Goodbye Ratchet Dog

With a great sadness and disappointment, we are re-homing Ratchet.

Ratchet Dog

He bit my son in the face a week or so ago.

The good news:

  • It was over a very high value item (pork tenderloin – yum!)
  • He used bite control (he mostly left a large bruise)

The bad news:

  • His resource guarding is only geared towards my children
  • He gave no warning.

We worked with our trainer and vet, but we were informed that, because his resource guarding was limited to my children, much of the work was to the minimize possibility of a reoccurrence.

Everyone was hopeful that it was an isolated incident.

We followed all suggestions.

However, Ratchet bit my son again on Thanksgiving morning.

I contacted the rescue group per our contract, and they will be taking him as soon as possible. Probably today.

I am sad but firm in my belief that it is the right thing to do.

He is a good dog, which is the only reason I was willing to work with him after the initial bite. But he’s not meant for children. At least not our children.

We will not be getting another dog because to have re-homed two dogs within the last six months makes me doubt our ability to be dog owners. Considering we’ve had three cats for ten years and counting (and our fourth was with us for five years before dying of cancer), I think it’s safe to say that we are good pet owners.

We will adopt again. But it will be a cat.  Or a fish.  Or a child.  Something we know that we’re good at.

PS. I will resume my I Ask series next Friday. In case you forgot, I chose answers for each question and add them to the post with links to the geniuses.  You can read those in the I Ask archives.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

37 thoughts to “Goodbye Ratchet Dog”

  1. It must be hard to do this. I’m a big animal lover and I prefer cats to dogs. I think you did the right thing. The fact that the group will take him back means he will find the right home for him. Hope the kiddos are handling it ok.

    1. E asked where Ratchet was when Scott didn’t come home with him. And I’m so careful as to how I respond because I don’t want him to think that he’s at fault at all. It’s hard on all of us but I truly believe he will find the right home. He’s such a sweet dog.

      1. I think you’re right to explain it so he doesn’t think he has any fault here. Animals truly do need the right home for them, and even if E. is sad, it will end up with Ratchet in a home that’s right for him. My mom had to place a dog we had in another home when I was a kid and eventually I was fine with it.

    1. Thank you so much. GAW, I almost didn’t write it because I feel so sad and wishful about it. You are right — some dogs just aren’t comfortable with children. And it is hard although as long as your dog gives warning I think it’s more manageable (hopefully!). Also, that you KNOW it about your dog. Other people are so blasé about the possibility. It makes you a good owner.

  2. I’m so sorry. The thing is…dogs are like…boyfriends. (Bear with me here.) Just because Ratchet wasn’t the right one for you doesn’t mean he’s bad or needs his car keyed, it just means that there’s another person out there looking for someone just like him. And they’ll be a perfect match and live happily ever after.

    And who knows…maybe, somewhere along the line, you’ll find another dog who will be YOUR perfect match.

    In the meantime, you’ve got cats and kids and goldfish – beware, they tend to die – and hamsters and turtles and all sorts of other pets just waiting to join your family.

    You made the right decision and I’m sure that you’ve found a way to help E understand.

    1. It’s funny because my dad once used the dog/boyfriend analogy. But to explain why I wasn’t calling my ex-boyfriend back: I’d found a new puppy. Needless to say, I was not amused.

      And I did find a puppy that I’m keeping. His name is Scott. Haha.

  3. I’m so sorry Alex. I know it can’t be easy. I’m a huge dog lover and I’ve had my dog for 10 years, but if she was a threat to my children, the only right choice is to protect them. I’m heartbroken for you, but you did the right thing.

  4. I’m sorry for your family 🙁 it is hard to give up a pet, but I absolutely agree it was the right decision. I hope Ratchett finds a nice new adult home.

  5. Child vs, Pet, pet loses every time. Good decision.

    I had to give away one of the best dogs I have ever had when she viciously attacked our new dog. Can’t risk that happening to a child. Sorry Lucky, you’re gone tomorrow.

    We had friends who bred Dobermans and one day their “safe and trained” dog removed the face of their neighbors’ child. Reconstructive surgery and law suits for years.

