Even though it is not Halloween yet, leaving Cooper for the weekend for the Great Urban Race really had my mind reeling about the scariest “what if” scenarios. Even though everything turned out find in the end, on my train ride to New York I thought back to the scariest moment I have had as a mother so far. There is only one answer. Boomer.
For our wedding present to ourselves, Brian and I bought ourselves the CUTEST Wheaten Terrier ever. Boomer. Boomer was a great pet. He was cute and crazy, he also didn’t shed and rarely chewed anything. He was a great addition to our new family. We had never really had any trouble with Boomer, he would fight with my parent’s Shi Tzu, Indy (who is a super dog aggressive dog) and that was it. We could bring him to the park and he would play with anyone or any dog. He and Brian instantly had a bestie bond and everything went great for the next two years.
When Cooper was born we followed all the recommended precautions about having a baby near a dog and honestly, he was GREAT with the baby. He was the first one that got Cooper to do that great belly laugh that every parent waits for their child to do. Cooper definitely thought Boomer was a lot funnier than Brian or I. We were in a honeymoon period with the dog and the baby for the next six months. We thought the hardest part was over now that Cooper was bigger. However, that was not the case.
One day after we had finished our lunch (chili) I had some left over in my bowl and put it under my feet for Boomer. I decided to keep him near since Cooper was now 7 months and crawling around. I honestly thought the problem would be Cooper grabbing the bowl and knocking it and all the chili all over the carpet. That was the worst thing I thought of.
Cooper, who loved the dog, crawled up slowly behind Boomer. Boomer gave a little growl, so we told him to stop and never thought about it twice. In retrospect we SHOULD have realized it was an angry growl. But at the time like many naiive dog and baby parents an attack was “unthinkable.” Before we could think twice, Cooper reached out and touched his paw and with that Boomer swung his head around so fast, pounced on the baby and bit him in the face. Between the screaming, the growling, the blood, and the yelling everything in that moment is a blur.
We rushed Cooper to the emergency room, they put him on antibiotics and glued his cut closed. We than began the long and arduous discussions of what to do now. After talking to the breeder, the vet, and trainers, it was decided he had a food aggression and nothing else was wrong with him. We were honestly hoping he was sick or hurt to give a reason for the attack, fix it, and move on, but it was nothing like that.
We were surprised there was nothing physically wrong with him. As for the food aggression we had noticed it a little when Indy and him would fight over treats but thought it was normal dog stuff. We could easily take food out of his mouth or bowl while he was eating and he never so much as blinked twice at us. So we never would have DREAMED it would actually happen with the baby.
At the hospital they had to report Boomer’s attack to the dog officer, so if he ever bit again it could put him in jeopardy of being put down. We talked to trainers, who said we could try to train the aggression out of him but as with anything else in life, nothing is 100% and in the end we decided the “what if” would always be too great. We had to put our human child first If he had bit Cooper less than an inch over he would have lost his eye. If it ever happened in the future, we would realize we chose our dog over our child’s safety and we both realized we would not be able to live with the guilt.
In the end, we decided the best decision was to have the breeder help find us a family without children that would be interesting in adopting Boomer. The woman who adopted him seemed excited and her sister also had two wheaten terriers from the same breeder, so he would have friends. We also knew that if she ever didn’t want him the breeder said she would take him back and he would never go to a pound.
We occasionally still get pictures of Boomer, and we miss him, but it looks like he is doing great. As for Cooper, the scar above his eye (we call it his Harry Potter scar) is almost unnoticeable. But we do still notice Cooper’s hesitation around dogs. He is getting better with Indy and although won’t touch him, he is willing to get closer. Recently, he has also been excited to throw toys to him, which is a big step. I am sure eventually Cooper will get over his dog aversion and in the future, after we have another child and that child is big enough to understand how to treat a dog we will be willing to get another. Until then we will be pet-less (no cats or rodents here) and even though it was one of the hardest decisions we ever made I think it was the right one for everyone.
Question: What was your scariest motherhood/fatherhood moment?