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Tragic story... and now I need to find Riley a home


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I love my dog. He has been my best friend and truest companion for the past 8 years.

 

And yet....

 

Immediately on hearing the news, I knew I'd have to put Riley down.

 

I agree with Ancient Dog, you set Riley up to fail. Now, apparently, this incident is his fault. I hope you can find Riley a home that is more dog savvy and knowledgeable about dogs than his current home so he doesn’t have to pay for someone else’s mistake with his life. If you and/or your husband are unable to find such a home and decide to euthanize the dogs, you and your husband both should go together when having it done. If Riley really was your best friend and truest companion at one time, he shouldn’t have to make that last journey alone. And please, if you ever consider getting another dog in the future also consider taking the dog to obedience classes. Dog owners learn just as much as the dogs do in those classes.

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This is a really sad situation. For you, for the dogs, and for the kids. Lots of buttons being pushed here.

 

I don't like being given ultimatums. They are death to communication, and therefore healthy relationships. I you can afford it, I would suggest you get into a mediation with your husband. I think there should be an experienced mediator and a canine behaviorist present for the session(s).

 

The dogs, as many have said, don't have to go to solve this problem. But changes will have to be made. A good mediator and a canine behaviorist can help you make choices that will not haunt you in the future - or come back to bite you in the butt. And the behaviorist can help you choose and implement strategies.

 

Good luck.

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Dear lady, I know you are taking some hard hits in this thread, but I think you are making a terrible mistake.

 

Your immediate reaction - promising your mom that you would euthanize poor Riley - was completely unnecessary. To say you "knew what had to be done" is a sad and bitter reflection of the trauma you suffered as a child, but not the facts of the situation. The facts are, a baby sat at dog level with FOOD hanging out of his mouth, and a dog thought he was welcome to take a taste. You said yourself that Riley did not behave in any way aggressively. Nothing Riley has done (or does) needs to be a one-way-ticket out of your life.

 

And why is your husband demanding that BOTH dogs need to go? Whatever gave him the idea that gentle Sarah would be a problem? She's innocent of everything except the fact of being a dog.

 

Lastly, on earth do you even mention Dudley the dane mix? He had nothing to do with it! He was there as a guest and did nothing wrong. Are you and your husband now planning to live the rest of your lives devoid of dogs - for the sake of children not even born yet?

 

What happened with Riley was an accident. IT was NOT the dog bite you suffered as a child!

 

Yet you are treating it as if it was.

 

The situation is quite simple. People must MANAGE dogs around children. All dogs. Babies are Pez dispensers to dogs, little human puppies who dribble food everywhere they go. The solution is to NOT let the dogs near a child while she eats. And you teach the dog how he should behave when he is around a child.

 

Unless you are pregnant right now, (and even then) you have plenty of time to train Riley to cease his guarding behaviors and to teach/ensure good manners around the house in general. Furthermore, poor Sarah sounds like nothing but an innocent victim in all this. If she is your husband's dog, WHY is he so quick to get rid of her?

 

I think you should sit down and really think this through, withOUT the emotions. WithOUT your own childhood trauma coloring your responses. The fact that your very first reflex was, "Riley must die" breaks my heart.

 

This is your choice. Do you live the rest of your life without dogs? Because that is the path you now face. You are not choosing whether to re-home Riley. You are choosing to empty your life of dogs - over a simple, non-aggressive, wholly preventable accident.

 

Don't make a mistake that may shadow the rest of your life.

Respectfully submitted,

 

~ Gloria

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I don't like being given ultimatums. They are death to communication, and therefore healthy relationships.

 

This. I can't even imagine a man who loves his wife, who would arbitrarily demand that the family throws away their dogs - even his Sarah, who did nothing.

 

I also have to wonder if your own reaction didn't set this up. The whole "Riley must die" thing - from you - surely has your hubby freaked, if he's also viewing this through the lens of your own ancient trauma.

 

Take time. Think. Breathe. And think some more. What happened here is NOT your dog bite of long ago.

 

Good luck.

 

~ Gloria

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Dear lady, I know you are taking some hard hits in this thread, but I think you are making a terrible mistake.

