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Puppy Dog Blues

 
 
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 03:38 pm
Well, after a suitable time of mourning the wife and I decided to bring another dog into our home. Holly, the deceased, was the dog of a lifetime for me. It was hard to make a decision. We finally settled on a dog at the SPCA. Labled "Lab" but with a curious little x affixed, the dog named Marilyn seemed calm and loveable. We spent a bit of time getting acquainted and it was obvious the moment she left the cage she had lots of energy and loved to play. At four months, she would grow up and be part of the family the way Holly did. Well, we renamed the dog Punky and began to raise her. She chewed everything in sight, including my arms and feet, but with labs you got to expect high energy and lots of lost articles for the first four years or so, it seems to me. That we could handle. But it's the little "x" on her lable that undid our little fantasy. I had gone to work while my wife sat in the easy chair. Punky tried to climb up on her lap. My wife pushed her back. Punky growled and showed her teeth. Each time my wife moved the dog made as if to lunge. She was frightened. That was three days ago. Punky has generally been loving since that day. However, we are returning her to the SPCA Sunday. She obviously has an aggressive mix in her. She would make a wonderful pet for a single man with no small visitors; probably she would be a fine watchdog. But, a family dog I'm afraid she is not. I can't take the chance she would hurt my wife or one of my grandkids. We will be much more careful the next time.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 3,171 • Replies: 25
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 03:47 pm
Sorry to hear that, edgar. How long have you had Punky? What training programs did you participate in? How did she do in training? Did the instructors have any comments about her behaviour?

Just a note - the lab part of the dog can be as much trouble as the mysterious cross. Labs are one of the dog breeds that insurance companies watch out for when considering home owner policies. While the majority of labs, and the majority of dogs, are good citizens, there can always be unexpected problems.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 03:50 pm
It's sad, EB.
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Peace and Love
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 04:56 pm
Hi Edgar....

I'm so sorry it didn't work for Punky.....

I'm also involved in another discussion group, where we all own Border Collies..... we've just recently been having quite an extensive discussion about Aggression..... in a nutshell, it can show up in any breed.... and, quite often, is traced back to in-breeding....

I support your decision to return Punky.... my heart goes out to her, but aggression is very dangerous....

Don't give up, Edgar..... for each aggressive dog, there's at least 20 non-aggressive dogs.....

PaL
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 05:28 pm
I support your decision too, as hard as it may be. I participate in a parenting board that has been having lots of heated discussions on this topic, and one refrain is that "training" can only do so much. Too many people thought that they had successfully trained a dog that had showed some aggressive tendencies, only to have something serious happen... a child's eyelid was torn off, etc., etc.

Good luck.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 05:36 pm
I had been considering an obedience school before the incident, but I don't believe true aggression can be trained out of a dog. We have had her for about two months - She's close to six months old. I've lived with dogs for more than 55 years and she's the first one I've felt inclined to give up on.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 05:38 pm
I think your instincts are right on, especially if children will be visiting.

I know it has to be hard, though.
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 05:43 pm
She's six months old, hasn't been trained and growled and acted out when she was pushed off a lap.

Perhaps your home isn't appropriate for a puppy. You might want to consider adopting an older dog that has already completed at least basic obedience. With small children coming into the house, you and your wife should probably both attend full AKC CGC training with any other dog you bring into the home.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 05:49 pm
Here's one of the more informative posts from the discussion I mentioned:

Quote:
As a veterinary assistant, I've seen this exact scenario many times over the last 10 years. The dog is simply not compatible with your family situation. That's not anyone's fault- it's just a combo of that particular dog's personality/needs and your family structure. By allowing him to continue living with you, you're really doing all of you a disservice. He will be happier and healthier with a couple, very possibly an older couple who are home all day and have nothing else to do but pay attention to him, or at very least a younger person who is home a lot and can give him the attention he needs. I think it goes without saying that this dog should not be living with children, period. We euthanized a yellow lab who had "just nipped" a child a couple of times- with no warning, the dog turned around and tore the cheek off the same child a few months later. The little boy had startled him (not being intentionally mean, just trying to play and this child was 7 years old- he knew not to be mean to the dog. No one can expect a toddler to never hurt an animal unintentionally.) A dog who is agressive with kids (any form of biting is a classic sign of agression) is dangerous. Period. My boss will only euthanize dogs with behaviour problems if they have shown agression- otherwise he refuses and tells people to find the dog a new home or a vet who will euthanize for that reason.

The issues you're describing shouldn't be taken lightly by your dh-or anyone else. You're being the responsible one- not the bad guy. Doesn't make you evil, or the dog, or anyone else for that matter. The dog just needs a new situation, that's all.

