How do we prevent our pets from attacking our son, daughter, family members and friends? When our dog, cat, or pet does bite our child, what next?
What do we do with the cat, dog, or other animals after an altercation? Where do we find the courage to talk about our stories with each other without being a victim, a perpetrator, or finding fault?
Why is detaching with love so helpful in cases where we feel it would not be responsible to keep the children and the pets together?
I hope in sharing my family's experience with a dog bite that resulted in a trip to the hospital for stitches and our decision to put the dog up for adoption is helpful both for finding courage to take action in prevention where the cat or dog has already given warning signs that this is possible, to forgive ourselves after an incident has happened, and to find the love in our hearts to let go of a dog or cat in love instead of hate, judgment and regret.
Thank you for reading about day 183 of Happier People Podcast and I hope you enjoy it!
Detaching With Love When Our Dog Bites Our Child!
What do we do when our dog bites our child?
Today I will share my experience with this because I hope it's useful for any of the rest of us dealing with the same situations.
I hope it's useful to prevent the dog and a child having the altercation in the first place because that's ideal. If we have the chance to see that maybe it could happen, then we have the chance to prevent it, and in this case prevention is far better than, what do we do after it's happened?
I'm grateful that I have the courage to share this because this has been the most traumatic thing that I've been through in a while.
This is my dog here, Peaches.
I love Peaches and now, we are detaching with love essentially because Peaches a few weeks ago bit, or more accurately, dominated my two-year-old daughter.
We were in the kitchen playing and I was making a smoothie with my mother. My daughter, Madeleine, was walking around and playing with Peaches. She was giving her like a hug around the neck and the next thing we know, as my mother and I were in the kitchen making a smoothie, we heard Madeleine screaming and all of a sudden Peaches had Madeleine's face inside her mouth.
I picked Madeleine up and found that she had a deep gash about two centimeters long on the left side of her face with blood coming out, and another puncture wound on the right side with blood coming out, her face hanging open.
Immediately my first thought was, "Oh, my God. She's scarred for life."
Then, right after that, I had the assumption that somehow this was my fault even though I was neither participant in it. I did not do the biting or was not the one bitten. I did not tell the dog to bite her and yet my immediate belief inside was, "Oh, my God she's scarred for life. I did this. As her parent, I'm responsible for this. This happened because of something I did."
Madeleine started crying and screaming as soon as Peaches put her on her back. Now, Peaches did not intend to hurt her. Peaches intended to show her who was boss and show her that she was not to be messed around with and not to be played roughly that she is top dog.
Peaches is just an angel with human beings. Peaches loves adults and she doesn't do so great with other dogs though and I don't know why. See, getting into all this other stuff tends to lose track of what we can actually do and our minds want to get into explaining all these things, and saying who is right and who is at fault.
I personally have found this not to be helpful. What's helpful is, what do we do about it right now and how do we get our feelings felt and moved on about this?
Right as I picked my daughter up, right when it happened, I ran over immediately, I grabbed Peaches by the fur and tossed her right about over here where we are in the living room. I'm grateful that I used just the force necessary to completely stop any further damage.
My first reaction when I saw my daughter was to start screaming and crying right away as well.
When I feel a horrible sense of, "oh my God," fear, terror, I don't go around every day feeling that and that is a painful emotion.
Now, as a veterinarian in the army, my mother has seen lots of dog bites and lots of trauma.
My mother is of the keep it cool and keep everything under wraps, and then blow it all out later when you get home and I used to do that too.
At work, I used to be cool under anything, I'd never act like I felt anything except anger or annoyance, and then when I got home I’d either try to numb the pain or drink and be a total disaster.
Now, what works for me is to just feel my feelings right away.
As soon as I picked my daughter up, saw the blood running out of her face and what had happened I started screaming and crying. I felt awful. I felt pain. I felt shame. I felt all those kinds of misery.
Then, my mother tried to tell me to hold it together, she said, "Now, stop that. You've got to keep it together. You can't do that around Madeleine."
I cursed at her and screamed at her, and said something which is unusual for me today.
It used to be a kind of a daily thing for anyone who was around me. It's very unusual for me to cuss and get upset with people because I realize that if I'm upset with someone else I'm disturbed inside.
