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Vallhala and other rescuers, please help if you can!

(110 Posts)
purplepidjin Mon 06-Jun-11 20:31:08

A friend of mine rescued a dog last year who had come in from a very abusive home. He's a big lad, 9st (not sure of breed) and absolutely beautiful. The problem is that he's terrified of everything and it's got to the point that she thinks he's going to bite. He's already tried to nip her son (who has AS and has struggled to bond with the dog) and currently has to be walked on a muzzle.

She's pretty much decided he needs to be PTS, but if you know of an experienced home where he could get the attention he needs please let me know. I will add that my friend is an experienced dog owner but she's a single mum and just can't afford the behavouralists etc. It's breaking her heart to even consider PTS

There's a photo here

As I say he's a gorgeous boy, really sweet when he's comfortable with you, prefers women.

I don't expect you to work miracles, and it may be he needs out of this life so he can be reborn into a better one. He's due in for an operation on Thursday, and the official story will be that he doesn't survive the anaesthetic sad

Scuttlebutter Mon 06-Jun-11 21:54:00

"He needs out of this life so he can be reborn into a better one" angry hmm

Over the years I've heard some crap reasons for having a dog killed (let's be honest here about what you are proposing) but this takes the cake.

Has your friend contacted the rescue from whom she got the dog? Almost all rescues are able to offer behavioural support, advice (all free of charge) and would be horrified to know she was thinking of this course of action, and would prefer the dog came back to them.

And somehow your friend has decided that now she wants rid of this dog, that any rescue has only until Thursday to find a new home for it. 3 days to work a miracle.

Also, there's nothing at all wrong with wearing a muzzle while out on walks. We have three greyhounds, and two of them are automatically muzzled on walks, one because he'll eat anything he finds on the floor (and humans are such messy buggers, there's a lot of junk food lying around out there) and the other because of her views on small dogs - with humans, she's an adorable cuddlesponge. Despite this, I've no immediate plans to have either of them killed.

Dogs do nip. It's part of how they communicate. Without knowing the circumstances, this could have been a warning or in fear depending on what your friend's son was doing.

2T2T Mon 06-Jun-11 22:20:48

PLEASE don't let your friend have the dog PTS. sadsadsad. he sounds like he has had shit life so far. He just needs to be understood and rehomed with a family or couple who can cope. Why did the rescue centre rehome to her when she has a son with Autism? Not suggesting that she should not be allowed a dog on that basis, but surely a large dog from an abusive background would not be first choice for a single mother with a special needs child confused. I applaud you for coming on her and trying to sort things for her. You are a good friend. But PLEASE get her to call the rescue centre and discuss her fears and they will sort it. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE

purplepidjin Mon 06-Jun-11 22:47:12

Sorry, don't think i came across right. My friend has a dog who's previous abuse has caused him to become aggressive from nerves. "To be reborn in a better life" is a phrase I have used to help her feel better about the horrible situation she is in. She and her family adore their dog, but after a year of trying his behaviour is getting worse not better.

He is fine off lead, but is aggressive to other dogs when on the lead. He is currently on a head collar, and a muzzle is the next step.

She has spoken to the rescue she got him from and has been told that PTS may be the best option. I have come here to see if we can find a better solution for her. This is a situation which she has been considering for months, and which she has only just confided in me.

chickchickchicken Mon 06-Jun-11 22:55:57

what is the name of the rescue he came from? why doesnt your friend want to walk him with a muzzle? surely preferable to do this than pts. does the rescue have a behaviourist she can talk to? does your friend want to work to improve the problem or is she set on pts or rehoming? if, as you say, his behaviour has got worse since he has lived with your friend maybe she is inadvertently making it worse? its easy to do this without realising it

btw glad you are trying to help. please post as much info as you can

DooinMeCleanin Mon 06-Jun-11 23:05:06

My dog used to be dog aggressive through fear. And people aggressive through fear. He was also a rescue dog, well ex poundie so not assessed and no rescue back up.

