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Had to give rescue dog back, please tell me I did the right thing [long]

(12 Posts)
OikyBollocks Mon 30-Nov-15 13:40:24

Last week we rescued an elderly dog. We knew he had aggression problems around resource guarding in the past and worked with a behaviourist to identify how we could manage this. Basically, when he has a high value item, leave him the fuck alone.

No other animals or kids in the house so no problem.

He got on fine with us in our house for the first couple of days but then started doing weird things. For example, he'd always been completely fine with dogs before he came to us but in the park on a couple of occasions he was very growly at other dogs.

On Friday, he was lying in his bed and I was standing in the room about 2m away from him. He jumped out of his bed for no apparent reason and snapped at my foot, then walked back to his bed. This shook me up a little bit but I went and sat down at the table where I'd been all day. A minute later he jumped out of his bed again and bit my foot shaking it really aggressively in his mouth. My DH threw some cheese on the floor to distract him but he didn't bat an eyelid.
I managed to swing my foot on to the table and he got back in his bed but he was giving the hard stare at my other foot as if he was lining it up to attack.

We slowly and calmly left the room and called the behaviourist. She called some of the RSPCA staff who came and picked him up. She assured us we'd done nothing wrong and he might not have been able to cope in a home environment. The liklihood is that he'll be PTS because they won't be able to re-home him. I feel so terrible and I haven't been able to stop crying since it happened on Friday. I know I've done the right thing- I can't have a dog in the house I don't trust and am scared off but, at the same time, he was so loving and affectionate when he wanted to be that my heart's breaking for him.

Sorry I don't really have a question, I'm just so devastated and need to vent.

catsrus Mon 30-Nov-15 13:47:09

You've done the right thing. Unpredictable aggressive behaviour is something that should be a bottom line. I had a dog aggressive dog. I knew what her triggers were - as a family pet she was wonderful. She never caused serious harm to another dog because we were on full alert with her when she was around them - and she was muzzled. You did nothing to provoke this dog, it's not safe.

tabulahrasa Mon 30-Nov-15 13:47:27

"I can't have a dog in the house I don't trust and am scared off"


Being PTS is not traumatic for an animal, if he'd not cope in a house, keeping him in the rescue isn't a viable option, not for a dog who can never be rehomed, it'd be cruel.

honeyroar Tue 01-Dec-15 00:35:56

It wasn't your decision, it was the behaviourist and the RSPCA people that assessed him and decided he should go back. It wasn't anything that you did wrong. It was the right thing to do.

ExasperatedAlmostAlways Tue 01-Dec-15 00:38:42

You done the right thing for sure. It was for your own safety. You tried, you wanted it to work but unfortunately he just had to many past issues that weren't your causing.

ExBallerina Tue 01-Dec-15 00:48:32

You absolutely did the right thing.

The wrong thing would be feeling unsafe everywhere you go and in your own home because of the dog.

Please be kind to yourself.

Pobspits Tue 01-Dec-15 01:27:23

Usually I'm a 'dogs part of the family' type of person but he attacked you. You can't have him and be safe. He won't know he's being PTS, it's very very sad but it seems like the best thing.

BernardlookImaprostituterobotf Tue 01-Dec-15 01:33:00

You had all the support possible and with an elderly dog there is always the possibility of a health condition that was either latent and not found on standard elderly health checks or that had developed, some conditions can have quite rapid onset.
That is not a fault of anyone.

However, a dog that exhibits such behaviour is not a happy dog, if there was an illness then even treatment would have had to have been weighed up as a quality of life decision. And as the primary aspect of all care is quality of life then this decision is, I truly feel, the correct one. His behaviour had a dedicated behaviourist and two dedicated owners behind it and he still found life too stressful, that was not his fault, nor yours. Yes dogs do need to settle in but when they can't cope then, sadly as you have found, sometimes they just can't cope and behaviour will escalate not reduce. There was every chance this would have got worse, not better and while I'm broadly cut of 'adults can fend for themselves' cloth it wasn't fair on you but mostly him.
It is rare but it does happen, dogs are as individual as we are and sometimes we can't be healed either even when desperately wanting to be and sometimes having good days. I have had one rescue like this, he was referred to a vet with a behaviour specialism and had the very, very best treatment but his life had broken him and it was not kind or loving to keep him living it - possibly, in years, things might have been tolerable for him but possibly not and that time would have been hellish for him. I felt no guilt then, I feel none now. Just like your pup he had a better time of things, he had unconditional affection and love, safety and stability, he had all those scary things managed as well as they could have been, then I gave him delicious sleepy chicken and he was cuddled as he went to sleep as relaxed as he had ever been.
Please don't feel guilty, you didn't cause this and wherever we are, practice, hospital or rescue centre we really care, we want to make euthanasia as good as it possibly can be - if he is sedated he will probably be the happiest he has been for a long time, no stress, no fear, no worries, just gentle hands and sleep.
It is quality of life, not life at all costs. You have done your duty by him, because it is a duty to safeguard that quality, you were in the unenviable position of fixing what someone else broke (I suspect, although not always) and then feeling like you were instrumental in a failure or the worst thing that could happen to him - you weren't, it wasn't and it isn't. You did right by him which is all we can ever ask and means he's luckier than many. This isn't anyone's fault. It's just a hard, sad situation.
I'm really sorry that it happened.

BernardlookImaprostituterobotf Tue 01-Dec-15 01:34:36

Jeez today seems to be my entry into the national novel writing championships, sorry that was very long, I hope you can skim the gist flowers

SearedChestnut Tue 01-Dec-15 07:57:08

Poor you thanks

What a horrible situation to have to go through. You did the right thing - both when you rescued him - and when you had him PTS.

We have adopted a dog who bites occasionally when we do what we now know to be the "wrong" thing (he had a very difficult early life and reacts accordingly). But he only bites when he feels under threat ie if someone walks past too close to him with something in their hand or if someone leans too far over him and he feels trapped. And even then, he gives a warning first.

But a dog whose attacks are unprovoked is a very different matter altogether. If you had had him earlier in his life, you may have been able to help him but as Bernard said the damage had already been done. YOu must be feeling really sad but your intentions were good and there is nothing to feel guilty about. Try and hold on to the fact that you gave him a kind and understanding home for his last days.

mollie123 Tue 01-Dec-15 08:36:33

Please don't feel guilty about this - the dog was unhappy and so were you sad
but I hope you will still rescue another dog - there are so many beautiful dogs languishing in rescues - a younger dog perhaps 4 yo - who is not food aggressive and does not find it difficult to adjust to a home environment.
A grateful lovely rescue dog will reward you so many times over for taking him/her on smile

frostyfingers Tue 01-Dec-15 09:23:43

The problems that this dog has are not of your making and you should not feel guilty nor feel that you have let him down. You have tried to help, he can't cope for whatever reason and the safest and kindest thing for you both is to remove him from the situation. If he's unsafe in a home environment then there isn't much hope for him sadly and in all likelihood PTS is the kindest thing for him. You tried, it didn't work, but it might for another dog so don't despair.

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