At the same time, when someone is hurt or injured, the logical response, the natural first response, is often to lash out. Therefore, I try to give space when someone is hurt because if I try to push, then I'm likely to get that same response back.
I realized as soon as I screamed and cursed at my mother what I'd done, and I apologized to her right away even as this is just seconds after happening.
I said, "Mom, I'm sorry. I don't mean to get out of my house," and I also said, "Mom, I need to feel my feelings right now. I need to feel my feelings now, and therefore I can be present and I can be cool and calm for the rest of the day."
If I hold my feelings inside there's this background tension that bleeds into everything. If I just cry and scream, and get it out, then I can return back to center, and that's exactly what my daughter did.
She screamed and cried for a few minutes, and then she returned back to center. Just a few minutes after Peaches and her had the altercation, she was okay. She was not still upset and crying about it, and yet as adults, it's almost worse for us because we go on and on about this stuff in our minds.
After the screaming and crying was over with, which took a few minutes, then we saw that it'd be wise to go get Madeleine some medical attention because the two centimeters or so tear along her face was deep and getting some stitches for that was a good way to make sure that she had minimal scarring.
That's what we did, we went to the All Children's Hospital, and for adults, the part at the hospital was probably much more challenging than the brief moments of terror and pain at home.
We were in the hospital, even though there was no wait, it still took about three hours to get Madeleine all stitched up and she found the process at the hospital probably worse than the actual thing at home itself. It looks like they did a good job stitching her face up. It looks like the scar on her left side should be minimal as well as the little tiny mark on her right side next to her nose.
After we did all that we came home and we talked about it, because sometimes we just need to handle one thing at a time.
What we like to do with our minds is immediately when something like this has happened to just handle everything all at once.
The doctor, right while he was sewing Madeleine's face-up asked us, what we were going to do about the dog.
Now, yes, as a medical professional he probably doesn't want to have to stitch her up again from another dog bite. At the same time though, while we were getting her face stitched up and Madeleine was crying while getting needles stuck through her face to sew her face up, we were not ready to think about what we were going to do with the dog yet.
Now, as soon as we were done and walking around the hospital heading out, I said that it probably wouldn't be responsible or wise to keep a dog around who has proven that she believes she's dominant over children.
Now, if you are bigger than Peaches she has no confusion about who is dominant, but Peaches has some confusion if you are smaller than her she thinks that she runs things. If she's bigger than you and she can push you around, she thinks she ought to be in charge.
I suggested it's not wise for us to keep a dog who has proven like that. We thought about it and we talked about it with everyone, my mother, my wife's family, friends, family, whoever would listen, and we reached a loving decision that it's time to detach with love from Peaches.
It's time to let Peaches go to a new home. At the same time, we considered taking her to the vet and, nicely termed, put her to sleep, and that didn't feel right in our hearts.
There is not one right way to do things. There is not one way that this is absolutely correct in every situation. Now, our minds want one way to be correct because if there is one way to be correct, then we can be right about things. We can say, "My way is the right way and this, therefore, is how to do things."
Well, life is not like that. There is a lot of ways to go about the same situation and to handle it successfully. There are lots of ways, we could say, to screw up the same situation as well.
What guides us best often as to what feels right, what feels loving in our hearts, and to me, it didn't feel loving to take Peaches to the vet and put her to sleep, that does not feel loving to me.
Peaches is 10 years old now.
We are looking for a new home for Peaches and meanwhile, we are keeping her separated physically from Madeleine. We are keeping her outside along with our other dog over here, Bow. He is kept separate with Peaches, so they are together.
In our hearts, we don't feel like it's right to just get her put to sleep at the vet. Now, if it's someone else's situation that might be the right thing to do, that's not up to me to decide. It's up to me to decide what's right for my home based on what's in my heart and what I follow is what feels loving, what feels kind and what feels generous.
It doesn't feel kind or loving or generous, especially if we change the language, if we say, "Let's go take Peaches to the vet so the vet can kill her." That doesn't sound like something I'd like to participate in.