 

Your immediate reaction - promising your mom that you would euthanize poor Riley - was completely unnecessary. To say you "knew what had to be done" is a sad and bitter reflection of the trauma you suffered as a child, but not the facts of the situation. The facts are, a baby sat at dog level with FOOD hanging out of his mouth, and a dog thought he was welcome to take a taste. You said yourself that Riley did not behave in any way aggressively. Nothing Riley has done (or does) needs to be a one-way-ticket out of your life.

 

And why is your husband demanding that BOTH dogs need to go? Whatever gave him the idea that gentle Sarah would be a problem? She's innocent of everything except the fact of being a dog.

 

Lastly, on earth do you even mention Dudley the dane mix? He had nothing to do with it! He was there as a guest and did nothing wrong. Are you and your husband now planning to live the rest of your lives devoid of dogs - for the sake of children not even born yet?

 

What happened with Riley was an accident. IT was NOT the dog bite you suffered as a child!

 

Yet you are treating it as if it was.

 

The situation is quite simple. People must MANAGE dogs around children. All dogs. Babies are Pez dispensers to dogs, little human puppies who dribble food everywhere they go. The solution is to NOT let the dogs near a child while she eats. And you teach the dog how he should behave when he is around a child.

 

Unless you are pregnant right now, (and even then) you have plenty of time to train Riley to cease his guarding behaviors and to teach/ensure good manners around the house in general. Furthermore, poor Sarah sounds like nothing but an innocent victim in all this. If she is your husband's dog, WHY is he so quick to get rid of her?

 

I think you should sit down and really think this through, withOUT the emotions. WithOUT your own childhood trauma coloring your responses. The fact that your very first reflex was, "Riley must die" breaks my heart.

 

This is your choice. Do you live the rest of your life without dogs? Because that is the path you now face. You are not choosing whether to re-home Riley. You are choosing to empty your life of dogs - over a simple, non-aggressive, wholly preventable accident.

 

Don't make a mistake that may shadow the rest of your life.

Respectfully submitted,

 

~ Gloria

 

^^^ this.

 

Gloria has a way with words and she nailed it.

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Oh, please. This person has mismanaged the dog from the get go. She's allowed him to be a resource guarder who behaved inappropriately when she moved another adult into the house.

 

Then, knowing the dog is child-phobic, she deliberately put the dog into a crowded situation with noise, food and children. Not only failed to protect him, but then, when he supposedly "bit" someone - read nipped - she decided to kill him.

 

Whatever. If it weren't for the high post count I'd call troll.

 

However, I think the next time people get all up in arms about rescues not adopting to homes with children, we could just post a link to this thread.

 

Heck, this one is ready to kill her dog over children that don't even exist yet.

 

If she really is for real, I'd say the BC and the mastiff are far safer without her. I hope she'll find a breed rescue or at least a no-kill shelter before she dumps her dogs.

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Oh, please. This person has mismanaged the dog from the get go. She's allowed him to be a resource guarder who behaved inappropriately when she moved another adult into the house.

 

Then, knowing the dog is child-phobic, she deliberately put the dog into a crowded situation with noise, food and children. Not only failed to protect him, but then, when he supposedly "bit" someone - read nipped - she decided to kill him.

 

Yes yes yes. I'm beyond disgusted at the whole situation.

 

Heck, this one is ready to kill her dog over children that don't even exist yet.

 

If she really is for real, I'd say the BC and the mastiff are far safer without her. I hope she'll find a breed rescue or at least a no-kill shelter before she dumps her dogs.

 

Yep. This right here ^

 

I also have a HUGE problem with ultimatums which I know a lot of others voiced their opinions about as well. From experience, that's a guaranteed relationship killer.

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I like to think that one major purpose these Boards can serve is helping people who post here asking for help. Berating is not helping. Whatever you may think of the OP's judgment or skill with dogs, please remember when posting that she is a person in great distress, and that you cannot help her or her dogs if you can't summon some kindness or good will with which to express your point of view.

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OK. Nobody here ever did stupid things with a dog until they learned better?

 

Nobody here ever made a bad judgement call in a panic situation?

 

Nobody here ever - knowingly or unknowingly - let past trauma have a negative effect on their relationship with an animal or a person?

 

Yes, it was stupid to let a dog with a history run around in a chaotic environment with babies, dogs and lots of people in general.

