BT’s Attack – 1 Year After

BT’s Attack – 1 Year After

One year ago, my little fur family got turned upsidown when my springer spaniel, Eliot, attacked our elderly Boston Terrier, BT.  As a result of the attack, BT had several puncture wounds in her head and damage to her eye.  Though we worked closely with an emergency vet and our regular vet, after a week we decided it was in BT’s best interest to have her eye removed.  The incident was heart breaking.

I’ve written about my feelings during and in the months after the attack on this blog before, so I won’t go into them too much now.  One year later, our house has harmony again but not the way it was before.

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Eliot and BT are never together anymore.  Ever.  We tried for a few months while working with a dog behaviorist, but when Eliot attacked her again (much less severely) it was time to give up on that dream.  Now he occasionally sees her when I have her held in my arms to switch or move dogs.  In that scenario, he sniffs and jumps at her very happily like she’s a long lost friend.  On the flip side, if he hears her walking outside the shut bedroom door, he growls.  I’ll never trust him around her again.

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With Pascale, his aggression is doing better.  I witness him communicating with Pascale in a more dog appropriate way.  He used to just go after her unrelentless if she pushed his buttons, but now he will lift his lip or put his teeth on her without full flown aggression.  This is huge progress.  There are times he does go after her, but I can usually call him off verbally.  Also, the aggressive spurts are now months apart instead of days or weeks.  It’s not perfect, but huge improvement.

Initially after the attack, BT took a huge spiral downward.  She lost 100% of her vision with the eye removal and also started having seizures.  The change in behavior and neurological symptoms happened so fast, that I really thought she would continue to fail and we’d have to PTS this year.  However, after a perscription to Phenobarbital she actually stablized and maybe improved slightly.  I describe her like a crazy old grandma that we live with.  She lives in her own little bubble, but she’s really happy for the most part and she just kind of floats from one thing to the next.  Her demands are 100% on or off and if she doesn’t get what she wants, she whines.  She whines a lot these days, but she also plays with her toys, “waves hi” for treats and takes happy naps on her dog beds.

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Pascale herself is still a doll.  She plays with BT often, but even I see Pascale get impatient with BT’s senior moments.  I’ve noticed a few times where Pascale has snapped at BT, because BT will bother Pascale when she naps or will try to take a chew bone out of Pascale’s mouth while she’s chewing (I wasn’t joking when I said that BT wants what she wants when she wants it).  Since Pascale is the most docile, submissive creature ever… I’ve taken these threats seriously.  Pascale gets chew treats in her crate where she can enjoy them without being bothered, and I try to keep BT from jumping on Pascale’s head during naps (this happens often).

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So life in my house did not return to normal after the attack.  I will give my three dogs the best life possible in their crate/rotate existence, but I am somewhat looking forward to the days where I have two or even just one dog.  I am too sensitive and emotional for dog drama to this degree, and am still trying to put it all past me.  When I see pictures of BT with two eyes, I get really sad and feel responsible.  I’ve forgiven Eliot, but am wary of him at times.

My husband has not forgiven Eliot, and I don’t know if he ever will.  He doesn’t do anything mean or harmful to my beautiful spaniel, but he makes a lot of comments about how Eliot is an asshole, etc.  He rarely shows Eliot affection these days, and although I may be personifying my dog here… I think Eliot notices the lack of love.  This isn’t to say that Tim doesn’t love Eliot, but he’s mad at him and he wishes he didn’t exist basically.  That sounds harsh, but it’s the reality.  I have a hard time with it.

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I really believe the root of Eliot’s aggression traces back to his brain and genetic problems.  He has epilepsy, and just doesn’t seem to be ‘wired right’ for lack of a better term.  I’ll take this as a lesson to share for everyone to consider a rescued dog.  Eliot’s breeder seemed as responsible as can be, but knowingly bred a dog with epilepsy for multiple litters.  Sometimes that can have ramifications past the occasional seizure.  Though I’ll never know for sure, it certainly hasn’t helped.

This post is a bit of a downer, but the good news is that all three dogs are relatively healthy and happy.  With his aggression improving, I don’t think we will have to face any tough decisions coming up.  I wasn’t so sure of that a year ago, so that’s something to be thankful for!

