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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!