I worked bloody hard with a good behaviourist and you know what? It's working. I hadn't realised how much it is working until recently. We took in a JRT as a favour for a friend for a few days, he was a bloody bugger and kept snarling and snapping at my dogs. My own rescue mutt did not bat an eyelid. I was so proud of him. He even recalled immediately today, despite being able to hear other dogs barking when the kids accidentially let him out the backgate.

Your friend needs to find herself a good APDT behaviourist and work with them. I would never advise anyone to try and socialise a fearful or aggressive dog without the help of a proffessional as it's so easy to make it worse instead of better.

Please, please don't get him PTS. If your friend feels she can't cope at least find a no kill rescue who would be willing to work with him. It would be best for the dog if your friend would pay for a trainer.

purplepidjin Mon 06-Jun-11 23:05:08

I know very little and my friend isn't a MumsNetter. She doesn't want anyone to know she is thinking of this, so I need to be very careful to protect her identity.

I don't know where he was rescued from, I do know that she has struggled for over a year to find the money for a behaviourist twice a week at £30 a go. He lives with a smaller dog over whom he is extremely over-protective, so that's a huge issue for them. He needs to be an only dog, this was only discovered after they took him in. He has been known to self-harm in kennels.

She doesn't want to PTS, she just feels like it's the only option left which is why I'm here on her behalf. I know there are other options, we just need to keep looking till we find one.

Like I said, he's an absolutely beautiful dog. Very placid when he's comfortable, recall and clicker trained (all by my friend) it's the deep-seated mistrust of other dogs and men that are feeling like insurmountable obstacles. He is on a raw food diet because of digestive problems.

Her son's ASD has not been an issue in the past with other dogs in the family.

DooinMeCleanin Mon 06-Jun-11 23:07:41

£30 twice a week, bloody hell where do you live? The two trainers I've used charge £60 for 5 one to one sessions, with ongoing phone support and £55 for a 12 week training course.

purplepidjin Mon 06-Jun-11 23:08:35

Sorry, Dooin, x post. She has been working with a trainer. The dog's problems are getting worse.

It's so scary because he is a very big dog. If/when he goes, he will do serious damage and it will take more than one person to stop him.

What he needs is somewhere with a couple of acres and no other dogs to disturb him sad

If I didn't live in a flat and work unpredictable shifts, I'd take him myself. However, he's about the size of my living room and would swallow my house rabbit in half a mouthful wink God only knows what he'd make of my cat!!

DooinMeCleanin Mon 06-Jun-11 23:10:16

He doesn't need somewhere with no other dogs, he needs a better trainer. No dog is untrainable.

Scuttlebutter Mon 06-Jun-11 23:12:16

Purple, this just doesn't add up. I don't know anyone who "adores" their dog who'd be happy to have them killed in preference to wearing a muzzle on a walk.

I'd also be amazed that the rescue would say that killing the dog would be a viable option without going through a lot of steps first. Which rescue was this? Are you in the UK? As I and others have said, most rescues will bend over backwards to provide behavioural support and rehoming would be considered as an alternative option first rather than having the dog killed, especially for lead aggression which is pretty common. If every dog that was a bit lead aggressive was killed then half the dogs in the country would be at risk. It's generally also considered a manageable problem that is solveable with care, work and the advice of a good behaviourist.

Are there any other behavioural issues? You say your friend is an experienced dog owner (although she doesn't sound like one) so I'd have thought that she would be amenable to working with a professional to improve things. Can you confirm the urgency also of the Thursday deadline? Is that still the day she proposes to kill the dog?

purplepidjin Mon 06-Jun-11 23:20:01

I'm going on what she has confided in me, which isn't the whole story. There are other issues which I haven't been told about. My friend is an experienced dog owner, I'm not - so there may be things that I have misunderstood and misrepresented.

She will not kill her dog in preference to muzzling him angry

She has been working with professionals. The problems are getting worse and the dog is unhappy sad

I didn't mean to cause an argument, sorry. Just wanted to know if there's anything practical I can do to help a friend in a very difficult situation. Normally i would avoid discussions like this becuase I don't know enough about it to express an opinion and Im opinionated enough as it is

On Thursday, he is having an operation to remove a cyst. She is upset and considering that it may be better for the dog if he simply didn't wake up. Like I say, she is at the absolute end of her tether trying to decide what is right. I am desperate to help her because I know how opposed she is to this kind of thing.

