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The family Dog Saga

(45 Posts)
flakinator Mon 21-Mar-16 19:01:22

Apologies for the length of this post; I've put it under 'relationships' because I'm eager to know what other people think of the situation in relation to my parents in addition to finding a long term solution for the family pet.

When I was 16, my parents, during one of their drunken conversations made the decision to buy a dog. They informed me pretty much as they made the decision and I was absolutely elated as I'd always wanted a dog. The next day I awoke excited, like any other 16 year old and asked when we would be getting the dog, I was met with "oh well we should probably have another think about it, we didn't actually say we would get one." This was nonsense and pretty much went in line with all the other broken promises of my childhood made under the influence of masses of alcohol. Both my parents were heavy drinkers and it wrecked our family life and my childhood.

I decided I wasn't going to let it go and managed to get Mum to see that another broken promise just wasn't on. Dad was still very reluctant.
Against Dad's wishes, Mum and I went to a farm and returned with collie cross when she collected me from school one day. Dad was annoyed when we got home but said "you walk it, you feed it" and that's what I did. Every morning and night until my parents alcoholism eventually drove me out of the house when I turned 20 and my dog turned 4.

Having little money from my part-time job I asked my parents to fund dog training classes that I would happily take him to. They said he was my dog and I would have to find a way to pay for them. They were too expensive so I bought books and tried my best, but tbh I wasn't very good at disciplining him at all. I now know I was too soft and my Dad's mixed messages and inconsistencies which went against everything I taught him just confused the dog and his behaviour became difficult.

When I left home at 20 after lots of alcohol induced domestic abuse from my parents, I unfortunately had to leave my dog behind. I knew that Dad would never let any harm come to him and he didn't. He took over feeding and walking him, perhaps out of guilt. Although he was made to stay in the tiny utility room most days. Mum didn't help at all.

Eventually, after a few years, Mum left Dad for another man and I finally moved into my own house. Dad's alcoholism deteriorated and on 2 occasions, he left the front door open and the dog ran off and almost got ran over. Dad said he was struggling to take care of him and asked if I'd have him back. Of course I said yes. By this point the dog was much older and I noticed how many negative behaviours had set in. I couldn't have visitors without him barking at them, climbing on them, being aggressive towards them. It was awful. I knew that rehousing him at an old age was slim especially with behaviour problems so I made good friends with an experienced collie owner and he helped me a lot with some issues.

Fast forward to now, I'm now married with a DC and another on the way. The dog is very old but still plodding on and still living with us. When I was expecting DC1 we enlisted the help of a dog trainer who explained that a lot of his behaviour was down to anxiety and temperament due to the time he spent with my Dad which must have been full of inconsistent messages. We enrolled he help of a wonderful vet who told us that we would need to find a way of rehousing him as he posed too much danger to DC. We failed in finding a suitable home and against the vets advice, we kept him.

It has been a rough road and I keep him away from DC (now 2) most of the time, however he has grown to love him and protect him. It has been so hard though. He barks at the slightest whimper, still attacks visitors and runs around like a mad dog at the slightest change. He's exhausting. He has recently had an operation to remove his leg after cancer and it has been awful. He's attacked vets, trainers, helpers, it's been awful. Every simple visit has led to him being put to sleep first.

My parents don't help at all. They won't take him in when we go on holiday, help with walking, help me control him at the vets when he's attacking everyone (although not bitten yet). They have completely written him off and leave me to deal with him whilst heavily pregnant.

I can't face having to protect another child from him, being on edge for another year each time DC2 cries or makes the slightest noise. I know that if I don't keep him, he'll end up mistreated or neglected because of his age and behaviour, but I just can't face this all over again.

DH has lost all patience for the dog, but feels like a do. He loves him but can't face the uncertainty of how he will react/behave with another baby. We would never put our DCS in danger: believe that. The dog is always kept well away, but it's no life for him not being allowed to be involved in our family life.

