Did you see "Marley and Me"? If you did, then you know how I feel about my dog.
Bruce Sallan: I rescued Simon from the pound after seeing him there, labeled a "dog-fighter." A big black dog, 80 lbs., whom they said would never find a home -- people were reluctant to adopt any large black dog, and the label he carried was a virtual death sentence.
He appeared scared, but loveable. We brought our other dog, a smaller pointer mix that we'd also rescued, to see if they would get along. They did -- and we adopted Simon.
Simon became my best friend, and saved my life during the dark days of my divorce. However, his aggressive behavior showed itself when he fought with a dog being walked by his owners. No injuries, as I got there in time to prevent them, but the lawyer/owner saw a lawsuit and claimed injury, which our home insurance settled rather than fought.
Sadly, years later, when we moved to a remote rural area, we had another encounter in which he mauled our neighbor's dog, digging under a fence. I leapt over the fence (still don't know how), pulled him off their dog, and saved its life, though she required surgery, which we paid for.
After that, it was doggie boot camp for Simon, at a considerable cost. When he came home, we followed their instructions, but regardless, we kept him on virtual lockdown, only walking him on a tight leash.
The other day, he broke the leash. He attacked another dog, a 110 lb. Rhodesian ridgeback. The owner and I didn't notice any injuries, but when he got home, his wife saw a gash on its side. We called, apologized profusely, and offered to pay any costs, which we did.
The loss of sleep, guilt, and my wife's anxiety hasn't been easy. I feel and am responsible. Simon has enjoyed eight years of our love, and has given us as much in return. What do we do? We found out the other dog was recovering and is fine.
My wife was clear that we were not going to put Simon down, but much tougher rules would be necessary. After a visit to the vet, and a home visit with a dog behaviorist, they assured us that he didn't pose a direct threat to people. So, we'll only walk him with a custom-made basket muzzle, and a choke and prong collar. I'm still worried about whether we're doing the right thing, but what do I know? I'm just a guy.
|Bruce Sallan gave up his showbiz career a decade ago to raise his two boys, full-time, now 13 and 16. His internationally syndicated column, A DAD'S POINT-OF-VIEW, is his take on the challenges of parenthood and male/female issues, both as a single dad and now, newly remarried, in a blended family. Join Bruce's A DAD'S POINT-OF-VIEW fan page at Facebook. To contact Bruce, visit his new website brucesallan.com.|