Registered: 1586100596 Posts: 1
I have been reading old posts over the last 36 hours, and today have felt the urge to put our story out here.
We got Gimli as a puppy, from a shelter that had a litter of abandoned mutt puppies that needed homes. He was about 7 weeks old. My husband and I had been married less than a year, and we had known that we wanted a dog from the start. From the start he was incredibly smart. After basic obedience training, he picked up commands and tricks incredibly fast. He gave kisses, played dead, turning in circles, rolling over, jumping, etc. He was so fast, too - he could easily outstrip any other dog that he played with. He loved digging, and swimming, and running with my husband. When my husband deployed it was just the two of us for six months. He loved squeaky balls and could be incredibly playful. We realized early on that we were going to have to work on territorial issues, as he could be extremely possessive, and was very sensitive to physical direction. He hated being brushed or having his nails clipped/filed. I couldn't take him to the groomers. We travelled with him when we could, but when he was about 3, we boarded him when we went on vacation and he nipped the caretaker. Obviously I wasn't there so I didn't know that had happened. But it just got worse from there. He generally did well with other dogs and other people, until he didn't. It got to the point where I felt like we were on high alert all the time. We moved for my husband's job, which seemed to stress him. He would bark at everybody and everything out the window and extremely disliked workers in our backyard. We had a child 3.5 years ago, and we had to work to get him comfortable with her. But it was rewarding as we could see him getting better every day. Two years ago a neighbor boy pretended to attack him with a foam sword while my husband was taking he and our daughter on a run, and he bit the boy very mildly. We nearly put him down then, but ultimately chose not to with the encouragement of the boys parents. We made adjustments in our home, did not allow him around other children, and he was never really allowed around strangers again. Our second was born, and we moved across the country again. He was more anxious than ever. He avoided everyone most of the time - it seemed like the noise and activity of the children bothered him - but he seemed to love the baby. Towards the end he would let her pull herself up on him and he would lay in her lap so she could pat him. We brought him home to visit family at Christmas and it was a nightmare. He and my parent's dog fought, he went after my SIL's new boyfriend, and we ended up essentially keeping him crated most of the time. My husband and I agreed that we would leave him home from now on and hopefully establish a relationship with an understanding caretaker. And that if anything else happened, he had to be euthanized. Friday afternoon, unprovoked, he bit our neighbors daughter after she asked to pet him (all proper procedure followed). My husband brought him to be put down Saturday morning, and was there with him until the end. He would have been 7 in May. I wanted to run after the car as he left, and call my husband to tell.him to bring him home, but I knew I couldn't. It wasn't fair to anybody. We are in shambles. I can't go an hour without crying. I feel like I am living off coffee, and what little food I can choke down, much to the detriment of the baby's food supply. I feel so much guilt as to what we could have done differently as we raised him that would have changed the outcome. I feel so much guilt that some part of us is *relieved* that he is gone. That we no longer walk on eggshells. That we can go on vacation again and not have to worry about him. That we can have people over without locking him away. That I don't have to take so many precautions. That there are so many things we can do now that we couldn't before. I feel so raw. The ball of grief is so huge right now.
Registered: 1585517857 Posts: 7
Dear Smythotwiggy I am absolutely sure that your sweet Gimli had some kind of neurological illness. Maybe he also had a type of epilepsy ( called raged syndrome) like my Hector... Many vets can not recognise it and they actually do not even think about mental health of pets. My Hector had all symptoms that you described - he was hypersensitive to sounds and he would bark excessively at slightest noise. It was like a torture to brash him (he was shaking, moving, biting the brush in my hand). Taking a full bath was so traumatic to him that I gave up and he had a proper bath 1-2 times a year. Instead of that, I was cleaning his paws and tummy with wet clothes and drops of dog shampoo. I was in horror every time when somebody on street smiled at him and tried to pet him as he tried to bite people who wanted to pet him. In last months I was hysterical every time when a stranger would come close to us on the street to ask something as Hector would bark and become mad at instant. I was in stress during every walk as he was never relaxed and I couldnt relax either...
All that time I wasnt aware that he had a neurological illnesses. Nothing would have ended differently even if I knew... There is no cure for a dog with a mental illness. On the other hand, those dogs are physically healthy, strong dogs with sharp teeth and capable of making serious wounds to other creatures. You were lucky that the boy's parents didn't sue you, as many would. Also, your own children were at the same risk. And you and your husband too. It is too dangerous to have an unpredictable dog around and you should try to realise how much luck you had in everything that happened... I feel the guilt too and cry almost every day. I miss him so much that it hurts. I would give everything only to be able to hug him and kiss his soft nose. I have no children. He was my whole family. But I am aware that I had no ways to prevent a possible tragedy that would happen sooner or later with the illness he had... Your dog too had some kind of mental illness, as no healthy dog behaves like he did. A healthy dog do not attack children unprovoked and doesnt do many of things that you described. It was suffering for him to live like that, as I think that he had some kind of sound phobia. Just imagine how it is to experience phobia 10 times or more a day, every day, every year. Imagine how scary this world looked in his fearful eyes. He was afraid to live. He was a scared little soul and there was no help for that. There are many people too with heavy phobias and overwhelming sensitivity and anxiety. Medicine has cure for some of them, but many of them can't be treated and they suffer and hurt other people or themselves. It is all so sad every time when we deal with a mental illness issue... But you did your best to save him and other people till it went over your human limits. You should know that the illness would become worse and worse as he would get older. So it would be even harder to have control over his unpredictable reactions. You made a hard, but resposible decision. You saved your dog from his inside monsters. He is free now and he is running and playing in a better world. He left all his monsters behind. No one can scare him anymore. He found his peace... So, please, you do so too. Try to leave all those monsters behind. You have right to take a break of walking on eggshells and you have right to be live without fear of his monsters. Try to go on with your life with as little damage as possible. You gave him your love and care. You can't possibly give more than that. Forgive him for being ill as it wasn't his fault, forgive yourself as it wasn't your fault either, forgive God for giving that burden to you to carry it on your shoulders. Be strong, my heart is with you...