For My Beautiful, Aggressive Dog

It has been almost three months since I decided to let you live a better life; although, it feels like an eternity has already passed.

Rosabelle was euthanized on June 11th, 2016 at the animal hospital that I work at. The decision to let her pass was the hardest choice I have ever had to make in my 25 years on this Earth. Why? Because of the circumstances as to why I decided to let her go. Rosabelle was the first dog I ever had on my own and the connection I had with her was one I have never felt before with another living thing. I will always believe that God meant for me and Rosabelle to be a part of each other’s lives. 

Right before my birthday in 2014 I started looking around for a puppy for my now ex boyfriend, Connor, and I to call our own. I came across a rescue based out of Raleigh, NC called Pawfect Match Rescue. They had just gotten in a litter of boxer puppies so obviously I emailed the rescue and they directed me towards the foster mom of the puppy that I was interested in. She informed me that the one I wanted already had an adoption application or two put in that they were reviewing, but I could still put one in if I wanted to. I was also informed that the other puppy from the litter that she was fostering did not have any applications put in on her yet. Right at that moment I was determined to get that puppy. I was informed that they weren’t sure whether or not the puppy had a hearing deficit (and turns out she did), but I did not care. I put in my application and two days before my birthday I got to go meet my girl. One of the foster mom’s daughters had named the puppy I wanted Rosabelle. I thought it was a very unique name, so we kept it. When I held her for the first time that day it was love at first sight.

The night of February 1st, 2014 was when my life really began because that was the night my girl got to come home to her new family.

Turns out that Rosabelle, name and all, was the perfect fit 12342796_1176157449069987_8536010275381267312_n

In June of 2014 Connor and I finally got our own apartment together and were able to start living our life with our brand new adorable puppy.

Not long after we got Rosabelle I came across Tara Lynn who runs her own photography business called InBetween the Blinks. She specializes in pet photography and boy does she have an eye for those perfect pictures. As long as I have dogs and as long as she lives close enough to me I will always use her to take the most spectacular photos of my dogs. Here is the link to the blog post Tara made about Rosabelle’s first puppy session with her: Rosabelle’s Puppy Session

As Rosabelle went through her puppy stages I was able to take her to work with me a lot for daycamp (socialization with other dogs) and for training. Even with her hearing deficit she proved to be one smart cookie by learning most of her obedience and tricks with hand signals. Of course we socialized her outside of work as much as possible to get her used to being around strangers and other dogs that she wasn’t used to seeing. We took her to PetSmart, little dog parks, and she would meet a lot of friends of Connor’s family that she did not know, including children. When Rosabelle was about 7-8 months old we noticed that she started getting really weary of people that she did not know and would even start to show a little aggression. Even at my work place where she was comfortable with everyone, if we hired a new person she would be very suspicious of them and act standoffish. This just led to more attempts at socializing her with strangers, but it ended up in many failed attempts.

Over time we had to accept that the way Rosabelle was was that she would not accept strangers in to her life at first. But, if she met you multiple times on her terms in a place that she was comfortable, eventually she would warm up to strangers; as a result, it would lead to a very rewarding friendship with a wonderful, loving dog. The only kind of people she would never warm up to was children. Even though she was fostered with little kids, she would show aggression towards them the most. To this day we still believe that part of the reason Rosabelle was like this was because of her hearing deficit.

When Rosabelle was about 6 months old we added a new addition to the family – her brother Anubis. Anubis is also a rescue (technically) since he pretty much came from the side of the road when he was 5 weeks old. They grew to love each other so much and became almost inseparable.

As an older puppy, Rosabelle suffered from a lot of urinary issues and eventually we came to the conclusion that she had a hooded vulva and needed an episioplasty. Her bladder was also not in the right spot in her body which caused her bladder not to fully empty every time she peed. So needless to say she had to use the bathroom quite a bit. She also developed allergies to something called bayberry and would break out in hives if she was not constantly taking benadryl (which is also good for preventing mast cell tumors in boxers).  Rosabelle also started having some signs of anxiety around a year old which made her aggression towards strangers grow. And the older she got, the worse her aggression got. I ended up talking to one of her doctors about her aggression and anxiety so we started trying her on two different dosages of Fluoxetine (one for in the morning and one for at night). I also had to start walking her on a gentle leader to help control her better in public. 

