Registered: 1375411845 Posts: 3
A week ago I made the decision to put down my seven year old lab Mia, and I am really struggling with guilt and grief. I got Mia as a six week old puppy--she was part of an unwanted litter from a lab breeder. Her mom was a pure bred lab and dad was unknown. As a tiny puppy she was extremely submissive and shy, and would even submissively urinate when meeting new people or excited. At a few months old her aggressive behaviors started. She would growl and launch herself at people on the street and at my windows and doors when she hear someone approaching my home. Even the sound of a car door shutting outside would make her do a deep growl and lunge at the window.
I devoted myself completely to caring for Mia--she was my first dog and I wanted to do it right. I did tons of research on dog training and went to training classes. I tried to be the best dog owner I could--I worked hard to teach her basic commands, establish boundaries and routines, and gave her loads of exercise. None of this ever changed her aggressive lunging at people. I tried to manage it for years, always focusing on the sweet girl she was 90 percent of he time. I learned to get used to being constantly on edge around Mia, always anticipating her triggers so I could try to redirect her attention or correct her before her reaction was too intense.
I never thought Mia would actually bite someone, until she did. She lunged and bit a man visiting our home about three years ago--he said he was fine and not to worry about it, but she did break skin slightly. I was not at home when this happened and kind of blamed my husband for not managing Mia properly. She also continuously acted aggressively toward all of my neighbors at our fence, even though she would be sweet to them after an initial greeting if they came into our house. After four years and hundreds of positive interactions she never got familiar with our neighbors and trying to manage her barking and lunging at them through the fence was a constant stress. My husband and I used to joke that Mia didn't bark, she screamed. She would hear a noise or a person on the other side of the fence and instantly throw herself in that direction, barking aggressively, before she even knew what or who it was. I was afraid to leave my front windows open when I was out of the room for fear that she might break through the screen when the mailman came.
A year ago she almost attacked a delivery man who mistakenly tried to enter my backyard without me knowing. He was able to back out just in time. After that we consulted a new trainer/behaviorist and started using a dogtra electronic collar. We used it on a low setting to help redirect her attention when one of her triggers appeared. We had some success with it, but that required constant vigilance to use the remote before the aggression began. That was nearly impossible to do all the time. The collar also made her more nervous--she began to hold in her poop in the yard and then poop in the middle of the street on walks--something she had never done. We abandoned the collar and started anti anxiety meds prescribed by our vet. These made no change in her behavior, even after increasing the dose once.
Still, through all this, I was committed to Mia and loved her unconditionally. My eyes were finally opened two weeks ago when I watched Mia try to attack my neighbors over the top of our fence. They are wonderful people and had just stopped to say hello to me at the fence. In a split second Mia went from calm to launching herself at them, banging into the fence front paws up. They had to jump back from the fence and were so shaken they basically ran inside. In that moment I realized I had a dangerous dog I could not control. I had actually been looking into rehoming Mia for about a year at my husband's insistence--he was fed up with her behavior. I did not exhaust all possibilities but had no success when contacting local rescue groups.
I made the decision that putting Mia down was the best option for us, the people around us, and her as well. We gave her one last run at her favorite park, and we held her head as the vet administered the IV. It was a peaceful, loving end, but I am wracked by grief and guilt that I should have done more for her or tried harder to find another home. I also can't stop thinking that I somehow created her aggression by mistakenly doing something wrong in the beginning.
Does anyone have a similar experience? How did you come to terms with your decision?
Registered: 1157161163 Posts: 1,821
Sadly there are times we simply cannot help our precious furbabies defeat the demons, all we can do is set them free so they can find peace (the demons cannot enter paradise) - just as there are times no matter how hard we try we cannot cure physical illness - we have seen your story before. Know you have done all that could be done and more than many would have. She has been given a precious gift - freedom from the demons that tortured her. The truth is Mia was sick - no, not a physical ailment that could be seen this time - but still sick. And as with some physical ailments, some mental ailments cannot be successfully treated. You set her free. Even when we free our beloved companions from catastrophic physical ailments like end stage cancer we often go through feeling that same way, it is normal. Guilt is very often the 1st steps on grief’s path, the what ifs and if onlys are simply our grief tormenting us. When we loose these precious souls why really doesn't matter - love is a shared bond and when that bond seems severed it hurts. But your baby will be with you always - free of the aggression she could not control - simply in a form you cannot see. You gave her a safe place and you love her - and it sounds like you have really really tried. Many would have given up on her after 1 incident, you and your family gave her a lifetime of love and care in her time with you then allowed a dignified good-bye allowing her to leave with dignity surrounded by love.. Please know you did try and in the end had no real choice - what were her options? Life in a cage? Intervention 'on the spot' by the authorities when things got too out of control? Someone scarred and her death happening at the hands of someone trying to stop her? An end that likely would not have been with ones who love her or care if she is frightened? You gave her a wonderful life where elsewhere she may have only known abuse, and gave her every chance you could and you tried to give her a home where she would be safe. When she passed to the hands of the angels it was be from love to love, they carried her to a place where she is free of the demons that made her aggressive and at that instant she understood that you acted out of love and compassion. She is free and happy. Please know all you are feeling right now is normal and no matter what the circumstances is what we have all felt. i am so very sorry for your loss. Know we are here for you and your family. Sadly, we have seen this tale before and we do understand and we know sometimes there is no choice. When you can please share a photo. I feel certain there are so many wonderful memories with her, and sharing those sometimes helps. And if you just need someone to sit by your side - well you now belong to a family that circles the globe.
