Decisions, Decisions...

Discussion in 'Off-Topic & Chit Chat' started by tx_cowgirl, Mar 24, 2009.

  1. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Okay, so for the last year I've been wondering how to handle a problem of mine. Zeke and Rusty got along wonderfully initially, until Z turned about 1ish. Rusty was 2 yrs old I think when I brought Z home at 3 months. I've done tons of work on dog aggression with Rusty--when I got him I was much younger and didn't know as much, and he didn't have as much socialization as he needed. So it's entirely my fault that he has dog aggression issues and I take that on my shoulders with no argument. Zeke is incredibly timid and when I first got him he was absolutely terrified of strange dogs, especially if they were bigger than him. Rusty's aggression has caused fear aggression issues with Zeke, which I've pretty much gotten through. I've had to keep them separated all this time because despite lots of work they still can't be trusted together alone. I've progressed enough with them that they can walk side by side on leash with no signs of aggression at all. Off leash is a different story, so I can't keep them together just yet. I know how to solve this issue, but I really do not have the time at all. I know a trainer who can work with one or both of them on her own, but...she has a very dominant male, and I don't want her to have to keep her own dogs separated in their own home. She would do a wonderful job, but even she now doesn't really have the time for it.

    So I either have to figure something out or someone has to go. If I find a home for one of them, here's what I've come up with...

    Zeke can only go to an extremely active home. An agility competitor, herding competitor, rancher who needs a good working dog, jogger/fitness buff, etc. If he was placed in any home other than an active one he would go absolutely crazy.
    Rusty must go to a home with a knowledgable owner. If he goes to the Average Joe he's going to get worse. Rusty's also an escape artist, so very specific fencing is a must.
    I've discussed agility classes with our local dog club in the hopes that:
    1) I would learn things.
    2)Zeke would learn things.
    3)Someone might want a crazy speed demon that can fly through an agility course.
    Zeke is better behaved simply because when I got him I knew more and could do more with him. Rusty could easily get there. Rusty is calmer, more laid back. Rusty was my b-day present not long after my Dalmation died, who I'd literally grown up with. Both dogs are young, have tons of life and training left in them. Mudflap loves her boys and her boys love her. Rusty is always the first to let you know if anything is amiss--stranger around, someone bothering horses, anything. Zeke is the first to let you know when a butterfly invades his home. Lol. I loooove my boys to death, and they are both incredibly sweet and loving, and wonderful family pets. It breaks my heart to need to find a home for either of them, and I'm not sure that I could find a home for either that I'd be happy with.

    Help. :dogsad: :msncry:

  2. snooks Experienced Member

    Oh man what a dilemma. So sorry that you have to deal with it. I've lived through it both ways, solved and unsolvable; I so sympathize with this issue. The first time was between two dogs an ACTIVE ACD herder mentality bitch and a rescued little GSD bitch with unknown history that was a food guarder when I found her. These two progressed to some horrific fights and I didn't know any better what to do either that many years ago. I ended up not being able to train around it and in hind sight knowing what I do now I would never have trusted them alone. I ended up having to manage a divided household with them separated.

    With the second two dogs I had a male Golden and new puppy which he totally overreacted to and over-disciplined. I did go to a behaviorist with this and spend a solid year working on their relationship to where they didn't fight when I was around. I did not trust them enough to leave them alone together esp with a kong or chewie when I left home. They probably would have done fine but it wasn't a risk I wanted to take. What I was able to do is live peacefully with them and not separate them. Either way if you train around it or not it takes time (a year or more) and much work. You probably have an idea of whether it would work or not with all your experience. It sounds like I hear the undercurrent in your post that you don't think you can train around it.

    It's a very stressful way to live and often you don't realize it until you are relieved of the burden. I love my dogs like nobody's business but I think (with the wonderful intelligence of hindsight) had I re-homed one of those first two it would have been happier for all of us. Most certainly it would have been less stressful after the ACD got older and had cancer. I was exhausted for years and I still really miss and think about both of them daily.

