Bruno Liljefors [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Over the weekend, one of our dogs bit my daughter on the face. It wasn’t all that severe, the wounds are healed now, but there was plenty of blood. In the ensuing chaos, the doctor told us to double-check whether the dog had rabies. The vet told us that the only way to quickly tell would be to cut off his head – otherwise, the lab tests would take four weeks.
Cut off his head?
We reached out to some of our friends and family, but nobody can take Monty (the dog). We were hoping for a temporary home until my daughter’s old enough to understand his boundaries. A lot of people told us we should have him put to sleep. They said putting aggressive dogs down, even small ones, is a kindness.
There’s kindness in cutting the head off a dog who likes to take walks and play chase?
Because of his aggression and disability (he’s only got three legs, the other being amputated after what the pound thought was a car accident), Monty would not survive most animal shelters. There’s other options, sure, but in the final overview we’ll probably take better care of him even though he’ll now have to be mostly an outside dog. Until my daughter’s grown up a bit more, he certainly can’t hang out in the house with the other four dogs and the kids.
An animal shelter presents the same specter. Cut off his head.
What Monty did was terrible, but he’s full of fear. He’s aggressive if you violate his boundaries, but he also will put his paw on you and give you the begging eyes. He’ll cozily sleep on you if it’s on his terms. Monty’s not evil, just heavily damaged. And even though my first reaction was massive anger bordering on hatred, even though my first duty is always to my children, I am greatly dismayed at all the advice to essentially cut off his head.
Compassion is easy when we all get along. It’s easy to be peaceful when the beings around us are psychologically whole. It’s easy to love when there’s no blood. But that’s not when it counts. That’s not when we must stand up as stewards.
Our obligation and commitment must always extend to all beings.
There may be relocation or psychological medication. There might be some confinement or ostracism. We will definitely do everything we can to uncover and heal the roots of his anger and fear. But no, no, and again no – we will not cut off his head.