I believe there is someone else who might love having Peaches in their home, someone probably older. She would be perfect for someone who doesn't have a dog, who is older, who lives alone and who would appreciate the company around of a dog.
My mother is 60 or so, and we adopted a dog for my her after my father died and that was just perfect. My mother loves having her dog around all day every day. I think Peaches would be perfect in a situation like that.
I've learned a lot from this and as we go forward in this decision one of the most valuable lessons I've learned is to be able to detach with love.
One of the most challenging things it seems in life is when we need to make some change whether it's giving away one of our pets, whether it's something like a family change where someone's passed away, where someone's moving away or where there's the end of a relationship, I think one of the most challenging things is to detach with love because it seems a lot of us are programed that we have to detach with hate.
If we leave a job we have to talk about how terrible that job was and we have to be the victim in a lot of stories or we have to be the perpetrator.
We have to say, "I was wrong."
Especially in relationships, we feel like we have to have this victim-perpetrator role where for something like this with a pet it would be easy to just do victim-perpetrator and say, "Well, our dog perpetrated this violence on our daughter and all of us are the victims of this, and she's an awful animal and we'll just have to kill her to make up for this."
What feels right for me today is to say, "I still love Peaches. I love Peaches." We have had an amazing seven years together. Peaches is the first dog I've had as an adult, she has put up with a lot out of me and she has put up with a lot of neglect essentially, and not being paid attention to.
Since Laura and I have had Madeleine, and we got Bow over here, Peaches has probably been the lowest on the totem pole in terms of getting paid attention to and most of us really want attention, we want to be noticed, we have a need to be paid attention to, and Peaches has dealt with that well.
I'm grateful today that I can separate from her with love and say, "Look, Peaches I love you. You're a beautiful dog and I think it's time for our journey together to part ways. If you want to do more good living in someone else's home, which that's what feels right, we will try to help with that."
In my opinion, that is a beautiful thing, to be able to separate with love instead of with a victim-perpetrator story, or with hate, because when we can separate with love we can truly handle everything life throws at us.
We can handle death, we can handle the end of a relationship, we can handle the end of a job, we can handle the end of an addiction, and addictions can be things to separate with love, to say, "Look, I've loved this alcohol or I've loved these substances I've used, or I've loved whatever addictive behavior, but I'm done with that, it’s time to go."
When we try to separate with hate, like I've tried to separate from my alcohol with hate for a lot of my life, that never worked because I'd end up coming right back.
It's better to separate with love, and say, "Look, I had a lot of great times drinking and I had a lot of miserable times drinking as well. I'm going to separate." Then say, "There's nothing wrong with alcohol. It's fine. It works very well for what it does and I enjoyed lots of it, and at the same time I have no interest in having that be a part of my life today."
I let that go and at the same time then, I'm okay with it existing out in the rest of life that other people can enjoy a drink or two of alcohol.
With Peaches, this has been one of the biggest learning experiences, to separate with love and say, "I love you Peaches and I love you whether you're in my home or in someone else's home," and Peaches always has a place in my heart.
She is normally outside during the day and she's inside today so I could film this video with her. This is kind of a goodbye video, that, "I love you" and we are trusting that we will be guided, we will be connected with another person.
If our thought right now is, "Oh, my God. If you're going to give her away, are you going to tell whoever you give her to what happened?"
Anyone adopting her has a right to know everything about her life including that she was found wild essentially on a peach orchard by herself, and that she just had an altercation resulting in a trip to the hospital with our daughter.
Yes, I think that she should not be in any home with children or even with other pets because she's killed several possums in the backyard. She's also maimed a few other animals and that's the facts about what we remember of Peaches.
It's important to just share these things. Now, when I say what kind of home she should be in, ultimately that's not up to me because I can describe, I can talk about her, I can share what her life has been like, I can do my part when anyone's adopting her, however, still other people can put her in any kind of home though. It's up to me to share what I know, but at the same time, it's up to wherever she goes, to share and to keep that in mind.
We were told by one rescue agency, the lady saw how Peaches reacted to her dog. Peaches just tried to bite, and she often tries to bite dogs when they come over. She's not very friendly with dogs usually, and a lady told us that we shouldn't have children around Peaches.
