Today, we had to send our big dog, Gracie, on a holiday.
She is trialling living with another family for a fortnight, to see how it goes before they make a decision whether she will stay.
It was a hard decision to make, but the last straw came after yet another fight between her and the small dog. This time it happened behind The Bubby while she was in the rocker and she sounded so terrified. And when I pulled Gracie away, she lunged again for the small dog and lifted him up by his tail.
While she never drew blood or injured him (rather than the stress upsetting his anxious stomach), something had to change.
Just before I went in to the hospital to have The Bubby, we were having almost daily fights. I was at my wits end when she jumped on the smaller dog as we were leaving for my induction. The Toddler was terrified and I was over the stress of the fighting. She went to live with my parents for a week and I spoke to a dog behaviouralist, and we got a bunch of tips on how to help.
And although things had improved (fights were down to one every few weeks), I was still tense. Which would make her tense. Which would make me more tense. And so on.
She is a gorgeous, sweet hearted dog. Something changed before The Bubby arrived which increased her urge to guard her food and guard The Husband and I. And that something was still hanging around three months later.
More exercise would have helped, but neither The Husband or I could commit to that. And that makes us terrible pet owners, but it's the truth.
She deserved to be happier. To always be greeted with smiles. To have family that were mature enough to be kinder to her (The Toddler will sometimes share food, sometimes not. She will step on her tail and sometimes on her feet. She gets up in her face when she wants to be left alone. She puts sand on her outside, she hits out at her sometimes and gives nice pats other times, and I actually caught her dribbling on her this morning).
If it were five years in the future I would have no problems keeping her - the girls would understand how to treat her, life would be less chaotic and we would all have the capacity to get to the bottom of it. But we just couldn't.
I feel like I failed her, because I did.
But it would be selfish to hang on to her and keep her unhappy so that I didn't feel bad. And I couldn't just sit and wait to see if there was ever a fight that ended up with one of the girls in the middle.