The shelter training director saw and worked with Norman every day over the past three months, while I saw him for less than an hour, twice a week, if that. So even though I wanted to, I felt I couldn't argue with her assessment of him. She loved Norman and was very invested in him, and this decision had to be 10 times more difficult for her than it was for me. I know that I could have offered to foster Norman long-term or adopt him, and she would have allowed me to do that. Dogs behave so differently in a home than in a shelter environment. Those three bites might never have been repeated once he got settled. I felt he truly trusted me, and I completely trusted his behavior toward me personally.
But I couldn't have trusted his behavior toward other people. There are small children (who are both very scared of dogs) living on either side of my house, and if Norman had ever gotten loose and hurt one of them, I would not be able to forgive myself. If Cabana ever got loose, I know she'd never hurt anybody in a million years. But with Norman, I'd be worried until the day he died.
Which is how the training director must have felt, and which is why I supported her decision. It's hard, though, full of what if's and doubts. I got to see Norman as they were about to put him down, and he was sooo sweet. All wags and cuddles and full-out joy, to have all his favorite people around him at the same time, while we humans were all bawling our eyes out.
I know there's a lesson in here for me. I'm not quite sure what it is yet, other than that life isn't fair. I don't know what Norman's life was like before he came to the shelter, but I'm quite certain it wasn't good. He seemed starved for companionship, both human and canine, but at the same time, was clueless about how to interact with either. He was fearful and distrustful, but maybe any dog would have been, given the same circumstances. Norman's name used to be Lucky, but shortly after arriving at the shelter, the training director changed it to Norman, jokingly saying that he was anything but lucky. Little did any of us know how true that would be.