Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Sad but Necessary Thing

On October 6, 2005 we adopted our black lab Hannah from the Kentucky Lab Rescue. On January 7, 2012, we surrendered her to their care again as she is no longer allowed to live with us. It was one of the hardest things Pete and I have ever done, but it was the adult thing to do, and we are confident in our decision.

Remember the three antibiotics Pete was on around Christmas? How I said they were not for his throat? They were for a dog bite. From Hannah.

Christmas Eve day, about 10 minutes before Audrey and Andrew were to arrive for the evening, some friends of our dropped by to wish us a Merry Christmas. (Hannah has always had very bad behavior at the door. When she would see the UPS truck drive down the street - even if it didn't stop at our house - she would race to the door and bark like crazy. We put a basket on our front door for the mail because she would snatch the mail out of the delivery person's hand as it was placed through our slot. Our work with Barkbusters was not helpful in this regard - Hannah was really good at ignoring commands.) So our friends dropped by and knocked at the door and Hannah went berserk jumping and barking. I was in the kitchen and Pete was in the basement. Thankfully, Ellie was upstairs napping. Pete ran upstairs to herd Hannah into the basement. He tried to grab her collar and suddenly I hear the most horrible scream ever and there's blood on the floor and Pete has grabbed his arm and is headed for the dining room to sit down.

I got the dogs in the basement and let our friends inside. It only took one look at Pete's wrist to know that he needed stitches. So I got out our gauze and medical tape, wrapped him up, and our friends took Pete to the ER while I stayed home with Ellie and waited for Audrey and Andrew to arrive.

Three hours later Pete arrives home with two stitches in his wrist and directions to clean and change the wound twice daily, and take a giant horse-pill sized antibiotic twice daily. He also was instructed not to do any heaving lifting, including Ellie, and not to get it wet - so he couldn't help with Ellie's baths - for 10 days. Luckily, the bite missed an artery and tendons. (Those of you with keen eyes might have noticed his bandaged arm in some of our holiday pictures.) He also tells us that the Health Department is going to visit our house to check Hannah, a standard procedure following all dog bites.

Thus began our Christmas weekend. Monday after Christmas we got a notice from the Health Department saying that Hannah was quarantined for a week. After the week we had to show them proof of her rabies vaccine and we were free to do with her as we pleased. Tuesday after Christmas Pete went back to work and was in Louisville seeing some accounts when he decided that his arm looked red and swollen enough that he should call the doctor. Monday night I had marked him with a red pen so we could see if the redness was moving up his arm. Good thing he went to the doctor - he had cellulitis, got a shot of a different antibiotic (in the bum!), and a prescription for a third antibiotic to be taken for two more weeks. The doctor put a second, different colored pen line on his arm at his appointment so we could track the redness once Pete had started this second course of medications.

Luckily, the new antibiotics seemed to do the trick - the redness and swelling were dramatically reduced. I don't think either of us realized how swollen it was until it returned to its original state.

Now Hannah. We knew before Pete even left for the ER that we would have to get rid of her. We cannot have a dog that bites in our house. It is as simple as that. Ellie is more mobile by the day and the chance of her getting bitten or one of us getting bitten again, in a more severe way, is too great. Once we had the all clear from the Health Department we called the Kentucky Lab Rescue to set up a time to drop off Hannah. The woman told us Saturday at 9:00AM. Pete spent a good amount of time on the phone with her, telling her Hannah's history and assuring her that she would be a good pet for an adult-only household. We asked if we could bring her things with us so that she wouldn't be too scared - her bed, collar, food bowl, etc. - and the woman thought that was a great idea. By the end of the phone call Pete and I were both in tears. Hannah did a bad thing but she is not a bad dog. Unfortunately, biting is a non-negotiable issue for us.

Saturday morning Pete and I were somber as we loaded up in the car. I brought a box tissues with us. Hannah loves a good car ride - especially when she gets to sit in the front seat - so she was as happy as could be. Once she had her fill of her head hanging out the window, she curled up in a tight ball on the seat. Our Hannah Pooch. When we arrived I had a mini-breakdown. All these gorgeous dogs - yellow and black labs, retrievers, mutts - I'm the one who wants to adopt ALL the dogs, not give one back!! Hannah was excited to see all the other dogs and eager to play with them. I think she thought we were at the dog park. Michelle, the woman we spoke to on the phone, arrived shortly after us and was as nice and understanding as she could be. She took Hannah's records, and information we had typed out about her, along with her other things, and put them inside. She then suggested that she take Hannah for a walk up the street to their new 1-acre play area so she wouldn't see us driving away. I think the walk was more for us than Han, but we agreed and they set off on a walk. We got back in the car, cried a little more, and drove home.

It has been very quiet in our house these past three days. Not seeing Hannah's face at the bottom of the stairs when I come down in the morning will take some getting used to, but we made the right decision. We know we did.


Jennifer said...

-For Hannah-

Off for adventures on the farm,
Off where you can do Ellie no harm.

It breaks our hearts to see you go,
But this is best, that we know.

I hope someday some new friend asks you to "shake" and you do;
I'll never forget my amazement when I so quickly taught you.

You'll always be the first big dog who could jump at me and I didn't mind,
I hope your new life brings lots of tail waggin' times to your behind!

Pocket said...

Oh, Hannah! She will be missed :(

However, I am SO PROUD of you for making the right choice. Most people couldn't stand up to the emotional beating it takes to give up a dog, but you clearly stayed strong and did what was best. We love you guys!

Meredith said...

Wow, Laura. That is so, so sad, but you really are such a good mom. I can't imagine how hard that drive home was.

Finally an Abrigg..... said...

Laura, I am very sad for you and Pete. We share that love for dogs/labs around here. Luckily, Charlie is as laid back as can be...but you did the right thing. I'm heart broken for you...