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Does he live or does he die

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#21 Willikers


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Posted 27 September 2005 - 05:28 AM


I'm looking through this thread and I don't see where you have actually had a dog euthanized before, for any reason. It is a terribly weighty decision. But could your aversion to making this decision be fear of the unknown? I too, recently had an animal euthanized.

I was sick for months with the burden of the decision, laying awake half the night, crying, fretting, wondering if there was just some way I hadn't thought of to avoid it, to buy more time, it was horrible. But once I set the act in motion, it all unfolded in a very organic way. It really was the best choice, the most loving choice, and it was done by a wonderful gentle mobile vet in my home under peaceful, normal comfortable conditions. It really opened my eyes to how much I'd been trying to avoid this ultimate responsibility. Once it was done, I felt I'd crossed a threshhold too, of sorts. I still cry when I think of it, but I know it was the very best death for a creature that could not live in this world.

It seems clear what must happen. The next time he bites, and there will be a next time, you may not be in the position to ease him out of the world. He may be seized and euthanized at a shelter after quarantine or some such horror. So, if you decide to euthanize Sam, consider that it might make you feel better, and be less of a scene, given his behavior at the vet, to have it done at home. I wish you peace of mind.

#22 sea4th


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Posted 27 September 2005 - 05:41 AM

I'm looking through this thread and I don't see where you have actually had a dog euthanized before, for any reason.

I never had a dog euthanized - except for the one that bit my daughter - for behavioral issues. That being said, within the last year, I lost 4 of my beloved old timers, 2 of whom I held as they were euthanized. One of them was my Pete dog, my heart dog. (the year anniversary of his death is coming up in a few weeks). The other was Tattie. Dolly and Lena made the decision for me. My last GSD, Major, I had to make the decision to euthanize him and I lay on the floor next to him, holding him as he died, trying hard not to cry, because even through his distress, my own distress upset him.

There have been a few others and these were decisions made when life no longer had dignity for these dogs that I loved.

I don't love Sam. I don't have a bond with him, which is why I needed objective points of view--IOW, am I missing something here? I do owe him *something*, whether it is a quality life or a dignified death.

I wish you peace of mind.

Thank you.
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#23 MrSnappy


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Posted 27 September 2005 - 06:01 AM

Originally posted by sea4th:
I really do, but do I have the guts to do it? That's the question. The fact that Sam hasn't lived with me and therefore I haven't bonded with him--or he with me -- makes it a tad easier--for me.

You know what? Whenever I have had to do it, it has made it easier - theoretically - for me also, because except for once it was not my own foster. Nevertheless, I take the dog in to be euthanized and believe me, I cry every time. It is always hard because I hate doing it.

My vets always grill me before we do it, as they will not put a healthy animal to sleep. But they always also praise me afterward and tell me they wish more rescue groups they work with would be so *responsible*. I never feel responsible at the time, I feel like a big asshole and a monster. But the reason I do it IS because I am being responsible. I remember that later on.

Having said all that, here is how I generally make the decision - if I even suspect it needs to be done, it probably does. Otherwise, I wouldn't think about doing it at all.

I wish there were savvy home clamouring to take on these dogs. No such luck. When I do get a home like that, I want to clone them 500 times for future use.

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#24 sea4th


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Posted 27 September 2005 - 06:15 AM

Made the appointment. Next Wednesday at 10:00.

His foster mom is one of my coworkers and we work next to each other. Doesn't help that she's been crying all morning.
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#25 SQinAZ


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Posted 27 September 2005 - 06:33 AM

(((HUGS))) to you both.

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 06:45 AM

Vicki, I'm so sorry. This whole thread is bringing me to tears, but you have to do what needs to be done. And the others are right--think of the lucky dog who gets to take his place. So, even though Sam won't be able to be rehomed, with his last act he will be saving another dog, and another person from a future bite. Thank you for making this difficult decision, and for the rescue work that you do. We're all here for you.

#27 SoloRiver


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Posted 27 September 2005 - 06:50 AM

I don't love Sam. I don't have a bond with him.

Well, I think that's it in a nutshell right there.

You all know I have a dog with issues. But he is my heart's dog. Solo and I have a very unusual bond and we did from the moment I brought him home, even if I didn't realize it yet -- he certainly did. He knew I was His Person. I know now that he is My Dog. If we hadn't found each other, I'm not sure there would have been a place in this world for him. I would be in a very different place than I am right now. Solo changed everything for me. We are both lucky that we found each other.

