No Cookie for You: You don’t get a medal for failing

23 Jul

So we’re going to tell you a story.

Yes, yes it is.

Once upon a time there was a rescue puppy. A well-meaning rescuer adopted said puppy and from the beginning there were problems. Nearly a decade, multiple attacks on adults, children and other dogs and a total lack of any successfully incorporated management later, and he was euthanized after attacking an octogenarian. But don’t worry because the rescuer saved him from himself. The, incredibly sanctimonious, end.

After hearing this story our heads just explodes into what we can only describe as rage confetti. In the near decade this person had “tried everything” but he was great at home so…

What the Actual Fuck?

The most irritating part of any of this isn’t even that the dog was so amazingly mismanaged that he had to be put down, it’s that he wasn’t put down sooner. We here at TDS are big believers in the realities of rescues;  you cannot and 100% should not save them all. However, if you make the decision to save one of these dogs ( who in most other circumstances should be put down), you are committing to a literal lifetime of management–not shitty half-assed management, but real, rigorous, consistent and safe handling of a dog who is a risk to everyone around them.

This is the kind of management that sucks. It’s inconvenient. It’s restrictive in the extreme. It means that you can’t just do what you want with your dog when you want to and barriers and precautions for safety are always at the forefront. It means muzzles, cancelled vacations, and a kennel run, and signage and crating and walking at non-busy times. It means, yes Virginia, there is the all important quality of life question. He bit multiple people through a muzzle? That’s quite a trick. He chased people down the driveway? That’s mighty hard to do in a crate inside the house. That quality of life was not even an issue until this far along tells us that whatever bullshit management was in place was not enough and clearly not well executed. We know people with extremely unstable dogs and their management regimes are unreal and well-beyond what most households should or can undertake. Their primary concerns are safety followed shortly thereafter by well-being. When the two can no longer be balanced, they do the right thing. A freak-accident in their carefully managed home turns into a nightmare. They are heartbroken, and rightfully so, when they must do the right thing for them. No one else was ever in danger of their dog since their vigilance with strangers never faltered but unstable is unstable. Even with restrictions in place, a single error and you can’t go back to how it was before.

So here’s some real talk. You don’t get a medal for failing (unless you are involved in youth sports or science fairs). You don’t get cookies or head-pats for consistently and thoroughly putting others at risk because he didn’t chew shit in your house and was sweet at home (You know other than the raging instability and bite history ). Multiple bites on multiple people is not okay. Poor management of a dog with multiple bites on multiple people is unacceptable on every single level. You failed every person and dog that was bitten after the first time with poor management which should have been a clue after the second, third, hell even fourth bites. We’re  truly sorry that you are sad and blaming yourself, but before you attempt to rescue yet another sad-sack rescue nightmare, take these words into consideration.

Saving the unsaveable doesn’t earn you extra points. There is no special place in heaven for people who keep dogs who attack children (and if there is we don’t think it’s the nice kind of special) and you’re not getting any kind of extra karmic bump for being inconvenienced by proper management. Keeping a truly dangerous dog alive is a selfish choice in 100% of all situations but it doesn’t have to be a bad choice if it’s done well.

So we guess what we’re saying is this: If you’re going to be selfish. do it right. If you can’t or won’t do it right, then you don’t need to have that dog and more importantly, that dog doesn’t need you.  Are you willing to put your life on hold for one dog who will likely never be safe in everyday situations? Are you willing to dramatically alter every interaction you could ever expose this dog to? Are you willing to spend years hunting for work-arounds, long-term behavior management techniques, trainers and behaviorists with a clue and the money that flows out of your wallet with each new attempt and in many cases failure? It is a hard choice and making that choice “to save” or not is heartbreaking, but ultimately it comes down to reality. If there is no safety net (Your dog’s breeder or rescue; Do not cut them out of any temperament-related decisions. It’s info they need to have)  it is up to you, your dog’s advocate to make the hard choice.

The End.

30 Responses to “No Cookie for You: You don’t get a medal for failing”

  1. Lee (@sparrow73) July 23, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

    I wish I could find a support group for people in rescue who are OPPOSED to no-kill. It is an incredibly tough thing to discuss in this day and age of bleeding hearts, who think every single animal must be saved no matter the circumstances. The zealous no kill people make sheltering much more difficult for those of us firmly planted in reality. I appreciate this post.