28 thoughts on “BT’s Attack – 1 Year After

  1. *hugs* I know that’s tough. I have a 9 1/2 year old mini Australian that we’re pretty sure has doggy dementia. He is incredibly unpredictable and basically can’t be around anyone but family. Our dogs are never out when there is food out and generally crated or outside when there are guests.

    1. It’s so hard when they get older. At the peak of Eliot’s aggression, he was acting iffy towards ME but at least that has almost gone away 100%. He’s only growled at me once since then, and it was over a super duper desirable chew bone. I took that as he wanted cheaper treats from now on 😉

  2. It would be difficult to have three dogs that can’t be together…good for you for making it work, I’m sure it is stressful on you all at times.

    My husband does the same thing with one of my dogs. the dog has done nothing, he just has no attachment to him for some reason…it annoys me to no end. I know the dogs can’t understand the comments, but I still feel its completely unnecessary. I just don’t think some men have the same tolerance as women do towards these things.

    1. I don’t think it’s a matter of tolerance, but more just how much he loves BT. He was really, really upset by the event (so was I) and it just will take a lot of getting over time I think.

  3. That sounds like a really stressful situation 🙁 I’m sure it must be draining at times for you both.

    I can kind of relate to where your hubby is coming from. When I last lived at home, we had 3 dogs. Two were young Staffordshire Terriers, one was our elderly female pug, who sounds a lot like BT. She had few teeth, diminished eyesight and lived in the fog of elderly doggy dementia.

    One day at doggy dinner time, she finished her food and tried to wander out of the kitchen. I think she got a little lost, and wandered too close to our Staffies’ bowl. He immediately aggressively pinned her to the ground. There was no damage, but I was really, REALLY angry at him. It just seemed so unfair to do to our poor elderly harmless pug. If she had been hurt, I can’t even imagine how I would feel.

    I get that they’re animals, but hey, we’re humans. And sometimes humans have emotional responses to things that are not informed by logic no matter how much we try.

    Chin up. Your anaimals are very much loved and all their needs are met, which is more than some animals or even humans ever get to experience.

    1. That’s pretty much exactly what it was like. And he’s right, she is old and defenseless and would NEVER hurt a fly… so it’s super not fair. I get the emotion, just wish we could all put it behind us 100% 🙂

  4. Thats so tough 🙁 I’ve rarely had times where I’ve owned more than one dog and the dog juggling seems a little stressful. They beautiful doggies though and I know you love them! *hugs*

  5. sorry it’s such a tough situation – glad you’re able to turn it into a ‘new’ normal, and that your dogs are continuing to lead quality lives. good luck!

  6. Your dogs are all so lucky to have you as an owner, accommodating 3 dogs like that is a lot more than most people would do!

    My friend’s pug had a similar attack and had to have one eye removed. Now she looks like she is permanently winking.

  7. Kudos for your compassion. Not many people would make the sacrifices you have for your animals’ happiness. Even though you take the attack personally, I don’t think they do. 😀

    I can sort of understand where your husband is coming from.

    A few years back, a litter of kittens fetched up in my garage, during a hurricane. I got them their initial vet visits, shots and spay / neuters, raised them up and then found homes. For all but one – Alex – named after the storm that stranded them with me. No one wanted him. Black cat syndrome maybe?

    Try as I might, I’ve never been able to bond with him. He’s my red-headed-step-child out door kitty now. (not even featured on the blog… am I horrible?)

  8. I am in the same boat with my dogs. First we had Riley, then Red, and lastly Huey. All was well at first, then Red and Huey started having problems. Red attacked Huey a few times and we broke it up. Since Red is much smaller they weren’t bad. In the last fight Riley decided to take sides and help Red. After pulling apart two 75lb dogs and one 20lb dog and having all the wounds treated (mine too), I was done with that. We rotate time in and out of crates, Riley and Red run together and Huey on his own (hes really more of a people dog). Everyone is very happy with the situation, but as much as I love each one of them, I too look forward to eventually being a single dog home.

  9. Oh man, all that rotating sounds more complicated than when I was bonding my two bunnies! I only had two and they both had out time on rotation until they became friends, I can’t imagine having to rotate 3! You have 3 lovely and beautiful pups! I want to squeeze all 3 of them.

  10. We have similar issues – two of our cats hate the other one, and will absolutely go after her. She retaliates by peeing on the furniture. Now she’s an outdoor kitty. Our two dogs have also gotten into a few tiffs – fortunately no lasting damage but still scary. We now keep them apart if there’s food, a treat, or a toy anywhere in the vicinity. Managing critters can be really difficult, but I’m glad you’re making it work. Hugs!

