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AliceC

Registered:
Posts: 5
 #1 
Hi all 
my heart is breaking even thinking about this to write it, I feel I've failed him just for considering it
I've had my boy Tanner for 6 years now, I found him as a stray when he was around 6 months old. He ran out of nowhere in front of my car, terrified. I picked him up to find he was covered in wounds including cigarette burns all over his belly and was thin as a rake. I fell in love with him straightaway. I spoke to a local kennel who said I could keep him but that he would never legally be mine unless he spent 7 days at the kennels as he would become property of the council after that and they could legally rehome him. It broke my heart when they took him away in their van even after spending a couple of hours with him and I called up every day with my heart in my mouth asking if anyone had "claimed" him. But no-one did, and when the 7 days were up I was stood there waiting at the rescue kennel's doors first thing in the morning when they opened, to finally take him home for good. 
He was an amazing puppy, he'd come everywhere with me, and we'd do everything together. We had a holiday booked to a UK beach resort just a few days after we picked him up - we took him along and he loved every minute of it.
Despite the fact he had obviously been horribly abused he never showed an ounce of distrust for people and loved everyone he met with a wonderful enthusiasm, adults and children alike. He was and still is to this day wary of cigarettes but clearly trusts the people he loves most not to hurt him again.
He did however show some dog aggression tendancies, but we worked on it with training and extra socialisation classes. I tried to be very understanding because I didn't know anything of his puppyhood but assumed it was not good. 

Tanner was my first dog and I put everything into loving and caring for him. We live on a farm so he has an idyllic lifestyle, being able to run and wander around to his heart's content.
Around 6 months after owning Tanner I then rescued a 10 week old pup who we named Chester, and they took to eachother instantly and were inseparable. I thought it would be good for Tanner to have a playmate and he was so well behaved and low maintenance, such a pleasure to own, that I wanted to add another rescue pup to our little family to give another one a chance at a happy life.
A couple of months after rescuing Chester, Tanner started to show even more aggression towards other dogs. It didn't seem to me that he was being protective of Chester, and he never ever seems afraid or intimidated by then, he would just see the other dog and it didn't matter what they were doing or what was in his way, he would attack it. 

Tanner is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, perhaps a cross but very Staffie looking.
I must say he has never ever shown aggression towards a person and he is so respectful and loving I would be incredibly shocked if he ever did. But over the years his dog aggression has become terrible.

When living on the farm it was easier to control because he never came across other dogs apart from Chester who he lived with and was still best of friends with. We moved into a very rural village, but one where we had neighbours nevertheless and a labrador lived next door. Tanner could not be let into the garden to mooch around on his own because he would throw himself at the fence barking and snarling trying to get to next door's dog. I could only walk him early in the mornings and late in the evening and he had to be muzzled because we would often pass other dogs. The muzzle makes him so depressed.

We eventually moved back onto a farm but his problem has got worse and worse over the years. I have sought the help of behavourists, trainers and a brilliant friend of mine who is a gundog trainer and they have all told me the same thing  - Tanner's aggression cannot be cured. He is always going to be dog aggressive and the only thing I can do is try to control it. I'd do anything for him so happily agreed. I now cannot take him out anywhere, not to the beach, not to the woods for a run with my other dog, even for a drive, because if we were to drive past a dog on the pavement he gets in such a frenzy throwing himself at the window growling and snarling trying to get to them. I have tinted the windows, use a dog crate for travelling to keep him safe, but nothing works, it doesn't matter what car we are in, he will find a way to even glimpse another dog going past and he goes mad.

I have tried calming medication, all different training and teaching methods, everything we could think of or have been recommended. Spoken to trainers and vets. I have done so much reading and research into the breed I feel like I know him inside out. It is not something that can be solved.

Over the last couple of weeks, Tanner has started attacking Chester. If Chester and I are playing, or even if Tanner and Chester are playing, all of a sudden out of nowhere he will switch and fly at him and bite him around the neck, snarling. If friends and family visit, both dogs are excited and happy to see them as usual, and Chester will start a game with a toy or something and all of a sudden Tanner will snap. I then have to shut Tanner away on his own and he misses out on spending time with people. There is no exact trigger that I can think of - sometimes Chester is doing absolutely nothing when Tanner goes. 

We are living on a farm in the countryside and have land that the dogs can run around in without Tanner having to come across other dogs. We have all sorts of other animals, a tiny orphan kitten and lots of outdoors animals and he is perfectly behaved and gentle with them. He does not bat an eyelid and has never hurt them. He has a happy life.