It seemed the day was even grayer than even the greyest of days. The pup found she was suddenly at the edge of the most beautiful place she had ever seen. She could still feel Mom and Dad's tears, hear their sobs. "I'm so sorry Mom and Dad, I really did try but the demons are too strong and sometimes they pushed through." She lowered her head and began to walk away, to be sure she did not deserve to be someplace so lovely. A radiant being in white suddenly stood in her path, surrounded by many other pups of all sizes and breeds. "Please," she implored, "I don't want to, but if you stay near me sooner or later the demons will win and I may hurt one of you. I don't want to hurt anyone, its best if I just go." The radiant being just smiled at her - a soft compassionate smile, at that moment they reminded her of her Mom and Dad. "I let them down so many times, I didn't want the demons to win but sometimes they do. And I left them no choice, I let them down and hurt them yet again." Hero, Seabreeze, Heather, Charlie, Molly, John, Stashie, Hershey, Samson, Morgan, Niko, Jordan, Timber, Dixie, Buddy, Tina, Snickers, Dizzy, Harley, Jack, Kimmi, Sammy, Fender, Tosca, Bruno, tried to gather around the newcommer but she backed away. Seabreeze stepped forward, "We won't hurt you little one." She looked to the radiant being and whimpered, "Please make them leave. I don't want to hurt anyone else." Now the radiant being smiled and actually seemed amused. "Little One, reach within. Can you feel that? Can you feel the demons are gone?" The little one got quiet and after a moment looked up in amazement, "They ARE gone!!" Then she looked at the others around her, "But I've done so many bad things, I don't deserve nice friends. I don't deserve to be in such a wonderful place." Now the others all looked amused. Dizzy spoke up first, "We all felt that way at first." Slowly Dizzy's words filtered in. "You mean . . . ., I am not the only one?" she asked quietly. Tina pushed to the front, "Of course not, all our humans had to make that same choice as yours. But now you're free - the demons are gone." The Little one thought on Tina's words. "What about Mom and Dad? Can I let them know I am free, that I'm sorry?" At that moment all the others grew quiet, the Little One looked to the radient being and realized they were gone. She looked to the rest afraid their silence meant no. Just then a large silver wolf walked up to her, she knew she should fear a wolf, yet, somehow knew she could trust The Silver One. "Have you all finished monopolizing her time yet? If you are done she still needs to be shown the reflection pond, to be shown . . " Just then the Little One heard a familiar sound, her Mom and Dad. "They are here?" she asked, and she followed the sound. She found herself by the clearest crystal pond, and when she looked into the pond she saw her Mom and Dad." Concentrate on them, Little One. Send your love and thanks to them - from your heart to theirs - and they will feel your love." the Silver One said gently. As she watched her Mom and Dad seemed to calm even thought they were still crying, and her Mom looked up at her Dad, "She is at peace now wrapped in our love." The Little One looked at the Silver One and the others, "Thank You." The Silver One looked at the others and back at her, "You can see them anytime you wish from here. The others will show you how to send them your love, Little One." (c) Candace 11/13/09 All too often people do not want to discuss this type loss, so those who experience making the decision due to aggression issues feel they are alone. All the names of the other ones are real – Fur angels we have seen at PetLoss because their parents had to make that sad decision due to aggression issues. i am sure there are other names also - newer names and names I have accidentally left out. We understand - know that you had no choice and we understand that you are in pain. But your fur child will be with the other fur angels - free of the demons he fought against so hard.
