?

Log in

No account? Create an account
May Robinson [userpic]

Why I prefer dogs to people...

October 26th, 2008 (04:11 pm)
pessimistic

where i am: hanging with Cooper
how i am: pessimistic
accompanied by: House of the Rising Sun, The Animals

I had planned on composing an entry this weekend about Tumble, the youngest of my gang. Originally, I thought she would have been the next and last of the terriers I was going to be posting about here on my lj but apparently I was wrong.

I received an email yesterday from one of my puppy people - they have Tumble's littermate brother Dakota from our last litter, born September, 2003. There's a new human baby in the house and they're experiencing aggression issues with Dakota (not with the baby) and I just have this horrible sinking feeling that in the very near future Dakota is going to be returned to me… discarded like some no longer wanted toy.

Here are Tumble and Dakota at 7 weeks.

This is one of the many reasons I gave up on breeding… with every litter, I agonized over screening each and every potential puppy buyer. Hours on email, on the phone, opening up my home and still, sometimes what seemed like the best of homes simply backfired. And, as a responsible breeder, I'm left with picking up the pieces, which usually means disrupting my home and family with the once perfect puppy that now has issues so-called worthy of being dumped. Better them coming to me than going to a shelter, or worse, of course. In fact, that has always been a requirement in my contracts. I'm still pissed though.

When I interviewed Dakota's family, they were an active family of 5 – dad was an industry worker and mom was a nurse and they had 3 daughters, none under the age of 11 (perfect in my mind for JRTs). They already had experience with Jack Russells, having a female – Zoe – who was actually a daughter of our beloved Tucker (the result of Tucker being bred to a JRT owned by other breeders). Hell, I'd even met some of the family a few years before at a terrier event after they'd sought Tucker out. They'd impressed me by how well they'd done with Zoe so, when they came to me looking for another Tucker kid a few years later, I was very pleased to hear from them. Since my litter of Tucker/Kismet pups was due in a number of weeks, I felt the home held promise. Further interviews and visits ultimately convinced me that they'd do very well with either of the 2 boys we produced in the litter and so they happily chose Dakota.

Here he is, charming us all during one of their visits:


Things started off very well and, since it was a fairly local home, I was even able to keep tabs on their progress because I was taking the same puppy obedience class with Tumble, my keeper from that litter.

The then 7 month old siblings romping after obedience class:
 

After about a year though, things started to change… the family dad was no longer living with them, they'd downsized to a smaller home with a considerably smaller yard and, due to the prowess of one of the kids' soccer skills, they weren't taking the time to carry on with Dakota's training (more obedience work and the agility and flyball the family had been so eager to talk about during the interview process) or doing any of the terrier "stuff" they's intended. In the ensuing years, they've moved at least 3 more times, mom's no longer nursing, has admitted herself to a psyche ward due to stress, and now there's a human baby in the house, born in February… the product of one of the daughters ::sigh::.

Back to the psyche ward story… around 2 years ago, I got a call from the mother of the family's mom, telling me that Dakota needed a temporary home due to his owner being unwell and would we be able to take in Dakota? The woman was willing to take in Zoey but 2 dogs, particularly one as active as Dakota, was more than she could handle. Our answer was yes, of course and, quite frankly once we got further details about the hospital stay, hubby and I fully expected that Dakota would be truly staying and I would either have to keep him or find him a new, hopefully forever family. Much to my surprise though, after about 5 or 6 weeks, his owner came to reclaim him. I still offered to find him a home (knowing by then that he'd be happier in that kind of family situation, as opposed to living with our pack where he'd spent a lot of time groveling around my older males), but no, she loved her baby boy and wanted him back.

And now Dakota has bit and broken the skin (not significant enough for a doctor's visit) on a neighboring child's hand. Unprovoked of course. Uh huh.

Oh, and "he hasn't been the same happy-go-lucky Dakota in this last year even though nothing's changed" around there. Heh. Apparently the addition to their household of the baby in February is a big, fat nothing.