Solo has never offered and would never offer to lay a tooth on me. I am also pretty confident that he would never really injure another person, as he's had plenty of opportunities to really nail someone (not that I am proud of this, but it's what happens when you first get a dog with problems you are not prepared for) and he never has. I don't consider Solo a dangerous dog. If he were in rescue again, he'd probably be unadoptable, yes, but actually dangerous, I don't think so. Still, rescue is about triage. I personally think the Solos of the world are worth saving, but they have to find Their People, the ones with the heart and love to put the work in. Without the bond, the heart and love simply isn't there and there is no chance of success.

Maybe Sam is someone's Solo. If that person doesn't find him in time, they'll both miss out, but that's life. If Sam's foster is not His Person, then you don't have much of a choice I guess.

I don't like these discussions. My position is usually, to be honest, "Don't give up on this dog. The whole world has given up on this dog." But my experience is different from most people's, and so I see things differently.

Most people I know who have had a dog like Solo (a) don't have the dog anymore (the dog is dead), at least in part because (:rolleyes: they were never really bonded to the dog, and © will never have one like that again. Well, I still have Solo. If I could fix things so that he would live forever and be with me to the end, I would. Failing this, I would do it again -- I would adopt another Solo. Not while I have Solo, but sometime in the future, I am sure some damaged dog will find his way to me, and I will take him in. If he has half the heart and soul Solo has, it will be worth it.

If you can find someone like me, let Sam go. He and she will both learn worlds of good from the experience. But, I realize I am unusual. There aren't many like me to go around, and a lot of damaged dogs who need to find Their People.

Good luck, whatever happens.
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#28 Willikers


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Posted 27 September 2005 - 07:11 AM

But Melanie, here is the difference:

"Solo has never offered and would never offer to lay a tooth on me. I am also pretty confident that he would never really injure another person, as he's had plenty of opportunities to really nail someone"... " "and he never has. I don't consider Solo a dangerous dog."

Sam nailed Vicki quite freely. He didn't like what she was doing, so he nailed her. I agree that many dogs who are euthanized could be great pets with rehabilitation. I specialize in rehabilitating undersocialized dogs in my rescue work, because they are worth saving, they DO just need to find someone special to lead them into the world of humans. I have 2 such dogs myself. One is a big nutter who is a perfect dog under the right circumstances but I'd never ever adopt him to anyone else. We are willing to rearrange our lives to manage his, so that he can be safe from himself. But even he would never look me in the eye and bite me, and I think that is where the difference lies between our situations, and that of Vicki and Sam. Some dogs are a poor, but worthy risk. Others are just plain bad risks. I understand how you feel and I agree in part, but I do think that this dog sounds fundamentally different from our dogs.

#29 sea4th


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Posted 27 September 2005 - 07:15 AM

If you can find someone like me, let Sam go. He and she will both learn worlds of good from the experience. But, I realize I am unusual. There aren't many like me to go around, and a lot of damaged dogs who need to find Their People.

I too believe that there is a person somewhere out there for Sam. I also believe that very few dogs actually have to be euthanized for behavioral issues. I'm hoping against hope that the guy who was supposed to meet him will e-mail me back and say he'd like to give Sam a try anyway.

Even if that special person is out there for him, do I hold onto him indefinately until that person materializes? I've thought about it and thought about it. Every dog out there deserves no less than their own special human, someone who'll make their eyes light up when they are together. That's what I look for----a look that says "where have you been all my life"--on the human's and dog's part.

I think if Sam lived with me, a bite might never have occurred. I think if he lived with me, I'd have bonded with him. If I had a bond with him, I'd probably try to work out his "issues".

Melanie, you went to the nth degree to have what you have now with Solo. All dogs should be as lucky as Solo. Any dog owner should be so fortunate to have the bond that both of you have.
A story like your's and Solo's story is the exception rather than the rule, unfortunately.

Lots of things are going thru my head right now. First, that I took Sam with the intention of rehoming him. Those odds within the last 24 hours have been greatly reduced. OTOH, I've taken in dogs with the same intention, and they wound up staying because they were pretty much unadoptable due to behaviors, neurological issues, etc. Billy is one dog. He is a PB border collie, good bloodlines, but something happened along the way. Before he came to me, he was called "Crazy Billy" or "Poor Billy". While Billy is still crazy, he's no longer poor Billy. He's nipped me in the past, but those couple of incidences were different from last night's episode. Billy and I have a bond that no one who knew him before, would believe was possible.

Is it possible with Sam? I don't know.
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#30 Woodenlion


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Posted 27 September 2005 - 07:39 AM

I too have a dog with issues. I never bothered me that I had to be cautious all the time. It is just how it is. My new vet said to me after one of our many socialization visits, that if I had not adopted her, Cocoa would probably have been put down. When I first got her you could not touch her. The wind blowing terrified her. As ignorant as I was about how to live with and train this dog, I refused to give up on her as I had made a commitment. A promise if you will. She is turning into an incredibly loving dog. She will always have issues and I will always be cautious but we deal with it. She has never bitten me; attempted once. I agree that dogs like this need to find their "person". Unfortunately, this rarely happens.