Registered: 1341936635 Posts: 561
Please read my postings. I am at my one year anniversary of putting my darling Archie to sleep. It is a terrible decision to have to make. I signed on this website before I put Archie to sleep and documented my journey.
I also have a recent posting that could help you - "Thoughts on Aggressive Dogs" where I posted some of the results of my research. Please read that - and then come back and let me know your thoughts. I will try to help you all I can. I really do understand and would like to help. Awaiting your response, Donna
Registered: 1375274167 Posts: 30
Oh Sweetie, I wish I could say something to make you feel better but don't forget that you gave your little furrygirl lots and lots of love so don't beat yourself up. She's in a happy place now. Words fail me at this time but my thoughts are with you.
Registered: 1371155515 Posts: 4
I'm so so sorry you had to make that heartwrenching decision to put Mia to sleep. About 2 months ago I had to put my 5 year old Pit Bull mix Chloe to sleep for aggression. She actually attacked and killed my sweet 13 year old Jack Russell, Simon. I put Chloe to sleep 2 days later. That was only the last straw... she had done similar things that your Mia had done, lunging at people, barking so aggressively that it was scary, even snapping at me and growling at me for no reason. I had taken Chloe to several trainers and also to a Behavior Clinic. To this day, even though she actually killed my precious little Jack Russell who I loved more than anything, I still feel horrible guilt and grief that I didn't try to do more for her after the fact. Should I have given her another chance? I have come to the conclusion that there was no other option, for my safety, for others safety, and for her own sanity. I should have actually put her to rest sooner, then my little boy would be alive today. You absolutely did the right thing... the next thing Mia may have done would be bite a child or injure someone that would have retaliated physically and/or legally. She sadly had demons that she just couldn't get away from... You gave Mia a wonderful, loving home for seven years, and she left this world knowing how much she was loved.
This forum is wonderful for support and reading similar stories so you know you are not alone and you did everything you could. I'm sending prayers your way... try to be kind to yourself, you were a wonderful mother to Mia!
Registered: 1374730660 Posts: 25
Mia, You made the responsible decision. It might have been the most difficult but many times the hardest thing to do is really what is best. What if she lunged at and hurt a child? You would never forgive yourself. We had to make the same heartbreaking decision too with our dog. I'm so sorry. Just know that you have kept an even more tragic incident from happening. And you saved her from hurting anyone and ultimately saved her because if she seriously injured anyone then the law could have and most likely would have to step in and take her away and that would be terrifying for her. She went to Rainbow Bridge surrounded by your love. Trinelle, I have just experienced the same horrible tragedy that you have. Our adopted pit bull bit and killed my little pomerarian/papillon baby dog. It is horrible to lose both furbabies that you love and the guilt for both is terrible. Good luck to you both, we have all had to make the difficult decision but I know it was one done of love.
Registered: 1374025160 Posts: 4
I am so very sorry for your loss.
We had to do the same thing to our beloved dog, Jasper, two weeks ago.
We had him since he was a baby. We trained him. Loved him. Did everything we could for him. Took him to behaviorists
He just wasn't wired right in his head. He was aggressive in situations where he should not be, and disconnected in others.
We could watch him shake and glaze over. Not quite recognizing us. When he turned 2- he started to growl and lunge at family members.
We tried everything we could for four months after the behavior intensified. It got to a point where several family members could not even be in the same room with him.
So we had to put him to sleep. It broke all of our hearts. He was a gorgeous little thing, who could be so sweet at times. But as our vet said- we could not trust him. And pets need to be trusted as much as we need to trust them.
Registered: 1375411845 Posts: 3
Thank you everyone for your support and for sharing your own stories. It helps to connect with people who have gone through similar things. I have had a lot of ups and downs in the past two weeks. There is a sense of peace in our house and definite benefits to not having an aggressive dog to manage. But I miss Mia so much. I miss her soft ears and gentle affection, the way her paws smelled like Fritos. She never posed a threat to me or my immediate family members, which made my decision that much harder. If we lived in a bubble and had no contact with other people everything would have been fine...
Registered: 1372645336 Posts: 22
I am very sorry for your loss. But you have no need to feel guilty. You did everything you could, and then some. Many people would have put her down long ago. But you valiantly gave her every chance possible. She obviously was very ill, and is now in a better place. So please know that.
Registered: 1375645720 Posts: 4
I think I'm going to have to put down Marshmallow for aggressive behavior. He's a seven year old pit bull/American bulldog mix, and I've had him for 6 years. He's always been very aggressive/dangerous toward all other dogs EXCEPT my other dog, a 13 year old pit/lab mix. I don't know why he's never attacked her-- thought it might have something to do with how they met. He was still sedated from being neutered, and they got along fine.