    What you do know now is what kind of homes would be good for them and if you just put out feelers you can always say no I changed my mind. What might pop up is the most wonderful home in the world for an active herding dog that you might not hear about otherwise. I know LoneWolfBlue was looking for the perfect place for his reactive ACD for a long time and he finally found the perfect place recently on a working cattle farm.

    Sometimes I think we just need to be told straight up not to feel guilty about this type of thing. I read your post where you say it's totally your fault that Rusty is aggressive it just is not true - cut that out. You're leaving out the whole world of genetics and heredity which isn't fair to you. Your perception being so close to the issue sounds centered on self blame and guilt. I've been down the same self-recriminating road and realized as I get older how wrong I was to get mad at myself when I was doing my very best. This is easier for me to say years after the fact.

    Don't beat urself up and it's okay to find a perfect home for a dog that would delight in a working ranch or competing in agility. That is a more constructive and selfless sacrifice than committing to keeping both and working through it no matter what. That might make you feel better on some levels but the day to day reality wouldn't be what made the dogs feel best. Sometimes there may not be a solution that even the best trainer in the world could solve.

    So if you think even with training they can't be trusted not to hurt each other it is okay find a new home for one. The alternative is years of more stress which takes years off all of our lives. It's not a failure but a wonderful success that you got so incredibly far that they are walking on leash together. 99% of people would not have been able to accomplish such a fantastic feat.

    Remind yourself that you did an incredible and compassionate job.

    I would put the feelers out there with the knowledge that this is the ultimate act of love. Everyone that owns a dog believes nobody can love better or more but the truth is we all love best and most our own dogs even if we get them from another home.

    Hugs--I know it's not easy. But do give urself a break if only because I told you to!! :dogblush:
  3. fickla Experienced Member

    I am so sorry for your tough decision. You are a smart woman and I know that you've put a lot of effort into training your dogs. If you know that you don't have the time or stamina to devote to the even longer road of training ahead, then it's not a bad thing to rehome one of your dogs. It's always a hard decision, but it can be worth it in the long run with much less stress for you, Zeke and Rusty.

    And don't blame yourself for aggression issues. Yes you may have made some mistakes, but you're only human. And there's much more that creates an "Aggressive" dog than anything you may have done. Vito just turned 5months now and I really believe that he would be, or will be, an aggressive dog. I've done tons and tons and tons of socialization with him and he plays really nicely at doggy daycare, but he still has issues with his play style with other dogs in meet and greets. I have to believe that I'm doing everything right, but it's hard. I'm not saying I have any idea what you're going through, but just don't blame yourself.

    Good luck. I know you will make the right decision for the three of you.
  4. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    I highly doubt they could ever enjoy each other, but rather just tolerate each other. When Z was a pup they just loved each other to pieces, but somewhere along the way I guess something caused problems.

    Rusty was there through so many family things and I have learned so much from him. He was there for me through the death of my uncle and the birth of my filly, and a million other events. I hate to think I'm giving up on him. My [insert angry bitter curse here] brother left his new dog here for a little over a month for a variety of perfectly logical reasons, against my while I wasn't home Rusty managed to attack him, apparently not separated well serious injuries but Dakota has a little bit less of an ear. Vet checked out Kota and bro took his dog since apparently he didn't believe me just telling him he didn't need to be here. It's not fair to Rusty to be constantly separating him from other dogs.
    But how do you find a home for a dog aggressive, not so good with cats, shy with kids, escape artist?

    With Zeke I just fear that even if he found an active home, I don't know that he would find one that knew how to handle him. Snooks he's probably not much further ahead of your shy girl in terms of level of timidness. If his high drive got away from him and someone tried to dominate him into stopping whatever he was doing, he'd shut down. He'd be all downhill from there. Rehoming him would give me tons of time to work with Rusty...rehoming Rusty would give me tons of time to work with Zeke...
    I've even momentarily considered rehoming both. Finding such specific homes would a feat in itself... Plus, Mudflap is Zeke's best friend. He relies soooo heavily on her, perhaps even more so than he relies on me. Petsmart is almost too scary to handle without her, new people are only okay to greet if Mudflap loves them(which is all people, lol), new dogs aren't trustworthy and should be hidden from unless Mudflap likes balls never needed to be chased until Mudflap showed him....and so on... And Mud just loves roughhousing with Zekers. But Rusty's her best buddy too.

