Remember Teddy? The not-so-cute puppy Raccoon talked us into buying after the King accidentally ran over Raccoon's first puppy, Knight. Ugh. I wish we hadn't bought him back in September. Unfortunately, I think we are going to have to cut his life short.
In December, Teddy and one of our other dogs, Morita, killed nine of our chickens and four ducks. I tried to find families for them, but there were no takers. I planned to put them to sleep at the end of January, but there were no more incidents and we hoped that was the end of it.
About a month ago, one of our neighbors started to complain about Teddy chasing her goats. Then a few weeks later she said that her daughter found him eating one of her baby goats. This morning she came back and said that he killed another baby goat.
I have trouble believing that he is actually killing baby goats. Eating them, yes, I can believe that, since he dug up all the dead chickens and ducks that I buried and ate them. But killing? If he's doing it, it has to be either at night or when we're gone, and he's never come home covered in blood.
But we still have several problems:
1) He does actually chase the goats, along with the rest of our dogs, although he, Storm, and Morita are the worst with livestock and cats.
2) The neighbor is convinced he's guilty even though she's never actually seen him kill, just eating.
3) Something is killing the neighbor's baby goats. The count is five so far, which is devastating for someone like her who lives off her animals.
4) What about our Christian testimony? What course of action will show Christ's love most clearly?
They point of us living here, in a place that is far from comfortable or convenient, is to win our neighbors over to Christ. This neighborhood needs examples of grace, because there is already enough trouble between neighbors.
But there is tension too in thinking solely of our neighbors because Raccoon is devastated at the thought of me killing his dog. I would put Teddy to sleep without too much regret (he's caused us a lot of trouble), yet I worry about the effect on Raccoon. When he's 20 is he going to tell me that he remembers me killing his dog when he was five? Ugh. Parent problems.
The other two options are tying Teddy up long enough to prove to the neighbor that it's not him killing her goats (unless it is). Or spending $30 on a video that supposedly teaches a guaranteed way to break dogs of killing chickens (but will it work on goats, especially since I don't actually own any).
We have five dogs. Part of me doesn't want to invest the time in trying to break Teddy's bad habits and it is stressful to constantly have to be on alert for bad behavior. Even taking the dogs for a walk is stressful now because I'm worried about running into any sort of livestock, which is all over our neighborhood.
Adding to the problem is that if we do put Teddy to sleep, we'd probably do Morita too, and she is "Kitty's dog." Morita is so good with kids, patient and loves to be near them. She's just terrible with anything else that's alive. And she doesn't respect us as pack leaders, no matter what we try to do.
Our dogs have never known a leash and all of them except Storm practically choke themselves to death if we put a rope around their necks. I know Cesar Milan would say it's never too late, but I feel like it is for us. And Teddy.
So what now?
My dad accidentally killed my first dog, Misty, when I was twelve. She was my best friend and until Jewel, I've never really felt the same about any other dog since. Misty was special to me in an incredible way, and we had this connection. My parents put up with a lot for her too, she killed my mom's chickens and she was constantly escaping from our house to look for me when I went to school. My dad took her to the vet to get her fixed and the vet gave her too much anesthesia since she was freaking out. So she died in a cage, all alone. And that broke my twelve year old heart. I don't think I can do that to my son, because I would be killing his dog on purpose, not by accident.
On top of all this angst about Teddy and what to do, I saw one of Storm's puppies today. She is beautiful, but frantic. I gave my friend two puppies, hoping that by having each other they wouldn't be so lonely, but she gave the male to her dad and the female is all alone on the roof now. The puppy has changed so much in two weeks and is getting quite wild. I feel like I should never have let Storm nor Jewel have puppies because the fate of 12 dogs is my fault now. It's harder than I thought to be a good dog owner. Ugh again.
On top of all this, our two cats won't go out at night to do their thing because of the dogs, which is making our house a hygiene nightmare. Something has to change.
This saga is entirely too long, but I think best by writing it all out. Or talking but no one wants to hear me endlessly discuss pet problems when there are bigger and more important things in our world.
I am at a loss what to do, which for me used to be rare, but it is becoming more and more common now that I have a family to think about. And children, complicated little blessings that they are. Before it was just my heart that I had to worry about, now I am trying to protect and nurture so much more. I keep hoping Teddy will die naturally so I can console Raccoon with no guilt.
But no such luck. Part of being an adult, and a mom, is making those tough choices. Very soon, the King and I are going to have to make this one. And live with it.