What’s Good for the Goose
What’s Good for Gandy is the operative question this morning.
We are approaching the painful conclusion that she is not the dog for us. It’s the painful part that is of concern: she has not been able to restrain her bite.
I’m not talking about incidental damage of normal puppy chewing or rough-housing like she would with her litter-mates. I’m talking about curled-lip attacks when it clearly does not serve her intentions to play or be close or get attention. And often, these episodes of aggression come immediately on the heels of her more rare periods of being loving and peaceful. Suddenly, my hands are bleeding again. Sometimes, she lunges for my face or other tender parts. We just can’t have that kind of acting out.
We’ve tried it all: distraction, substitution, treats (with the clicker), withdrawing our attention, removing her from the room to the back porch for a few minutes by herself, kindness, firmness. We don’t know what else to do.
And she continues, at 14 weeks, to grow, and we continue to invest in her uncertain future here. At this stage in our physical and financial lives, such wasted effort and time seems not to be a wise investment. We certainly can’t look forward to our grandchildren getting to know her and trust them together.
She is wonderful outdoors. She is a beautiful, lean and muscular dog, agile, curious, attentive, and fast. She is very intelligent and can sit, stay, come, lie down, get in her crate, and get on her blanket on command, most of the time. She loves riding in the car in her crate, sleeps through the night, is house broken. But she is threatening to become a mean dog, and we don’t know why. We’ve relented from making the hard decision because she will eventually come to herself and be placid and typical goofy puppy, but are we only fooling ourselves that she has finally morphed out of her bipolar episodes?
Are we just naive, spoiled by only having dealt over the past thirty years with Labrador Retriever temperaments? Is this something we can expect the dog to miraculously one day grow out of? Are there things we can do differently short of a shock collar for her and TASER for the both of us?
We’re frankly near (if not occasionally just past) wit’s end. Ann said I should say anything about this publicly. But you (might) know me: this blog-reading community has ridden the rough road with me for must about ten years, and thankfully with your wide experience, often helped us get beyond the tragedy du jour. This seems to be approaching another one of those bumps.
Should we fail to succeed in establishing the bond of trust that is now missing, what then? (She is being totally charming just now, wouldn’t you know it, playing nicely with the tennis ball in this odd game of fetch she has created.)
This is our first time to offer a home to a “pound puppy” and the first to lose a dog by giving it back up for a second adoption. Would we be better off to have her put down than turned into a pit fighter? What a sorry situation that we would never have imagined only six weeks after meeting Gandy for the first time with such high expectations.
UPDATE 4 pm: After a not-so-good early morning, the dog has been very very much improved. Of course, we’ve spent a good bit of time out today, pruning grapes and puttering in the wood pile. But even inside, she’s shown marked improvements in her restraint from biting, and when she offers to throw her head back and grab my hand, she’s easily dissuaded by reminding her about the acceptable toy we were playing with. Also, I’ve had some encouraging offers to help in the event that we don’t reach a comfort point with “forever” with Gandy. The saga continues.