I know that a dog is for life and I feel so guilty to have naively pushed for a dog in the first place at 16, when my parents were so irresponsible in the first place. But I really had no idea what sort of people my parents were until I got older, I was used to them and I was used to their drinking.

Any ideas what I could do about my dog? I don't want him to end up being mistreated or neglected. It's not his fault he turned out like this and the trainers we've seen feel his behaviour has been deeply ingrained now. So that's not an option either. I can't face the dog, a toddler and a newborn. It was he'll last time.
What should I do with him? Any ideas?
I've asked my DM to help, but said "you wanted a dog, you got a dog" and I feel totally upset at her brash, insensitive response. Do my parents need to take some responsibility here and help me? Or are they right? He is mine and it's all up to me?
I can't believe that, at thirty ,my parents are still able to let me down like this.

CrazyDuchess Mon 21-Mar-16 19:11:17

I am sorry - totally not a dog person - but I think the dog has been the one totally let down by you and your family.

The dog is clearly not suitable for your family so the only option is to try and get him rehomed in a child free environment.

Like I said no dog experience, but I feel so sorry for him : (

confusion77 Mon 21-Mar-16 19:17:05

I am a 'dog person' I would suggest that at age 14 you either make a plan to make life easier when dc2 arrives, or have him put to sleep. Don't, for God's sake, try to rehome the poor dog.

There are many many worse things to happen to a cranky old animal than being peacefully pts.

Badbadtromance Mon 21-Mar-16 19:18:43

How old is dog? He can't live much longer surely

confusion77 Mon 21-Mar-16 19:18:46

And yes I would say he's your dog and you need to deal with him.

BombadierFritz Mon 21-Mar-16 19:22:51

If you were still young eg 18 then maybe but the whole issue of who he 'belongs to' is ridiculous - your parents for blaming you for wanting a dog as a teen - you for wanting help from alcoholics with no sense of parenting or responsibility. He must be an old dog now? 14? Sorry but maybe pts is a better option than long term kennels if you cant find a rehome. Your parents will not step up - this is who they are. sad You did a good thing taking him in and he has had a good life with you. flowers

CatchIt Mon 21-Mar-16 19:24:42

I agree with Confusion, your dog needs to be pts. I know it's a really hard and painful decision, but I get the feeling that he won't settle to rehoming.

Ime, collies and collie crosses are the worst breed for a first time owner, I know that doesn't help you now, but they are very 'busy' dogs and like many working dogs, need a proper job and proper training.

Please bite the bullet and do your dog a favour and put him to sleep, it will be far less stressful for him.

Big hugs, I feel that you've had a really tough time, no judgement here, I promise.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 21-Mar-16 19:25:12

Your alcoholic parents have failed you their entire lives; they are not going to step up ever to help you. Their primary relationship is with drink and their next thoughts centre on where the next drink is going to come from. If you have never talked to Al-anon I would suggest you do so and as soon as you are able.

Your dog as well as you have suffered through their selfish poor choices. This is no family pet and your mother bought this animal from a farm of all places. It was never meant to be in an urban family home, it was completely the wrong choice of animal. Collie dogs require a lot of time, effort and consideration and your parents failed utterly in being its guardians.

This dog now seems pretty much isolated and miserable, its not the family pet. You are not happy either and you are under a lot of stress. I presume the vet has left it up to yourselves as to whether this animal should be euthanized but does this animal really have any quality of life now?. That is the question I would be asking myself.

flakinator Mon 21-Mar-16 19:27:24

He's 13 and other than the cancer, he's very fit and healthy. He gets a lot of exercise (even with one leg!) He is completely cancer free now, but the road to him becomin cancer free has been very difficult.
I must seem like a terrible dog owner and believe me, I feel so guilty for the life he's had, but I have tried my very best since taking him away from my parents influences. It was just too late as he was old and the damage in behaviour had been done by then.

flakinator Mon 21-Mar-16 19:29:02

Thankyou to those being kind. I'm in floods of tears at the thought of pts. Feel like I've failed him.

maras2 Mon 21-Mar-16 19:30:32

Do the kindest thing and have it PTS.Poor old thing.

confusion77 Mon 21-Mar-16 19:31:26

He may well be very fit and active, but realistically he will be OK for another 1-3 years? Decide whether you can cope with that. Although if you have gone through treatment for cancer, leg removal etc it would be a bit odd to pts now when you have the perfect 'excuse' to do it before. I don't mean that nastily at all, many people would pts a dog at that age if they had cancer.