 

But there is NOTHING here that can't be fixed with the right information and guidance. It's easy to say "That person doesn't DESERVE to have a dog!" It's a lot harder to ask, "How can this situation be fixed?"

 

And what about those dogs? Maybe they are happy where they are. Maybe it would break THEIR hearts to be hustled off to rescue, a random stranger, or the pound.

 

Wouldn't it be better to figure out a way to manage the dogs and the kids AND the adults so they aren't a liability to each other?

 

As I said earlier. Mediation. Counseling. Canine behaviorist.

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As I said earlier. Mediation. Counseling. Canine behaviorist.

 

 

LOVE the idea of talking to a relationship counselor with an animal behaviorist present. If you can swing it, I think that's a fantastic idea. You've already said you're not rushing into rehoming the dogs, which is great. I'm hoping you've also already had enough time for the emotion of the event to wear off and look at other options.

 

I wanted to add that I do understand how horrible you can feel when your animal harms someone else's kid. My horse bit the top of another boarder's daughter's head once. There was blood and crying she has a scar. I felt absolutely awful, even though both myself and her mom told her repeatedly to stay away from his stall, as he has a history of latching onto people who have no experience with horses. I didn't witness it, but I still felt terrible and apologized to the mom. She laughed and said "maybe now she'll listen when I tell her to stay away from a horse". The mom realized that it was her fault her daughter was bitten because she wasn't watching her closely enough. As others have said, situations involving animals and children MUST be managed carefully, even with perfectly behaved dogs/kids. If it is not and something happens, that's the adults' fault. I want to keep reiterating that because I want you and your husband both to stop blaming Riley. It is not difficult to take precautions to keep kids and dogs safe when they interact. I do not think you should rehome your dogs because of possible future kids, but I do very much encourage you to follow geonni's advice and talk to some expert help, about your relationship and about your dogs. It can only help. Best of luck to you and Riley.

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I like to think that one major purpose these Boards can serve is helping people who post here asking for help. Berating is not helping. Whatever you may think of the OP's judgment or skill with dogs, please remember when posting that she is a person in great distress, and that you cannot help her or her dogs if you can't summon some kindness or good will with which to express your point of view.

 

Thanks for that reminder - I've been very uncomfortable with the tone of some of the posts which make a whole bunch of assumptions about the relationship between the OP and her new husband.

 

Noone seems to have considered that possibility that he may feel that his concerns are justified, especially as he has been on the receiving end of the dog's resource guarding behaviour, and that his reason for giving up his own dog as well may be to show to the OP that he is willing to make a sacrifice too in an attempt to avoid too much resentment in future.

 

Speculation of course, just the same as the speculation that the OP's husband is a domineering bully with no thought for her feelings.

 

I think Gloria may have something when she said

 

I also have to wonder if your own reaction didn't set this up. The whole "Riley must die" thing - from you - surely has your hubby freaked, if he's also viewing this through the lens of your own ancient trauma.
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Back in another life I found myself in a slightly similar situation with my ex-husband and our Papillon, Zippy (RIP). Zippy had not been with us long, and was 11 years old when I adopted him. There was a lot of marital strain around adding him into our household. The EDH was a little dog-savvy, but we were both still a little stupid at that time. At any rate, one day early on Zippy decided to hide under the bed, and the EDH reached under there to try to physically pull him out.

 

Zippy nailed him.

 

He didn't draw blood, but he got him pretty hard. I would learn over the years that Zippy would bite if certain triggers were pulled, but fortunately he had excellent bite inhibition and never left a mark (even though he had all of his teeth up until about 18 years old).

 

There was a "he's got to GO" discussion and a tremendous amount of panic and stress on both of us.

 

Once we sat on it for a little while we came up with an action plan (or rather I did) that did not involve ditching one or any of the dogs. But it was a very tough time to be sure - probably the toughest dog related time in our marriage.

 

It is a really, really hard place when something that has emotions like these tied to it happens like this. The only advice I can really give would be to sit on it for a little while before ANY decisions are made. Once the big ball of panic in both of your guts lets go you may both be able to look at this a little differently. It's really hard to think and make decisions when you have one or both feet still in the emotional box.

 

I wouldn't immediately think that the knee jerk "they have to go" reaction is really indicative of your relationship necessarily. Rather maybe it is the emotions of the situation combined with the (quite natural) stress of family and holidays - amplified when viewed through the glasses of the incident when you were younger.

