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Posts: 14
(any advice/words would be so appreciated. I know I wrote a novel but I really don't have anyone who will stand to hear me talk about it and really care. Has anyone else been forced into the decision due to circumstance and inability to leave no stone unturned? I'm really struggling.. )

I'm feeling so much guilt and regret right now over my baby, Koba. I still to this day don't know his full history but what I do know was all of the love and laughs we shared. I was a new volunteer when I met him, though I had a dog of my own who passed in Aug, and have always been a dog person, not just a dog lover. Koba was such a goofball and a mush, a true joy to be around. I loved him with all my heart. He came into the shelter with a dislocated artificial hip & skinny. 

The day I met him I tried to talk myself out of it, but it was  no use, he chose me. I always feel this need to explain to a degree when speaking about him, but I wish I could just grieve openly without defending him. It's killing me. It really is killing me. 

I knew he was not the easiest of dogs considering his dog aggression and resource guarding, but to me, he was perfect. Other than those underlying issues, he was an angel. Better behaved than my last dog in so many ways, and she was loved her whole life. I didn't mind managing and training him to be the best dog he could be, he deserved some time to realize that he was safe and I was never leaving him.

Also..They really didn't do much for him behaviorally at the shelter and almost wrote him off thinking no one would want him with his leg and other issues. After pestering them to act they helped me work with him a bit before I took him home. He did great upon coming home and stopped guarding his food from me all together with some counterconditioning.

I only had him for 2 months of bliss when he guarded ME aggressively from my aunt on my bed. He had never done that before. He did give warnings but not the growling type that I was used to and had noted on the few occasions that he guarded a toy. My landlord who is my grandmother said to either get out or get rid of him... in 10 DAYS.

10 days was all I was given to make a decision that I am now regretting so deeply. No vet check (which he hated anyway), no behaviorist, no sympathy, no lenience. I'm lucky she let me even stay the 10 days with him. I was just so focused on making sure I spent all the time in the days making it the best ever for him. I tried finding apartments but all the ones that I could afford and move into during the time period didn't allow big dogs.

I feel like dying, knowing that I put him to sleep to make the SAFE choice, not the RIGHT choice. Sure, I kept my apartment, just to feel even more desperate to get out of there ASAP. I wish I had just taken him and lived in my car, anything, until I could figure it out and make a clear choice without the pressure. My family doesn't understand his value to me. I would have taken him over my whole family, which I was torn about during the 10 days, but now I am certain, it's the truth. Koba over everyone. He was the one thing that I knew would always brighten up my life and remind me of what's important. People tend to focus too much on the material. I looked at him and knew that life was beautiful.

 Part of my "decision" was the fear they instilled that he'd do it again, some was selfishness of how I would move on with him with other people while on tour for my music, as well as considering the fact that the shelter pulled his funding for his surgery after the bite. If I had known his guarding would resurface in this way, I would've focused more on that instead of his dog-aggression which I was spending time on my own and with the trainer trying to rehabilitate. I am so hurt that no one in my family who had the space and means offered to help, and turned me away completely.

 I knew that in my heart the bite was serious but that there were a lot of red flags that I ignored the night of the bite in regard to his guarding and other things on my aunt's part that caused it. To them, it was unprovoked, but me, knowing dogs and how they communicate, I know that her staring him dead in the eye was what turned a close brush into a trip to the emergency room for my aunt and his euthanasia. 

Last thing that turns the knife is that being a soon-to-be dog trainer.. I've been learning every day. I learned so much from him, and I can't help him with my new knowledge now. I'm new to the science behind behavior but all of the books I've read (especially the ones since his passing) ALL back up my initial feeling that his aggression was something that was fairly predictable and treatable and not just "out of the blue". If he was able to get over his food guarding, there was hope. They killed my hope. I would have felt better being able to exhaust all of my options, and been able to sleep at night knowing I did all that I could before playing God. I feel betrayed by my family, completely alone, and like I will never go a day without the sting of guilt that has been lingering ever since. What the **** do I do now? My peace of mind is long gone and so is he. :(

Missing my baby,

Posts: 730
"He was the one thing that I knew would always brighten up my life and remind me of what's important. People tend to focus too much on the material. I looked at him and knew that life was beautiful."