I hope it's okay that I posted all this as a "newbie". I know the frustration and fear you're feeling and I think it's very important that you act on that. I, too, feel that when you get an animal, you are making a commitment to that animal for it's entire life (no matter the expense, aggravation, etc), but the safety of your family and everyone else has to come first. By the dog's actions, it's apparant that he's not as happy as he could be, either, and I bet you could find a home for him with people who would be thrilled to have him. You can also contact your local animal humane office for the number of the Bichon rescue, or you can probably find it online, too. Good luck!


(Emphasis mine.)

Obviously, it doesn't mean that all dogs who show any sort of aggression will eventually do that. But it was an eye-opener for me.
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 05:50 pm
Labs and Chessies are primitive dogs, they , like hounds do well with an alpha. Its a good trait for hunting and retrieving fishing nets but can often be a problem as family dogs. Your decision is correct. The human cannot live in fear of the dog.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 06:04 pm
Sad to say. The dog whose loss I mourned (Holly) was a mix of lab, shepherd, probably more - She was the most intelligent dog I have ever seen, and bore the sweetest disposition.
However, I do know where to draw the line with behavioral problems. Thanks, everybody. I think it helps to talk about it.
I have seven grandchildren and the youngest is less than a year. No way I will take the chance.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 06:32 pm
Dog owners will recognize the traits of my second dog right away. She is a seven year old Cocker Spaniel/Beagle mix. And, though she hates having children around her and is a grouch in general, I have been able to raise her from a puppy and teach her good manners. She has never tried to harm the toddlers we have had around here - Never has approached one. She is very gentle and loving to the people she knows well.
Baby never played very much when a puppy. She would run with me and want to crawl on me when I got on the floor, but she never fetched a stick, gnawed my fingers or played with a toy. All she does besides sleep is follow me in the yard. She will bark aggressively at neighborhood dogs that approach the fence, but runs in terror if they get close enough. Problem with Baby is, she's only a dog. Holly was much more.
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umjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 06:54 pm
Hi...Having a dog is so much more complicated than it used to be.

My last dog was Ching The Wonderdog, a mongrel of totally indeterminate ancestry. She would spend the night inside, perhaps at the foot of the bed or maybe in the living room near the wood stove.
She would spend the day outside, unleashed; free to do whatever she wanted. Her friend was Zep, a nice but really stupid dog who lived next door.

One time, after a minor snowstorm, we could "track" where Ching and Zep went. Across the field, into the woods, over the ridge and down to the reservoir. A mile there and a mile back.

Ching had all of the required shots, of course, but I don't remember
having a dog as being as expensive as it is now.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 06:57 pm
Yeah - I've spent more on dogs the last ten years than I have on myself.
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nextone
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 09:56 pm
Just adding a word in support of your decision. A friend adopted a dog from the Humane Society. The dog was a female, small, mixed breed about a year old. My friend was delighted with her. "Lady" adapted to her new home, proved reliably housebroken and tremendously affectionate. After about two weeks, a problem cropped up during walks. Lady walked on her leash ,would randomly go for people on the street. There was no pattern. Sometimes she'd jump at a man, or it could be a woman or child. The person might be carrying a package, or be empty-handed. My friend returned her to the shelter.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 10:22 pm
Dogs are like people - Some's civilized, some ain't.
The SPCA is still a good place to go. Number one, you are rescuing an animal that might otherwise not survive; number two, they make sure your dog has its shots and is spayed/neutered before it leaves there. In general, people make a good choice I think.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 10:48 pm
Edgar - that's a rough choice. I have a boxer (my avatar) who is agressive towards other dogs in a arandom manner. I just quit socializing her with dogs unless those other dogs were going to be part of the family. She is the best dog on earth in all other ways. She is wonderful with my cat and the kids in my life. She is a loyal and loving pack member. Bootsie's agression to other dogs is the same kind of thing as the aggression your adoptee showed towards your wife. It's primal and once she 'goes there', it's very hard to pull her back.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Jul, 2003 11:47 pm
That's what I figured. I still feel very fond of Punky. So does my wife. But, tomorrow, she's out of here.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 12:04 am
Its sad, edgar, but the right thing. If the grandkids weren't so young, it might be good to train Punky. But, as you obviously know--the risk with young ones around is too great. Punky's a puppy, and can't be trained in time. Still, we know the hurt to return a dog to the Adoption Center. Several years ago, a new addition snapped at my daughter. He'd been with us two weeks, and we already loved him. But, he went back that day. I'll be thinking about you tomorrow.

Deeply sorry for your feelings about Punky, and the loss of your beloved Holly.

Our Jack is a member of the family. He's been with us over ten years now. He steals our socks out of the laundry and we have to chase him down for them--his favorite pasttime. He knows what we're saying, waits for his ice cube whenever one of us opens the freezer and runs to hide when we say the word "leash". He's at my feet right now.
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msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2003 05:06 am
Oh, I'm so sorry that this has happened Edgar.
But I'm wondering: How come the RSPCA (sorry, that's the Oz version, can't remember yours properly) actually let your dog go to a home if they knew it had aggressive tendencies? Here in Oz it would most probably have been put down by them.
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