*???*

So, I have yet to talk to Dakota's owners today, though I did send a long email response in the wee hours of last night – giving advice, offering suggestions, asking questions, etc. No matter the long-term outcome, they need a temporary home for him at the least because they are moving yet again and staying with friends for a month in between homes. Friends who have dogs that don't get along with Dakota because apparently he is aggressive around other dogs now.

Of course.

So now my house of 7 dogs (most of them seniors) will likely have the cocky 5 year old interloper moving in with us. Yeah, that would be the one who no longer likes other dogs.

Spiffy. 

Whatever the case, it looks like Dakota's going to be coming to stay with us and, once again I'd be more surprised if they actually came back for him than I will be if they don't.

Ironically, there's a part of me that actually likes the idea of having another Tucker kid under my roof. The timing sucks out loud though. I'm confident he'll get along with my 4 girls but, the boys? Not at all. Dakota's a big boy and if he's learned to fight, he's a genuine threat to Dempsey and Boomer who, at 14 and going on 13 respectively, are now starting to decline in health. Physically, they simply can't hold their own in a fight but, as Jack Russells, they are not going to back down if challenged. It's just not in their natures to roll over. And then there's our big dog Cooper… a male who, at 70 lbs, still thinks he's a Jack Russell and won't put up with shit from other males. There's no doubt in my mind I'll have to start running an additional dog shift which will impact on all of them, giving all of them less family time. Which is unfair to my old boys, especially in their declining years. I'm not in any hurry for Dempsey or Boomer to pass of course but, truthfully, this situation would be so much easier to handle if it happened in that inevitable future instead of now. 

So, yeah, I realize I may be making mountains out of mole-hills but I've seen this too often… owners' unwillingness to risk harm to the new baby (understandable) but equally unwilling to do a damn thing about it but simply give up on their dog.

It breaks my heart.

Here are a few more pictures of the handsome dude, all grown up...

 

 


Comments

Posted by: morganslady (morganslady)
Posted at: October 26th, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC)

It's wonderful that you are a responsible breeder. I've heard horror stories where breeders refused to take back the pup.
At least they contacted you and didn't dump him in a shelter..

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: October 26th, 2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
Terriers - Luna

Oh, I'm definitely thankful for that. About 6 years ago a rescue group in Virginia tracked me down because one of my pups (then also 5) was going to be relinquished to them. I don't know if the owners had been too embarrassed or cowardly or what to track me down but, in those days, I was sure as hell easy to find ::sigh::. Anyway, we coordinated a pickup in Maryland and Chester lived with us until we ultimately lost him to illness. This was another case of distrusting the dog with the baby. I stopped placing my terriers with "young" families after that (i.e. young couples, no kids, just starting out). Figured that Dakota was safe from that kind of scenario though, but didn't take into account the possibility of a teenage pregnancy apparently ::headshake::

Posted by: Invisible Friend (el1ie)
Posted at: October 26th, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC)

(((May)))

That's just bloody awful news, for the poor dog and you and your brood at such a bad time.

I know you will do your best for him but the disruption he could cause? Best case scenario is that his main trouble with other dogs is his current lack of leadership and from being ignored where he is. I very much doubt he's snapped at a child for no reason whatsoever and it's usually people just not taking care to think about their dog, where he is, what he needs and it drives me insane to think it's also probably a very good excuse for them to get rid of him.

It will be harder on your own males I think, but again it depends on how much of this is simply nonsense told on their side as their own ego bolster for completely letting this little dog down and not doing their best for him. It's so much easier in these cases to talk the dog into trouble, makes their conscience easier, doesn't help what I think of them, utter contempt.

I do applaud you not hesitating on taking back - just ranting about his owners and his treatment and worrying about your own is NOT the same thing and maybe with the right treatment and training he might just settle in much better than you think?

I'll certainly keep my fingers crossed for all of you. Such sad news for the poor little chap - losing his whole family - I'm with you hon, I'll take a dog over people any day.