Vita, what you wrote, above, is where I'll start in trying to offer you some perspective on what has happened, and profound guilt you feel.

Life IS beautiful when we are free to be or become who we are meant to be.  Life IS beautiful when it's shared by people and pets and relationships that offer us positivity, energy and shared confidence.  Life IS beautiful when we know we are loved, and it gives us courage to love back - unashamed and without boundaries.

The truth is that your beloved Koba could never have experienced any of these things as a result of whatever illness or imbalance haunted him, and made his life restricted, in a prison of fear and anxiety.  For make no mistake, aggression is as serious a concern as the cancer that stole my little dog from me.  Aggression is a symptom, not a diagnosis.  Just like my little dog Fiona had the symptoms of wasting, and shortness of breath as her cancer wrapped itself around her heart, your wonderful Koba had the symptoms of aggression as the illness in his brain took over more and more of the control of his personality.  He would never have been free of this anymore than my dog could have been freed from her disease.  It was up to you, just like me, to make the hardest decision there ever is and choose to set Koba free, knowing it would give him peace and devastate you.  

If there is any guilt to be found in this love story then I cannot see it.  You gave Koba a life and and ending his illness would never have allowed him to have.  For what was his future if not one where he was increasingly restricted, kept under control, prevented from any meaningful contact with other dogs and people, maybe even ending up out of your life and in a shelter facing a lonely, terrifying end because of an incident he could not control?  Koba did not want to be a 'bad dog' or an aggressive dog.   Koba wanted what most dogs want - time and attention from his humans, playtime with his doggy friends, and the security and comfort of his person who he trusted to make the right decisions for him.  The idea that a life without these things would still be beautiful would be, in my opinion, a hopeless dream because you were forced to maintain a state of hyper-vigilance and safety around him in order to protect him and others from his unpredictability.  

Would you ever have felt safe to allow Koba to run on a beach, unfettered?  Play with the neighborhood kids? Go to a dog park and interact with other dogs to tire himself out? Meet new people and have new experiences as he shared his life with you?  The answer is probably not.  You would have always had to think ahead, plan for every contingency, and make sure you accommodated Koba's illness by restricting his movements, and yours, making sure as many potential triggers were managed (and you cannot ever know what those triggers might be), and simply making your life - and his - a great deal smaller than it could be - SHOULD be between you and your beloved boy.

Yet there is so much hope in what you did Vita - so much to learn, to share, and to use as the foundation for your future.  It's BECAUSE of this devastating experience you'll have a compassion and a perspective that not many other professionals could ever have. Koba has taught you what no other dog could ever teach you - and it's that doing the right thing for someone else sometimes means doing something that feels wrong to you.  This is the essence, the core, of a selfless love that Koba experienced in his life with you.  You did the right thing, the only thing, that made sense for Koba.  He trusted you, and you did not let him down.  You afforded him the dignity of an ending that ensured he would find the peace he could have truly never found in life.  You created the freedom that marks a truly beautiful life.  And for that, I think Koba knows just how deeply you loved him.      

You've written a beautiful love story, and you've created a legacy of hope for other Koba's you'll meet in the future.  You've realized you have the courage to act when it's hardest to do so, and you'll be a better human because of what this wonderful dog has taught you.  My heart breaks for you, I know how desperately hard this is.  But I also know that Koba has given you such a gift, and you owe it to Koba to move forward, with Koba held tightly in your heart, into a world that values your experience and your knowledge.  


Posts: 92
I'm so sorry for the loss of your beloved Koba. Thinking of you ((hugs))
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