    • Therese July 23, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

      Sorry. True NO KILL means you can euthanize any dog that is too sick, too injured or too aggressive. Shelters that claim they are “No Kill” who release dangerous dogs into the public aren’t doing the right thing, they’re being foolish – and bleeding hearts. I get so tired of people who don’t have a full understanding of what actual NO KILL is and just want to kill because they can or kill because it’s easy.

      • Maureen August 11, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

        I find this very confusing. “No Kill” means you MAY kill under certain circumstances? If that is the case, then I am not surprised that people don’t have a “full understanding of what actual No Kill is”. Unless of course, the term “No Kill” is being used to fool people into thinking that no matter what the problem, all the dogs that go into a “No Kill” somehow live happily ever after. If a No Kill is euthanizing for any reason other than for immediate humanitarian purposes in which it would be cruel not to euthanize, then by definition of the two words used, they are not “No Kill”.

      • Mel Carlin August 20, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

        NO dog lives “happily” ever after in a shelter. “No Kill” can be torture for a dog doomed to spend eight or ten years in a cage. True “No Kill” can put shelter workers & potential adopters at risk in the case of aggressive dogs. In fact, keeping an aggressive dog alive in the shelter or adopting it out can put EVERY dog in the shelter at risk by opening the shelter to lawsuits. People need to get real – there are very limited venues where aggressive dogs are acceptable (pretty much premise guarding dogs & stock guarding dogs in areas where herd predation is human not animal). Police & Military dogs are not aggressive – they are highly trained in appropriate use of force – which is very different than a dog that bites according to its own personal agenda. There is no place in today’s litigious world for an aggressive “pet”.

    • k9mythbuster July 28, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

      There is a FB group called “Balanced No-Kill” which posts rational information to combat the nonsense.

  2. Chloe Brown July 23, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

    I take exception to your theory that only rescues need a life time of management. All dogs, regardless their origin, require constant appropriate physical and mental exercise and stimulation. Shelters are full of “pure bred” dogs and pups that mis guided and misinformed owners do not know how to ‘handle’.

    • TheDogSnobs July 23, 2015 at 5:24 pm #

      Rescue doesn’t apply to just shelter dogs, but to the people who view their dogs as being saved by their only one true person who cares.
      I’ve personally repo-ed a dog from an owner who was so overwhelmed they were euthanasia discussions. Thankfully he got back to his breeder for a much needed reality check and is now happy in a new home.

      This discussion is about dangerous dogs, not just “mistunderstood muffincakes”.

      • Chloe July 23, 2015 at 10:04 pm #

        Sadly I do see “dangerous” dogs in the Shelter that I volunteer in. It was relatively easy to understand why the terribly ill dogs had to be euthanized, but it took a while for me to rationalize the dispatching of those seriously demented with extreme separation anxiety, massive dog aggression, unabated food aggression, etc, etc. But I realized that these dogs have untreatable mental issues making them unhappy in their own dog skin and unable to co-habit with humans. People who think “no kill” is the way to go…haven’t spent a day in a shelter. There is certainly a place for rehabilitation, but there is also a line that shouldn’t be crossed-safety of people and animals.

  3. Kate July 23, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

    As bleeding heart as I am, I actually believe these dangerous dogs are not happy. How can any being be happy if your are full of rage or fear most if not all of the time. Euthanizing a dog that can not be rehabilitated is as loving as letting your sick dog go. I am in rescue and don’t believe no kill is a reality, but it is a great stretch goal.

    • TheDogSnobs July 23, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

      Mental illness is dogs is real. Being “wired wrong” is real and often the kindest thing to do is euthanize.

      • Debra in TX August 5, 2015 at 1:32 am #

        It is absolutely real, and no matter how difficult the choice of euthanasia is, sometimes it’s very necessary. Excellent post.

  4. greenfoley July 23, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

    Thank you for this. Recently I gained custody of my mom’s two Chihuahuas when she was moved into an adult foster care home. One had a bite history that I was sure was a result of (lack of) training and rough handling and that he would be fine with me. After a couple of months of working with him he was better in general but the more comfortable he got with me, ironically, the meaner he got and the shorter his hair trigger was. After he bit me through heavy leather work gloves hard enough to make my finger numb for hours from the pressure, I decided the best thing to do was to put him down. Even at 4.8lbs he was dangerous. Oh the guilt. It was for the best, his best and those around him, I know. Still. Guilt that I was unable to save him from himself. RIP Little Dog.