Now, for two years we didn't have any major issues. We had lots of minor issues in fact. Peaches would growl at Madeleine sometimes and Peaches snapped at her once, but Laura was right there, had everyone right in her arms when it happened. Now, the challenge with these kinds of things is to just share our story.
Yes, this has been awkward. I have not shared it in a perfectly presented format and life is just awkward. The truth is just a little uncomfortable or not very easy to explain, and yet we have this desire to hear the honest, the real unedited truth. That's what I try to do today, to just share that because when we each share our experience, that helps us be wise.
We can learn from what others have done without being told what we should do. Peaches dominated Madeleine, she didn't try to hurt Madeleine though. If Peaches had tried to hurt Madeleine, she might not even have lived through it.
Peaches has the ability to do a whole lot of damage and if that had happened, then my wife and I very well would have taken Peaches to the vet, I would imagine, and would have got her put to sleep. It wouldn't have been safe for anyone to have her in their home.
There might be some people reading this and saying that we are monsters because we ought to be putting that dog to sleep and that no one else should be allowed to take her, but when we each share our experience, we then can come to the best decisions without being told what we should do.
I know I don't like being told what I should do because there are a lot of implications there. I've been told what I should do my whole life and I often resisted being told what I should do.
A lot of people told me that I should stop drinking, "Jerry you should stop drinking. You drink too much. You should drink less," and I resisted that. I sought to prove all those "should-ers" wrong.
I try to avoid telling anyone what should be done today in favor of simply sharing my real-life experience, even as messy, as awkward and uncomfortable as it looks. Now, the irony is that I've learned so much from this, that sometimes I wonder if I really shouldn't look forward to -- here we go with the word should again. Sometimes the things that happened to us that are most traumatic in life also give us huge room to grow.
The 24 to 48 hours after Peaches and Madeleine had the altercation resulting in stitches for Madeleine in a hospital, I felt like I'd had a mental housecleaning. A lot of the day-to-day things I obsess about like my blog on Steem, how much money I'm making, or what people have said about me, a lot of the day-to-day things I obsess about really don't have much of an impact on my happiness, on my experience of life.
Whereas things like family have a gigantic impact on my experience of life. I'm grateful that for 24 to 48 hours, I dropped almost everything else in my life and just spent time with my family. I did still go to my Alcoholics Anonymous meetings even the day of the altercation that Peaches and Madeleine had and I've in fact deepened my relationships with some people in AA because then I had a need to reach out for help.
A lot of us wonder, why do bad things happen?
My daughter may have a scar on her face for years, maybe even her whole life because of this altercation with Peaches. My dad apparently got bit pretty bad by a dog when he was her age as well and he had to go through the rabies shots with it, and he lived a full life to 63.
I'm grateful for my father and he wasn't scarred for life from it essentially. We might call this a bad thing in saying that Peaches bit Madeleine or had an altercation. We might say, "This is a bad thing. Jerry, that was a bad thing!"
I've had some people say, "Oh, I'm sorry for you. That's awful!"
While I had an absolute moment of terror that seemed to have been shared by everyone else involved, it's hard for me to say that this is a bad thing because it happened and there's no use in calling it bad or evil. No one who participated in it is bad or evil. Peaches is not bad or evil. I'm not a bad or evil father. I'm an ordinary father. Peaches is an ordinary dog. Madeleine is an ordinary daughter, and yet ordinary is extraordinary. There's nothing bad or evil or awful in us, except as we decide it is.
Therefore, with no one bad or evil participating, there is nothing bad or evil that happened in it, and that is very obvious to see from up close. It's very obvious to see that we hurt the people we love the most and sometimes we just are going to hurt each other on a bad day whether it's with something we do as in Peaches and Madeleine having an altercation or whether it's when my wife and I have a verbal altercation, or my daughter and I just pout and sit around and cry together.
We hurt the people we love the most and a lot of times the things that hurt us and that we might think that they are bad or traumatic are actually huge growth opportunities. I feel like I've grown immensely from this and I will show you now one of the things that has come of this.
Finally, after thinking about starting a garden for months, I was inspired to take action on this. I was inspired to actually go start the garden.