As we dealt with that for a while, Rosabelle started developing stomach problems which eventually led to her being diagnosed with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). She would have to be hospitalized about twice a year due to flare ups. She was on three medications long term for acid reflux and other stomach issues and was eventually put on a strict hydrolyzed protein diet because her stomach could not handle any other kind of food. At the beginning of the year she also had a mass removed from her leg because of suspicions of it being a mast cell tumor for multiple reasons.

So needless to say Rosabelle dealt with her fair share of health problems most likely because she was a white boxer. But I did whatever needed to be done no matter what to help my girl.

In June of 2015, the dogs and I went through a major life change – Connor decided to move out. It was just me, Rosabelle, and Anubis from then on out. And that could not have been more perfect. It gave us more alone time together so our bond with one another could grow.

At the end of 2015/beginning of 2016, Rosabelle’s behavior started to noticeably change. She had a thundershirt and countless other dog shirts because she seemed to like wearing clothes and at times it seemed to help calm her down a little because she felt secure. Her aggression towards people started to get a lot worse. If she saw someone she didn’t know she would lunge, aggressively bark, and even start foaming at the mouth if she wanted to get to them bad enough. I even had to start walking Anubis and Rosabelle separately because they would both get worked up, Rosabelle more so, when they would see a person and sometimes exhibit reverse aggression and start fighting each other. I would start walking Rosabelle at night time to still try to get her walk in while at the same time trying to avoid people as much as possible.  Most of our car rides at this point consisted of her constantly aggressively barking at any person she could get her eyes on. It was starting to be a stressful task just to take her outside to use the bathroom. People are very ignorant and think that every dog in the world is friendly and ignore the fact that NC has a leash law. I was constantly cussing people out in my apartment complex for letting their dogs run loose. If any of them had ever run up to Rosabelle theres no telling what she would have done. She eventually became extremely dog aggressive with no prior cause just like her people aggression. I had her at work one day for daycamp and she was already outside. I had brought a group of three dogs down to go out in her group and as soon as I opened the door Rosabelle lunged inside, locked on to this one dog I was holding, and would not let go. It took about four or five of us and a kick in the face to finally get her to let go of the dog I was holding. She attacked two other dogs after that over the next month or two for no reason at all. I stopped bringing her to work because it proved to be too stressful for her to be there anymore. Why? I’ll never be able to figure it out. It also became difficult to have people over to my apartment with the way Rosabelle was. I would keep her crated and she would just about tear the crate apart trying to get out to get to the person she didn’t know. We added trazadone on top of her fluoxetine to see if it would help in any way make her anxiety or aggression any better. It seemed to work a little bit after she had been on it for about a month. But then one night while we were playing on the floor, for the first time ever, Rosabelle got aggressive with ME. My heart was shattered because I was supposed to be her person. But then a couple days later at work she attacked her brother Anubis outside because she was trying to get at another dog and he got in the way. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, but her behavior had changed so drastically and without visual cause. Rosabelle had never been beaten by a person nor had she ever been attacked by another dog. Nothing made sense. 

One day while I was at work I had an idea as to why her behavior might have changed so drastically and so I went down to talk to one of her doctors. There was a possibility that Rosabelle had a brain tumor. Brain tumors are one of the most common types of cancer in boxers. I had a lot to think about.

Then I noticed her doing something one day that I had never seen her do before – she was sitting in front of the wall, staring at it, whining. She did it for several minutes. Her doctor said that was a sign of a possible brain tumor. I spent days thinking about what I should do. I talked to three different trainers, one who had a similar situation to mine, and I spoke with both of her main doctors. I knew what I had to do. I had to give my girl the better life that she deserved. Keeping her inside all day because she was too aggressive to take outside was not right. She was not living the life a dog should live. It was not fair to her. She was constantly worked up and anxious no matter what I did to try to help her. No matter what I did, there was always going to be ignorant people around me who were going to have their dog off leash putting my dog, their dog, me, and them at risk for anything to happen. I was more than capable of controlling Rosabelle. What I did not want to happen was a dog run up to her and her fatally injure that dog or the owner who was trying to catch their dog and then be made to put Rosabelle down. I wanted it to be my choice that she was put down.