    It's just terribly hard to imagine rehoming either of them. But my boys can't be completely happy the way things are now.
  5. maven New Member

    Are they both neutered? I read a passage by Ian Dunbar on DogStarDaily the other day that said that the puppy license is up for male dogs at 10 months and they are then heavily disciplined by older males until they are about 14 months old. If Zeke isn't neutered it might be something that is going to pass -- obviously I don't know, but it's something to consider since they were buddies before.

    I really do feel for you on this. However, if you do decide to rehome one of them do a little research about how dogs in general react to rehoming. It isn't nearly as horrible for them as we imagine it. They seem to adjust quickly and fairly easily. I hope it doesn't come to that though.
  6. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Yes, both neutered, and Z is now about 4 yrs old.

    Someone is definitely going to have to go...I just don't have the time and this isn't fair to them.... Not sure who's going...
  7. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Oh, Tx, what a dilemma, wow, i feel bad for you, but agree with the other posters, there, it may be best option for everyone if you re-home one of the dogs. It might be like if YOU had to live with your SisterInLaw, ha ha!

    You could maybe post the dog to be re-homed on some Rescue Boards, (there's tons of Dog Rescue Boards on line, many are for specific breeds, but even the breed-specific ones take mixes, too) or maybe even will occasionally do a courtesy listing...... and then you could interview any potential takers to be sure the dog does get the home you think will work out best for the dog.
    Sounds like your lifestyle, you probably ARE pretty already plugged into the farming and dog competition community in your area to put out the word, so that is a plus.

    Dogs DO rehome nicely, they do. I'll be thinking of you. It is a real tough choice, but i can see how this might work out best for the dogs, and for you.
  8. stormi Well-Known Member

    Oh I am so very sorry to hear of the troubles between you boys. It must be awful. I remember when I was small two of our dogs (cavalier bitches) just could not get on and so the younger one was rehomed. It was very upsetting, and a difficult decision for my Mum, but it was in the best interests of both dogs.

    I hope you can find a solution that will make all 3 of you happy, and if that involves one of the boys finding a new home...I hope they find a super one.
  9. snooks Experienced Member

    Tx_cowgirl u find a home with someone very like me but maybe without other dogs. Lots of people prefer having one dog. This is a perfect description of my cattle dog and I just loved her to pieces. :) She adored and respected me and not really anyone else and when it was cold I could get her to crawl up on blankets with me and cuddle.

    I should have rehomed my GSD and kept this naughty girl. There are lots of people with the knowledge and experience and hearts to give dogs like this a good home with lots of balls and Frisbeeā€™s and maybe livestock. My vet adopted a very dog aggressive aussie that she swears would be put to sleep if he was anyone else's dog. He takes prozac now and is actually doing pretty well with his training and a much larger but very mellow doggie housemate. It seems like a daunting task and it may take a while but exp farms and people doing competition training might be able to work around the dog/dog issue.

    There are also lots of behaviorists that work with shelters/rescues and take on these dogs personally for rehab. I think Kathy Sdao did some of this. Putting out some feelers might bring a big bounty. :dogtongue2: I think you're right though. Just tolerating one another doesn't sound like the best situation. If only we could talk to them and explain how much easier things would be if they'd lighten up.
  10. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Indeed I wish I could just talk them into not being so dramatic. Worse than grumpy old women, lol. ^^
    They're so opposite, lol. Zeke is the extreme workoholic, and Rusty is the lazy, lounging in your lap type. I think the one thing that is getting to me the most is that I feel like I'm giving up on them, and while I do know very well that they'll be happier apart, I feel like I'm giving up on two of my best buddies. I know they're dogs and they don't see it that way of's just the human guilt that's driving me crazy.

    I'm going to post ads for both on Petfinder....we'll see what happens....I'm still not sure who I can/should part with.

