Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sad and can't get out of my own way

I've not been up to posting...last week the owners of a dog that I rehomed to them called to say that they'd have to give Max back...he's become aggressive and he has bitten the man of the house. A real bite. Pain. Blood. In the back of the thigh.

It seems that Max, over the course of a few months became the strong dominant dog who thought he owned the woman of the house. He apparently was doing great and then he started showing signs of aggression and ownership. We believe the behavior was fear based.  He was cautious when I had him, but I didn't see any signs of aggression, otherwise I would not have placed him, especially with this family. They are wonderful, sweet, nice, easy going, low key people. They loved Max. They treated him well, they took him to training. Maybe Max needed a more alpha family to keep him in check?

So, he came back to us. I told the owners that we would have to euthanize him due to the fact of biting, that he would not be able to be rehomed...liablity...happy dogs out there that can't find homes...etc. Or, they could keep Max, or euthanize him. The trainer they were working with saw him as a danger to the family. He lunged after the 12 yo girl's friends. This is not a dog for family.

Painting the picture makes you think of a mean dog that is out to get everyone. He was not. He was just scared. My partner, Shelly, had taken him until I could get him. She said that he was so fearful, hid in the back of the crate, growled at her husband, wasn't interested in treats, but did eat all his food.

I got Max from Shelly yesterday morning, prior to going to the vet's....he sat in her car with distrust in his eyes and he was shaking. I felt so bad for him, this is not the dog that I had in my home. His little eyes looking up at me with such killed me. I had already been crying for two days for him and this just about did me in.

I brought him to my car and finally got him to hop in. Of course, I didn't know how extensive his fear was so I was very careful to not try and handle him...lest I lose a finger. I've been bitten by a dog in my care before, Herbie -- now that dog's story is sad, I had him for 6 months, he was so traumatized and had feelings of abandonment, he couldn't come out of it. He had very little interest in me, and life, itself....he finally withered away physically, I had to euthanize him, and he is now buried in my backyard. I cried more for his ending than I have for my own dogs when I've had to let them go.....because I knew my dogs had good lives, were loved, were cared for, weren't tossed out. Herbie's story hurt my heart. ....Herbie's bite was my fault, he got me just below my thumb up into my hand....hooochie! But I digress...

Max relaxed after a few minutes in the car and seemed less nervous when we got to the vet's. We went inside and he sat right beside my feet, just looking around, his energy felt kind of blank. I started to pet his head to see if that would be allowed, and he was fine. After a bit, I took the chance of picking him up, and there was no problem there. I held him and petted him...and, of course, thought...I can fix this. I can work with him, I can make him better. But in my head, I knew from experience, that fearful dogs take a very long time to recondition, and it doesn't always work. That even though he was being good right then, if something triggered the fear, he would be off and running.

I tried to keep my teariness to a minimum and was mostly successful...basically, if I could shut my brain off, I'd be OK. What gets you on top of what you are there to do? This couple was in the waiting room and the husband says to me, "yeah, they're all scared when they come in." I looked at him and ended up just shaking my head because I couldn't speak. I had to look away to try to have some control over my emotions. I glance back over just to make a gesture with a smile and the woman's face was getting red and tears were in her eyes. She knew what I was there for, and that will totally get you when you see someone else having emotions for your situation.

I just continued to show Max as much love as possible before we were called in. The appointment was for 9:30 but we weren't seen until 10:00 or so....normally this annoys me for typical vet visits, but I was glad to be able to spend a little extra time with was probably more for me if you want to know the truth. Less abrupt, ease into it.

In my past experiences with this, when the dog was injected, their eyes jumped, showing a quick shock to their system, them calming and then death. I so didn't want to see that fear in his eyes. The technique must be different because it involved one needle and it was such a gentle relaxation of the body. I felt it was so peaceful for him. His pain and anxiety gone. His mental anguish just slipped away.

I just feel so damn sad for what he was going through and that it had to come to this.

I buried him yesterday, not too far from Herbie. I will think of them both now when I go out to the back of my yard to do something.