I didn't know he was aggressive when I adopted him. I couldn't really tell in the shelter--he didn't try to attack other dogs, but he was sick with an ear infection and kennel cough and probably not showing his true self. After he got healthy, I made plans to meet up with a friend and his dog. Marshmallow immediately bit her (the dog) and would NOT let go. He has done that with other dogs too, none of then died but one did go to the vet with bites on the throat (he survived but required staples).
He is only walked on a leash, with a muzzle. He's had two trainers, vet consults, two doses of clomipramine, no real improvement. I'm even sort of an animal trainer myself--labs of rats have been trained under my supervision, and I've taught the class Behavior Modification. Nothing has helped (or maybe he would have literally killed someone without all that, who knows?)
He's almost always good with people UNLESS they bark or growl like a dog ( which some little boys do). Although, sometimes when he's in a panic/rage because another dog is close by, he will try to bite my other dog or even me--he seems nuts at the time and just lashing out. Since he's muzzled whenever he might see another dog, no harm has come from these incidents.
But yesterday I came home and my 13 year old dog was bleeding. She has puncture wounds around her mouth, throat, and one over her eye. She's on antibiotics now.
He's very sweet to me, sleeps with me, etc. But attacking my older dog may have been the last straw...
Registered: 1199206681 Posts: 15
Hi Marshmallow's mom;
I had to put my beloved baby down for extreme aggression, after much investigation with vets, behaviourists and training, because he was biting us as well as others, and always regret not having his thyroid tested thoroughly, even though the vet said she did not think he had a thyroid problem. One of the things that is a clue is that dogs with thyroid can be very aggressive and also get ear infections. The test costs only 50 dollars or so, so you might want to try it, and for some dogs the medicine which is cheap does help the aggression. Hope this helps.
Registered: 1199206681 Posts: 15
MiaMaria; You are telling my story exactly. it is amazing. If you search "I had to put my Panda down" you will find the story of my Lab/Border mix that is almost identical to yours, except the Panda bit mostly me, and actually bit and shook, trying to tear my hand off. I totally understand the "screams" because that's how i described my baby, he would scream, scream, at anyone and anything. I started making mistakes and let him in when there was a dog friendly repair guy, and I thought Panda was going to attack. At that ppoint we had had his canines trimmed so he couldn't actually kill anyone, but I could tell the guy was really scared and so was I. It was a mistake because I was starting to have caretaker fatigue. He could still really hurt someone , and actually could kill a kid I think. I could go on and on. I miss my Love every day, and cry every day, but there are no mental hospitals where you can put our babies in like you can with a human, when our babies are dangerous. Panda would go nuts over the neighbors too, and bit the man when he put his hand on the fence. You did the right thing, because they will bite again, and someone will get seriously hurt. You simply can't control the situation 100% of time, an accident is inevitable. I am with you, you really had no choice, and it was NOT something you did or did not do. My husband said when he grew up they got many grown dogs from the shelter and they never got bit once. So it is not normal.
Registered: 1354065624 Posts: 1,270
Sorry for your loss of Mia, sounds like you did everything that could have been done, its a hard desicion to do no matter the circumstsnce.(( Hugs)) maxsMandD
Registered: 1375645720 Posts: 4
Thanks for the suggestion. I took him to the vet for a euthanasia appt yesterday-but couldn't go through with it. He has been tested before, and nothing showed up, but it may be worth doing again. Instead of putting him down I have two new drugs (Prozac and Valium) and one new trainer (his third). I want to try exposure/desensitization, at first while he's on Valium, (and another thyroid test), before putting him down...I think. I'm sure I'd be miserable and full of regrets if I had done it, but I have some regrets now too. Although I manage him pretty well (muzzle etc) there could be a fire, break-in, etc while I'm gone. A little kid wouldn't be his TARGET, but could be killed trying to protect his own dog....