    Thank you all for your kind words. I know a very good Petsmart trainer who probably knows some people who would know how to handle one of them. Zeke would be an insanely good demo dog--bring in lots of business, lol! And Rusty probably wouldn't be too bad either. Nice low-drive, laid-back, goofball. I still may do an agility class with the local dog club with Zeke. There's some national competitors there that I know would probably die for my little speed demon. Even if I just leased him to them he'd/I'd be happy.
    I don't know who needs to go or what I want to do. I'm just now making lots of progress with Zeke and it's kind of like that last minute flicker of hope that makes you want to hang on... I don't know. I guess the decision maker will be what kind of prospective homes I get for either.
  11. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Maybe if you look at it, not so much as 'giving up' on them, but as facing the truth that those two dogs aren't happy to live together. Swapping out this thought for another thought is Easier to Say than do, i know.
    but it sounds as if you've done your very best. Let go of the guilt as much as you can possibley can.
  12. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    I'm trying. :dogblush:

    I've posted ads for both of them on a couple different sites...for some reason my Petfinder ad won't go through. I got the confirmation email and it said that the ads should be up within two days, but no luck yet. I placed ads for both just to see what I come up with....we'll see what happens.
  13. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    One call on Zeke today. Said they fell in love with him when they read the ad....but know nothing about BCs/Heelers, therefore have no idea what I meant by "active home is a must." They want to see him tomorrow. I just don't know that he's the one I want to part with...not that I want to part with either. I don't know. She sounded nice but we'll see. I told her I'd call tomorrow because I work late tonight. My heart kind of sank when I listened to her message(missed the first call). I hate having to do this.
  14. snooks Experienced Member

    How about just reserving how you feel until you meet them. They may be absolutely wonderful and you'll be thrilled. You don't have to make a decision now - or even this dog. If they aren't sure that an active home is ask what exercise they'll do daily and if they agree to enroll in a class or two and feel it out. There's certainly no rush for you to decide. The right thing might just pop out of nowhere.
  15. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    We're supposed to meet tomorrow. We'll see how it goes.

    Ugh. :dogunsure:
  16. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Was definitely not impressed with them...when I asked what kind of exercise he would get, they replied, "Oh we have a really big backyard and we'll play with him all the time." I politely explained that Zeke was not a backyard ornament, that a dog of his breeds and his energy level needed regular exercise(WALKS, jogs, but not just running around the backyard). They acted like they didn't buy it but oozed about how pretty he was. They were a little turned off by his shy nature though--Zeke will not approach a person, at all, period. He loves people and is very happy to let them pet him, but he will not approach them of his own volition(without Mudflap at his side, or if the person has a tennis ball). Usually, by himself, he won't even look at strangers. He will glue himself to my side and look away, casting sideways glances at them. He is not aggressive by any means, wouldn't hurt anyone, but he's just very intimidated. It's certainly not from lack of socialization--he went everywhere with me as a pup. He's just been timid since the day I got him. Anyway, I guess they expected a shy but friendly dog, and Zeke is just very standoffish until he gets to know you. It's not necessarily that he doesn't like you, it's just that he's that timid. They weren't sure how to take that and I think it kind of turned them off. My ad explained very clearly that Zekers is extremely timid and needs time to adjust to new people and dogs.

    Anyway...they acted like they still wanted him but I told them I wanted to keep looking and that I wasn't 100% sure I was going to rehome him. They seemed irritated but I don't care. They weren't right for him.
  17. Jean Cote Administrator

    Yeah it sounds like the only exercise the dog would get would be to go pee...
  18. bellapup Well-Known Member

    Poor Tx...I wish I could offer some nugget of wisdom, but I'm new to the dog realm myself. I can only say I sympathize with you and hope that you find the best situation for you and the boys. I truly admire your affection for the both of them, and even the fact of finding a suitable life for either of them. Just don't fault yourself for any of it - you've not only helped your own dogs, you've helped me and Bella as well, not to mention other owners and dogs you've shared your knowledge with.
  19. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Yeah, so that's definitely a no-go for Zekers....

    Thank you so much Bellapup. :dogblush: That really means a lot to me. :)
  20. snooks Experienced Member

    Def the right decision, the we've got a big back yard is not a working dogs idea of working. BC's that are yard ornaments are not happy BC's. Hopefully you educated them a little with that meeting. Sorry it didn't work, at least you've got some time...

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