I'm at a loss to even describe how to end this blog.
And yet, without Pepper, I don't even know how to keep it going.
I was going to blog here about how Pepper was developing behaviors that were getting on my nerves. On everybody's nerves. She could not help but yap and bark at every sound; the recliner, the door, the microwave, a phone ringing in the movie we were watching... But I didn't have the time to do anything other than the usual, "Hush Pepper!" To which she responded by peeing.
Then we had a visit with a potential landlord to meet Aspen (previously known as Bella). See, we were trying to move in to a bigger unit, but the landlord had breed restrictions. She agreed to meet Aspen even though she's a Staffordshire Terrier which is technically a Pit Bull, even though landlords and home owner's insurance don't like the "PB" word, I was very frank with the owner that she would have to meet Aspen and judge for herself. I was half expecting not to get the unit because of Aspen's undeniable Pitty face.
What happened I was not expecting.
Landlord comes in w/ baby in tow. Meets Aspen, who is terrorizing the poor kiddo with kisses. She falls in love with Aspen...
... Pepper is barking and growling, incessantly. Getting louder too, until our ears were blaring and we could not hear ourselves think. Growling at the landlord and the kid. I had to grab her and physically muzzle her mouth shut in order to muffle the sound, but before I was able to hold her, she snaked around me, peeing and pooping on the floor. I was mortified. Landlord asks me, "Is she (pointing at Pepper) always like this?!"
I didn't think so. We've had company before. She maybe growled and paced a little, but was fine if she could escape to the room, be left alone. Was she always like this? The question made me realize it was time to talk to her vet.
I brought her to the clinic and asked if her veterinarian could take a look at her - maybe recommend anti-anxiety medication to settle her down before she scares any other potential landlords away. Maybe she saw the winds of change. Maybe it was Aspen? We've fostered other dogs before, they never bothered her.
I heard a shriek while at the reception area, but I didn't even realize it was her. Her vet said she came unglued, turning blue, lunging for her face, peeing and pooping, squealing unprovoked at the top of her lungs.
And it all goes downhill from here.
I trust this veterinarian whole-heartedly. She's a woman I admire personally and look up to - the kind of person I "want to be when I grow up". She would not have brought up euthanasia if there was any other way.
Realistically, I had to face the fact that Pepper may have psychological issues for which operant conditioning and positive reinforcement could not help. The danger of trying medications is, that like hormonal or mood-altering medications for humans, if the medication is not effective it can actually make things worse. Way worse. She could lose all bite inhibition and be aggressive. I also had to face the fact that I could not keep my children away from Pepper 100% of the time for the rest of her life. Not even close. She was a ticking time-bomb. Re-homing was not an option. And she was a threat to my babies, even if unintentionally.
As I type all this, I still feel like I sold her out. What if all this behavior was my fault? I didn't take care of her right. She wasn't always like this - why did I do this to her? Or was she and I was blissfully ignorant? Did I have her euthanized because I preferred a 3 bedroom home with a yard for my children over her? No. When I looked at the place, I pictured Pepper as a part of the home; finally having a yard to run around in come summer time, laying on her bed in front of the fire place next winter. Is it fair that I was either going to feel guilty for putting her down or feel guilty for choosing a dog over the well-being of my entire family? No! Never before had I thought of Pepper versus kids/cat/husband. We were all in this together! I was willing to accept that moving out of that one bedroom place was going to be difficult because I owned a Pitbull (Pit, Staffie, whatever... same thing on an insurance policy). I would've stayed there and not have given up Aspen for a bigger apartment. I didn't euthanize Pepper because of an apartment. I had to because she wasn't well and the potential that my children might get hurt was not worth the risk.
But no matter how I look at it, 2 weeks later as I'm writing this last blog I'm bawling my eyes out and it's still my fault. And the gap that is left in my heart aches so much I don't even know what to do with myself. We moved in two Saturdays ago and since then I've been working myself to exhaustion with cleaning, moving, and unpacking to the point of driving myself sick because I don't know what it's like to sit and relax without Pepper on my lap. I have not been able to turn on my laptop since.
To me she looked ok. It wasn't like Max, who was visibly tired and physically hurting. She was fine on my lap, watching a movie, riding in the car....
I couldn't prolong it or delay it. I would've changed my mind. I didn't want to wait until she became something else - something different from the Pepper I knew all year. I took her to the clinic early that Saturday morning, sat with her in my lap as she was wrapped in her favorite blanket. She got an injection of a strong sedative that put her straight to sleep, before receiving the final injection. As she fell asleep in my arms I told her what a good girl she was, what awesome things she got to do that would've never happened if she stayed at the pound. And I told her that it wasn't her fault, and I was not mad at her. I told her she didn't have to experience fear or anxiety ever again. I told her I had planned a lot of fun things for the summer, and that I was sad we weren't going to do them now. And I asked her to forgive me.