The house is quiet.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:51 pm by admin

I realized today how many things had changed over the past two weeks, how much our routines were modified to accommodate and work with a new dog, how quiet the house was, and how much I miss Chester. I spoke on the phone at length yesterday afternoon with my friend Larina about Chester. I told her about what I was feeling, and that after crying my eyes out and making a fool of myself in front of the man who came to take him away, I realized Daniel and I had made the right decision. Could it have worked out, perhaps? Was it possible that at some moment after he and Gizzie learned to cohabitate, he would decide to not listen just one time and attack her? Was it possible if he attacked her he would kill her? Could he have turned on Daniel or myself, without what we would interpret as provocation? Was there something in his past that caused him to interpret a word, as sound, a tonal inflection, a body stance as a threat? The answer to these questions is yes.

It is so hard to know exactly what triggered his aggression. Daniel and I talked at length Saturday night. Our greatest fear was for Gizzie. While he could inflict severe injuries on us, we do not believe he could kill us, but Gizzie is another story. There are several things that nag at me. Whenever I told Chester to sit so that I could put on and remove the soft collar for his leash, he would cower. I wonder if he associated this word with a punishment of some kind from his past, or if a punishment followed that word. I was the one who most often reprimanded and rewarded him for his behavior. Reprimands consisted of no, a stern no, or if he wouldn’t listen, a time out in his cage. His rewards consisted of praise, petting, a belly rub, and for the second week he was here, a small treat, usually a piece of his kibble, as I was advised to do by an animal behaviorist I had consulted about he and Gizzie. I was the one who walked him in the yard most often and corrected his behavior about the koi pond, testing the fence with his teeth, and rolling in the excrement of wild animals. I was the one who most often told him to move away from the basement door when he observed or growled at the cat. Was this all just too much for him? Had he finally had enough of it?

I was told by the animal behaviorist that dogs often try to establish their dominance by positioning themselves on furniture at a level at least equal to if not higher than the humans. He was allowed on the sofa, and he often positioned himself on the back of the sofa or on the arm of Daniel’s La-z-Boy recliner. In talking with the animal behaviorist and the woman I adopted him from, I related the training he was going through. They both told me that Chester identified me as the alpha male of the pack. Were these aggressive incidents his challenge to that position?

I wrote that Chester became aggressive towards me on Saturday. I had just finished taking a shower. I used the same soap, shampoo, and deodorant that I always use, and I was dressed in clothing he had seen me dressed in before. I had walked into the living room to ask Daniel when he wanted to eat dinner. I remember that I had put my hands on my hips when I was talking to Daniel. Was this the trigger that set him to growl and begin the cascade? I don’t think we’ll ever know whether it was a combination of things or one isolated incident, but the bottom line is that we both no longer felt safe in the house with him. In addition to our fear for Gizzie’s life, we were also very concerned for other people who might visit, be they friends, family, or strangers. Because his aggression escalated over the course of those two days, we just couldn’t take the chance.

I called the Vet’s office this afternoon to inquire about Chester. I wanted to be sure he was OK and that they were not going to put him down. When I had talked to the woman about Chester on Saturday, she told me that just the day before a farmer had inquired about a dog for his farm. She said that if Chester didn’t work out for us, perhaps it would work with the farmer, but she had to go visit the farm first and talk to him about what he was looking for. This was all before Chester turned on Daniel. This afternoon I was reassured that they were going to visit the farm, talk to the farmer and determine if Chester might work out for him. I told the woman I had adopted him from that I do not want him put down. She told me that they would do their best for him.

I sit here this evening thinking about this little guy, sleeping in a metal cage when just 3 nights ago he slept beside me on a down comforter, and how happy he was hunting moles in the yard. I think about how fast his little stump of a tail wagged when he ate the food I cooked for him, and I remember most his gentle eyes looking up at me pleading, “Please Daddy, pet me some more.”

God I miss him.


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