A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

A dog’s experience of domestic abuse

Jenny’s Story: Observations of Life from a Three Year Old ‘Sheltie’

Jenny’s story was written by ‘Kathryn’, who uses a pseudonym because her X gets in stalking mode when the mood strikes him. Kathryn’s blog is Escaping the ‘trap’ of domestic violence. [Re-blogged with Kathryn’s permission.] Possible trigger warning for those who have witnessed animal abuse—but overall this is a story that shows recovery and healing after escaping domestic abuse.

My Mom told me that she picked me out when I was no bigger than of a stick of butter, only one week old. She said she came back to visit me and check on my growth progress each week. Normally, I wouldn’t have been able to go home with my new Mom until about 8 weeks old. However, the breeder told her that since she “was not a novice dog owner” she could take me home at 5 ½ weeks old.

The day Mom brought me home I weighed almost 3 lbs. I was still so little that I didn’t know how to drink water by myself. So, she made my food with a lot of water so I would receive the proper hydration.

It was very scary at first when I went into the house. There were these two huge beasts. My Mom told me they were my “Old Aunts”. She told me they are called Collies. One was named Betsy, and the other was named Abby. They came to me right away. They started sniffing me…but their noses were so long, that they knocked me over each time they got near me.

I soon learned they were so much fun! Especially Abby. I could run under her legs, and jump up and bite her neck fur with my teeth. She would try and shake me off, but I could hold on really good. Abby sometimes would walk around with me hanging from her neck fur. Mom laughed so hard. She took many pictures of me hanging from Abby’s neck. Next, I found out that I could pull Abby’s lips with my teeth. She took photos of this too. I didn’t see what was so funny about this, we were just playing. Betsy always seemed to “protect” me from Abby, whenever she would get too rough with me.

Betsy would growl at Abby and then walk away. Then Betsy would let me lay by her…plus, she never took my toys away from me. There was a man that lived in our house. He didn’t like me too much. My Mom told me that he liked me Ok, but it was her that he didn’t like. He would yell at my Mom and call her names. He would hit her, and sometimes she would have to get stitches. He even braked some of her ribs, and smashed some of her fingers. One time he throwed a knife at her and it stuck in her hand. Another time he was mad at her and started chasing her. It made my Mommy fall off the porch and she broke some stuff. She had to go to the hospital. When she came home she told me that some of her bones got broked. She had to stay in bed all the time, except to go potty. When she would have to get up, she had to use what she called “Crutches”. My Mom had to use those crutches for many weeks. Then she got better and we did stuff together again.

One time when I was on the floor with Abby, the man picked me up. I thought he was going to cuddle me. Instead, he held me up equal with his shoulders, and just let me drop to the floor. I started crying…then my Mom saw what happened. Another time, when I was still little, unable to go down the stairs by myself, he kicked me. I don’t think he was too nice. I was scared of him, and when he would come into the room, I would try and hide behind my Mom, or one of the “Old Aunts”. I didn’t want him to pick me up no more, ever.

There was another time the mean man hurt me again. When Mom heard me crying, she rushed in there immediately and scooped me up in her arms. She quickly carried me into her bedroom to look and see what the mean man did. My Mom told me, “Jenny, no one will ever hurt you again”. From that point on, my Mom never let me out of her sight. She went to the pet store and purchased a car harness for me. So, when she went anywhere, she took me too. One day, something really bad must have happened. Next thing I knew, the police were at the house. My Mom grabbed me and her briefcase and we left. I was worried and scared. Why is my Mom shaking and crying? What’s wrong? I wanted her to go back and get Betsy & Abby, too. Is the mean man going to follow us and the policeman?

We drove to a big building. My Mom handed me to some strange lady, and then she left! Why did my Mom leave me?! Now, the lady put me in a little cage. There were others too, in little cages. All of us were crying. None of knew why our Mommy’s left us in this place. Will I see my Mom again? What did I do that my Mom gave me away? Was it because of the mean man? Where’s my Mom!

I remember crying and crying, but no one came. Next the lights were turned out and I was by myself in the little cage. There were none of my toys, but there was water and food available. I just wanted my Mom. My special teddy bear wasn’t here, either.

