Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Lily's Goodbye

Yesterday was hard.

I'm not even sure if I should write about it.  I am because writing is how I process things.  But I feel like it will take a long time to finish processing this.

Yesterday Paul and I found ourselves faced with a horrible, horrible choice and I spent most of the day in tears, or trying not to cry, first in the car on the way for Tessie's first neurology appointment, then in the car waiting to pick up Patch and then as I walked into Maggie's therapy center to drop off her lunch.  Paul described it as one of the hardest things he's had to do since becoming a parent.

When we brought Lily home, fourteen months ago, I never imagined that our lives with her would end so abruptly.

It started when I saw an add for Great Pyrenees puppies.  We'd been talking about getting a dog for a long time.  We'd been scanning the humane society websites in our area, but they were filled almost entirely with pit bulls and chihuahuas.  We knew we wanted a larger dog, and having had a pit bull mix growing up I didn't think that that was the greatest choice for our bunch, and nearly all the non-pit bulls that came up on the shelter websites said that they were not for homes with small children.

I had images of the cartoon Sebastian and Bell in my head as we began to learn about the Great Pyrenees as a breed.  We liked what we saw.  We emailed the people with the puppies.  We drove two hours north west to their tiny farm.  They had three dogs, who we met, and a littler of puppies.  The people were incredibly nice.  The puppies were tiny little balls of fluffy white fur.  We paid a deposit and drove home.

On Halloween day Lily came home with us.  She was Patch's birthday present.

After we got through the puppy teething stage she was incredibly gentle with the kids, especially James.  He was her favorite.  He could take food out of her bowl and feed it to her and she would sit and watch him indulgently.

This summer something began to change.  If the kids were running in the yard she would get upset, like she thought that they were going to hurt themselves, and would lightly grab them by one arm and throw them to the ground.  For a while she wasn't allowed down in the lower yard when they were out.  But we worked on it and by fall she was out running around and playing with them on the grass again.

In the last few weeks something suddenly changed.  She started biting.  She was leaving marks.  She bit Patch and Sadie on the hands.

I made strict rules about food, since the problems seemed to suddenly revolve around food.  No kids around when her food was out.  No human food out when she was out.

Then she bit James on the hand.  James, her baby.  Because there was an apple in the room, that neither of them were eating.  And she bit Patch on the face and neck.

She didn't break the skin, thank goodness, but she left a nasty purple bruise and he was terrified of her.

We didn't know what to do.  We kept her completely separated from the kids, but I was on edge.  She could break out of her kennel if she wanted to.  She had before.  She was incredibly strong.  And on Sunday she began snapping at Paul and me when we let her in and out tried to let her into the house.

By Monday morning I was afraid of her when I let her out to go to the bathroom.

Now to back up, before this she was incredibly obedient, especially for a Pyrenees. When I told her to sit she'd sit.  She was cuddle and affectionate.  If she chewed on something she wasn't supposed to she would follow me around, putting her head under my hand like she was apologizing.  This transformation was sudden and unbelievable.  It was a nightmare.

On Monday morning we called the state Great Pyrenees rescue.  That night Paul spoke with the director.  He told her what had been happening.  We were dreaming of a farm somewhere without kids, where she could live out her days.  And then the news came and it was horrible...

We were the fourteenth call she'd gotten this year for the exact same condition.  All the dogs were from the same area.  She believed that someone was breeding dogs that shouldn't be, that something was wrong with a line of these dogs somewhere in the area and it's spreading.  Something was wrong with their brains.  Great Pyrenees don't do this.  They don't snap and start attacking humans.  They don't bite and especially not children.

She said that with the other thirteen dogs, the decline was rapid.  They became more and more violent.  One had burst out of its kennel as the owner walked by and chased him down and attacked him.  Then she snapped out of it and couldn't figure out what had happened, didn't seem to remember hurting him.

We needed to have her euthanized, immediately.  It was the only humane choice, she explained.

I sat at up Monday night crying and praying and wishing there was some other way.  We spoke to two vets yesterday.  The vets agreed, and said that she needed to be put down by animal control.

As I write this I'm crying.  I'm praying that we made the right decision.  But what other decision was there to make?  She's an enormous dog.  She could easily kill someone.  And how could we live with ourselves if we gave her up and she seriously injured or killed someone?  

But still I'm so angry and sad... and I keep thinking I hear her barking outside, and start to run to let her in before she annoys our neighbors... and then I remember.

I'm going to post my favorite pictures of her here, through the years.  The way I'm trying to remember her...

Please keep our family in your prayers.  This has been a tough week.


  1. My heart hurts for you all. We've only had to put down dogs who were old and dying, I cannot imagine what you went through. You gave her a good home and a good life as long as you were able and in the end that's what matters. It doesn't make it any easier to deal with though, I know. ((HUGS)) I'm so sorry this happened.