Registered: 1469766675 Posts: 1
I had my dog Rexie put down about 5 weeks ago. I am racked with guilt but could not see any other solution. We got him 6 years ago from my in laws who kept him confined in a cage for the first 7 months of his life. Like a lot of people, they did not understand the responsibility of taking care of him or his great need to feel safe and loved. They finally gave him to us. We had a lot of growing pains. He bit both my husband and I a few times. But with training and daily walks and play time, we got him to calm down. Also getting him fixed helped. But he still bit someone every 6 months. Usually my husband. It was always just one bite and then he stopped. We really did not know how to stop this behavior and the incidents were so far apart that we had hoped they would stop. I feel like I should have done more research. The last time was not one bite. My husband fell and the dog bit him repeatedly. Shoulder. Hands. Feet. Arms. When I was finally able to get between my dog and husband, Rex continued his attack. I had to push him away from my husband like 8 times. He tried to bite me. He didn't snap out of it until I accidentally hit him in the nose. Then I told him to sit and he did. At that point we knew that we could no longer keep him. It was either solitary confinement until I had time to walk him, play ect. Or have him put down. We r softies, so I didn't think keeping the dog locked behind a baby gate all day would work. We would eventually just return to life as normal and then he would for sure escalate again. I also tried to find him a home. No one wants a biter. I couldn't give him to the pound in the hopes that someone would adopt him. He is a biter and that would b 3 days of stress before they kill him. I felt that the best thing for him was to have him put down myself. His last day I gave him his favorite treats and we walked w my friend and her dogs. I tried to act as normal and consistent as possible. He went very quickly w me and my dad right there in the room with him. But I miss him terribly. I sob uncontrollably every day. I miss my buddy. We did everything and went everywhere together. He was the coolest.And now I am having second thoughts even though I do feel like I did right by him. On top of that my neighbors r criticizing me saying that I could have found him a home. They saw the cute happy dog that he was. They never saw the wild animal that showed up sometimes, and this last time. Well. My husband was no longer safe. I really do not appreciate these comments when I am already feeling so sad, depressed, confused and guilty.
Registered: 1157146605 Posts: 1,038
I am so very sorry for your loss of your beloved Rexie. It truly doesn't sound like you had any good choices. My heart aches for you having had to make this decision. Sometimes our babies are sick in ways we can't see like Rexie was. They might seem healthy physically but something is wrong inside them. I have read a lot of posts here from other people who had to make the same heartbreaking decision and I ache each time I read both the love and pain they feel. I am so sorry you have had to deal with a thoughtless neighbor. You are right. No-one needs comments like that. They did not know the Rexie who sometimes showed up and no-one could be safe with that Rexie. It doesn't mean you didn't love Rexie with all your heart. I know your heart is breaking but you made a decision which released Rexie from the suffering she was feeling inside her self which caused her to be aggressive. No matter what you believe Rexie is at peace now and she loves you for that. Come back when you can and share more about Rexie and her picture when you can. It helps so much to be able to talk about them here and everyone here knows both the great love and terrible grief you are feeling. Keeping you in my thoughts in these difficult days. With my deepest sympathy, Colleen
Registered: 1471099749 Posts: 1
In an hour I will be grieving, our 3 yr pyrenees australian sheppard mix will be put to sleep, the huge dog is a giant teddy bear when he's in the house, outside he's a terror. I have no doubt if he got out of our yard he would do damage to someone, my grandkids and children can not even visit. I've rearranged my schedule as much as possible, but he's sitting here head on my lap and looking at me, I know this is the right thing to do bit I'll never forgive myself. I've lost pets before but due to age or ollness, I've never looked at one and said I'm going to kill you, my son is beside himself as it started out as his pup, life happened he moved out started a family and I inherited the dog, notice I won't say his name, we've tried everything, the rescues the shelters, all say the same thing, he's to aggressive to adopt out, my vet agrees, I'm going to sedate and muzzle him as he looks at me with trust in his eyes, I will bring him home and bury him under his tree
Registered: 1470989064 Posts: 6
In my humble opinion, you are absolutely doing the right thing. Its awful and painful but you will ease his passing with love and tears. Please take care.
Registered: 1532626301 Posts: 1
My husband and I put our dog, Jake, down on Monday, and even though I know it was the best thing to do, I feel guilty we couldn't fix him. He was a rescue, shepherd mix, and when we got him, we were his 4th home in two years. At first he got along with our two other dogs, but after a month he started attacking our 12 yr old terrier mix dog.
We employed a PH.D dog behaviorist, did a lot of behavior management, and tried a multitude of ideas. In the last attack, I was able to pick up the little dog to protect him, but then Jake came after Baxter in my arms. Although I wasn't hurt, we knew it could get worse. Attacks were already becoming closer in time, after a long abatement. We worked with Jake for 11 mos. He lasted longer with us than any of his previous homes. He was larger than life, with an amazing personality, but we couldn't control his aggression, and apparently either could he. So, I'm very sad. Sadder than with any other dog we have lost over the years. I'm glad I found this forum. I needed a way to process my sadness and guilt. It's comforting to know this is universal among those who face this choice. Thanks.