The next day a lady came in to see me. She seemed so happy. She opened the cage and let me out. Then she took me outside to play. She even knew my name. When she would toss me a toy, I just sat there. I wanted my Mom. The lady picked me up and held me and petted me. Then she told me why my Mom had to leave me there, and that she would be coming to take me back…but it would be to a new home. Yet, the lady said that she didn’t know how long I would have to stay here. This nice lady held me for a long time. And I liked her. Her name was Kate.

Two whole days past before I saw my Mom. This time she looked so sad. She could hardly talk because she was crying. She took me out of the cage, and held me close and walked outside to the play area so we could be alone. She sat on a bench with me on her lap. I was looking up at her, wondering what’s wrong!

Mom told me a lot that day. She said she is staying in a “safe house”. The people at the “safe house” didn’t allow puppies. This was the reason I was at the ‘big building’. Mom said it was the Humane Society…and it was a kindness that they allowed me to stay here for free, until Mom finds us a new place to live. The sad part was that I was never going to be able to live with my “Old Aunts”, Betsy & Abby…ever again.

Mom would try and come to see me each day, but sometimes that was impossible. It was a long drive, plus Mom was the responsibility of the people at the “safe house”. Usually, when she needed to go somewhere, a staff person or volunteer would have to accompany her.

Then one day my Mom came to see me with one other lady. She told me that her “case manager” had given permission for Mom to bring me to the “safe house” to play in their big yard. Mom told me there would be kids there, too. Oh boy! Kids! I love kids; they know how to play real good games. When we got to the house, there was a sign on the door that said, “WELCOME JENNY”. I loved it here, being with my Mom. Time went by so fast. Then my Mom had to drive me back to the big building…and I cried and Mom cried. I could tell it hurt my Mom so much to leave me here.

The next time I saw my Mom, she brought me one of her blouses. It had my Mom’s scent on it! I was so happy. She put it in my cage and at night I didn’t cry too much anymore. Yet, Mom was so upset at seeing me in the cage that she told Aunt Vickie.

Aunt Vickie & Aunt Jan came all the way out here to take me with them. Aunt Vickie told me I was going to live with her until Mom got us a new house. Aunt Vickie and Aunt Jan are so much fun. On the way back to Aunt Vickie’s house, Aunt Jan held me and petted me. They both talked to me. I think they knew how hard it was for Mom to see them drive away with me. She didn’t know when she’d see me next.

Aunt Vickie’s house was so much fun. She had a big beast and a smaller beast. She told me the big beast was an “English Springer Spaniel”… and that she was my cousin. Her name is Emma. The little beast is called a “Cat”…she, too, is my cousin. Her name is Gracie. I liked Gracie a lot, but I don’t think she liked me. Emma was fun all the time. She taught me “tricks”.

One of the “tricks” Emma taught me, was how to tear wall-paper off Aunt Vickie’s bathroom wall. We had so much of it all torn off. We thought we did a good job. But when Aunt Vickie got home from work, I don’t think she was too happy.

Another time at Aunt Vickie’s, Emma & I were playing in the backyard. I saw a bunny. I like to chase bunnies. I did that at my old house, but I was never able to catch one, because I was too little. However, this time I caught that bunny. I bited him on the back and shaked him real hard…but then he stopped moving.

I started to shake that bunny from side to side, like I do my toys. Next, thing I knew there was blood all over my long fur. I thought this was odd. The next thing I knew was that some of the ‘stuff’ got into my mouth. Aunt Vickie saw me and came running out immediately and made me stop what I was doing. I didn’t know it was wrong to chase and shake bunnies. There was blood all over me by now. The bunny was dead.

Aunt Vickie took me in the house and gave me a bath. I could tell she wasn’t too happy with me, but I still didn’t know why. Didn’t she see that I killed that bunny real good? I shaked it real hard, so Aunt Vickie would think I was a big girl. Aunt Vickie loves me. She dried me off and petted and talked to me. I love Aunt Vickie so much…but where is my Mom? Aunt Vickie helped me make a birthday card for my Mom, too.

One day Aunt Vickie told me that she and my Aunt Jan were going to take me back to my Mom! WOW…I’m going to my Mommy. She got us a new house. It was a little sad for me though, as I would not be able to see Betsy or Abby. It was going to be just me & my Mom. Did Betsy & Abby miss me like I miss them? I didn’t miss the mean man.