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: October 26th, 2008 11:23 pm (UTC)
Terriers - Tuck Cody Window

Best case scenario is that his main trouble with other dogs is his current lack of leadership and from being ignored where he is.

I agree and in fact have a fair bit of faith and confidence that he'll be okay in our house - better behaved. But, even if he's good as gold, for the sake of my old boys, I just hate to risk the chance of a scrap... which pretty much guarantees me adding a third dog shift to our routine. realistically, we likely will "try him out" with the smaller shift we have - just Boomer and Kismet (Dakota's grandfather and mother) - because Boomer, though starting to lose muscle/stability in his hind end - has a head like a Staffie and probably outweighs Dakota (I'm pretty sure Boomer is a bigger dog that his grandson), and so his welfare is less at risk if a scrap starts and we're right there to break it up. Dempsey, OTOH, is smaller and physically more fragile. I took him and Flurry for a side-walk walk today after we'd had much rain and he came home lame on the leg with the bad shoulder... likely just his arthritis acting up but a clear indication of how delicate he's become.

If it weren't for the scenario of our boys, I would almost look forward to baby-sitting Dakota for a few weeks... to try to assess him, get a handle on him. Alas, I still have that sinking feeling that there's nothing short-term about them handing him over ::sigh::

Thanks for the understanding. I know you get the dynamics of a pack and that kind of support really helps ;).

P.S. guess your cousin wouldn't be interested in a 5 year old rescue, huh? *g*

Edited at 2008-10-26 11:34 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Invisible Friend (el1ie)
Posted at: October 27th, 2008 09:33 am (UTC)
fibre optic

Well I have every intention of asking her, I didn't like to broach the subject with you as you have no background on either of us, but I have a feeling she's looking for a bitch. *G*

Pack dynamics are a headache and you're right it's mainly about protecting those you have as much as introducing another dog, my pair being an even age is simple in one way, but I never take my eyes off them at certain stress times, as even siblings can easily fight and with an acting-out jealous wanna-be Alpha bitch like Bodkin? Button is the one that suffers from being picked on and I've come close to a fight on a couple of occasions as well behaved as they are.

Most onlookers think I'm potty for yelling "OI YOU!" loudly at them, but as you know there's that ONE moment where diversion is possible, but I've only the two and it's impossible to give dogs the freedom they need to exercise and still be there for that flash point - especially the terriers, things can turn on a sixpence and one moment of pain or weakness will have another turn on them even in a well balanced group and yeah, you certainly don't want that to happen and adding another shift is going to be so bloody time consuming for you, I know you'll do it willingly but it's other inconsiderate bastards that are forcing you into this and it's just not fair.

And never think you did wrong placing him, circumstances change, people change and people lie, he was placed well, they probably have no idea what this is going to cost you, just think oh well what's another dog when you already have 7...GRRRRRRRRRRRR

People just make me MAD sometimes....

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: October 28th, 2008 02:41 am (UTC)
Terriers - Tucker

Hey, there. I talked at length to Dakota's owner last night and she's determined she'll never give him up. Honestly... I don't know if that's good news or bad, because the longer she has him, the harder he would be to re-home over time ::sigh::

I'm so pissed with her but trying to stay civil. Dakota needs me and I don't want to alienate his owners by berating them as much as I want to.

Dakota is coming to stay with us though, probably for at least a month so we still have that to deal with. On the plus side, hopefully I can get a good handle on him and what, if any, problems he really has.

oh well what's another dog when you already have 7

I have certainly heard that directed at me before and it always makes me spitting mad.

Aside from my guys being geriatric, with all the rescue work I've done, they used to be very familiar with interlopers... I've probably had about 50 in my house over the years. BUT, the last one, aside from Dakota's month long stay about 2-3 years ago, was over 5 years ago, so it's been a while and, as old farts, they don't handle change as well as they used to.