  5. Lisa Gapen July 23, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

    It continues to amaze me that (if only I had more writing skill!) I would be writing almost the exact same articles and thoughts you express.
    After 20+ years training I have seen some truly unbalanced dogs and many more that could have been ok in the right hands but sadly, were ultimately just too dangerous to keep safely around society. The sad truth is that, for the simple fact of overpopulation, dogs will be euthanize. Why spend massive resources on a dog that is truly unbalanced and/or presents a high bite risk, or even those that will require major medical care for a lifetime, when that same expenditure could save many more healthy, balanced dogs and go toward educating people on proper care, training, and spay/neuter.
    As always, well said DogSnobs! Thanks for the spot on honesty and common sense.

    • Mel Carlin July 24, 2015 at 1:19 am #

      Thank you! I cringe when I see pleas for donations for Fluffy’s $6000 surgery, knowing that it means that 18 to 20 dogs won’t get their spay/neuter & wormings & shots and will miss their chance at a new home…

      • Carlyandthefurkids July 29, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

        I’ve always wondered the same thing myself. I get that a person who has a dog/cat and wants to spend thousands of dollars on that one animal to live a full life because it’s your responsibility to do so…but when an animal doesn’t have a family and good money is thrown after bad what then? Not everything can be “saved” and sometimes as the article and numerous people have said…sometimes it is kinder to euthanize than to have a life of containment, pain, fear, aggression and ultimately misery?

        Mind you…I’ve been told I’m heartless whereas I like to think of myself as a realist.

      • Mel Carlin July 30, 2015 at 12:44 am #

        You sound like a realist to me : )

  6. Mel July 23, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

    I would “Like” this a million times over if I could. My head explodes over this shit too. I shook my head when a foster dog killed the resident elderly dog and the foster asked for someone to please save the Foster dog. Never mind that her husband witnesses the whole thing, could not save his dog, and was now terrified of the Foster dog. “Yes!!!” Said a chorus of animal rescuers. “Let us save him!”

    So dog was transported to a No Kill shelter in Iowa for someone else to deal with his problems. And if not that, it will likely be his home for the rest of his life, because how many people will adopt a dog who kills other dogs???
    I just cannot understand the logic of that.

  7. Jayne July 23, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    I love you Dog Snobs! I’ve met many dogs who were MESSED UP mentally who came from breeders, adopted to people who did everything right from day one, and in spite of every advantage, were dangerous. I’ve met dogs from truly HORRIBLE places, who were treated AWFULLY, who were sweet & non-aggressive. The aggressive ones tend to live in constant fear/anxiety/stress and that is okay? As a rescuer, running a responsible rescue is hard because we do have to make tough, LOGICAL decisions. We have to make the choice, as to what risk each animal poses to humans, and other animals for that matter. I understand people love their dog, but if it was a human, say, running around stabbing dogs & people, we’d be okay with that?? But a dog bites and it’s all oh, poor baby, let’s let him do it again & again?

  8. Ann Schnerre July 23, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

    A-fricking-men. I deal with both owners who truly want to do the best they can by their dogs (rescue or not), and numerous self righteous “rescue” owners who will not hear anything that may burst their bubble.

    There ARE worse things than death.

    • Sharon Marquis July 24, 2015 at 1:01 am #

      Bravo! This article was the bottom line realistic truth! Not ALL dogs can or should be rescued, especially when it puts people and/or other dogs at risk. Thank you for speaking the hard truth. I hope people are listening!

    • Mel Carlin July 24, 2015 at 1:22 am #

      Amen to your amen : )

  9. JoAnne July 24, 2015 at 3:16 pm #

    What a well written article Dog Snobs. I get so many dogs that were rescued into my training facility, and just want to throw my hands up with WHY? I feel equally as bad when people bring in a puppy to me with smiles on their faces, and I look at this puppy and want to tell them to run as fast as they can away. Once a person came in with a 12 week old puppy that scared them (a Katrina offspring). The dog attacked anyone who walked even into the kitchen. I took one look at this dog, and thought, take it back to the shelter. I reached for the puppy, and he literally lept through the air at me latching onto my hand, and I couldn’t get him off. PUPPY TEETH. I had a scar from this. This was the peoples first puppy ever. They had a contract that he goes back to the shelter. The person that adopted him out I knew, and she was soooo mad at me that I told them to take this “SWEET” puppy back. She said he was fine, and adopted him out again, and he came back again, and lost track after that.