However over the years he has attacked plenty of other dogs, when he gets in a frenzy he has managed to escape his lead, his muzzle, and even my grip when I am trying to restrain him or pick him up to take him out of the situation. It is like he cannot see or hear anything around them, all he can focus on is that poor dog in front of him and getting to it to attack it. No training methods work and even very well respected trainers have worked with him for long periods of time only to say to me "there is no fixing this dog, he needs to live on a farm in the countryside far away from other dogs".

It is heartbreaking even thinking this but over the last couple of months Tanner has managed to escape the garden a few times and attack dogs walking past on the footpath. It is rare for dogs to come by our land and garden but when they do he knows about it long before I do and he flies at the fencing like a lunatic, snarling and barking. He smashed straight through stock fencing to attack a pregnant labrador that happened to be ambling past. He jumped a 6ft driveway gate to attack a German Shepherd. it all happens so quickly that I run to catch him but he charges straight past me. We have 7ft fencing all around the garden now, it feels like a prison as we cannot see out over the lovely countryside and people walking by don't stop to chat anymore as they can't see in. The day the fencing was completed he managed to get out through the tiniest gap in the hedge that I still to this day cannot find, but he got out and attacked another dog, with a lady with a toddler in a buggy. He was not going for the child or the mother, just the dog but I cannot help thinking that the toddler was so close to becoming caught in the cross fire.

I cannot leave the back door open for him to sunbathe outside and come and go as he pleases for constant fear that he will get out. We have checked and double checked the fencing. I have to follow him everywhere and am constantly stressed. When I go to work I am worried he is going to attack Chester but on the other hand they both get distressed if I were to go out and separate them. 

Every time he hears any unusual noise now, day or night, he will bark frantically, run to the door, then usually turn on poor Chester. It could be the sound of a distant car driving past that can set him off. His behaviour is becomming quite different. My fiance and I are soon to be married and will hopefully be expecting children in the near future. Tanner is perfect with children and I wanted them to grow up with him but now I am worried that if he attacks Chester a child will be in the wrong place at the wrong time and get caught up. I am not worried about him being aggressive to humans as I do not believe he ever would be, he is so gentle, respectful and loving towards any person that he meets. It always makes me angry when I hear people saying "I've had a baby so I'm getting rid of the dog" but this is a very real risk to me.

This is what makes it such a hard decision to make about Tanner. When he is being "normal" Tanner, he is funny, playful, clever, so eager to learn, cheeky, loving and adorable. He gives the best cuddles, always comforts me if I am sad and looks after the tiny baby kitten, the ducklings, and all the other animals we have around. He loves sunbathing, and I truly do have the most wonderful memories with him and we've seen so many places together. 

But now, I am living life constantly on the edge. He is either being shut away, or muzzled, or otherwise kept indoors for his aggression. We have tried everything, done everything we could, he is living his "ideal" life on a farm away from other dogs, not having to be walked on a lead in towns etc, just like the behavourists and trainers have said. Even when he cannot escape the garden, he paces at the gate and if he gets a slight sniff of a nearby dog he goes crazy, snarling and throwing himself at the fencing until I can try to pull him away. He isn't a very big dog but the power that goes into him when he is focusing that aggression is surprising. Then Chester will run up to see what is going on and he will get attacked. It is such an upsetting situation.

I could not bring myself to rehome Tanner. I have enquired about it a while back, but I feel it is irresponsible to rehome a dog with these issues who I know cannot be fixed. And I couldn't live with the thought that someone was hurting him, or losing their temper with him, or abusing him, when he misbehaved. This dog is my world and I couldn't live with myself not knowing where he was, and if he was happy and well loved like he is here. On the other hand I cannot live in fear every day that he is going to attack another dog, and we will be reported to the police and he will be taken away and put down on his own, scared, alone and without me there. Or that next time a person will accidentally be in the way. Or the fear of coming home and finding Chester very injured, or worse, after being left alone together. I don't want to have to shut him away when people visit - it makes him so happy to see people and he can't get that enjoyment any more. Rescue kennels are full up with Staffies anyway and none are interested in taking an adult boy dog, especially not one with issues, and I know he will stay there without getting a home and will then eventually be put down by them anyway. I cannot do that to him. I owe it to him to only know being loved by me, and not know any fear or unhappiness.

