A fever of 103.1 caused a flurry of activity among the hospital staff, who took incredibly good care of us and made me feel like everything was going to be just fine. They couldn’t pinpoint the source of the problem, and I have to admit that for a while I was expecting Dr. House to walk in the door and diagnose me with some obscure condition. A few scary moments over the next week, and I was finally allowed to go home when my fever remained at bay for over 48 hours.
We arrived home with the highest expectations of rest and some sort of return to normalcy, as everyone who has ever been in a hospital knows that there isn’t any rest there… However life had a very different path for us.
Let’s go back about a year- we had been training Coda, our rescue dog, to relax among strangers as he has a significant amount of fearful aggression. When we rescued him in Los Angeles it was from the pound, where he was on his LAST DAY at only a few months old. He was scheduled to be euthanized at 5 pm, we got there at 9 am to save him. He had been seized from a puppy mill in a very bad section of the city known for dog fights and he was one of nearly 40 puppies that were taken from a run down house. He was a terrified and sketchy little guy that didn’t know what to do with a toy for weeks. He had spent a majority of his short little life in a cement box at the pound, and he was frightened.
It was clear that he was a special case, and we worked to help him have a happy life, one that he would not have experienced otherwise.
Coda has been a special case ever since. He was fearful of strangers, but incredibly loving to his family. Professional Training with clickers (positive reinforcement) allowed us to make significant progress with his aggression and his comfort level among strangers. He learned so many tricks and developed a love for learning that was easy to see, as soon as the treat bag came out he was fully engaged. With our small successes, we were hopeful that it would be a successful transition at our house when we introduced Baby Gary. We researched the methods of introducing the baby and Coda. We followed the advice of trainers and painstakingly worked to make our transition smooth. We did everything by the book. What we were not counting on was Coda’s reaction being out of his control, biologically.
Upon arriving home, we had a very controlled introduction of Cameron to Coda. There was distance and plenty of attention to Coda as we had been gone for many days. Coda was sweet and loving and very excited to see us. However, when he saw the baby his reaction became intense. His aggressive tendencies got the better of him, and he fixated upon the baby as a dog who has just seen a squirrel in his yard… Without bringing you too far into the details, let’s just say that his reaction was a painful revelation to us that although he was a loving companion to Rob and I, he was not going to be acclimated to our little miracle. We knew that it was not a safe situation for Cameron, and that Coda was not going to be able to control his own reaction. After consulting our trainer, we resigned to the fact that Coda’s biology was getting the better of him.
There is a moment in a parent’s mind where there is not a decision to be made, especially if there is a potential danger to your child. It is an instinct, and the repercussions don’t matter, only the safety of your little one. The moments that follow are not as easy. Rob and I made the decision to place Coda into a trusted foster situation until we could find him a forever home. This was the single most heart wrenching moment of our lives. For a thousand reasons, our hearts were breaking and they continue to break even still. Coda is a terrific dog with a few challenges that was a loyal and loving companion for almost 5 years. He simply can not be in a situation with an infant or small children.
I am divulging this information because so many friends have inquired about Coda’s adjustment, and frankly because I need to get it out of my head so that my heart can begin to heal. I’m looking to you because I know that many of you are dog lovers and could potentially help us. We are continuing to look for a forever home for Coda. If anyone has room in their lives and hearts for a sweet but sketchy and sometimes fearful dog, he will be the best friend you never knew was missing from your life. Please understand that this has been a very difficult and painful decision for us, and that we are still trying to heal from it.
Edit: Coda found his forever home with one of our beloved trainers. He joined her pack of several dogs out in the country shortly after I had written this entry, and he is living a happy and full life. We miss him dearly, and stalk him out on Facebook every now and then… Looking back, we know that we made the best decision for both Coda and our family.