Today? I just want to stay in bed and cry for him. My head knows that it will do me absolutely no good. I have so much work to do. But my heart (and maybe that melodrama part of me?) just wants to hide.

After I went back out to my car yesterday, the Animal Control Officer just happened to be blocking my car, before he moved his truck, he opened the hatch for me to put Max in my car....he had talked with the girls inside so he was not surprised to hear that it was my foster dog after his comment of "it's so hard to have to do this" Which I replied, "yeah, especially if it's not your dog" We got chatting and he told me there should be more people like me. To have the ability to make this decision for the better of the animal, people's safety and for the adoptable dogs. I tried to accept the compliment, but I was just too sad.

So what's a girl to do when her heart is breaking and she has a dead dog in the back of her car? Stop at her 2nd favorite thrift shop that she only gets to go to when coming home from this vet's office... and so I did....and bought a few things, of course.

Now it's time to pull up my bootstraps, hop in the shower, wash my tear stained face and be thankful for this day, my heatlh, my life, my spoiled dogs -----  and ------  4 days to go before Lucy gets her new eyes!!!

This dog stuff just makes me toooooo emotional. CRAP MAN! I'll be crying when I realize she can see me!

She made me tear up the other day when I went to pet her...she was on her side, and she lifted her leg very lightly so that I could pet her belly. That was a HUGE step, a sign of trust. I had to call Angela (the rescue's secretary, my friend and the person that will be taking care of Lucy during my long vacation time in August.) and tell her the news. I think Angela will actually be the first person Lucy sees, I believe it takes a couple weeks for full vision to come and I'll be out of town by then. I'll know more after her surgery. Keep fingers crossed that everything goes according to plan.


  1. Crap! I just KNEW I shouldn't read this post at work! Thank God almost everyone is busy up front and hopefully won't come back here to find me with tears running down my face.
    I'm NOT a hugger, but I'm sending you a mental HUG and I'm so happy you were in Max's life, to be there with him in his final hours, to comfort him. You know that he is at peace now, no longer suffering terrifying anxious moments, but I realize this doesn't help your heartache. This is the part that sucks. But the animal control officer is right. Thank God for you.
    And I totally understand the need for the distraction of hunting for more treasure. I say whatever helps to get your focus off of the grief. Take care my friend and I'm so excited to hear more updates on Lucy!
    XOXO - Cindi

  2. Thanks Cindi...if anyone understood this, I knew you would.

    ps: practice hugging, you get used to it after awhile!! and may even like it...but, oh, yes, that would mean putting a bit of your guard down... wink wink.

  3. Denise, My heart just broke for both you and Max :( I think he was with who he needed to be with at the end. We'll keep our fingers crossed for Lucy. Know that our hearts are with you when things like this happen. It meant the world to know you cared when AJ passed. Take Care, Kimberj

  4. Thanks Kim, it's the toughest part about this "job." Fortunately, it doesn't happen often.

  5. OMG, Denise. I wish I had been there with you, although I feel I was, just reading your story. Sitting here in floods of tears. What an absolute shame. Poor Max, it's so unfair, humans caused him to be this way (most likely), but I am so glad he was with you, being loved before he was allowed to rest.

    Thank you for being there Denise. You are brave and a wonderful soul.

  6. Thank you Abi, yes, I believe humans had a hand in this, the most recent owners LOVED him, trained him, worked with him, but it wasn't enough to erase the first 5 years of whatever his life was.

    Max was found straying with 2 unspayed females. My theory is that they were used for breeding and when their job was done, they were kicked out...just my hunch. Before I got him, he had been in the pound with his cohorts, they got adopted out but he stayed a couple more months, no one wanted him because he was a territorial marker. Hello??? anyone think of training him? No, people don't want to do the work, they just want to automatically have a perfect dog.

    I almost didn't write this post, but I needed to get it out of me...

    I appreciate all the support.

  7. I am new to your blog, actually got sidetracked looking at retro renovation ideas....but I love how thoughtful and caring you are, these dogs are glad to have had a caring hand, even if it was the last person they got to learn to trust. Thanks for all the loving dogowners out there. and Hugs :)


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