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Yoda8488

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Posts: 4
 #1 
About 2 years ago, I lost my beloved Boston terrier unexpectedly due to a tragic accident and was faced with the heart breaking decision to put him through surgery/cancer treatment or humanely let him go surrounded by love and support. One minute Dexter was running around in the backyard having the time of his life. The next thing we knew, he was laying lethargic on the floor barely responsive. After a ER visit and xrays, we learned Dexter had a massive tumor on his spleen that ruptured (most likely when he was hit in the side by a soccer ball playing with my son). The trauma of rushing Dexter to the ER, getting the terrible prognosis, and having to make that gut wrenching decision in a matter of minutes with my 7 year old son by myside was devastating beyond words. I decided at that moment with barely anytime to digest what had happened that I had to say goodbye and let him pass in peace. As we said our goodbyes, Dexter was kissed and comforted and his last words to hear were what a good boy he was. My son and I were devastated but took comfort knowing he was surrounded by love and comfort in his final moments.

We returned home later that day to our other dog. Madison. Maddie grew up with Dexter and from the start, I knew she was depressed and missed her bestfriend. She hardly moved around and I could feel her emptiness.

My husband 1st suggested adopting another dog shortly after Dexter passed. Although we all missed Dexxie, I just didn't feel it was the right time and I hadn't had enough time to heal and recover from his loss. After weeks of peer pressure from my husband. I reluctantly went to a rescue event to look at rescue dogs. My 8 year old son zeroed in on a rambunctious black mystery mutt that we were told was most likely a black lab mix. My other dog is also a large dog and we thought the puppy would grow to be a great match size wise and we thought a lab mix would be a great pool buddy for our son.

We knew very early on that there were some troubling signs with our puppy, Shadow. He was a resource guarder and insanely food aggressive. We knew very little of his background or what type of dog he was. For weeks we worked with him to train him not to have food aggression towards humans. With months of practice and patience, I felt he came a long way and I was no longer afraid he would attack me during feeding time. We were never able to end his food aggression when our other dog was near by. Daily food snarling fights and issues happened. Escalating one day in Shadow attacking Maddie as she walked past his empty food bowl leaving a bloody gash on her chin.

On another occasion, Shadow bit me when I tried to get a bone away from him for safety reasons. Looking back. I realize he gave warnings that he might bite and I wish I would've known how to distract him with a higher resource to get the bone away safely. Although he broke the skin, we kept Shadow after that 1st bite realizing I should have gotten the bone by other means. I had grew up with numerous dogs my entire life and was always able to take any item from any dog without an aggressive response.

For a few months, Shadow didn't show much aggression towards me. Feeding time was a constant training experience and even though feeding him around other animals was completely out of the question, I could safely feed him and take his bowl away without growling or aggression.

The next time he bit me was completely unprovoked and shocking and to this day, I still don't understand why he bit me. He was calm, relaxing, and appeared to be asking for a belly rub (which he did all the time). I bent down to give him a little scratch and he just snapped and bit me again (breaking the skin). At that point. I enrolled him in one on one training sessions with a reputable trainer who trains police dogs. Shadow became more confident, learned commands, and seemed to be improving. The trainer identified his behavior and aggression as fear based right off the bat.

We thought Shadow's behavioral and aggressive behaviors were beginning to improve. That's when his behaviors took a turn for the worse. He suddenly became extremely reactive on the leash, exceptionally fearful of anything new no matter how small it was (he would bark practically and hysterical if a bag was on the counter he wasn't expecting to see), he would run back and forth on the fence line with his hair straight up on his back barking fearfully at anything outside our property, still had issues with fighting with my other dog and developed over the top fear response to strangers. I needed to socialize him as per our trainer but bringing him in public terrorized him. Worse yet, he was scared to death of any one outside of family members coming onto our property. I had multiple close calls of him lunging and trying to attack family friends. We contacted our trainer who told us Shadow could not be rehomed due to his aggression and unstable behavior. My family live in constant fear that we don't know when he will snap at one of us and petrified that one day he will attack my son, one of his friends, or accidentally get out of our yard and seriously harm someone. The most recent episode of him lunging at a house guest happened two days ago and I am shaken to the core. Had Shadow not been wearing a muzzle, there is no telling how badly he could have hurt my friend. We are at the end of our rope and faced with the decision that he will need to be euthanized. His unpredictable and volatile behavior is not getting better. His anxiety has grown in intensity and I am in fear for my young son and innocent friends and neighbors who are at risk. As a lifelong animal and dog lover. I never thought I would ever be faced with this horrific choice but I know in my heart he is a loose cannon and could really hurt someone. He really only loves me and I don't feel safe leaving him with anyone else. I can't live with the idea of bringing a dog seemed unadoptable to a shelter to live his last days on earth scared to death and to be euthanized in the end anyway. We tried contacting dozens of rescues and sanctuaries which all led to dead ends once they found out Shadow was aggressive and had a bite history. The guilt I have at my decision to have my sweet, goofy, lovable, mentally unstable dog euthanized can only be described as soul crushing and I know I will never be able to get over this choice. On the other hand, I won't be able to live with myself if Shadow seriously harms someone. Worst situation to be in and I have lost sleep, cried rivers of tears agonizing over the circumstances, probably have lost years off my life worrying with the stress, and struggled in my marriage fighting with my husband who wanted to give up months ago and just drop him off at a shelter. Shadow's behavioral issues might just be genetically wired wrong. We never had his real history and he may even be inbreed. We even had Shadow DNA tested to get more answers to why he is the way he is. Turned out to be zero lab but mostly shepherd mix. He is strong, large, fast, and has huge teeth. I live in constant fear of what if he snaps and really harms someone. Please don't judge me harshly. My heart is broken and will never be the same after this ends.
Izzydog317

