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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Real Life and Trauma

Well, I am sad to report that we had to return one of our dogs to the animal shelter where he came from 3 weeks ago.  :(  We worked with him in a continual manner to try and solve some major bad habits he had, but after the last two days, it was too much for me.  I failed.  Actually, I studied his bio carefully and there was no report of aggression or biting. It was reported that he was friendly with other animals etc.

I don't think Stetson was a MEAN dog... he was just a BIG BITER, and he HURT, ALOT.... He was also making sure he was alpha Male and did everything to keep Guess under his authority.... this included taking his food and his dog bones.  Guess was following his lead and began to act like Stetson with the animals. We had to separate them from the animals after 3 chicken were killed by Stetson and EATEN.... he also was very aggressive with the goats. He would corral them and then bite them on purpose.

He was not willing to roll over and be submissive to us at all, even with treats.  He finally, after many bites that were not serious, got Miss Anna near the neck this a.m. and knocked her down.  He bit me, and then he turned on Guess and put a  gash in his neck causing him to bleed.  That was it for me.

I think Stetson would be a good dog for a single man who lives on a ranch with nothing smaller than a large cow or horse, where he can run free and not be in competition.  NO KIDS AT ALL.....
He doesn't know his own size or bite.

So, sadly, this turned into a major fiasco this a.m.  Last week I was ready to take him back but Miss Alli begged to work with him.   Things actually got worse and we had numerous conversations about dog ownership and responsibility..... This a.m.  I had to tell her that we were going to return Stetson, as it was not fair to him or to us to keep him. He would have to be chained.  I would hate that.

Her initial response was anger, and  then panic..... she refused to talk, got upset and wouldn't listen. She started to storm outside, but I told her no, not to walk away..... she came back in reluctantly and had her head down, arms crossed and wouldn't look at either of us.

I got her into the rocking chair, and she was resistant, but complied.  I just rocked her and got her to breathe. Both Mike and I spoke words of encouragement to her and then we sang to her.... we sang and prayed and sang and prayed some more and her hands were clinched in fists. She would not let us hold her hand...... Then, as we sang and prayed and included analogies from Hinds Feet on High Places into our songs and words, she began to soften. First it was a little finger, then more, then more and then even a little smile. 

She is still more a mommy girl than a daddy girl, but we are working on it.  After about 30 minutes or more, our words and prayers reached her heart and she said she was sorry. She knew Stetson would be better somewhere else even though she was sad about it. 

At that point, I addressed the difference between dogs and people, reassuring her that she was safe and secure in our love for her.  She relaxed and   went to say goodbye to Stetson....

Erika and I took Stetson back to the shelter and Alli and the other girls stayed with Daddy.  When I got back she came up with a big smile and hugged me. She asked, "Was he sad to go back?"  I said, "No, he seemed quite happy. I think he must have thought he had been on vacation!" :)

And the rest of our day has been great.

While her behaviors were unpleasant and she was not compliant when she was really upset, she came around and calmed herself down using her tool box..... (deep breathing and rocking mom)
She came around and apologized. 
And, then, we talked about better ways to handle when we get upset next time.  I will reinforce this conversation tonight.......
Overall, We had a REALLY successful meeting with Real Life and Trauma and I am so glad we made it through. :)

9 comments:

r. said...

When you say "got Anna near the neck," do you mean that he jumped up to greet her and nipped at her while she was standing, or do you mean that he was attacking her?

Many of the other behaviors you describe are very typical for a herding dog or a dominant dog. For instance food aggression is very common with dogs straight out of the shelter--they're just too fresh from knowing hunger to be capable of sharing, at least for a few weeks. But even some other dogs will need to be fed apart for the rest of their lives. And killing chickens is normal for a dog with a high prey drive. And it sounds like Stetson was just trying to do his "job" by herding the goats. So I wouldn't say he's unsuitable for readoption due to those behaviors (though he would obviously not be suited for a home where there are chickens, for instance), unless there's more to it than you're saying.

BUT if he really was biting the kids--as in, teeth bared, going for blood--then he's not suitable for readoption. This is why I asked. I can notify my rescue group about him, but even if we have a foster home available, we probably can't take him if he is that aggressive towards humans.

Unfortunately now that puppy season is well under way, I worry about Stetson's fate. Let me know if you think he might have potential in a child-free home, and I'll contact the shelter and put out an appeal on the Catahoula Rescue Facebook page for the region. But if he really was going after your daughter with an intent hurt her, then he might just have to be put down.

Rebecca

PS- By saying that many of Stetson's behaviors sound like "normal dog behaviors," I'm not trying to pooh-pooh what you went through or imply that it's your fault you can't get him under control. These are common behaviors for Catahoulas or Australian Shepherds (he's probably a mix of one of those), but that doesn't mean they're "easy" behaviors, even for an experienced dog owner. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that most of the behaviors (with the major exception of biting people) aren't alarming, but they also suggest that Stetson is NOT a good fit for a first-time dog owner, so I can understand the bind you were in . . .

Mike and Christie said...

I do not believe he has intent to hurt.He has intent to control.
I think Catahoula rescue would be a good idea for him.
I used to raise doberman pinschers and trained them very well, so I'm not a first time dog owner....Stetson is more difficult than my most difficult doberman.