 

Coincidentally, the EDH never did really figure Zippy out. I wound up more or less just managing the both of them. Crating the EDH was a useful tool. :blink:

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My biggest response to this is, as Laura said above, why not take some time with this? Since children are not in the picture at this very moment, there is plenty of time to let some time pass, consider the situation, and look into all options available to you.

 

There are some excellent books out there about handling dogs while raising children. If you would like some references, I could get you some. Perhaps do some reading. There may be simple training steps you can take now that would allow you to raise children with both dogs safely.

 

I would definitely consider the emotional ramifications of giving up the dogs. Think what life is going to be like when they are gone. Is that going to work for you on an emotional level? Personally I know that if my husband insisted that I give up the dogs, even for a very good reason, I would resent him for it. Perhaps you would not, but are you sure?

 

I was pregnant briefly quite a few years ago now. One of our dogs is particularly not good with children and I was worried that my husband would pressure me to give him up. We talked about it and we were both willing to commit to doing whatever it took to make it work, and we would have, although it would have meant quite a lot of vigilance and work on my part. It turned out that I lost that baby, and another, and probably never will bear children. But that dog is still with me at 11 years old, and his companionship has been a treasure throughout the years.

 

Granted, you most likely will not end up childless, but my point is that you just never know what life will bring. You don't even know that there would be any problem between Riley and your children.

 

You could take away from this incident that you and your husband have some things to learn about dog and child safety. But there are tons of resources available to you, and you have time.

 

What you decide is a personal decision. If you do decide to rehome Riley, I recommend that you go through a good Border Collie rescue that has a good track record of placing senior Border Collies.

 

But, really, I would encourage you to talk to your husband about this further, look into some good resources and consider your options. You have time - why not use it to make sure you are making the best decision possible for yourselves, for Riley and Sarah, and for your possible future children?

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I like to think that one major purpose these Boards can serve is helping people who post here asking for help. Berating is not helping. Whatever you may think of the OP's judgment or skill with dogs, please remember when posting that she is a person in great distress, and that you cannot help her or her dogs if you can't summon some kindness or good will with which to express your point of view.

 

But sometimes might this community help by letting a poster know that he or she is acting unreasonably? Either for the benefit of the opening poster - who may be under pressure from ill-informed family members or friends who don't understand much about canine behavior- or for the instruction of neophyte members who might otherwise be ignorant of appropriate or responsible conduct?

 

If the OP here is under a great deal of emotional stress, might it not help her to hear from people who believe that the nip was not that big a deal for the child, and that her husband and she are overreacting to a situation that they at least partially created??

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This. I can't even imagine a man who loves his wife, who would arbitrarily demand that the family throws away their dogs - even his Sarah, who did nothing.

 

I had a Border Collie before Juno came into my life. There were a few mishaps around the farm - nothing huge, and nothing that couldn't be corrected - but my husband was furious (he thought the dog should be perfect, despite her young age) and demanded that I get rid of her. Stupidly, I did. I found her a great home, but I regretted it every moment thereafter. I mourned her as though she had died. She had been my "heart dog" and I was so sad without her. It was one of my life's great mistakes. Never again will I give up a beloved pet for the sake of a relationship.

 

I have four kids and four dogs. It would never occur to me to eliminate a dog from my house because of something that might happen with some child at some point in the future. I train my dogs well, I manage their interactions with my children, and I have NEVER had a single incident that would cause me to worry about either my children or my dogs.

 

To the OP - Everything that has been said about Riley sounds totally manageable to me, and given that you don't have children yet, you have plenty of time to work with him on the minor issues you've mentioned.

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But sometimes might this community help by letting a poster know that he or she is acting unreasonably? Either for the benefit of the opening poster - who may be under pressure from ill-informed family members or friends who don't understand much about canine behavior- or for the instruction of neophyte members who might otherwise be ignorant of appropriate or responsible conduct?

 

If the OP here is under a great deal of emotional stress, might it not help her to hear from people who believe that the nip was not that big a deal for the child, and that her husband and she are overreacting to a situation that they at least partially created??

 

Sure, absolutely. And a number of posters managed to convey those messages in a way that reflected empathy and understanding, for which I thank them.