  10. A. Dohmen July 25, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

    I think many people would do well to read the article I am going to post here. Sometimes being euthanized is kinder than being ‘rescued’. I’ve literally gone into heavy debt that I could not get out of in order to keep my beloved pets alive for as long as possible – that is, as long as they are happy and have quality of life. Last year I was forced to euthanize my cat after 16 years of companionship when his heart could no longer keep the water from flooding his lungs. However, in the story that is being criticized here, the owner did the right thing. The dog was losing it, could no longer function normally except in a limited environment, and very likely would eventually start attacking its own owner. Even in the country the dog was very likely to continue its down-slide. As someone else here said, mental illness does affect animals. Now here is the article, which makes me terrified for those animals in shelters who are ‘rescued’ by people who think their mission in life is to save defenseless animals:

  11. Paula July 26, 2015 at 12:20 am #

    OMG – did you try to wade through the comments on that article??? Hundreds of them bemoaning the fact that poor Sutter had to die and some berating the Saintly Owner for putting him down. There are lots of places for dangerous dogs to live out their lives, doncha know? What is wrong with people?? I’m 63 years old and have loved dogs since I first drew breath – but dogs do not come before humans. I must stop now before I become profane.

    • Mel Carlin July 28, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

      THANK YOU! You are exactly right dogs do NOT come before people, cats do not come before people, horses, cows, pigs & chickens do not come before people, lions, tigers & elephants do not come before people…

  12. Jeff Borchardt July 26, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

    Reblogged this on daxtonsfather and commented:
    Excellent blog post. The comments are wonderful too.

  13. Erika July 26, 2015 at 4:19 pm #

    Years ago husband and I adopted an 8 week old husky/heeler mix. We were not new dog owners and have always had dogs growing up. This dog was pure evil. We tried so hard to “fix” her for 3 years but after she tried to attack my son (whom she grew up with) and my husband we decided to euthanize her. She also never wanted to be in the house with us and ran off for days before returning home. We couldn’t find her another home because she was so unpredictable. Thank you for making me realize the dog was wired wrong and we weren’t horrible dog owners.

  14. Diane July 29, 2015 at 6:39 am #

    It’s a rough situation. I had a mastiff around thirty years ago who could not be taken out of the house. Not only was he was dog aggressive but he would try to leap at people literally going for their throats. At almost 200 lbs., he was a clear danger. The dog was, in plain english, nuts. But he was the sweetest dog in the world to my husband and me, and to our young daughter and any friends she brought home. You could take food out of his mouth. He spent ten years staying in the house except for trips to the vet when he wore a muzzle. We tried everything, even taking him to a university veterinary school “expert” behaviorist who recommended he be euthanized. So he spent his life in the house (luckily we had a fenced large yard) and we pretty much went nowhere because we couldn’t bring him and he couldn’t very well be boarded. Our lives were pretty restricted but I believe he had a good life for his ten years.

  15. wkmtca July 30, 2015 at 3:26 am #

    i was just told the other day on an obedience list i was insensitive and mean for telling someone their golden needed to be put down because it keeps attacking other dogs and when pulled off goes after the owner. the owner has so far been quicker than the dog so hasn’t gotten bit but, she’ll be too slow one day. and this dog has been shown in rally and novice. i am linking this to that group so they can see there are LOTS of mean and insensitive people out there.

  16. RowanVT August 3, 2015 at 8:02 am #

    I work at a ‘no-kill’ shelter. We have definitely euthanised dogs for severe behaviour issues (unfortunately the people on the committee tend to let the little dogs get away with things the big dogs don’t…) up to an including dogs that were perfectly safe with people so long as there were no other dogs around. One lovely american bully boy was the gentlest, sweetest lovebug, but was so dog aggressive that he would redirect onto the person holding his leash. Unadoptable. If my own dog ever attacked a person, or me, it would be immediate euthanasia. I do not have the time, personality, resources, or desire, to manage such an animal. I’d be heartbroken, but I know my limits and the safety of those around me, human and animal, come first.

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