I wonder if he is happy though, or if he has got some stress or underlying issues that are causing him to behave this way. If he was an only dog, things might be easier, but there is no point thinking "what if" because he isn't an only dog and it would never be an option for me to rehome Chester either. His issues take the enjoyment out of being a dog owner. I feel I have failed him for even thinking this but after attacking Chester 4 times today, I find myself thinking that it might be best to let Tanner go to Rainbow Bridge. 
It is breaking my heart though because he is healthy, he is a really good boy, hes loving and loyal, he has so many good points. He's my first dog and I thought he was going to be around for a long time. And I don't think my family, my parents who I no longer live with, would ever forgive me. There are no family members I can rehome him to, though. They all live in towns where it would be impossible to keep him away from other dogs. He really could not be living in a better situation than he does here with me on the farm. 

I am in absolute pieces trying to decide what to do. How much longer do I let it go on for. I adore him but the situation lessens my quality of life. I get so upset about it that it causes arguments between me and my fiance. I can't take Tanner out and let him enjoy life. If I were to let him go, I'd spend the day with him doing everything he loves, then have the vet come here. I wouldn't take him to the vets as he gets nervous. And I'd make sure it would be as peaceful as possible. But I don't know if it's the right decision. Or if I have tried everything I can, or if I should try other things. I want him to have a happy and stress free life and I can hardly cope with the guilt of even considering it, let alone going through with it.

I don't know what is the right thing to do. But I know he wouldn't find another home. I don't want to feel like I have failed him or am giving up. 
twinkiesmom

Registered:
Posts: 839
 #2 
I am so sorry for what you are experiencing. I had a dog years ago that was so perfect in every way, we got her when she was a puppy. She loved everyone and everyone loved her. My elderly grandmother lived with my young daughter and I. One day when my daughter and I came home from an outing we found her crying. Tessa had attacked her. We took my grandmother to the ER, her wounds weren't severe but she was in shock. A report was sent to the authorities and she would have to be quarantined. I took her to the vet the next morning. He checked her out, looked at his records making sure her shots were up to date and then we talked. He said that with a child and my elderly grandmother in our home he did not feel it would be wise to keep Tessa and in all good conscience he could not recommend rehoming her. With my heart breaking I let him euthanize her.

Tanner has already shown that he can't be trusted. He has repeatedly attacked many other dogs. With his repeated attacks of Chester there is a very good chance he will kill him in a future attack. Poor little guy must be terrified. I know you love Tanner and how broken hearted you are but though he has never attacked a human, that could change in an instant. He may have been used as a bait dog which could be causing his behavior. Dogs can have mental illness just as humans do and one such illness in humans is believed to be caused by abuse received during childhood. Tanner was obviously abused.

I know your decision is one of the hardest to make. You mentioned you are constantly on edge and that you can't fully enjoy life with the way he behaves. You can't live your life as you want to because you have to be constantly worried with all the what ifs regarding Tanner. I am guessing it is like living in a cage, unable to see outside your fence or visit with your neighbors.

I know I may sound awful with what I have written and truly I don't mean to. This is a horrible thing to go through and my heart goes out to you. Tanner knows you love him, you have done everything you can for him to provide a wonderful home for him. Ultimately you have to do what is good for you. I will be praying for you that you find strength to do what is best in this situation.

AliceC

Registered:
Posts: 5
 #3 
Thankyou very much for your reply. I do not think you have said anything awful. What makes it harder is that when he is not being mean to him, Tanner and Chester are still best buds. I worry that it would upset Chester to be without him, they've been together 6 years, he helped bring Chester up. It would be so much easier if Tanner was bad 24/7. But we have such a close bond and i know I'd struggle with the guilt, knowing he trusted me and i did that to him. Although i do also know that it's the right thing. Take today for example, hes been lovely, just happily bouncing around with Chester playing outside all day.
It's so so hard.
The other thing I'm struggling with is the timing. Like i don't want to all of a sudden drag him away to the vets the next time he attacks someone and have him pts there and then because it would be like a "punishment" and i couldn't bear that. But it's so hard to choose when the right time is when most of the time hes so lovely, and just innocently snoozing in the sun or enjoying a chew or something. When and how do i choose that its the end.
twinkiesmom

Registered:
Posts: 839
 #4 
I have one suggestion regarding euthanasia. My vet does in home visits only and I have no idea what the charge would be but I am sure Tanner would be more comfortable that way. Most vets will give a shot to put him into a normal sleep, he will be able to hear your voice. Then in a little while the euthanasia med will be injected. Because of the first injection he should not experience any pain. None of my babies have shown any distress. I have seen it done many times.

I don't think Tanner will think he is being punished. He loves and trusts you, knowing everything you do for him is done with love. Regarding Chester, he may miss Tanner but he will adjust and I believe not being attacked (4 times in one day) will be a wonderful change for him. And sometime in the future you may decide to adopt another dog to keep him company. Never to be a replacement for Tanner but another dog would honor his memory and the love you shared.
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