#31 WWBC


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Posted 27 September 2005 - 07:55 AM

You can't rescue them all. Nice theory, but not realistic. Sam bit Vicki, someone he was not familiar with, he has also bitten his foster who he runs to for reassurance. Big difference between Sam and humans and Melanie and Solo, Melanie said it herself, Solo would never lay a tooth on her. A dog like Sam, if adopted out is a huge liability, personally and financially for the rescue that places him. Basically there are two choices, Sam could perhaps stay with Vicki and be "managed" and hopefully not bite her or someone at her home or Sam could be released from this life that he doesn't understand and be safe to humans and himself. Tough choice. Again for your own safety and to prevent taking a chance on losing everything you own and/or love put Sam down. Hold him, love him, cry for him and the future he will not know, but let him go.


#32 karrie


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Posted 27 September 2005 - 08:57 AM

Vicki, ((((HUGS)))) for you and Sam. Sam's soulmate may never show up. They may not be meant to be. If they are or were they will be there before you have to put him down. I agree with what the man told you yrs ago, Sam is hurting but he has a loving foster ( "mothers anything on 2 or 4 legs")and he still intentionally bit. Love and care are not healing him. May he find peace and his confusions and hurts disappear.

#33 Hector


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Posted 27 September 2005 - 10:12 AM

I have been following this thread and I just re-read your starting post. You wrote "He's the same about his nails being trimmed and he had to be muzzled at the vet's when he got his shots a couple of months ago."

I am sorry that you got bitten and that now you have this dilemma. From reading your post it is hard to get an exact picture of Sam's behavior. In view of what happened a question arises: since Sam had to be muzzled at the vet's then might it have been a good idea to muzzle him again with a real muzzle before trying to work on his ears? My intent is certainly not to make you feel any worse, but I can't help but think that a more cautious approach would have prevented him from biting you.

Could it be that in his "previous life" a human was rough in handling Sam and he now feels that he needs to protect himself from unwanted advances from potentially mean humans that might hurt him? Just trying to look at it from the other end of the leash.

I don't know if the euthanasia option is cast in concrete, but in case you are still considering alternatives here is one that might be worth checking on. Visit here: http://bestfriends.org/

It is the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab Utah which is a no-kill shelter. You can e-mail them at bfnetwork@bestfriends.org . It might be that they could take Sam rather than having him euthanized. Then the problem would arise as to how to ship him there. I would contribute $30 toward an air-freight ride to get him to Las Vegas, NV. From there it is a four hour drive to Kanab. That sounds like a long trip, but at least you could look into it if it sounds feasible.

#34 Deb Mickey

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 10:37 AM

My heart goes to you - such a tough decision.

I, too, have one of these dogs and for the first year we were together I often thought that if I couldn't turn her around she'd have to be put down. There was no way I could in clear conscience place her in another home. She was a fear biter. I think fear biters can be the worst. Like SoloRiver, though, we had a bond and fortunately for us things worked out. She's still with me and most people, not knowing her past, think she's a normal dog. And for the most part she is.

Some years back I attended a seminar given by a well-known & well-respected rescue/shelter personality. A couple questions she would ask when faced with this kind of situation are, "Is the dog adoptable now?" "Will training make the dog adoptable?" "What is the quality of life the dog has now?" "Will it ever improve?" She showed me that in some cases the more humane, kinder thing to do is to put the dog down.

It takes a lot of time, work, patience, knowledge and effort to turn these kinds of dog around. If it works, you can't ask for a more loyal pet. If it doesn't work, well, you have a dog going through life on pins and needles, never confident, never relaxed or assured. To me, not a nice way to go through life.

Again - my heart goes to you...

Good luck

#35 Jabawaki



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Posted 29 September 2005 - 11:42 AM

Originally posted by sea4th:
Dilemma here. One of my rescues is in a foster home. Sam is possibly PB BC, but there is just as much of a chance that he may be a mix. Certain behaviors---just don't click.

Sam is a lot of dog, but very affectionate with his foster mom, very bonded to her, but Sam's got "issues", such as resource guarding, an aversion to being handled to have his nails clipped, getting shots at the vet.

I might have a prospective home for Sam---BUT---and this is a BIG BUT---today, I went over after work to wash out one of his ears since there's a little gunk in it.

The SOB laid my hand open. He nailed me once on the finger and drew blood. I wrapped the lead around his muzzle and tried to apply the liquid to his ear and this time he laid my hand wide open.

The bite was intentional and not a reaction of pain because his ear doesn't hurt. He just did not want his ears (this time) touched. He's the same about his nails being trimmed and he had to be muzzled at the vet's when he got his shots a couple of months ago. He knew damn well what he was doing when he bit me.