When we got out of the truck my Mom ran to me. She picked me up, held me close and began crying. She told me “Jenny, I will never leave you again”. Aunt Vickie and Aunt Jan were only able to stay for a little while. I miss them all the time, and especially cousins Emma & Gracie. Emma & Gracie have a new brother & sister. Their names are Petey and Betty. They are miniature long-haired Chihuahua’s.

The new house wasn’t a house. It was called “an apartment”. There was a huge sliding door, and outside was like my old house. It had lots of tress and grass. But why is this place so small? Where are my toys? Who am I going to play with? Everything was so different. I didn’t understand why, but living here had something to do with the mean man.

One day, Mom was crying so hard she was shaking. I looked up at her and wondered what was wrong! She told me that Betsy went to heaven. Does this mean I will never ever see her again? I asked my Mom if I can go to heaven, too, so I can see Betsy just one more time. Mom told me “No’…that I wasn’t going anywhere unless she goes with me, and that she wasn’t going to heaven for a long time yet.

It seemed like a long time passed. Then a big man with a little girl saw me and Mom outside in the yard. The little girl wanted the big man to stop so she could play with me. She told me the big man was her Daddy. Her Daddy was talking to my Mom. I was afraid of men, real afraid. I didn’t want to go too close to him, but the little girl was OK. I didn’t like the big man talking to my Mom. I wanted him to go home, but he could leave the little girl here so we could play. He kept talking to my Mom, and it was making me afraid. What if the man was like the mean man at my old house? Then my Mom would have to leave me again. I would rather go to heaven and be with Betsy than be away from my Mom for so long ever, ever, again. I don’t like the big man talking to my Mom. I even growled at him and showed me teeth, but he just laughed at me.

One day the big man saw Mom and me sitting on the patio. He came over, and Mom asked him to sit down. He was eating my all time favorite thing. Oranges! I sat real close to him. When I looked up at him, he gave me a slice of his orange. Oh boy!!! This big man was nothing like the mean man. He paid attention to me, he was nice. He even gave me my favoritest food. Ever since that day, the big man has loved me. He always plays with me and takes me places. He lets me chew gum and gives me Popsicles. He takes me to the park and to the pet shop. One time he even took me to the floor of the hospital where he works. He calls me “his little girl dog”. I love him.

He loves my Mom too. I think that’s why they got married. Now, I have a “real” Daddy and my Daddy loves me and my Mom. Daddy and Momma cook together all the time. I like to be in the kitchen with them when they cook. Daddy drops stuff on the fl oor and I get to eat it. Sometimes he says, “Oh no! Jenny don’t eat that!” I eat it anyway. One day Daddy had a Bagel with some honey. I jumped up and took it right out of his hand. He said,” Jenny NO!” I tried to run under the table with it. Daddy took that Bagel right out of my mouth and ate it. Mom said to my Daddy, “Don’t eat that! Jenny had it in her mouth”…Daddy said, “I’m doing it to spite her!” I started thinking that “spite” & “spider” are two different things, cuz’ I didn’t see no spider but I didn’t get the bagel either.

One time Sarah (the little girl) was here. Daddy ordered pizza. Sarah was standing up and had a piece of pizza in her hand. Well, that piece of pizza was right at the same level of my head. So, I took it from her and ran under the table. This time Mom, Daddy & Sarah yelled at the same time, “Jenny NO!” I asked Mom if “NO” was my last name. She told me “NO”. So I was right, “NO” is my last name. I’m “Jenny No”.

One day as my Mom was petting me, she noticed a bunch of ‘stuff’ all over my back. She asked my Daddy, “What’s this all over Jenny’s back?” Daddy said he didn’t know. So, he and Mom picked me up to get a better look. It was RICE! Daddy had been cooking rice and he dropped a lot of it and it landed on my back. He never even noticed it until Mom was petting me. They brushed it out of my fur, but they wouldn’t let me eat any of it. Sometimes he drops pasta sauce or cheese on me, too.

