictable and seemed afraid.
We did learn in this process that while dogs think they want to go out on adventures with you, it’s actually very stressful for them. Some dogs handle it better than others but part of why I am sharing this story is to warn you that while you think your dog loves being out and about, perhaps he/she doesn’t.
The sounds, smells, voices, people invading their space and everything else that comes with going out in public can actually cause a lot of stress with a dog.
I strongly believe now that dogs should be taken on walks, and to parks and dog parks or dog beaches or even on hikes but they don’t belong at the mall or in stores or places that are more people-oriented and not really meant for dogs.
Moving on to Chapter 3, not only did I increase the training, but I contacted the rescue once again hoping to dig up some history on Frisbee to help us better understand him.
You won’t believe what I learned this time…