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.