We had so many reasons. The biggest one was that the puppy kept attacking the kids. Yes, the puppy was playing. Yes, we could have trained it out of her. But the problem was not the puppy, it was our daughter. The trainer told us to stand still when the puppy started biting and say “Off!” when she bit our bodies or our clothes. We told our son what to do maybe three times. When he started doing it, the puppy lost interest and left him alone.
We told our daughter what to do maybe three hundred times. She simply would not do it. Instead she’d jump around or run away, which encouraged the dog to play, chase her and bite again. When the puppy did bite, my daughter would kick her to get her off of her leg. We told our daughter that she’d hurt the puppy and the puppy would turn against her, but she kept doing it. Sometimes she’d whack the dog on the nose to get her back for biting. Again, we told her to stop. We told her the dog wouldn’t like her. And eventually it happened. My daughter would do something to the puppy and the puppy would fight back. And still, our daughter wouldn’t stop.
As all of this went on, I got really stressed anytime the kids were home with the puppy. Not only did I have to jump up and pry the dog off of them, but I had to police the floor constantly to make sure the kids hadn’t left anything on it that would be dangerous for the dog. If you think that would have been easy I have one word for you: Legos.
When the dog did get into something she shouldn’t, the terrier in her defended it to the death. I must’ve pried stuff out of her mouth a hundred times, including the dead mouse when she bit my fingers bloody. So not only was I on pickup duty but I risked injury every time I failed.
Of course the dog needed exercise and needed to play. My husband and I played with her, but my daughter would play for two minutes then stop and sit on the couch with her feet up, to avoid being bit. The dog would be all riled up with no place to expend that energy but through her mouth, so she’d try to jump up and bite my daughter’s legs. My son would pet the dog, but wouldn’t play with her at all. It didn’t seem like such a crazy idea that the kids would play with a puppy. It happens all the time in the movies.
I have a friend who loves dogs and said she’d take our puppy if we couldn’t keep her. Yesterday she came to take the puppy. I gave my daughter a chance to say goodbye and then she left. My daughter was silent watching “Jessie” for about five minutes, but when I asked if she was okay, the tears flowed. She cried hard. At first she just cried for the loss, but an hour later, she kept asking if the puppy could come back. I said she could visit the puppy at her new home but we couldn’t take her back. She screamed and cried and screamed and cried, then I left for a meeting, leaving my poor husband to pick up the pieces.
When I got home, the kids were quiet, engrossed in “Captain America.” This morning when my daughter woke up, she started to cry again. She refused to go to school until the very last minute, but she did, and now it’s quiet, until she gets home and it starts again.
For me, it feels like I’ve unloaded an enormous burden. I know it sounds horrible, but I was on edge all the time with the dog. I forgot how much care a puppy needs, and I forgot what it was like to have a dog. And I certainly never had a puppy AND kids and that’s a whole different ball game. I’m already getting pictures of the dog in her new home, and her new owner says that she loves playing with the other dogs there. No one is kicking her or swatting her nose, and she’s with good people who’ll train her well.
We’ve got to work through this with our daughter, but the truth is we weren’t ready for a dog. She wasn’t ready for a dog. I should have gotten the message when all those rescues said “no small children.” I get it now. Maybe we’ll get another dog someday – an adult who’s already trained and good with kids. But for now, we’re back to being just us, and I feel like I can finally exhale.