  2. Oh Cammie, I'm so sorry. I totally understand your heartbreak to have lost her, but you're right: you can't have her hurting the kids. Prayers and virtual hugs for all of you.

  3. So very sorry. Super tough call; but you did the right thing. We just can't have iffy pets around out babies and in our neighborhoods. Sometimes it's so hard to tell who the responsible and professional breeders are. We have always had great luck with retrievers and shih tzus around our kids, but ethically bred ones with papers and guarantees are so pricey. May you have peace with your difficult, but correct, decision.

  4. I'm very sorry to hear this. We just had our dog of eleven years put down also. He was a wonderful, gentle goldendoodle. He suddenly got bloat one day, and we didn't have the money for surgery. It has been especially hard on my husband. We'll keep your family in our prayers.

  5. Saying prayers for you. Phil and I have always had large breed dogs too and while we've never been faced with having to make this hard decision, weve always said that our children and their safety is our number one priority. Our dogs become our family, so I completely understand your devastation. It's important to not live in fear of your dog hurting someone. Just wanted you to know that we would have responded in the same way. And I probably would have spent many hours in tears over it. I'm sorry you were faced with this... Hugs sent your families way.

  6. I am so sorry! That is so tough. But you absolutely, absolutely did the right thing. I grew up with lots of dogs and even worked at a veterinary hospital for a while because I love animals so much. But when a dog is aggressive toward humans, particularly when children are involved, that's it. You just can't have that in a house with small kids. I know it's a small comfort, but it might help to know that you really did make the right decision here.

  7. So hard, but I agree with everyone. It was the best decision. I had a friend who loves a particular breed of dogs (can't remember now which). One of his dogs flipped out and started biting his son. He also had to put her down, but he was honest about it with his kids. He told them that they were more important than the dog. He ended up getting a new dog and that dog has been the best dog ever. So perhaps this difficult time will also meld into something beautiful for your family as well. God works through all the bad things. Peace and blessings to your family.

  8. Oh! So heartbreaking and sad. I am tearing up, and I didn't even know the dog! I cannot imagine what you must be going though. But, of course, you cannot let an animal endanger your children or others (or even yourself), even an animal you love dearly. I am shocked, because this breed is known as such a gentle, lovable dogs. But you must think of it as if she got a terrible virus, like rabies, and was incurable.

    What a shock it must be! I hope you will not swear off large dogs forever, however. A golden retriever, or a black or yellow lab are generally wonderful dogs. I am sorry this happened to your beautiful and much loved dog.

    And perhaps you should notify the people you bought her from. They may have no idea they are passing on such a genetic trait that is ending in the premature death of these dogs.

    Don't be too sad. You most certainly did do the right thing. You had no real choice. It is better to have made this difficult choice now, rather than later with regret had someone gotten hurt. Still, my heart is so sad for you.

    God bless. ~ Bonnie

  9. Oh, I will be praying for your family. What a hard thing to face. Of course your children's safety is your priority but it doesn't make the situation easier.

  10. You did the ONLY right thing. I am so sorry this happened to you. When you are ready, if you decide on another pyr, look up Milk and Honey Farm.

  11. Oh Cammie, this is so sad. That picture of her as a fluffy little pup is the sweetest! I am so sorry for your family- what an awful situation to be in. Prayers for you!

  12. I'm so sorry! I know someone who has a dog that has lightly nipped a couple people, but the owner decided to not put the dog down. As a result, I never feel at ease whenever I'm in the presence the dog.

    Even though there's the heartbreak, you don't have to worry anymore for the safety of your children or guests.

    I am very close to my family's dog, and I can't imagine what it would be like if we had to put her down. I'm praying for you and your family!

    God bless.

  13. We had to take our beloved 1 yo mongrel back to the rescue center because of extremely aggressive behavior. It got to a point where we could have no one at home. She, too, bit several people without breaking the skin. The rescue center took her back. Apparently some of her parentage were aggressive breeds. We had noticed weird behavior at 4 mo and she had a trainer. So we had an extremely well trained dog who whould snapp and turn aggressive if she felt threatened, like someone walked by her when she was asleep, or a stranger would approach us to ask for directions, or a friend dared to come visit. The center trainer said her behaviour was normal in her breed but she just wasn't a family dog. We cried for weeks. They put up a video on their site to try to get her adopted (she's good to manage cattle) and I cried when I saw her sweet face. My heart goes to you and the kids. Mine are having a very hard time.

  14. I'm so sorry. How terrible for your family. You did the right thing, no question though. I won't even say "you made the right choice" because there wasn't a choice at all if you were being responsible. An aggressive Pyrenees could kill someone, like you said. It would be like having a dangerous polar bear around your family and community, just an impossibility.

  15. I am so sorry for your heartbreak. Pets really become a part of the family. I can't imagine what a devastating decision that must have been, and how hard it must be for the kids too, to have seen a change and had to say goodbye.


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