Scuttlebutter Mon 06-Jun-11 23:27:27

Sorry, X posted there.

I say again, back to the rescue where she got him - they will provide behavioural support and rehoming if absolutely necessary.

Lots of dogs are nervous around men, one of ours is, but again this is a manageable issue, not something to solve by killing the dog. Ours has improved hugely since we had him, still a bit worried about very new tall men - again, this takes work and won't resolve overnight. In the meantime, if you know about it, you simply ensure meetings with men are managed carefully.

A trainer from APDT will be able to work with them both, and the prices you've quoted do sound high, and also as if they havent' worked very well yet.

"Self - harming" in kennels? That's odd too. What happened?

How is the "over protectiveness" of the other, smaller dog manifesting itself?

And what's the story with the Thursday deadline?

Scuttlebutter Mon 06-Jun-11 23:38:16

X posted again, sorry.

But so far all you have told us is that the dog has "nipped" once, is lead aggressive and is fearful of men. You've also told us that she won't put the odg in a muzzle and is seriously considering having it killed because of what is generally agreed are solveable problems. So yes, I do think she wants to kill her dog in preference to muzzling it.

You've had lots of posters advising :-

Contact the rescue for further advice/support and FREE behavioural advice.
Consider rehoming via reputable rescue if this is deemed necessary.
Work with an APDT accredited trainer. Although your friend has been using a trainer, you haven't said if they are accredited - there are some very dodgy ones out there. If, as you say, the behaviour has been declining rather than improving,then that would suggest trying a different trainer/approach.
Behavioural issues listed are solveable but will take TIME, patience and hard work.

If the dog is having an operation to remove a cyst, have any potential medical causes of behavioural issues been resolved and eliminated? A dog that is in pain will be considerably more aggressive, grouchy and bad tempered.

purplepidjin Mon 06-Jun-11 23:47:28

Thank you all for taking the time to post. However, I don't think this thread is going to provide what I need, which is practical help for a friend at the end of her tether and having to choose between her dog and her children.

I know nothing about dogs. I know very little about the situation. I was hoping for suggestions of rescues or organisations to contact in the morning, what I have got is a flaming for a decision that isn't mine and I am trying to prevent.

purplepidjin Mon 06-Jun-11 23:48:02

Oh, and do you really think she'd be paying a behaviourist if she could get it free hmm

Scuttlebutter Tue 07-Jun-11 00:54:12

Purple, nobody has flamed you. You have had constructive advice and suggestions from people who are experienced and work in rescue. Not surprisingly, if you begin a post suggesting a dog is going to be imminently killed, then you will incur a serious reaction. For anyone who knows anything about Val, for instance, it wouldn't be a good start suggesting that the dogs she works so damn hard to save from the needle are actually going to a better place.

For us to suggest a rescue (which isn't what you actually asked for at the beginning) we'd need to know a lot more, including:-

The age of the dog
What rescue it came from originally
Where in the UK are you/your friend? Is your friend willing to travel/transport the dog? What EXACTLY are the behavioural issues?
What training has been done, and what is the background of the trainer?
Have any veterinary/medical issues been sorted out?
Would any rescues be having to work in the three day deadline you suggested originally? Could your friend wait for a short time while a foster home is found?

By your own admission, as you don't know much about dogs, why not suggest to your friend that she comes on to MN herself and posts about her dog? Loads of people post here with lots of different problems and get great advice and support from sensible people, many of whom are professional trainers/behaviourists/vets etc, including many of the problems that your friend has been having, such as lead aggression and nipping. Even if she doesn't post, simply reading some of the recent threads about the behaviours listed would be very helpful to her.

BabyReindeer Tue 07-Jun-11 07:48:58

My dog is an elderly rescue and has a go at every other dog we meet on a walk ( except females bigger than him) I wouldn't think for a minute of having him PTS.

purplepidjin Tue 07-Jun-11 08:53:07

I have sent my friend a thread link. I'm probably oversensitive because I really don't want her to have to pts. I know how much that goes against her instincts.

He is approximately 4 years old.