IoraRua Mon 21-Mar-16 19:33:43

I think the kindest thing is for him to be put to sleep, as hard as that is to hear. It's no life for him being isolated from his humans, he can't be rehomed at his age with that behaviour and your parents don't want him.
It's tough, but to be kind in this case you'll have to be cruel.

fourpawswhite Mon 21-Mar-16 19:33:46

. I don't mean that nastily at all, many people would pts a dog at that age if they had cancer. this, exactly. I don't mean to be nasty either but I cannot comprehend a decision to operate on an elderly, difficult Dog with that background. PTS is a much better option for the dog than the stress of rehoming at this age.

confusion77 Mon 21-Mar-16 19:34:19

Op I know what it's like to not be able to cope with an animal any longer. It's hard. There's lots of guilt involved, but please remember, you've done your best by him. And if you think about pts, he won't know a thing of it. You can get the vet to come to your house. He will go to sleep. It will be FAR worse for you than for him.

flakinator Mon 21-Mar-16 19:39:55

TBH we were never given the option of pts when we discovered cancer 2 years ago (when he was 11) and I didn't feel comfortable bringig it up. I always thought it was down to the vet to provide such 'options.' He said he was very fit other than the cancer so seemed keen on operating, he disnt remove the leg at first justbthe tumor but has since remI've the leg. I have since thought that pts could have been a better outcome.

springydaffs Mon 21-Mar-16 19:40:45

The dog could have been a docile thing and everything would have been moreorless fine. Don't blame yourself for what happened when you got him. You were 16, still a kid, with a truly horrible history - no wonder you dug in your heels and insisted this time they weren't going to be let off the hook.

My parents had a collie cross and, dear me, he was a handful. Even in a calm home. In your case the breed was a disaster for such a volatile and chaotic home. Not your fault, not the dog's fault.

I agree it's time for him to be laid to rest - literally. He's had a rough old time, as you know. But so have you - you've been made to pay for something that just wasn't your fault. It is just not viable for him to stay in your family home now; it is not viable for him to be rehomed. Time to let him go. Don't feel bad - he has known love, thanks to you. You have done your very best and really gone the extra mile all along for him.

Do you go to Al Anon? It may help you to make sense of the awful time you've had with your awful parents. You can never expect anything of any substance from severely addicted people and it only adds to your pain to think you can.

fatherpeeweestairmaster Mon 21-Mar-16 19:41:26

I'm a dog person, and hate the idea of 'oh, you should pts' being a solution to behavioural problems, but I have to say that in the circumstances, I'd seriously consider it here too. Your dog must be at least 14, which is pretty old even for a collie, and his quality of life is diminished by his constant stress and anxiety, not to mention his amputation and possible cancer secondaries. You can't rehome him, and even if you rehomed him in the kindest, most experienced collie household, he'd still find the adjustment hard at his age. He sounds fear/stress-aggressive and a move now would only ramp that up.

You've tried your best to help undo some of the issues caused by your parents' neglect, and it's credit to your vigilance that there haven't been any serious accidents. But as he gets older, more stressed, possibly in low level pain, the risk of someone getting bitten must be increasing - you'd never forgive yourself if it was one of your DC, and it would be heartbreaking for the poor, neglected old boy to finish his family life like that. Unless you can put some serious dog management strategies around the new baby, I'd consider giving him a wonderful last six months, then let him go peacefully.

KindDogsTail Mon 21-Mar-16 20:01:34

Flakinator
From the sound of things I do not think you should let your parents have the dog even if they would.