I'm going to stay positive about his stay though (provided no disasters strike once he's here)... Once we've had him, assuming she comes to pick him up, I'll hopefully have decided whether to try to convince her to give him up *now* if there's even an inkling of possibility she won't be able to handle him in a year or 2 or more. And that will be like drawing blood from a stone ::sigh::

Thanks for all the supportive thoughts - it really, really helps!

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: October 28th, 2008 02:51 am (UTC)
GIF Dean John Hug

I meant to say...

Most onlookers think I'm potty for yelling "OI YOU!" loudly at them, but as you know there's that ONE moment where diversion is possible, but I've only the two and it's impossible to give dogs the freedom they need to exercise and still be there for that flash point - especially the terriers, things can turn on a sixpence and one moment of pain or weakness will have another turn on them even in a well balanced group and yeah, you certainly don't want that to happen and adding another shift is going to be so bloody time consuming for you, I know you'll do it willingly but it's other inconsiderate bastards that are forcing you into this and it's just not fair.

Thank you for putting in words just how very well you totally get my situation. I know I've thanked you already but re-reading this paragraph had me nodding my head up and down and saying to myself how glad I was to have that kind of understanding.

I'm pulling out the "big guns" and sending you this hug of thanks for that *g*

Posted by: phetch (phetch)
Posted at: October 26th, 2008 09:57 pm (UTC)
b/w phetchpup

Grrr, that stinks that Dakota's people are flaking. I'm so glad he'll have you to come back to rather than just get given away like so many people (unbelievably) do. Maybe his behavior will be fine with you, who knows how to handle dogs and with enough stimulation and exercise.

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: October 26th, 2008 10:35 pm (UTC)
Terriers - Luna

Thanks, girl. I actually do have a fair bit of faith that he'll be better behaved in my home. But, even if he's good as gold, for the sake of my old boys, I just can't risk the chance of a scrap which pretty much guarantees me adding this third dog shift to our routine. We likely will try him out with the smaller shift - just Boomer and Kismet (aka Dakota's grandfather and mother) - because Boomer, though starting to lose muscle/stability in his hind end - has a head like a pitbull and likely outweighs Dakota (I think Boomer is a bigger dog over all, IIRC), so is less at risk if a scrap starts and we're right there to break it up. Dempsey, OTOH, is smaller and physically more fragile. What fun... NOT!

Posted by: saberivojo (saberivojo)
Posted at: October 26th, 2008 10:19 pm (UTC)
scooter side

You have hit on one of the reasons I don't breed shelties anymore. I have anguished over every pup I brought into this world and luckily none of them have returned home.

I feel terrible about the pack dynamics that are sure to come into play now. I only have three shelties, but the youngest thinks she is the alpha bitch and my oldest thinks she is. So there are sheltie scraps fairly frequently. No one gets hurt, it is mostly huff and bristle but my old girl, is frankly, well old. She is arthritic and sore and my youngest will jump on her in a dominant fashion. It drives me crazy. I have even considered giving my youngest to my parents who recently lost their dog. She is house broken, sweet, beautiful but one of those dogs who wants to be the only dog in the house. She will never not have a home with me, and sometimes it is hard to come to the realization that she would be better in a one dog home and that is just not going to be her life as long as she lives with us.

And these are dogs who have been together since they where born. I really don't envy you bringing in another male JRT into the mix. Don't get me wrong, I love JRTs but they make Shelties look comatose!

Good luck and hopefully if your guy comes home, it will only be for a short time and you will be able to find a forever home for him soon.

Edited at 2008-10-26 10:19 pm (UTC)

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: October 26th, 2008 11:33 pm (UTC)
Terriers - Kismet Grin

I love JRTs but they make Shelties look comatose!