Now, as you can see behind me here, I've made the beginnings on a garden after months of meaning to start a garden and thinking about starting a garden. I finally have started the garden.
I've got carrots, I've got kale planted in my backyard. I've got tomatoes, I've got some spinach and this is just the beginning. I'm doing a whole lot more on my gardening adventure now.
My entire garden, the trauma of this, the pain, the fear, the suffering, I don't know, the suffering is kind of optional. I haven't suffered a whole lot out of this. I was immediately motivated the day after this happened to get to work on the garden, not to delay any more, to get started immediately instead of saying, "Well I'll do this in a while. I'll do this once my Steem or whatever."
I was motivated to start on this immediately and now I'm finding that gardening is awesome. I love gardening. It has amazing health benefits. I will probably be talking a lot more about that. The trauma of this inspired me to start gardening and not only that, but I've been incredibly peaceful in the weeks that have followed since this has happened.
I've found from a personal development standpoint that I've been very connected with life. I feel very whole, happy and grateful with how my life is today. I'm especially grateful for my wife and daughter to be here for this.
When I look back, a lot of the worst things in my life have been the best in terms of growth, in terms of being connected with all of humanity, in terms of doing better. Struggles with my health, with my alcoholism, have motivated me to take the best care of myself and the people around me than I ever have before, to eat better, to exercise more, all those things I used to say I wanted to do and try to do.
A lot of the traumas in my life have motivated me essentially to just drop all my excuses and start doing them today.
I'm very grateful for this chance to learn to detach with love. I love Peaches so much and I know while in this video it has been more of direct communication, I've cried over this a lot.
Detaching with love involves pain of letting go and there will be more pain I'm sure, but it's funny, it's a good kind of pain because when we love someone, it almost feels good to hurt a little bit for them.
I came home yesterday, Madeleine and I came home from the store and my wife had just gotten home too and she wasn't around anywhere. We didn't know where she was for like ten minutes and that was traumatic, we were afraid, we weren't sure.
We called her phone, and she didn't answer as she'd found her sister walking around a neighborhood and was taking a walk with her for a few minutes. While we were hurt and afraid for a little bit both Madeleine and I, we weren't sure where either mama or Laura went depending on who you asked, it felt good to love so much that there's that depth of feeling there. It feels good to open our hearts up and to be willing to suffer the pain of loss.
When we adopt a dog, we are also taking on that pain of loss and it's worth considering on a daily basis because when we don't consider the pain of loss, it's often easy to get caught up in all these pointless frustrations like trying to train our dog to perfectly behave, trying to demand the people around us to treat us and act in a certain way.
When we think about how we are going to lose everyone we love and care about, it often helps us see what's really important today. A lot of us are scared sometimes to see what's really important because if we see what is really important, we might quit our boring job, we might stop watching some of our TV shows.
We also might quit poisoning ourselves with alcohol and drugs, or prescription medications. We might start eating better. We might become a totally different person if we see what is really important in our lives.
I'm extremely grateful for everyone who has had the courage to help me see what's really important in my life. Loving people, loving family, loving people in my life, that's what's really important. All these other things are little games.
The loving and having relationships with people, that is really important and if I neglect that I suffer immediately, no matter how well investments do, no matter how big my muscles are, whatever things we try to substitute for real connection and relationships with others.
I'm grateful today, I feel very vulnerable sharing this. I'm aware of the possibilities of judgments, and yet it's not my business what you think of this. This is my truth and I've shared it in the most honest and often awkward way possible here.
This is what I felt like would be best for all of us to do today. I didn't want to share this. I'd rather share things that make me look good all the time, and yet I know I feel happy when I share my truth and I often have been most grateful for people who have been willing to share uncomfortable and inconvenient truths about their own life.
Today, we love you. Thank you from Peaches and I.
If you are looking for a dog near St. Petersburg, Florida, Peaches might love to come to your home.
If you are looking for a dog, she's about ten years old.
If you want a dog, she is looking for a home.
I love you.
I appreciate you joining me here on day 183 of Happier People Podcast, and I hope you have a wonderful day today.
Thank you for reading this blog post, which was originally filmed as the video below.
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