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My heart is breaking, am I making the right decision? (very long)

(78 Posts)
TakingTheStairs Wed 25-Sep-13 14:36:37

Please be gentle, as I am very upset and have been crying for days but am genuinely trying to do the right thing for my dog.

His history
My DH and I rehomed a dog in Feb. At that stage he was just under 3 years old and we were his third home.
We have been told by several sources that know the dog, that he was very very badly treated in home number 1. (breeders)
Home number 2 said they bought aged about 1/1.5 him primarily to get him out of the awful situation but they also bought him as a Sire as he was the "perfect example of his breed"
After they had had him about a year, DH and I called them saying that we didn't want a puppy but we were looking to re home that particular breed and if they knew of any dogs needing homes to please let us know. They said they had bought him as a Sire but they had had no luck with him for over a year and as they were a working kennels, they couldn't just keep pets.
I asked all sort of questions before we went to meet him any issues/level of training etc. We were told he had issues previously but he was mainly fine. There were a few red flags that I didn't realise we red flags at the time but we took him and brought him home.

With us
It took him over two weeks to get used to my DH, he'd be fine with him in the evening and the next morning would growl at him as if he'd forgotten him. Fine, we expected a settling in period. But it seems that he doesn't trust any men and is only okay with my DH as we made sure he fed him and did half the walks so he would associate good things with him.

But basically, what has come out over the past 7 months is that he has a lot of issues. We have tried so hard to work with him. He has had one on one training, group adolescent classes, a big session with a behaviourist and he has a professional walker/ trainer that he goes out with every day (The behaviourist we took him to said she hadn't seen anyone as nervous as him for years and he had really bad fear aggression).

DH and I have tried to do everything these professionals tell us as I know so much of the time the issue is with the owners doing the wrong thing.

He is a guarder, a herder and he bites. He is muzzled now when we go out but he has nipped or tried to nip SO many times. Thankfully no 'proper' bites. Sometimes when he felt threatened which I understand (but don't think is acceptable, no matter the reasoning) but sometimes with no logic.
He has fear aggression and over attachment to me. Our cleaner says he is lovely with her when I'm not there, but if I'm home he is defensive and barky at her.
The dog walker has mainly no issues with him on his walks.
He has great recall, is so lovable and clever, but unless he is in his comfort zone of being at home with just DH and I he really is at the limit of his coping levels.
We can't bring him anywhere, we can't have anyone to the house, despite months of training and working on that. If anyone comes over we have to have them basically sit down and not move for fear of him freaking and biting. Keeping him muzzled in the house isn't the answer as he would still freak and scare people.
His walker/trainer came over at our request to have a big long chat about his behaviour on Sunday and said that she thinks we needs to rehome him. I'm 7 months pregnant and we genuinely think that the baby is going to tip him over the edge with his coping levels. He needs constant vigilance as it is, and when the baby comes he is going to be more unstable when we are going to have less time to work with him.
we have tried so so so hard with him and we love him SO much, but we just can't seem to provide the right environment for him.
I don't think he should have been re homed with us in the first place tbh, it is not the right fit, but he was and we are trying to deal with the situation the best we can.
I love him and we have tried so hard but we are obviously not the right environment for him.
His vet and his walker both say that he needs to be rehomed with a professional: a behavourist or a trainer that is willing to take him on long term as a project, but the damage that was done to him when he was young is so deep that it may not be able to be reversed.
The easy option would be to send him back to the breeder that we got him from, but we were certainly not given the whole story when we got him and I don't trust her not to pass him on to another unsuspecting family which is not fair on them and certainly not fair on him

I am so sad about the whole situation and am struggling not to cry as I type this. I just want to do the best thing for him. It's not that our baby is taking precedence, it's that we already can't trust him and we are worried the baby will push him over the edge. If we had another 6 months to work with him we would. He has improved since we got him but not enough. Even his trainer says the progress is too slow.

We are doing the right thing aren't we?

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Wed 25-Sep-13 14:43:55


Poor old boy sad

Please whatever you do, do NOT allow the breader to have him back, it would be kinder to have him PTS than that.

Would you say he is 'happy' at anytime or is he constantly nervy & stressed?

TakingTheStairs Wed 25-Sep-13 14:52:05

Thanks Chipping
When he is at home with DH and I, when he is out playing with his ball and when he out walking with no others around, he is as happy as they come.
He loves to swim too.
I believe he has a lovely time when he is out with his walker too, she thinks that because he is in a pack of other dogs he feels more protected and doesn't worry about other people. And judging by her FB photos, he has the BEST time when he's out with his friends.