I made her appointment to be euthanized for June 11th at 11:45 in the morning at work. Our appointment was the last one because I knew I was going to have to take my time saying goodbye. The car ride to work was one of the worst things because all I was thinking on the way there was that this was my last car ride I’ll ever take with my girl and that she had no idea why we were going to work that morning. But Rosabelle was sitting in her friend Chris’ lap, so she was happy and didn’t have a care in the world. I brought her big dog bed with us so she could lay on it when the time came. When we got to work we went upstairs before we went in to our room so Rosabelle could say her final goodbyes to Paola, Alexandria, and MaryBeth, some of her really good friends. Once we went in to our room it was us two, Chris, Jessica, Shannon, Olivia, Garrett, and Bianca. All of her friends were in there with her giving her endless amounts of cookies, kisses, and hugs. About fifteen minutes later the doctor walks in and I know its time to say goodbye to my girl. I get her to lay down on her bed and I hold her head in my hands as she gets the first injection. After a few seconds she got really still and seemed like she was just really tired. She then got the second injection and a piece of me died as I watched my dog exhale the very last breath I was ever gonna watch her take again. She died in my hands and I lost it. I started bawling as everyone left the room one by one. Eventually I got on the bed with Rosabelle and held her as I cried, saying “I want my dog back.” I stayed like that for probably about five minutes, but it felt like forever, got up and put her body in a bag then took her upstairs and put her in our freezer. I got her ashes back in less than a week and she is now sitting on my dresser in front of my bed.

Over the past two and a half months I have been battling with myself on and off about giving up on living. All I wanted to do was be with Rosabelle. I have never felt this much pain in my life over losing something and the pain was unbearable. She was not just a dog. She was my therapy, my best friend, my world, and I would have done more for her if I could have. No, I do not feel guilty for putting Rosabelle down. No, no one influenced my decision. In the end, it was my decision and I decided to do what was best for my dog, because I knew her better than anyone else. I know what I did was the right thing because if I could I would go back and do those two and a half years all over again and not change a single thing. I did not make this decision lightly and I am still having a hard time accepting it all, even after almost three months. What has finally made me start feeling better is that I finally dreamt of her last Friday night after almost three months of not having her. She was so happy in my dream and I was with someone she didn’t know and she was loving all over them. She didn’t act like she would have down here. Thats how I know she is not stressed anymore. She is up in Heaven living the life she should have had down here. She just wasn’t meant for this world, but I still believe she was meant to be my dog even for such a short period of time. And I thank God for the time he allowed me to have with her. Rosabelle impacted my life in a way that I will never be able to put in to words.

I write about my experience with Rosabelle because there are people going through the same situation I went through. No, its not very often you hear about someone putting their dog down because it was aggressive, but it happens. I am not ashamed to admit it because it was the right decision so I could give my dog a better life. Rehoming her was not an option because of her aggression, so I had no other choice. Other people probably don’t talk about it because they might think it makes them look like they don’t know how to control their dog. Controlling Rosabelle was not the issue. It was other people that became the issue because people are ignorant. And yes, I got crap from some people at work for putting her down. One of my coworkers thinks I put her down so that I myself could live a less stressful life. WRONG. I put Rosabelle down so SHE could live a less stressful life. I would live with the stress of having her every day if I could be guaranteed nothing would ever go wrong because of someones ignorance. But theres no guarantee for that. Rosabelle was a beautiful dog and I lived and breathed for her. Anyone who knows me will tell you that and will tell you I would have done anything for her. Thats how much love I had for this dog.

A week before Rosabelle’s time, I had a special photo session done with her by Tara Lynn from InBetween the Blinks. These are just a few of the photos that were taken and Tara had them all put in to a special book that will forever hold my heart.

Goodbyes are never easy. But this is not goodbye. I will see you again one day in Heaven. Wiggle butt and all 12342796_1176157449069987_8536010275381267312_n

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “For My Beautiful, Aggressive Dog

  1. Omg, I have a very similar story. It hurts to just type her name, Sophie. Thank you for sharing. I’m in Raleigh too if you want to connect.

    Like

  2. You are an amazing individual and I applaud your decision! YOUR decision, to make things better for the dog that gave you all her love!! I’ve been in a similar position having to make a decision like this and then beating myself up about whether it was right. I’m glad you’re finally finding a little solace and peace. Thank you for sharing your story!

    Like

  3. I’m so sorry. It’s clear you did everything for her, including letting her be at peace. I hope your heart heals and I’m sure Anubus will help you along. I lost my 4 year old doodle, Sully, to bone cancer and there is not a day that passes that he is not ever present in my heart and mind.

    Like

  4. God bless you for giving her so much love. As her condition progressed , you know she could not have been happy living like that. We love our fur kids the best we can, and sometimes that means helping them move on to a better place. I send you warm regards, support, and so much respect for sharing your story. May you have peace and savor the moment you two are reunited again🙏🏻❤️🐶

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s