the thing about rudy

five years ago i was seeing a therapist to work on some issues, yet i spent a surprising amount of time in those sessions talking about my dog’s anxiety and problematic behavior.  i wept and cried and sobbed about this dog.  she had arrived at the humane society as a stray.  it was clear that she had never had any obedience training, she had never walked on a leash before, she had possibly been mistreated.  i didn’t know her history, but i took her in anyway.  shortly after she arrived in my home i knew i was in over my head with her.  i cried to my therapist, i cried to the vet.  i gave her some doggie prozac, i took her too two different well-reputed canine behaviorists and three different training programs.   the meds didn’t seem to help at all, the training made some marked improvement in her behavior, but she was (and still is) far from being an exemplary canine citizen.

rudy’s a sweet girl, really; she wants to please people and she wants to be loved.  the biggest problem with her, though, is that she frequently goes from “oh, look!  another dog!  let’s play!” to “oh, look! another dog! must KILL!” in an instant.  not every single time she sees another dog, but frequently enough that we have to be on our toes whenever another dog comes around.  she’s gotten in enough vicious fights and caused enough harm for me not to feel comfortable allowing her to interact with other dogs, and unfortunately this means that we’ve had to limit the types of activities we can include her in, especially when children are present.  when i was about seven or eight months pregnant with my daughter, rudy attacked our great pyrenees (who has since passed away…don’t fret, his passing was due to old age.  he lived a long, happy life but developed arthritis and severe spinal stenosis and lost the ability to use his back legs so we made the humane decision to have him put to sleep after exhausting every treatment option available.)  during this fight i jumped between the two dogs, diving head first off the deck, landing on my very pregnant belly with my meaty arms thrust between gnashing jowls and sharp teeth, pulling the two dogs apart.  dumb move on my part, but it was instinctual.  it was not their first fight, nor their last, but it stands out in my head as the worst one, mostly because i was put in a very dangerous position.  i still see that fight in my head and shake with fear thinking how much worse it could have and would have been if there had been children around.  as a parent, that is simply not a risk i am willing to take.  so far, our dog has been great with our daughter (it’s a relationship we monitor vigilantly), but her behavior around other dogs is too unpredictable for us to potentially place our children in harm’s way should something “snap” in rudy’s little doggy brain around the kiddos.

for five-plus years we have made accommodations for this dog.  unfortunately, we’ve reached the point where we cannot continue to do what we’ve been doing.  i have a toddler, i’m pregnant, we’re going to have a new baby in a few months, i have a husband, i have a home to maintain…rehabilitating a dog with wonky brain chemistry stands way near the bottom of my priority list right now.  maybe that makes me a heartless dog-hater, but honestly i just don’t have the time or energy to do it.  we’re not just going to dump her at a shelter because it’s unlikely that she’d pass their behavior test and she’d be euthanized.  we’re not going to give her to someone who is unaware of her history, especially if that family has other pets.  we’ve contacted rescue organizations but she’s considered “unadoptable” because of her difficulty getting along with other dogs.  we’re looking for a good home, someone with lots of room for her to run, someone with patience and energy to devote to her special needs.  she deserves that sort of attention, she needs that sort of attention, and i know in my heart that we’re not able to meet her needs.  this is not a decision we’ve reached overnight.  we’ve been fighting this battle for over five years.  when do you say enough is enough?

so that’s the story with the dog.  judge me if you want, but it’d be more helpful if you offer to take this dog into your loving home, or make a suggestion as to what we can do with her.

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2 Responses to “the thing about rudy”

  1. I know lots of people don’t get it, but I’ve had a SUPER unstable dog, and I totally do. Fortunately we never had to make that decision with her, but if I’d had kids at the time I would have had to find her a different home. I know you’re not just shoving her off at first notice.

    On an unrelated note, someone nominated me for some blog award and I had to list 10 blogs I read. I think I only read about 8, but yours is one of them, so I’m passing the award on to you. More here:
    http://seekingsibling.wordpress.com/2010/01/17/starting-to-wonder-what-if/

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