May 31 2020

Day 76: Big Red Flag

Published by at 7:12 pm under Coronavirus Journal

Today I had a meet-and-greet scheduled between my friend Mary’s dog and Bessie. It did not go as planned. No, it did not go well. We walked them separately for a while till they could get used to each other, and eventually loosened the leashes to see what they’d do. Bessie calmly approached and he growled at her. Unperturbed, she walked away and we proceeded on a bit. Then we let them approach again, and this time Bessie wheeled around growling, and proceeded to full-on bare her fangs. She didn’t go after him — a threat, not a bite — but she meant business.

I was stunned and devastated, knowing in that instant that her fate just shifted irrevocably. They’d assured me she was good with dogs. I simply can’t assume the risk of a dog that shows aggression (whether merited or not) toward another. 

So, crushed, I wrote to the rescue organization saying I needed to bring her back. Just like that. This is a black-or-white issue for me. (All the other problems to date have had shades of grey.) I offered to foster her till she found a new home.

I got my reply a couple hours later. While the agency’s owner will take a dog back, she won’t do it yet. She says, and rightly so, that a dog needs more time to decompress, particularly one as traumatized as Bessie. Maybe it was too early to have made such an introduction.


So I decided I would keep her for two more weeks, until our scheduled appointment with the behavioral assessor at the doggy daycare. To be honest, I don’t hold out much hope that she’ll be any better with dogs then than now, but maybe I’ll be surprised. In the meantime, I’ll keep giving her plenty of love and attention.

May I whine a moment? This is really hard.

Okay, I’m done.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Day 76: Big Red Flag”

  1. Genevieve Halkett says:

    I would judge her by her first reaction and not the second. How many dogs is she going to be in contact with, really? It seems like she’s going to be fine simply walking by or being near other dogs, and she’s not living with other dogs, right? So why the make or break reaction?

    I would definitely give her time-she’s going to be absolutely devastated to be abandoned again.

  2. Ma says:

    I agree with Genevieve that time may help — and feel that there may have been an instinctive underlying reason for that reaction. After all — the other dog DID growl at her.

    Don’t live the next two weeks in a state of despair, for it may yet work out!

    I urge a DNA test, both for your peace of mind –and for proof to a boarding kennel, etc., which may have rules about breeds.

  3. Ginna says:

    Genevieve: my make-or-break reaction stems from what I told the rescue agency from the outset: any dog in my care has to be good with other dogs, and kids. Why? Lots of reasons. If she’s not good with dogs, I can’t take her anywhere off-leash. It would be a liability if she bit another dog. The person whose dog Bessie met had originally offered to take care of Bessie while I was out of town. Not gonna happen. The other boarding facility requires their charges be good with other dogs. So many reasons.

    Gen & Ma: I really hope that time DOES help. I am well aware she’d be devastated to be re-homed. It would be awful for her. Any decision I make in the end is the wrong one.

  4. Molly says:

    Oof, that is so hard and worrying.

    I chatted about it with Sarah, who says that – with truly aggressive dogs – they’re the kind of dog that will leap through a window to attack another dog if they want to. Bessie’s reaction does sound defensive/reactive, not innately aggressive. Still, I do see why it’s a big worry.

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