You have done your absolute best under difficult circumstances, and especially as you have your children to consider, please do not feel guilty for feeling you cannot cope with him anymore.

Collies are wonderful dogs but can be tricky too. Yours has been through a lot, including his cancer. Why not contact The Dogs Trust or The Blue Cross? Both these organisations take great care to re-home a dog with suitable people - say with an experienced collie lover with no children. Either The Dogs Trust or Blue Cross would be able the assess whether your dog could manage a change of owner, or would be better off being pts (like some have suggested as a kindness to your old dog).

You must be sad and worried and I am so sorry Flak. You have had a difficult time and when you were sixteen you very understandably wanted to be happy with your own dog to love. He'll know you love him without a doubt.

Springdew Mon 21-Mar-16 20:08:42

Why is everyone saying put the dog to sleep? I completely disagree, you took him from your parents and gave him a good life. He's hard work but you've done it. I assume he's walked on a lead daily? I think you should carry on, however hard he is, until he dies naturally

jevoudrais Mon 21-Mar-16 20:38:03

I agree with last poster. I think you owe it to him after the life he has had to endure to at least give him the old age he deserves.

I got a dog at 16. I was going through a horrific time and didn't give him the time he really needed when very young. He's had loads of health problems all of his life. My brothers were bastards, inconsistent and sometimes unintentionally unkind. No matter what my dog will be with me forever. He is now nearly 8 and I hope he lives to a ripe old age. He was here before my DP and he will always come before my DP because there is no one else in the world who will put him first. I am concerned about your blaming of your parents still. It's done. You all did wrong by the dog. Deal with it.

If I had a dog with all these issues, I wouldn't be having kids and then worrying about it so late in the day, either. Dog has been an afterthought, as always. Please don't plan on getting another dog any time soon.

EasyToEatTiger Mon 21-Mar-16 20:50:10

When my first dc was born we had 2 dogs. The first was fine with children but not the 2nd. Both dogs were quite young when the dcs arrived and I refused to rehome either. So, we compromised, trained, and put the kids in a baby cage. Something like this www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/3234000.htm. I got ours 2nd hand. 13 is quite old for a collie, and I expect he is slowing down a bit. For the time being, it is just vital that you keep everyone safe. Please don't try to rehome at this point. If it has to come to it sooner rather than later, PTS is the final act of kindness. If your dog really is suffering being around children, it may be the kindest option. You could contact Wiccaweys www.wiccaweys.co.uk/start.html They may be able to offer advice and a helping hand.

OliviaBenson Mon 21-Mar-16 20:51:27

I also agree with last posters, you are not blameless at all in this. And I'm shocked at you asking your parents to help you look after him now after everything- you are just thinking of yourself here and not him.

Poor poor dog. I'm truly sorry for your childhood- I grew up with an alcoholic parent so I do sympathise.

Have you ever taken proper advice on rehoming him from any rescue centres? To be honest, at his age it would probably be too stressful.

Day to day what do you try to calm him down? I have a problem dog and it takes a huge amount of effort, but it is possible to give problem dogs training and reconditioning.

Sorry to sound harsh but you need to take responsibility yourself.

NoncommittalToSparkleMotion Mon 21-Mar-16 21:04:35

I do sympathize, and empathize, OP. I had a very similar situation, young and got a dog I couldn't take care of without support/help, but in the end my dog lived with my grandparents and had a happy long life. I won't go into details, but I know it was the best thing for all involved.

It honestly does sound like you've done all you could, even if the circumstances weren't the best.

I'd talk to the vet again, tbh. Tell him about your concerns and anxiety and see if he can advise further flowers

thecolourpink Mon 21-Mar-16 21:08:09

I absolutely do NOT think you should have your dog put to sleep. Dogs Trust charity are amazing - please consider handing him over to them. If they can't the rehome him they look after them for life. Go onto their sponsor a dog page and you will see what I mean. Please do not have your dog put to sleep. I can't believe the other posters are even suggesting it when from you say he is fit and healthy. A proper dog charity will know how to deal with any behavioural problems.

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