I'd rather have him PTS than go back to the breeder too tbh.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 25-Sep-13 14:54:26

Yes, it sounds like you're doing the right thing. The experts who know this dog think you need to rehome, its for his sake as well as everyone else's.

Poor chap. I do hope you can find him an appropriate home.

TakingTheStairs Wed 25-Sep-13 15:00:42

So do I Errol We're going to hang on for about another month and then his lovely lovely walker/trainer said she would foster him until we found the right home for him.

My issue is (and please, any advice on handling this would be very much welcome) that I'm afraid the breeder will find out we're trying to re home him and demand him back. He's not a hugely common breed in the UK and I'm sure it will get back to her.
We signed a word document receipt when we re homed/bought him saying if he needed to be re homed we would let her know but I don't want to let her know as I don't trust her to do the best for him. I'm FB friends with her and she "likes" my walkers FB page to see the photos of my dog so we can't really publicly say we need a good home for him.

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Wed 25-Sep-13 15:00:54

Aw what a horrid situation sad

I have to commend you on your hard work and the love you have shown this poor little dog. I agree that the breeder is not an option he deserves better sad

If he gets on better with people among other dogs then maybe that's what he needs, a home with other dogs for company. Have you asked the vets if they know of anyone who would be suitable ?

Loathed to say PTS really but I do think that is the better option than the poor thing being passed from pillar to post and never given the love and support again that he has received from you. What happened in the past must have been so terrible for it to be like this. Poor little guy sad

TakingTheStairs Wed 25-Sep-13 15:04:27

I know it's hugely selfish, but I would rather him PTS than to have his little heart broken and passed around too.

Though his walker is having none of that. She says she won't see him pts.

He needs a home with other dogs and with someone who is hugely experienced with dogs.
Thankfully, he doesn't seem bothered by children so that's a plus but I have never tested that theory.

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Wed 25-Sep-13 15:07:45

It's not selfish. Chances are it would be done anyway and best it happens with you who loves him than in a shelter with strangers. sad

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Wed 25-Sep-13 15:08:05

It's not selfish. Chances are it would be done anyway and best it happens with you who loves him than in a shelter with strangers. sad

Mummyoftheyear Wed 25-Sep-13 15:09:26

Really feeling for you. Such a sad quandary. I can understand your hesitancy around keeping him when baby arrives, too. Sometimes, when babies do arrive, animals adjust as by the time bubba moves around, the dog/ cat has acclimatised. But you understandably don't want to chance it. I also wouldn't want to have my home off limits to friends/ guests because of my much loved pet. Tough one and I understand why you want to rehome him.

TakingTheStairs Wed 25-Sep-13 15:09:52

Thank you.

And now I'm crying again sad sad sad sad sad

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Wed 25-Sep-13 15:18:43

Whatever you decide, that poor dog no doubt has had his best days of his life with you and your dh and your dog walker. Even if the damage is to severe to ever undo, and despite the reactions he's had to people, he would have undoubtedly felt the love you have for him. And that's something he won't ever forget, not in this world or the next.

(((Hugs))) x thanks

ErrolTheDragon Wed 25-Sep-13 15:24:00

Do you think the breeder really would demand him back? Given that they'd had no luck breeding from him before and they can't keep pets, I'd have thought it a little unlikely. What did the document you signed say - if it was just to 'let her know' then there's no way she could actually force you to hand the dog to her. (I don't know if it would be legally binding even if you'd signed something saying you'd only rehome back to her)

Awks Wed 25-Sep-13 15:27:55

You poor thing, what a horrible thing to have to consider. But what someone else said upthread about his best days being with you is probably true and you will contunie to think about his best interests even if that means he isnt with you.

TakingTheStairs Wed 25-Sep-13 15:30:12

Thank you Wheresmycaffeninedrip thanks

Errol I can't remember the exact wording of the document, but it was basically to let her know if we were re homing to give her the option to take him back (if it suited her)

That document wouldn't stand up legally I wouldn't think, and especially since she wasn't honest in the first place about him and his issues.

My plan is to hopefully find a good home for him, and then let her know as a courtesy, rather than giving her the option of having him back.

idirdog Wed 25-Sep-13 16:02:40


What you must do is get qualified professional advice. Not from people on the internet who have no idea what they are talking about. These threads will be filled with inaccurate and poor advice.