He will not be put down at that shelter. I made sure they knew that he was not being "aggressive" as in mean dog aggressive, but aggressive as in he has a LOT of herding in his blood and he is hyper herding...due to neglect and lack of training I am sure.

We expected bad habits, but not the extent of biting. He is a biter. When I say bite, I have several places on my arms where he broke skin. On our daughter, he wanted her treat. She was trying to get him to sit and instead he jumped. She put her hand up, and he tried to bring her down to reach the treat....thus, grabbed her neck.
I don't think he was trying to kill her.
HOWEVER.... the aggression towards our other dog WAS aggression and was meant to hurt.

We have not fed them together but separate bowls at separate parts of the yard...
I DO realize all these behaviors are normal untrained dog behaviors, but in our situation, it was too much.

I do think he is aggressive towards children, but not teeth showing death barking.... BUT, he would run down and bite a child.

He is a biter. :) I really hope somebody gets him, I really did like him, but it would NOT be fair to have to chain him.

r. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diana said...

You know what really strikes me about this conversation here in the comments? I hear people say the same things about CHILDREN all the time! I have children who act very much like what your dog described with your RADical doggy. :-) I hear everything from "Oh pooh, you're over reacting. My kids do that, too! This is normal kid stuff. Lighten up! You have a parenting problem, not a kid problem and you need more training." to "Duh. You should have known what you were getting into...which is why I don't do it myself" to "It's too hard. I could never do it. It's not worth the risk or the trouble." I even hear people tell me all the time that my children who sometimes act like this untrained herding dog who is acting on survival instinct need a dog to help them learn to love.

Um, yah. We have enough males around here already jockying for the top spot! While I do agree that pets can be good for kids, they wouldn't be for my kids (one of them in particular) or for our family situation. Animals would be more in harms way than not by being here...which is why we don't have animals.

So sorry you had to go through this, Christie. But, I commend you for taking a chance on your CHILDREN and having the patience and resources and skills to train them and teach them and love them and not give up when others weren't willing to take the risk and when others before you either didn't do their job or didn't have the resources to train them when they were young. Thank you even more for realizing a dog is not the same as a child and for putting the needs of your children and your family first.

Muddled Muse said...

I'm sorry that Stetson had to go back, but any dog that will bite you is not one to have around children. Period. Having him pull down Anna must have been really scary for you and her!

I hope things settle down and y'all can focus on enjoying Guess.

Mike and Christie said...

When we were getting ready to send Stetson back, the very thing we were concerned about, both Mike and I, was that Alli would interpret us sending Stetson back, with disruption of her.

It was some very careful waters we had to flow through....

One thing that really helped, was she is enjoying our book "Hinds Feet on High Places", so when Fear, Bitterness, Pride, and Self Pity come around.... (all characters in the allegory) we call on the Shepherd to help us.... Sorrow and Suffering also help us to call on the Shepherd.

We made it very clear that Stetson is not being sent back because he was a bad dog. And that Children are NOT the same as people.
We had a long talk about how our society has raised the level of dogs to people, and they are very much NOT people. Anna a PERSON is WAY more important than a dog, though we respect and love dogs, it is not at the level we respect and love people.
I do hope Stetson finds a "RIGHT" home.

r. said...

Diana,

I'm sorry you read the comments that way. I was trying to explain why a dog might still be adoptable even though he hunts and kills chickens and even if he herds goats. The original explanation said he wouldn't be suitable for a home around any other living beings but cattle and horses. I am an active volunteer and adoption coordinator for a rescue that deals with this breed of dog in particular. It pained me to see a dog labeled as being not fit for being around people or dogs at all, and possibly put to death, for behaviors he was bred to do instinctively and which may have been misinterpreted. And this is why I followed up.

The fact of the matter is that "biting" can mean a lot of things, as Mike/Christie's followup comment indicated. But if he was returned to the shelter with no explanation other than that he "bit children" then they probably would have to put him down. That was my concern and that was why I went into greater detail in my comments and asked exactly what kind of biting it was.

I'm sorry my comment hit a nerve.

Rebecca

Mike and Christie said...

Rebecca, your comments are welcome. I know that is what you are concerned about. :)
My blog is rather broad. LOL
I am not sure if you know or not, but most of my blog is about adoption related issues.

Many of our children have been through awful disruptions and trauma in their lives. They would possibly associate their own disruptions with that of returning a dog.
Because many of them feel less than.
Diana is very good at speaking for herself, but if it is ok, I'll say, she has been through much with her own hurting children, and has been criticized harshly many times. I think possibly she was feeling your asking me questions the same as others who have given her much grief.
Believe me, there is a difference! :)

Do you think you could take Stetson?
Right now he is in quarantine for 10 days....and they are going to assess him.
I think he will come off to them fine....just like he did for us.
He is VERY Smart... sorta "Rapter" smart. LOL

It was scary seeing him drag Anna down, who btw is VERY good with all animals.

The good news is that she isn't afraid and just took it in stride.

Alli woke up this a.m. and fed Guess and walked him before putting him in the side yard.... and she seemed WAY less overwhelmed.
Anna played Ball with him for a little bit and now... it is time for worship.
Happy Lord's Day to all. And it is Palm Sunday! The very important beginning to a very important week. :)
Resurrection Sunday next week. :)

r. said...

Christine, I talked to our regional coordinator, but it appears that we don't have any open foster spots currently . . . :-/ I'm going to pass along all your information about him, just in case though.

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