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Posts: 4
 #2 
My wife and I were in a similar situation with our dog. We had her for 9 years and spent a lot of money on training. We recently had an hold and while our dog only snarled a few times our daughter, she was constantly aggressive to all other dogs and strangers. It was a ln extremely difficult decision that we still think about and it’s been a a month. I’m on here now because I was thinking about her and I know that this site helped me a lot. It’s a really tough thing to do but we could t risk her hurting someone and she was so uncontrollttin her aggression. Again it’s a really tough decision but you’re not making it on a whim. Some dogs just aren’t wired correctly and we love them anyways but can’t reason with them like they’re humans. If your dog were to permanently scar a kid or make a child afraid of animals forever or worse - the same decision would be forced on you but then you’d have the guilt of the person that was affected as well. I hope you can find peace.
twinkiesmom

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Posts: 837
 #3 
I am so sorry. I know your feelings all too well. Many years ago Mama came to live with my daughter and I. We adopted a golden retriever puppy from a coworker of mine. Tessa was a wonderful puppy and as she grew up became a very loving well behaved dog. Mama became her favorite person, Tessa was her shadow. One Saturday my daughter and I went to visit friends and when we came home Tessa was in our fenced back yard and Mama was in her room. Tessa had attacked her with no provocation, thankfully only her hands were injured. We went to the ER and the doctor dressed her wounds and told us Tessa would have to be quarantined. I called our vet and he told me to bring her in and spoke to the doctor about the attack. The vet checked Tessa thoroughly, could find nothing wrong and asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I would have to rehome the dog. Mama was elderly and couldn't easily defend herself and my daughter was only seven years old. He said Tessa could not be rehomed with a history of biting and if I was afraid to keep her she would have to be euthanized and extensive testing would need to be done. I have loved dogs since before I could walk and the thought of euthanization was horrible but I had to put my family first. It still hurts all these years later thinking of our beautiful Tessa. I agree with Izzydog, some dogs are just not wired correctly, they can have emotional and mental issues just like we can. I am so sorry, I know this is a very difficult thing to do.
Yoda8488

Registered:
Posts: 4
 #4 
Thank you Izzydog317 for your kind words and support. I am so sorry for what you went through and agree with everything you said. What really hit me was "some dogs aren't wired right but we love them anyway". Even with all of Shadow's flaws, he has been loved and happy in his short time. No, I wouldn't be able to live with myself if Shadow harmed anyone even in the slightest bit. I know in my heart he is capable of hurting someone and I can't take the risk. Thank you for taking the time to reply. It is a very difficult situation and it helps to hear from someone who has walked in my shoes.
Yoda8488

Registered:
Posts: 4
 #5 
Twinkiesmom thank you so much for taking the time to write about your experience and offer kind words. I am so sorry to hear what happened to your Tessa and Mama. When a dog bites someone that they love for seemingly no reason or without warning, I think it makes the seriousness of safety that much more. If they can bite someone they love. Who knows what they might do to a stranger. I have reached out to countless rescues and sanctuaries and once they find out the biting history, there is no hope for rehoming. So sad to see a sweet, loving dog snap at any given moment. So scary living every day worrying about the "what ifs" and although I know I must put the safety of my family first, it doesn't make the choice. Thank you for lending an empathetic ear and sharing your personal experience.
Izzydog317

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Posts: 4
 #6 
Feel free to save my name in case you fall back in a rut in a month and want to talk
hayley95