So contact APBC or APDT. They can assess your dog and give you the correct professional advice and way forward with this dog.

(What sort of breeder breeds from a dog that they know has behavioural issues!!!!!!!!!)

<Hides thread and tries not to be judgey re another thread with new baby and reactive dog when obviously no research was done before purchasing>

TakingTheStairs Wed 25-Sep-13 17:03:58


If you read my post, I have had professional advice.
He has been taken to a specialist behaviourist as recommended by our trusted vet. His professional walker is also a behaviourist. And we have spoken to the vet about the best options for him going forward too.
I posted looking for reassurance from people that might have been in my position or understand what I'm going through.

And please remove your judgey pants. We did a lot of research into the breed before deciding on this one. We had two visits with the breeder and a million phone calls about the dog before we committed to taking him.
So actually, a lot of research was done. But research is no good if I am lied to about the particular dog and his issues.

And we worked our asses off with him for 7 months trying to help him before the baby arrives and we have run out of time.
The issue isn't that the baby will take precedence, the issue is that the professionals are telling us that the baby will probably push him right out of his very narrow comfort zone and I don't want to be cruel to him

idirdog Wed 25-Sep-13 17:19:06

Bugger thought I had hidden thread .sad

A dog walker is not a qualified behaviourist - what ever they call themselves

A vet has no behavioural training unless they go on to do a qualification after they have qualified as a vet. Of which there are a handful in the UK. If you wish to pm me I can tell you if you vet is one of those.

Contact a qualified behavourist. Qualified to degree level with theoretical and practical work not just someone who walks dogs.

Get the correct advice from the correct people that is the very least that your dog deserves

LEMisdisappointed Wed 25-Sep-13 17:20:26

Right - the breeder is a cunt of the first order and needs reporting to the kennel club. Fuck the contract, he/she must never get that dog back, never.

What sort of dog is he? Is tehre a breed rescue?

I found myself in a very similar position with our dog, a surprise pregnancy with a food possesive and toy posessive rotweiller was a scary prospect. Sadly we lost him to bone cancer but he was fine with DD when she was a baby, we had decided to rehome him when she became mobile as he had bitten DD1 (not his fault or DD1s - she was 16 at the time) We contacted the behaviourist who helped us with hiim when we first got him - to be fair, we knew he had issues just wasn't expecting a pregnancy! and he was working with us to find him a good home, as it was, he died but i would have had him PTS before i returned him to kennels, although we got him from battersea and they said that they would have had to PTS anyway as he had a history of biting sad

You have time on your side, can your dog walker help you find him a home? I totally agree with you that it needs to be a special, vetted home with someone with lots of experience.

TakingTheStairs Wed 25-Sep-13 17:30:05

I know you want to make sure we are doing the best for him, so do I. Please don't presume we haven't gone to the correct people just because I posted here looking for support.

We did bring him to a qualified behaviourist. Someone that is member of the APDT and a full member of The CFBA at The Company of Animals.

Lem our walker is going to try and help us find him a home yes. Thankfully. And I think you're right about reporting the breeder too.

topbannana Wed 25-Sep-13 17:30:45

PTS seems quite drastic a thing to suggest without knowing a little more info. For starters we don't even know the dogs breed hmm
I do think that with a baby coming the professional advice you have been given WRT rehoming is probably the best. PTS when the dog walker has already offered to foster him seems unnecessary at this point.

TakingTheStairs Wed 25-Sep-13 17:35:09

You're right topbannan
PTS will not be happening if at all possible.
He will be fostered with his walker until we find a home for him.

A history of biting does make re-homing difficult. Not impossible, but difficult.

LEMisdisappointed Wed 25-Sep-13 17:40:46

I really hope you manage to sort something for him OP, its heart breaking but I would really rather PTS than risk him being passed from pillar to post. Our rottie was a handful but didn't have fear aggression, i am not sure i could have coped with that.

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Wed 25-Sep-13 17:52:45

It sounds like you are doing all you can stairs

The beef lies with the breeder who lied and the bastards who have mis treated him so badly and caused such psychological damage to the poor guy.

It's sad to think that it could be irreversible but it is a possibility.

I really wish you all the luck in the world, and hope you can either make a break through or the right home can be found. Please don't be hard on yourself. You couldn't possibly have known and no one can question the efforts you have made to help him.

TakingTheStairs Wed 25-Sep-13 18:10:29

Thank you x

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