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I deserve all the beratings you can dish out about allowing Riley to be put in that situation. It was irresponsible. It was a mistake. In 9 years I've never allowed him to be around any but the most dog savvy kids who he responded well to. He was responding very well to Greyson before the party started and things were quiet. Even when he was zooming around with his truck toys, Riley was relaxed. The tragedy was my failure.

 

All the dogs had been outside most of the afternoon and were let in to warm up and greet everyone before being kenneled up. I should have been more vigilant. I should have insisted that he be left outside or taken directly to his crate. Yes, I made a huge mistake and now my friend is paying the price. Yes I'd like to throttle whoever gave the toddler a giant piece of meat on the floor in the midst of 4 large dogs but the responsibility still rests on me. I am the dog owner.

 

I don't remember much of my own dog bite, but my family does. My face was torn open from one side to the other, completely through my cheeks. I can feel the ridges of the scars with my tongue. I was 23 months old. I had a phenomenal surgeon and the marks are just faint lines now. Most people don't even notice them since the worst one hides in the "laugh line" along my cheek. My grandmother almost committed suicide after the incident, blaming herself because it was her dog and I was under her supervision. No one knew how disfigured I'd be. So, I know I am biased, but I know first hand what a good dog can do and I still believe that any dog that aggressively bites a child should be humanely euthanized. Once it is established that the dog is a risk, no family should have to go through what mine has. The point here is that Riley was not acting aggressively and both my mother and brother (Greyson's father) who witnessed the bite said the same thing. Yes I'd like to throttle whoever gave a giant piece of bologna to a toddler in the middle of four dogs but it still remains my responsibility.

 

We had all started out being very careful, always having the dogs put away when Greyson visited. Eventually we started letting down our guard. The whole situation cemented in my husband's mind that no dog is trustworthy around children. Accidents happen. I have told him I have no concerns about Sarah but it is his decision and he does not want the dogs here if we have children of our own.

 

My original post was written in a state of extreme emotional distress. Things have calmed down a bit. My husband is treating Riley very well.

 

I thought the guarding was minor... barking when he arrives home, and we have been working on the growling when entering a room. He is nothing like the cases you see on TV where two people can't even sit on a couch together. It has been a long battle working with this behavior and we have made great progress. Most of it before my husband came into my life. Partly it has been teaching my husband how to behave properly around Riley. Not being so excited and stirring him up when he gets home. Announcing his precense and starting a conversation with me before just barging into a room. Getting him to redirect Riley to a task instead of getting angry with him. I guess I didn't realize what a problem it had become for him until this incident brought everything up.

 

Two years ago it would never have occurred to me that I would ever choose a man over my dog. Anyone who I thought would present me with that ultimatum would not have lasted long in my life. We married quickly, and while there was friction between the two, I did not think it would come to this. My husband understood, or at least I thought he understood, what Riley meant to me. I made a commitment to both. No I don't think his ultimatum is fair at all but I can also understand his reasoning that no animal is worth risking a child's life. And I am not prepared to simply show him the door. I had agreed that if the dogs showed aggression towards our children, they would be re-homed. Now he believes that NO DOG is safe around children and that having the dogs is an unacceptable risk.

 

Once we have children, I could separate them, but even if I was perfectly adept at keeping them apart, what kind of life is that for Riley? My husband and I both work full time. Once we have kids, what time am I going to have that I am not with them? He is a spry and healthy 9 year old who could have 5-8 more years of happiness in the right home. If I thought he'd be miserable without me and wouldn't adapt to another home I wouldn't consider it. But he is outgoing, adaptable, and but for a few manageable quirks (no apartments because of the howling and no kids), he is a great dog.

 

I hope that my husband and I can come to another compromise. I hope he will understand that Riley did not react with aggression. But I don't believe I will be able to change his mind that the dogs need to be gone when we have children. And I'm aware that it's an "if" and not a "when".

 

I believe it would be in Riley's best interest to find a home where he will continue to be loved and adored. Luckily I am in the position right now where I have time. I'm not going to dump him in a shelter or pass him off to the first takers. He would be a great companion for a single person, older couple, or older family. Or even a younger couple that has no plans for children.

 

Things are calming down here and the emotions are settling. My husband is willing to work with me with a behaviorist to address the guarding issues. I have been able to convey what Riley means to me but he is still adamant that we will not be dog owners when we bring our own children home.