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Posts: 20
 #7 
Hi, your story hits home with me as I recently lost my dog who was extremely fearful. He died to diabetes so I never had to be put in your position but I just wanted you to know you’re not alone in having a dog like this. My dog first bit someone when he was 6 months old, an old lady I was showing directions to bent past me to stroke him and he drew blood, he was tiny and I was so shocked. Ever since then he went from bad to worse, he never once attacked me or my mom but he did once bite my dad when he was cornered once and my dad tried to pick him up. I know the pain you’re going through because I loved him so much and all I ever wanted was for everyone else to see the loving side of him, not the fearful aggressive side. It’s such a shame for them because we get to see their amazing side but others do not. I had to muzzle mine every walk we went on, every walk was a task because if he saw someone he’d immediately bolt in the opposite direction. He wasn’t aggressive he would run from a fight, but if someone came too close to him he would use aggression to keep them away if he couldn’t get away. He was scared of cats, even his own shadow. When we had visitors to the house he’d have to stay in the garden away from them and I used to feel so guilty leaving him out there but it was for the safety of visitors. Vets were such a hard stressful time, he would shake and foam at the mouth, wee himself and cry. He was so so fearful every appointment made me stressed and so upset for him. I used to come home shaking from the stress myself. It really is so hard so I feel for you so much, luckily there were no kids or other pets in my house so we coped well with it, we never had to consider him hurting someone because we could muzzle him on walks and keep him in the garden if we did have guests so I know your situation is extremely different.

I’m telling you all this because, although it deeply pains me to say this, one day a few months before he died I was thinking in my head “I’ll never be able to go on holiday again, I’ll never be able to invite a new boyfriend round to the house Or friends because he’s so fearful of people those just aren’t an option anymore” - I thought this just as a passing thought one day, and after he died 10 weeks ago to a sudden illness.. this is by far my deepest ever regret that I ever thought such a thing. I wish so much now that I had never ever thought those things he stopped me from doing, even though he did I would much rather have him back and never do those things. I am so hurt that he’s gone. I value now that he trusted me so much, and only me. Although I always thought it was a negative at the time, I am so glad I managed to get that bond with him and no one else had it. I would take my fearful little baby that needed so much protection back in a second over a dog that gets love off everyone. I just thought you should know this as this decision will hurt you and you need to be so so so strong when you make it. My dog didn’t have to live with another dog or kids. And he also didn’t have any food aggression so I know that you are in a completely different situation and I know how frigggin hard it is to have a nervous aggressive dog. How much it hurts us, as well as how much it hurts them. It takes away their quality of life, one of the reasons (beyond him being in a very bad state health wise) I euthanised mine was because I didn’t want him spending a week with strangers where he would be in such a bad mental state, frightened. You need to decide if your dog is even having a good quality of life in the nervous state they’re in too, it takes a toll on them physically when they’re so anxious.

I just wanted to share my story with you because I know how hard it is, and you see no end in sight with the stress and hurt a nervous dog brings. But the hurt of losing them will be 100x worse. The only bad factor in this is that he’s a big dog so I can imagine it’s so scary for you, mine was little so I could easily pick him up and remove him from situations if it got too much. If he bit you, I don’t think there’s any coming back from that, the trust isn’t there and he will likely do it again when he’s stressed, that’s an issue with his brain and there’s nothing you can do to fix that it’s just whether you can keep everyone around him safe which judging by his size I assume is completely impossible. I hope you find all the strength when making this difficult decision. I’m so so sorry you have to go through this. I know how much it hurts. If you ever need to talk, I’m always a message away. My heart honestly breaks for you.

Sending all my love.
Yoda8488

Registered:
Posts: 4
 #8 
Hayley95, thank you for sharing the stories of your dog and the struggles you faced. It is so painful to watch the dogs we love suffer with fear and anxiety. I avoided so many situations and activities just to protect Shadow from unnecessary fearful situations. Since Shadow was a rescue dog, I guess I will never know his real back story or if possibly he was inbred or had a genetic brain defect. I imagine just has humans suffer from various mental states, so to can our canine companions. Poor Shadow has extreme aggression and separation anxiety when I am not with him. So keeping him separated when we have company is the worst for him. He is anxious and will attack visitors if we let him out, he is stressed the entire time knowing strangers are in HIS home, and he is upset he can't be with me (the only person he loves and can comfort his stress). Everything about our situation is just one heart break after another. I am sorry your little guy passed, but I am sure he knew how loved he was and how you kept him safe and comforted him when he needed it.
hayley95

Registered:
Posts: 20
 #9 
No matter what you do, you’ll do it out of love for Shadow and he’ll know that. I think you’re so brave. Everything you say is literally like my Dino, i think you’ve done amazing for Shadow. Training food aggression is not an easy task and I think Shadow would have lived an even shorter life if placed with any other family, he’s very lucky the amount of love and patience you have for him. It takes a very strong person to own a nervous dog - I think these type of dogs are placed on earth to teach us how to unconditionally love, how to protect and to provide comfort for both us and them. We are so lucky in a way that our dogs love us so much that they built a trust with us when they fear every thing else in life. I also think mine was inbred or taken away from his mother too soon, it’s such a shame but we can only do so much for them and a lot of people would ditch them at the first hurdle, so no matter your end decision with Shadow... it sounds like you have gone above and beyond for him, beyond what others would have so always be proud of that.

Thanks, I’m starting to slowly cope thanks to this forum and posts like yours that remind me so much of him. It’s hard but sometimes we have to make these horrible decisions because we can’t be selfish when their mental/physical health is impacting their life so much. We must always put our babies quality of life first and I’m sure you’ll make the right decision for Shadow.
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