The foster just plain does not have the mentality to work with a dog like his, although he adores her, but will growl when he doesn't want to relinquish something. He did nip his foster mom one time when she tried to put a Halti on him.

So now Sam has a bite--me--under his belt.

So what do we do with him now. I'll probably bring him to my house---and it's gonna be a culture shock for him--my own dogs who don't take any guff from anyone and me---and I don't tolerate biting.

Now, I wonder if Sam is pretty much unadoptable. I can see where he'd be OK with a knowledgable dog person, but knowledgable dog people are few and far between.

So my question is-----is it curtains for Sam?

THAT DOG BITES! - That's what my Dad used to say.
I know, I know, lots of you will say he's trainable, I disagree. I love dogs, period. I had a dog that bit someone - for no reason and it was intentional - it's dangerous to people and a liability.
The dog has to go, and you can sleep good at night afterwards knowing he won't bite or harm a child.

#36 sandra s.

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 12:38 PM

Originally posted by Jabawaki:
The dog has to go, and you can sleep good at night afterwards knowing he won't bite or harm a child.

Ouch. I don't think it's that easy. At this point, this could turn into an ugly, semi-philosophical "are humans worth more than other living things?" discussion.
To me, they are not. Who is most important to someone depends, in my personal opinion, not on species but only on the "bond" described by SoloRiver.

I think this story is heartbreaking, and I wish so much that I could help somehow, but I can't :rolleyes: . I can only do what someone else has already done, and wish you peace of mind.

#37 Miztiki


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Posted 29 September 2005 - 01:13 PM

Vicki, I hope your finger and hand heals up quickly with no complications. I'm so sorry this happened to you. I'm even more sorry that you are faced with deciding whether this dog lives or dies. I know this is weighing heavily on your mind.

Yes, there is someone out there for Sam. Realistically it would be a while before you connect with that person - if at all. In the meantime Sam apparently has no bite inhibition and that makes him a real risk. That's the sad truth.

I think quite highly of you and know that you will do what is best for everyone. God loves dogs too you know, and it's my belief that they too will know a world where there is no evil or pain or suffering or bad things that they feel the need to defend themselves from. Surely there will be lots of someone's for Sam in that world.

Lots of love to you Vicki, and lots of love to Sam also.

#38 punkrockbc


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Posted 29 September 2005 - 02:12 PM

how sad :rolleyes: ... I have no advice, except that no matter what decision you make, you've given Sam a chance to be happy ~ and there are innumerable other BC's, well-adjusted and sounds BC's, out there that could REALLY use your help. If you do decide to pts Sam (it def sounds like that is warrented) you and his foster Mom gave him more of a chance than anyone probably has in his life, and you're doing Sam and the general public a service in helping to end his suffering.

#39 Joe Anne

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 02:39 PM

sandra s. Ditto to everything you said, my sentiments exactly...
I too wish peace of mind
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#40 Columbia MO

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 02:44 PM


Regarding the foster dog that bit your friend in the face....

Last I knew, Patricia McConnell, Ph.D. dog behaviorist and author, has ALWAYS recommended euthanasia for a dog that has bitten a person on the face. She believes that dogs that bite legs, hands and arms can be worked with successfully (or at least managed), but dogs that actually lunge up and bite people in the faces are a whole different ballgame and very dangerous.

I'm speaking from the point of view of someone who owns a fear aggressive dog that has lightly nipped one person and has never bruised/drawn blood. My oldest BC was genetically fearful from birth. I quit my day job when I first got him and spent 6 months, all day, every day, desensitizing him to people. He was handfed by 4000 people during that time and has met more on a daily basis since then. But he will still erupt in an aggressive display with no warning--all but one time he has been on the far side of a fence during these displays.

Luckily, I know his triggers and can manage the situation. He is 100% safe at shows and with kids and visitors. His triggers are ethnic men appearing "out of nowhere" while we're on a walk and running up to him (he ignores them if they don't run), or people approaching my very isolated, 5' fenced backyard when I'm not home.

As much as I totally adore this dog, I have to say that I NEVER want to go through life with another fearful dog. Fear aggression is FAR worse than aggression due to dominance. Dominant dogs are usually easy to change through NILIF and generally the owners can avoid situations that set the dog off by removing rawhides, feeding in a crate, moving the dog off furniture using a long line, and using positive training methods. Fear aggressive dogs can have so many triggers and be uncomfortable in so many situations that they can "go off" with no warning. The only justification for keeping such a dog (IMHO) is the knowledge that the dog has great bite inhibition or a very high threshold for biting.

Good luck with your decision, whatever you choose.

Columbia, MO

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