There were other things I’ve eaten or swallowed, that upset my Daddy & Mom. There were several coins, a rubber band, piece of aluminum foil, band-aid, a marble and a small nail. This, of course, was not all at the same time, but over a course of a year. They are very careful with everything now. Although, I’ve found an occasional dime or penny. They said they don’t want me getting something that could hurt me. But none of it hurt, it all tasted good. Plus, I’ve swallowed plenty of the “eyes” off my toy bunnies & teddy bears. Mom says that’s not good, ‘cuz then they can’t see how pretty I am.

In the beginning I had my own blanket to sleep on. It was at the foot of Mom and Dad’s bed. But after some time I decided to sleep between Daddy’s pillows. I wait until he is snoring, then sneak up onto the bed. Mom says she doesn’t know why I do this because I can’t get out from there by myself. She has to pull me out by my front paws. (My Mom doesn’t know I do this because I want to protect my Daddy the way he protects my Mom and me.)

Daddy wasn’t used to me sleeping on my back with my paws up in the air. The first time he saw me sleeping like that, he panicked. He woke Mom up and said, “Look at Jenny! What’s wrong with her?” He thought I was dead. Mom started laughing and told him I was fine, I just like to sleep like that sometimes. Daddy was so relieved. He told me, “Jenny, you gave me quite a scare!” I didn’t mean to scare my Daddy, but that’s just the way I sleep at times. I never get scared when he sleeps on his back.

I have huge boxes of toys. Daddy has really big shoes. Sometimes, I put one of my toys in his shoe, and sometimes I drop one into his backpack. I want him to always know I’m thinking of him. There are times I put one of my toys on top of his toilet. I dropped my pick doggie on Daddy’s toilet…but this time it was different. The toilet seat was UP and my pink doggie fell right inside the toilet and I could not get her out. I was scared. What if Daddy gets mad? Oh well, I just won’t tell him about it. But he found out anyway.

When Daddy leaves for work, I don’t like it. As soon as the door shuts, I grab one of my toys. I run back and forth down the hallway with one of my toys in my mouth, all the while growling. I want my Daddy! Many times I can hear him laughing even after the door is shut. Then I sit by the door and howl. But he never comes back.

After Daddy goes to work, I make a ‘nest’ with piles of my toys. Sometimes I can drag one of Daddy’s tee shirts, or a sock. I put these things on top of my pile of toys. Then I can sleep on this pile. It has my Daddy’s scent. This makes me happy. Mom laughs at me, but she understands that I just miss my Daddy.

When he arrives home in the morning, I get so excited. I wag my tail so rapidly that my whole body goes from side to side. Daddy won’t pet me until I’m sitting down. So, I try and sit still, but when Daddy begins petting me, my tails goes back and forth on its own. Then Daddy laughs and picks me up. He always says, “How’d you do last night, my Little Girl Dog?” My Daddy loves me!


Related reading

Is animal abuse an indicator of domestic violence?

Animal abuse and domestic violence

The Abuser Hooked her in Bible College, deceived her, married her, abused her: Dying Star’s story Part 1


  1. Finding Answers

    There was a short time in my life just before / after I was “married” that my “parents” looked after my “brother’s” dog. (Omitting details for my protection.)

    At the time, I could see SO clearly the inconsistent treatment he (the dog) received from the various members of my abusive family of origin.

    At the time, I could NOT see the various members of my abusive family of origin treated me in an inconsistent fashion. (Omitting details for my protection.)

    Now, I feel anxious anytime I am treated inconsistently.

    In hindsight, perhaps my “brother’s” dog felt anxious.

    • What you’ve described, Finding Answers, is a good illustration of how victims of abuse often first identify the abuse when they see it being done to their child(ren) or their pets. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard victims say “I started to wake up and take steps to get out when he began abusing the children.”

      • Finding Answers

        Barb commented:

        ….is a good illustration of how victims of abuse often first identify the abuse when they see it being done to their child(ren) or their pets….

        ^That (now) makes sense to me.

        Some members of my family of origin blame-shifted to my “brother’s” dog when he (the dog) was not consistently obedient, even after they took the dog to obedience classes.

        My understanding of dog obedience classes is that both the dog AND the owner receive training in consistency.

        The inconsistency in how I was treated by ALL the abusers in my personal / professional life is “Why?” I believed I was both obedient AND disobedient.

      • Bingo!

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