I don't know what rescue he came from and very little is known of his life before my friend took him in.

They are in the Portsmouth area (I'm not, btw, which is one reason I don't know the most recent issues. Last Forest walk we had, there was ice on the puddles!)

Travel and transport can be arranged.

Behavioural issues include: aggression when on a lead, aggression to other dogs, lack of understanding of pack rules and hierarchy, over-preotectiveness, self-harm when stressed, destructive behaviour in order to get to target of aggression. I know these all sound like normal nervous dog behaviours, but he is 9 stone and as tall as a kitchen worktop when on all fours. Destructive behaviour means he can and will go through a 6' fence into someone's garden in order to get to their barking dog. He has nipped a human pack member once at least, and I know he has tried to get to strangers. He has the potential to do a lot of damage should that switch get flipped. PTS now is an option simply because, if he doesn't get the help he needs, it may be the only option in the future.

He is clicker and recall trained, last time I was with then on a walk (February?) his behaviour was impeccable. I don't know what has changed since then.

He eats a raw food diet because of digestive intolerances, and has gone from a three stone bag of bones to the healthy muscular dog in the photo I linked in the OP over the course of the year or so she's had him. He has a cyst on his leg which is booked for removal on Thursday.

I don't know who the trainer is, or who they're affiliated with. I know they are affiliated with someone!!

I'm seeing her in a little while for coffee. If I can say to her that there are possibilities, then yes there is flexibility. At the moment, she is distraught and considering the idea that he should simply not survive the (very risky) anaesthetic.

It may be that she's lost all confidence in her own ability. I have seen her take a skinny, half dead dog shivering in the corner and turn him into a child-safe, healthy, shiny, alert and happy animal. If she had had him from a pup, he'd be on the PAT register by now. What do I say to her today to reassure her?

K9999 Tue 07-Jun-11 11:36:20

Call Rob on 07800 731770 or Adele on 07542 360407. The rescue is Canine99 in London, Rob specialises in difficult dogs although they're usually full. Try Rob first then Adele and if they can't help ask them to put out a request amongst other rescues and for further advice.

purplepidjin Tue 07-Jun-11 12:07:17

Thank you k999 we'll ring them now smile

K9999 Tue 07-Jun-11 12:57:23

Thank you for your pm. I've replied in the harshest terms, which I hope you'll relay to your friend as from what you say she is giving up on her dog regardless. Apart from being bloody shocked and angry at that I feel that she needs a verbal slap in the face to make her see sense before she goes and kills the poor creature.

As I said, try Rob first and even if you get to speak to Adele and get only Rob's voicemail, keep trying Rob until you get through. He's very young but he's good.

K9999 Tue 07-Jun-11 13:07:42

NB, for others' benefit, the above post is in response to the original poster's pm where she said that, 'Unfortunately this is a situation where if he's not pts now then he will very likely need to be pts under the dangerous dogs act for seriously hurting someone. We are very grateful for the numbers and will be calling but we don't hold out much hope.'

To which my response was along the lines of what the fuck! Let's all kill each other now shall we? After all, it's more than very likely that we're all going to die one day. hmm

Killing a dog for this reason just simply isn't an option. Not in Rob's world and not in mine either. I've done what I can in suggesting the rescue and telling you to enlist their help in finding another if they can't offer a space. The rest is down to the owner, who is currently thinking irrationally.

chickchickchicken Tue 07-Jun-11 13:19:01

K9999 - it still shocks and distresses me the way some people attempt to justify killing pets. keep reminding yourself we have tried to help

purplepidjin Tue 07-Jun-11 13:21:20

K9999, you don't know the full story, mainly because I don't. If a dog, any dog, harms a child that dog will be pts by law. One of the things influencing whatever decision is taken is whether to wait until that stage or whether it might be better to pre-empt. It is not my decision to make, and I posted here because I hoped that more options would become available.

I do not want this dog pts. The owner does not want this dog pts. However, nobody wants to risk a child being seriously injured, maimed or killed either. This is not a decision that has definitely been made, nor has the possibility even been entertained lightly.

Oh, and Rob will be getting back to us shortly. We are trying very very hard

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