If anyone can recommend an animal behaviorist in the area to work with I would appreciate it. We are in central Maryland.

 

I know it is easy to pass judgement and I would have been the first person to say send him packing, or call me a terrible person for not having the foresight to see this coming. It's quite another thing when you're the one having to live it and you're trying to do your best to keep your family together.

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I understand the situation you are in (remember, my husband insisted that I re-home my dog). But as I'm reading your post I'm noticing things like "Once we have children, I could separate them, but even if I was perfectly adept at keeping them apart, what kind of life is that for Riley?" - WHY do you assume you'd have to keep him separated? Why do you assume Riley would not be good with your future children? You can't possibly know that. Dogs seem to "get it" when their person becomes pregnant - at least, in my experience. They seem to understand that the baby is an extension of the mother.

 

I will leave you with this:

(Oddler was 6 years old when our first child was born)

 

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The whole situation cemented in my husband's mind that no dog is trustworthy around children.

 

And your husband is quite right. Never, ever forget that dogs are another species and even the best can act out of character when faced with the behaviour of children, however dog savvy they may be.

 

That's not to say that children and dogs can't be managed though, but trusting a dog with children belongs in the fantasy world of Lassie. It's as much about protecting the dog from the child as the reverse.

 

I have told him I have no concerns about Sarah

 

You should have concerns about Sarah - about all dogs.

I have a hair trigger dog and one that I am 99.9% certain would never bite, plus 3 somewhere in between. The first is never allowed near children, the others only under supervision. I couldn't even guarantee that the 99.9% reliable dog couldn't be pushed into retaliation.

 

I guess I didn't realize what a problem it had become for him until this incident brought everything up.

 

Hopefully you can now see your husband's pov - he can't behave as he wishes in his own house and probably feels unwelcome. Sounds to me as if he's been trying very hard because he does know how much it meant to you.

 

Once we have children, I could separate them, but even if I was perfectly adept at keeping them apart, what kind of life is that for Riley? My husband and I both work full time. Once we have kids, what time am I going to have that I am not with them?

 

But that would have been the situation whether this incident had happened or not. The advent of children would inevitably mean that you would no longer have had the same amount of time for your relationship with your dog. Children are very time consuming and dogs have to fit in as best they can, and most do, especially if their owners are sensible and organised. If you both work full time now your dogs must be used to long stretches of time without you.

 

Things are calming down here and the emotions are settling. My husband is willing to work with me with a behaviorist to address the guarding issues. I have been able to convey what Riley means to me but he is still adamant that we will not be dog owners when we bring our own children home.

 

Good. Men can be so stubborn but at least yours is willing to meet you part way. There should be time to work on his intransigence about dogs and children by making sure he comes across plenty of examples where it works very well.

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I will leave you with this:

(Oddler was 6 years old when our first child was born)

 

 

I love hounds (dare I say it, more than BCs).

 

My hound mix is great with children but could still hurt them by being over boisterous. As long as I'm around to keep a lid on things he's fine. My JR is the same but could bite if over stimulated by screaming children. Again, I need to keep an eye on what is happening. A couple of the others would rather not have to mix with children but would be unlikely to hurt them and one I wouldn't trust at all.

 

My brother and I grew up with up to 5 dogs at a time and I can't recall either of us ever being hurt by them. It never occurred to anyone to keep dogs and children apart in those days.

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I'm sorry, Riley-dog, for the harshness of my original responses. Like you, I was probably posting under the influence of too much family-induced holiday stress. :)

 

I'm glad that you're planning to take your time and find the right home for Riley, should it come to that.

 

My mother felt the same way about horses that your husband feels about dogs. Unsafe for children. My father wouldn't stand up to her about it, although he did sneak me off to our neighbors at the lake to ride their pony.

 

No lasting harm done to me - I ride and I've had my own horses for a long time now :)/> - but sadly, my Dad still feels seriously guilty (nearly a half-century later!) about letting my mother's fears take away something that might have provided our family with so much joy.

 

I wonder if there's any way to de-sensitize your husband to dogs and the dangers he imagines before children come along? Just an idea - my mother would have been so convinced of the reasonableness of her position that she'd never have agreed. But maybe your husband isn't quite as inflexible as my Mom was?

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