This post is part of a series where struggling pet owners submit pleas for help to the expertise of blogland. Everyone’s experiences are unique. If you have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments. What you think common sense may be revolutionary for someone else. You never know what may resonate with someone and keep one more animal out of a shelter. My hope is that together we can help good people, and good animals, feel a little less alone.
Today’s email is a little bit more serious than others have been in the past. The human is a first-time foster parent and the dog involved has already bitten someone. I feel as if this is the path Shiva could have gone down had we not been lucky enough to find the right people. The more support we can provide, even if it’s just a book suggestion, or a kind word, the better. I really hope things will turn around for this lovely puppy:
Gracie* was a 6 month old pit/hound mix. I fostered her for a week, during which I discovered that she is leash reactive. I did my best to begin training her, and very slowly, I could sense that we were getting somewhere. She’s amazing with other dogs off leash, particularly with my Lulu but the second she sees another dog while she’s on leash, she barks loudly. Toward the end of our week together, the shelter had sent over a couple who wanted to meet Gracie, and they all fell in love with each other. I explained the situation as best I could without scaring them away – the love among them was something that I knew could be beneficial for all involved. I impressed upon them that she would need training, and patience, and that I was more than willing to continue to assist in any way I could. They said they understood and off they went.
I referred a friend to them who is a professional dog walker to walk Gracie each day, midday, as the couple both had full time jobs. Unbeknownst to me, the couple lives in a luxury high-rise apartment building – one with narrow dark hallways, thumping music in the elevators, a completely mirrored cavernous lobby. Basically, a place that would be entirely overly stimulating for most dogs, let alone a leash reactive one. Gracie did not flourish, and in fact, regressed to the point where she accidentally bit my friend, the dog walker. The couple then returned Gracie to the shelter the next day.
This is when I contacted a blogging friend. I had found out that if Gracie wasn’t trainable, nor adoptable, they would have to put her down. Heartbroken, I reached out to my friend because of a post she wrote. I needed to understand how to move on. She was more than supportive, and gave me great advice.
Some of that advice included considering taking Gracie back in – which I have now agreed to do. I’m her last chance – which makes me feel a huge amount of pressure to really fix this dog. So now I need your help, because of your experience with Shiva. I live in Manhattan, in an area where there are LOTS of dogs, and LOTS of people. I’m highly limited with places to practice with Gracie, and am sort of stuck on what the proper/best techniques are. She’s working on distraction right now, which is something – but she’s currently in the shelter and deteriorating there. With all of the other dogs around, her anxiety is growing.
I am hoping that you may be able to provide me some advice based on your own experience, but also that you could post this on your blog to see what your readers have to say. Thanks so much for reading and I appreciate any help you could give.
*Names have been changed
If you have a question you would like answered, fill out the contact form and I will post it up as soon as I can. All submissions will remain anonymous.