LOL, thanks for that laugh! Ain't that the truth ;)

If Dakota indeed comes home, he will be my third, which feels like an awful statistic, given how hard I strove to make good choices. Dempsey, the 14 yr-old was the first and you've probably read his story on my lj. Ironically he's a 3/4 brother to Dakota (they're also look-alikes) and came home at age 4. Another, Chester, came to us at 5 and lived with us for a few years before succumbing to illness. In all cases young children were involved. For a breeder who *never* swayed from the rule of not placing one of my pups in a home with kids under 11, it's ironic that young children were still the cause. Hell, Chester was the reason I stopped placing my pups with young couples, on the chance they'd have kids. In Dakota's case, I thought I was safe. Who'd 'a thunk a teenage pregnancy would've come into play? ::sigh::

It's lovely to hear from and get support from someone who truly understands pack dynamics and the misery of trying to be a good/responsible breeder. Thanks muchly for that and for the wishes of good luck. I truly appreciate it ;).

Posted by: saberivojo (saberivojo)
Posted at: October 27th, 2008 01:07 am (UTC)
scooter side

You know you did everything right with Dakota's placement. Careful attention to his new mom and dad. Making sure there was no small children. The family's familiarity with the breed. You did everything you could to make assure a good fit. But above all, you are taking responsibility for Dakota and taking him back. That makes you a good breeder and a good person.

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: October 27th, 2008 01:42 am (UTC)
Terriers - Ducky Dempsey

Thank-you! Words such as these really do make me feel better about these past decisions.

Posted by: hucknclem (hucknclem)
Posted at: October 27th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
Pete Yorn

Oh, wow, I'm so sorry this is happening. :( Poor doggie. It’s terrible a child got bitten, but I tend to think those kinds of incidents are more the owners’ and parents’ fault than it is the dog’s. As an owner, you need to know your dog, and as a parent, you need to be paying attention to what your child is doing. Pugs are known as non-biters, and it’s true my dogs have never done more than playbite us (although the boy also uses his playbites to say, “Hey, I’m not happy about this”, too!), but I still watch my children around them. A) to make sure my kids don’t hurt THEM, and B) any dog, no matter how good-tempered, has the potential to bite when cornered and afraid, and children don’t always realize when they’re frightening a dog.

It sounds like such a stressful situation for you. :( I don't think the average person necessarily considers how quickly their situation can change when obtaining a pet. They’re so cute and furry and you love them to pieces, and yet when you endure a major life change, they’re often the first ones to suffer. I’m as guilty as the next person. Both times when we brought home infants, there were several months where the pugs didn’t get as much attention, and we felt terrible about it. At least they had each other. But I would be lucky to adequately support my children in the situation you’ve described, let alone my dogs, but fortunately my mom loves them (and vice versa), and would take them if something happened to me. I don’t envy your position; trying to integrate him into your family sounds like it will be tough. Do you perhaps have other JR lovers and rescue folks you’re in touch with, that might know of a great home for him? Or are you too afraid of doing that at this point? It seems like he could flourish with the right environment. :(

You know, I wish more people knew the struggles of being a responsible breeder, agonizing over where each puppy goes and being willing to resume responsibility for that life as long as that puppy lives. That BESIDES thinking about genetic concerns and breed standards and the general health of your furry friends. I think your stories would make many reconsider breeding their pets. It takes a special person to be able to do what you do, and I hope good karma helps you and the little guy out here. I’ll think good thoughts for you, okay? Hugs, me

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: October 29th, 2008 03:35 am (UTC)
Terriers - Cho

Lady, thank-you soooo very much for the supportive words and good thoughts.

This?

I still watch my children around them. A) to make sure my kids don’t hurt THEM, and B) any dog, no matter how good-tempered, has the potential to bite when cornered and afraid, and children don’t always realize when they’re frightening a dog.

Is what I preach to every person getting a dog - be it a Russell or any other breed. We, as people, take away the dog's God-given right to growl and heaven forbid if they snarl! And yet, if flight isn't an option (so often the case when kids crowd or corner dogs) what choice do they have left but to bite when all other warning signs are ignored and trained and/or disciplined out of them?

That being the case, it's up to the dog's owner and the child's guardian to step in, take the role of a true and diligent leader and protect the dog.

