it takes me a while to work stuff out in my head til i can finally sort it all out. this is especially true when i make difficult decisions really quickly...like when i looked at the bite, heard what and how it happened and knew that watson was now a dead dog.
but then i go back to, why did we (or mostly me) not see it coming? and that's where it gets complicated because now i am looking at it in retrospect.
now i know there is a honeymoon period with every dog that comes in...first they are usually ill and in pain and second they haven't a clue what is happening so they unconsciously suppress some of themselves til they can figure things out. it is a survival thing. during this honeymoon phase, our relationships are made. they are dependent on us to keep them safe, to make them feel loved, to make their physical pain go away. we fall in love, they fall in love, a perfect fairy tale.
for some like watson, the whole being cared for thing is so new...wow, he met so many kind people who treated him like he was special, who looked and touched him like he was real. what a new and wonderful experience after a lifetime of neglect. and when he fell in love with us...it was honest and real, he did really care.
but at some point the lines he had always lived by would once again be drawn....so while he was our gentle giant, to someone he did not know very well, he became the guardian of it all. there was no warning, no posturing, no telling anyone what was about to come, he just did what he thought was his job...protect this space, protect this place that he finally had found and he loved.
not his fault...he was who his life had made him.
but why did we not see it coming? or maybe did we?
why was watson still in the shop, more than a month after his arrival? was it just the cat hating thing...or was it something else because we have cat haters (like jesse,) living in the house. was it just because he was unneutered? we have had other unneutered dogs before. and he was neutered 2 weeks ago and still i dragged my feet about getting him into the house. there have been three new dogs in since watson...all strays, all unknown,s and all brought immediately into the house.
this makes me wonder, did i know something was not really right and so i kept him in the shop til i could figure it out? laura told me, she always had the impression, that watson was previously a guard dog, and the thought has crossed my mind also, several times too..why was watson out in that storm, and why did no one come looking for him, and why did they not know that his hips were his sore, and eyes and ears were painfully torturing him? was he just a neglected back yard dog, or was he used for something more.
and this is where my lack comes in...i am not an animal behavioralist, i am not a dog trainer and quite frankly, i do not want to be either. i am a person who works thru my gut, and never really trusts it because i always think i might be wrong.
this is a bad thing because now one of our volunteers have been bitten and it would have been terrible if it was one of the children that come here too. but this is a good thing for many of our animals sometimes because i was able to give them a clean slate and the benefit of the doubt and hope it all comes out good.
and who am i here for?..first and foremost...well certainly the animals, but also for the people who work here and certainly for the visitors too. it is a big responsibility. so like watson i have the lines i draw around us to keep all safe from real harm...i will accept this kind of biting of human or animal but i will not accept another kind.
and ultimately it is not even about the humans..it is about the animals themselves. a dangerous animal has got to be kept safe from himself so nothing terrible happens to them...and i don't just mean death. i mean lifelong unhappiness, and loneilness, i mean hated physical barriers always between them and the world, i mean strangers taking them away to kill them because i did not keep everyone safe, i mean people being afraid of them or not liking them and them sensing this fear and dislike, every single day. i mean my ultimate resentment of guilt at having to watch their unhappiness and not being able to find a way around it and them knowing, that i, the person who cares for them most, wishes they did not live here.
so while i hate, truly hate, being the killer of a dog like watson...i live with that guilt now for the rest of my life so that he does not ever feel alone and unhappy, so that he never feels unwanted and not included in the life that we try to make for them here.
and here is another unknown true thing that rescue does to you...it sometimes twists love into meaning the end of a life.
i am so sorry watson.