Monday, January 2, 2012

A Season of Sadness

Now that the holidays are behind us, I must report a sad event.  We had to have Jordan's beloved Great Pyrenees,Chuck, put to sleep on November 30th as he had become increasingly aggressive..  About a year ago, he turned on the sheep and killed three last fall.  After much research, discussion, and soul-searching it was decided that he would become Jordan's companion instead of a livestock guard dog.  He adapted very well to living inside Jordan's house on the Ione farm and was an excellent companion, riding in the pickup and accompanying Jordan on trips, whether they were just out doing farm work, taking their daily run, or visiting friends out of town.  His role as Jordan's constant companion was further cemented when, shortly after becoming a house dog, a fire began in the wiring of the old farmhouse they were living in.  Chuck jumped on Jordan's bed, barking an alarm and waking Jordan in time to put the fire out before much damage was done.  Even though we could no longer trust him around livestock, he was such a joyful dog, and was wonderful around cats, chickens, and kids.  It seemed Chuck had found a different niche than what we had intended for him, as he had saved Jordan's life and had so many other valuable qualities.  He also dearly loved his chickens and protected them from predators such as raccoons and opossums, or other dogs.

Unfortunately, this fall, as the weather began to cool, Chuck became harder to manage, even chasing cats, who he had always done so well with.  He also began growling at us if we disciplined him in any way.  Jordan had done extensive submission training with him to make sure he never became aggressive toward people, but something was wrong.  This aggressive behavior culminated one night as Chuck had accidentally gotten out and killed sheep once again.  We caught him in the act and he ended up turning on Jordan and biting him, breaking skin and severely bruising Jordan's forearms even through a heavy coat.  After consulting with the vet, the heart-wrenching decision was made to have Chuck put down.  It is hard to have an old or injured pet put down, but a physically healthy dog in the prime of his life who has been such a protector and companion is an entirely different thing.  But he could no longer be trusted and he was too powerful and adept at killing.  If he was willing to hurt Jordan, what might he be capable of with someone he had no bond with?

I believe strongly that a cherished family pet deserves to have their family with them when they die, so Jordan and I stayed with Chuck as the vet administered the medication.  As Jordan stroked his head and ears, his eyes locked trustingly on mine until they closed and he lay down with a gentle sigh.  As the tears flowed freely in that exam room, I only hoped he could forgive us all for what had to be done.

We took him home on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon and buried him next to his old friend, Roxy, on the hill overlooking the house and barn.  It was a warm and sunny afternoon, so mild for the last day of November.  Suddenly, a red and black butterfly appeared, fluttered around my head, landing for a brief second, then flying to Jordan where it also circled him several times before disappearing into the sunlight.  Through the tears, the healing and forgiveness had begun.