  11. I am so glad that things are going better and have at least settled to manageable level. I know how stressful having an aggressive dog in the pack is. But, it sounds like you are making positive strides with all of them and that makes me happy.

  12. It has to be a tough situation, but I’m really, REALLY glad you’ve got a system that works and keeps everyone healthy and happy now. <3

  13. Having lived with dogs that wanted to kill each other I can commiserate deeply. Nothing worse than living with that tension.

    My cattle dog (a breed with tendencies toward dog aggression) was the product of a great sire and a slightly dog aggressive dam. Sydney was animal agressive, probably due in some part to fear, and I had a hard time finding trainers to work with us to get us past it. She had to to be completely seperated from our welsh corgi at all times. Luckily, while we were home 1 baby gate was enough. When we left our corgi went behind a closed door that was also behind a gate, that way if the cattle dog knocked her gate down she couldn’t get to the smaller dog. Was a horribly tense time in our lives.

    I do want to disagree slightly with the rescued dog bit. In a lot of situations a dog like Eliot would be a dog that was dumped into a shelter or rescue. At that point who knows how honest the previous owner would be in relinquishing the dog. There are a ton of great dogs in rescue/shelters but there are also a generous dose with issues.

  14. I am so sorry to hear what happened to your BT. I have two and my oldest was attacked by my American Bulldog. Punctures on the back of his neck and shoulders. Later I fond a huge tooth mark on the front of his collar (basically at his throat). So I understand the shock and horror of that scene and the frustration in trying to prevent another attack from happening. I am glad there is harmony again.

  15. Man, that is tough. After moving home and introducing Cash back to my house, and my mother’s dog Moose (a 115 lb Komondor), we began to have a lot of food aggression issues. That, and Cash has become very neurotic with another dog around, and it, in turn, stresses me out. I am excited to move back out, and have my dog back per se. So, although trivial in comparison, I can understand where you are coming from. Stuff like that is hard, and you are showing a lot of strength and compassion – no shame in admitting that just having one or two would be a lot calmer on your psyche.

  16. Breeding standards in America are low – very low. I work for a breeder (and my parents are breeders), and we take every precaution to make sure there is absolutely nothing wrong with the animals we produce. In fact, right now the breeder I work for is facing a dilemma – two of her new pups (one bred by her, one given to her), have a common ancestor who was born from a stud dog that is a carrier of a particular neurological disease. It is unlikely that these new pups have it (or are even carriers), but she is footing out the money for the incredibly expensive blood test to figure out if they have it or not. If they do, or even just carry it, they will be eliminated from the breeding pool. This test is mandatory in Europe, but America is so lax about things like this that it makes my teeth grind.

    That being said, I disagree with the pound comment. Great dogs can come from pounds – that is true. The one dog I adopted ended up with severe hip dysplasia within her first year of life and got worse as time progressed. With rescue dogs you have no hereditary timeline to help understand their genetics – it’s basically luck of the draw :(.

  17. That sounds really rough having to rotate them. I hope your husband is able to forgive Elliot eventually. I’m sure that adds a lot of emotional stress to your days as well. Hang in there!

  18. You are the best dog mom. I know how stressful it can be when you have animals in the house that don’t get along: having to shuffle them around so they all get family time while avoiding encounters between the pets at war. We had multiple dogs with this issue throughout my many years as a dog owner, and I later had a problem with 2 cats that refused to get along as well. It is not easy. You have been so fair to all three of them and not everyone is that dedicated.

    Older animals, especially the ones that mentally and/or socially are not quite normal, can be at the mercy of younger, stronger housemates. I think it’s one of the things that our pets retain from their wild ancestors. Sadly, we see it at work with some frequency as well. 🙁 Astarte and the boys get along pretty well, but she has gotten defensive in her old age: I think she feels vulnerable around them. She sometimes growls at them just for staring at her. All they ever want to do is play, but it bothers her. So when we’re home they’re all together but when we’re out, Astarte gets quiet time behind the closed bedroom door. She loves this: she gets free choice food for these occasions and she gets to nap to her heart’s content, the boys get the main living space to romp around in at will, and everyone is happy.

    Just want you to know that you’re not alone. *hugs* And that I think you’re an AWESOME pet mom!

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