  6. We had to re-home our dog when our daughter was 11 months old. He had been with me for over 9 years. I balled like a baby, but he was not very kid friendly, he was on edge all the time, and he tried to attack our daughter over a cracker (not as yummy as a pork loin by far). We too worked with him to get along, but it just did not work. Hardest decision to make, but your child’s safety is paramount. We would love to get a dog again, but want to make sure our children are older and understand that animals need to be respected. But our home was a million times less stressful without him here. And I hope his life is now less stressful for him. Sorry for your loss.

  7. You made the right call. No question. Two bites. No. You’re out. I’m so sorry.

    Dogs can be tough. Some are good with kids, some aren’t. And the age of kids makes a difference. Our dog is great. Really amazing, but I am very cautious with her and the kids and food. And I don’t let her around other kids without a leash. She knows where she stands in our family, but I don’t want to test that.

    I remember reading about how you weren’t a dog person. Here’s what I think is good about all of this. You stretched. You tried. You found good dogs (who will find great homes without little kids) and clearly loved them both. And you did right by them and your family.

  8. Wow, Alex; what a great mom you are! If more people were as attentive as you were to what goes on between their dogs and their children, we wouldn’t read those horror stories in the newspaper all the time. The point is that there’s a fit that needs to be there in order for a dog to be right for a certain family and for that family to be right for a certain dog. You saw that the fit wasn’t there and you took action. As always, your insight and your courage are an inspiration to me. Thanks for sharing this story.

  9. It’s terrible. We adopted arescue dog and she LOVED the four of us and my mother, and HATED everyone else, even my sister who looks almost exactly like me. We worked with a trainer for months, and then she bit a neighborhood kid who was playing at our house. Thankfully the kid’s parents didn’t sue us. I had to put her down, which was awful, but in her case, I think she could only be a good dog for us. Anyway, I know it’s heartbreaking. Also, don’t give up on dogs forever. I’m definitely an advocate for adopting a rescue dog, but you’ll never know what the dog has been through before they ended up in a rescue program. Getting a dog as a puppy is a lot of work, but you can train them to be good family dogs.

  10. That has to be so hard. But you did the right thing. Bot of our dogs have given warning snips at my son when he is bugging them. Not real bites just a biting motion at him. But the second either one actually bites him, they are gone.

  11. I am sorry to hear you have to rid yourself of another dog. My husband and I have started to have this conversation about our bitter black lab. He has started to show signs of aggression in his old age, towards everyone, not just the kids. He is sweet, but just get crotchety in his old age. It is our fault, he fell through the cracks with each child. I feel horrible, but we are making a pact to change and work with him more before ever discussing saying good bye to him. It must have been hard for you and your family. Glad to know your son is okay though.

  12. So sorry 🙁 i went through this a couple of months back with my dear sweet girl ms. beans. we adopted her at 2 weeks and had her for 6 years. she was the best.dog.ever. she snipped at a couple of kids and when she bit a 4 yr old after my son was born we had to let her go. she was my first baby so it was so hard and my heart is still broken. so i know how you are feeling but you did the right thing, not just for your family but any other kids that may come over to visit or live nearby. but it still sucks. in my mind she lives on a big farm with lots of room to run, a doggie swimming pool, and monsters (her favorite toy) everywhere for her to fetch and chew, people to give her all the love, and no kids because they freak her out. if you want ratchet dog can live there too.

  13. Bummer! I had high hopes for Rachet. Whenever you all want doggie playtime come over and play with Sampson. He would be so excited. I know you know this, but you made the right call.

  14. We had to do that once. Spent a fortune on training and still had a dog who didn’t mind biting people. Some dogs just don’t have the mindset to deal with kids. We found a nice lady who lived alone on a huge farm who didn’t mind if the dog bit people.

    1. Resource guarding is when a dog guards through growls, barking or bites specific items. Food is the most common. If another dog or person comes near their food, they react aggressive by “guarding”. It can also be around a favorite toy or our first dog, Sally, did it for entire rooms!

      It’s difficult to train a dog to stop, but possible. Our problem was that Ratchet only resourced guarded with our children which is impossible to work with because the kids have to do the training with us and it’s dangerous for them (they could get bit etc.)

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