Clearly you get it. I wish more people did ::sigh::

Thanks so much again for the support. I'm expecting Dakota here for his month long stay (assuming it's not permanent) around the 10th and will undoubtedly post an update once he gets a chance to get his sea legs under him ;)

Posted by: leelust (leelust)
Posted at: October 27th, 2008 08:54 am (UTC)

F*ck! I hate people who think that dogs are toys. I can understand that there can be problems but it doesn't mean you just shoo your furry friend away. Yes, dogs can be a little agressive to children but so and other children. You just show your dog what (s)he can and what (s)he can't do - that's all. Dogs are very smart they'll understand, there's no threat for children.
Gawds, he's so beautiful on these pics *hugs him*

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: October 28th, 2008 04:49 am (UTC)
Terriers - Ducky Dempsey

He truly is a gorgeous terrier and has loads of personality... here's hoping I can get to the bottom of his issues when he does come to stay with me... whether short term or long.

Thanks so much for the support... I truly appreciate it :)

Edited at 2008-10-28 04:49 am (UTC)

Posted by: leelust (leelust)
Posted at: October 28th, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC)

It's awful that i can't help - too big distance between us. *sigh* Terriers are complex breed (i think, i never meer Russels)(do i call them right?) but still i don't know how it's possible - to meet friend and bring him to your home and then get rid of him cos it's not funny anymore - i just don't get it. I hope you'll update on him and good luck.

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: October 29th, 2008 03:26 am (UTC)
Terriers - Ranger

That you'd even consider the distance just makes my heart soar. You are too sweet.

I'll definitely post an update, once he's been under our roof for a bit. I should be getting him around the 10th... for how long will still be the question.

And yup, I call 'em Russells though they're registered as Jack Russell Terriers.

Thank-you so much!

Posted by: leelust (leelust)
Posted at: October 29th, 2008 01:48 pm (UTC)

You're so sweet :) *hugs*

You know what mystake they do now? They exclude their furry friend out of their life and he won't be able to adjust to new human in their house - then of course they'll say they have a problen again cos he won't be able to correct his behavior - cos he won't be there - if they'd left him at theit home theyll all'd managed, they'd all adjust *sigh*

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: October 29th, 2008 11:46 pm (UTC)
Terriers - Tuck Cody Window

You're so right. Cross your fingers for Dakota and my house-hold ;)

And thanks so much again!

Posted by: leelust (leelust)
Posted at: October 30th, 2008 04:41 pm (UTC)

Oh, my fingers crossed too!

Posted by: smilla (smilla02)
Posted at: October 27th, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
doggie

I'm not a breeder but once my doggie got pregnant and had two puppies I spent months looking for the best owner. It was a time consumming task and I angsted a lot about the suitability of the candidates and when I thought I found the right one, they brought me back the doggie after two weeks because the children couldn't cope with him and the mother of the family was terribly stressed by it.
Suffice to say that my dog refused to have her home occupied by her son, and it was a very hard time until I found a new, and this time responsible owner.

This to say, that I understand you and your frustration and I think you're awesome that you're so responsible and love your dogs so much that you accept to have that done to you. I wish all the breeders were like you, but I also strongly wished that people would think hard and long about the responsability of taking a dog in their house.

And your dogs are beautiful - they make me want to get one again.

Posted by: May Robinson (may7fic)
Posted at: October 28th, 2008 02:05 am (UTC)
Terriers - Cho

Thanks so much for the words of support. It really is amazing how good prospects can fail so badly when they actually get a pup or dog under their roof!

Dakota's people knew what they were getting into with them but with their circumstances changing so dramatically, he's the one who lost out the most. I've had a talk with his owner and am equal parts *more* irritated and feeling a bit better about things. He's coming to stay with us short term (for about a month) around the 10th and so I'll get a better chance to assess him, if not his situation, then.

your dogs are beautiful

Thank-you... they definitely add sunlight and sparkle to my life :)