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Saturday, January 12, 2013

So Long Leila.

About six months ago I caved in to the pleading of my 8 year old daughter and bought a dog. It was actually Harri's love of dogs, particularly small white fluffy ones that pushed me over the line into agreeing. My husband who has some allergies wasn't as keen, but relented when I said I'd found a breed, Japanese Spitz, whose coats were known to be low irritant. They are also notoriously good with children, loyal, easy to train and very cute. So we took the plunge and added Leila to the family, much to the excitement of both children.

Six months later we said good bye to Leila. My son, despite his love, or perhaps because of, would not stop tormenting her. He continually pulled her tail, ears and legs, much to her annoyance. We figured the novelty would wear off in time and they would become great friends. We were wrong. The reinforcement he got from being able to illicit responses from the dog, even when they led to bites, was too great. Harri couldn't help himself and neither could Leila when she retaliated. Rather than time leading to abatement, the antagonism between them increased. And it became clear when she bit his face, seriously marking his right eye, that she had to go. Which seems like a clear cut decision, until you factor in how much my daughter loved that dog.

Explaining to Ali Leila needed to find a new home was difficult. But nothing prepared me for the wave of grief that poured forth when the new owners came to collect her. It was just so unfair. She was losing her much hoped for and adored pet. I kept waiting for the sadness to turn to anger, directed at Harri, but remarkably it didn't eventuate. Turns out my kid is far more resilient and forgiving than I give her credit for.  Once again I find myself marvelling at Ali's capacity to dust herself off and get on with things. I suppose that's what her dad and I do too in dealing with the tribulations of raising a complicated kid like Harri. So just maybe we are doing something right. Even though the dog thing was the wrong decision in hindsight, we gave it a shot, it failed, we made a right and painful decision for the dog to go elsewhere, and after shedding some tears, moved on. Continuing to put one metaphorical foot in front of the other as we negotiate our complex journey.

I dont want to give the false impression we are paragons of dignity and endless patience, because hell no we're not.  But just maybe we are doing a better job than we give ourselves credit for. Maybe we taught our kids through this process that hard choices need to be accepted in life, and that moping or blaming others doesn't improve the situation. Just maybe. 


  1. I am sorry that it didn't work out. We also got our very first dog last year and although Nick doesn't *love* them, he is relatively gentle with them, sort of! Thank goodness that Ali recovered quickly.

  2. Oh, yes. You know you are a strong role model. You show a great example by taking action where you can and trying to rise above and accept the things you have little control over. I think my parents led by example for me in a similar way and I don't take that for granted. Glad to hear how Ali has benefited. Sorry about the dog!

  3. Sorry to see the dog had to go. I don't think it was the wrong decision to get the dog. If you hand't got the dog in the first place you would always be wondering what it would be like. At least you gave it a chance. Maybe in a few years you could get another one then. Pets are always a great lesson about life and responsibilities and taking care. Your daughter will eventually see you made a wonderful decision to include the dog in your family and then made the right decision to give the dog to another family that can look after it too.

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    1. Thankyou for your support and understanding during this difficult time in our family.

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