By now we’ve all heard the absolutely awful news. A baby infant child killed by the family dog (a Husky) in the family home. I was teaching classes last night when I heard about it and this morning the reality is setting in as I read more about it…and questions of course remain in everyone’s mind. By all accounts, it sounds like something very uncharacteristic not only to the breed but also to this unique family situation. A totally unexpected, perhaps inexplicable incident. We may never fully understand…
I find it’s impossible to even try to comment…personally it stirs up enormous emotion. I am a mother of three and in my suitcase of “baggage” I carry a personal story: not forgotten, not untold, and not pleasant – but with an outcome far less traumatic than this one. The news from last night just stirs up memories and makes me want to bend over double in grief and sadness I feel for the family trying to recover from this enormous loss.
A split second goes by so fast…yet, when we’re dealing with dogs and kids…SO much can happen in that split second. And there is no going back in time. We can’t erase what was, we can’t undo what was done. The only thing we can do, is look forward and decide what to do next.
In my own case, the split second was a bite by our own family dog to my own child’s face. The dog was on many levels a very difficult dog and had a history telling us in many different ways “this is not a good match”…we were just Really bad at listening. Until…
Of course I didn’t know then what I know now and was really just starting my journey of learning about dogs and behaviour. Our son was a toddler at the time and while there was an adult present in the room, when the incident happened – the “supervision” could only be called very passive at best. The lucky thing – it was “only” a warning bite to the face, not fatal – and it didn’t leave any large scars. But it happened…and yes, to reiterate; there was an adult passively supervising at the time it happened. The adult was “there” to the degree they could witness what took place, but not proactive, nor close enough do anything about the split second as it happened!
And that’s the point I am trying to make with bringing up this story. Dog and child interactions leave no room for “passive” supervision. In our case, we were lucky in the sense that we had an enormous reality check that allowed us to re-group and look at the facts in front of us and then make a tough decision. I cringe when I think back of how things could have evolved differently, but I also know we made the right decision to get the dog out of our house. Through a rescue group, we found a couple (with no children) experienced with the breed mix she was (Rottie cross)….and she was re-homed with full details of the account. Last we heard, which is a very long time ago now, things were good. I am, however, uncertain whether I would make the same call today – but that’s what we did then. The report we got on the dog after re-homing, indicated a life with adults only was a good choice and at least then seemed to be the best choice, for the dog and certainly for us.
Tough lesson, not fun and a long lead-up of High stress to get to that tipping point. The breaking news of a much worse outcome leads me to think back with enormously mixed emotions of gratitude for our own situation and grief for what this family is going through.
And please know I am not commenting or saying any of this as any kind of commentary to the incident with the Husky. I don’t know what happened, only that there was a massively tragic outcome.
My personal story is that we were spared and got away with a huge warning only. We still have all our kids, older kids, more aware kids and parents, more educated parents, different dogs…. but the lesson I personally learned stuck in deep ways and the memories very much remain and re-surface in the face of a tragedy such as this.
Going forward, I guess one can only hope for more and better awareness, education and understanding when it comes to successfully and safely raising kids and dogs under the same roof. One cannot emphasize enough the importance of being proactive, being one step ahead, actively supervising – or having solid management plans in place – all the time.
Whatever happens during that split second in time, we can never erase….