“I HAD TO PUT YOUR DOG TO SLEEP TODAY”
You called me one evening. I am a rescue, you had a dog of the breed I rescued. You weren’t sure what to do, seems the dog was nipping the children lately and you didn’t like that. I offered you some advice, the name of a good trainer/behaviorist, but your mind was made up. Please come get the dog now, if possible.
I rearrange my evening plans and go over to your house. I sit down with you and your husband, explain the paper work you had to sign. You signed it without asking any questions, even the part that says once in a while, we have to put down a dog. I asked if you had contacted the breeder yet. Your answer is you had never thought about that. You hand me the signed papers, her AKC papers (I would contact the breeder myself) and her leash. You point me to the back yard.
As I go out into the back yard, I see two children. The oldest has the dog pinned down in a choke hold and the little one is sticking something down what looks like the dog’s ears. The children see me and immediately jump up. The dog runs away, it paces the fence looking for a way out. There is no dog house, no bedding. I see a bowl of dirty water only. I tell the kids to say their good byes to the dog, they shrug and walk inside.
Still the dog is pacing the fence, she is so scared she doesn’t even look at me as I approach. I talk quietly to her, she ignore me. I walk so very slowly up to her. She stops and looks at me, the pain on her face is so real, I take in a deep breath of shock. I show this dog the leash. She is dirty, looks like she hasn’t been groomed in ages and stinks to the high heavens. She sees the leash and her tail finally wags a bit. As I go to put the leash on her, she snaps at me. It is a threat only, not meant to connect and bite, but still I did jump a bit. She follows me as I take her out the gate and to my car.
In the car, she is shaking her head and whining. She digs at her ears. I finally stop the car, talk to her and reach for her ears. She snaps again, once more a warning, not to bite, but to warn. The minute I lift the ear leather the smell about knocks me over. She would not let me get close enough to look inside. Her growls are real, so I leave it be and head immediately to the ER vet.
The vet, his assistant and I could not hold her down to look in her ears. The vet got a closer look than me and said all he could see was hair everywhere. We have to sedate her to clean out her ears. In them, we found sticks, stickers and pebbles. I cry as I stroke this girl. The vet is aware I am a rescue and this is a dog I just picked up, but the look on his face says how angry he is. The damage is extensive, both eardrums are punctured and the vet is not sure she will ever regain her hearing completely. The cost was $600 for just that procedure but it could not wait. She was in so much pain, it was late and my own vet wouldn’t be open until Monday (of course this was a Friday night).
Her weight is very low for a dog her size. Her ribs show, not dangerously but not good either. She is thin and exhausted. She sleeps in the back of the car as I drive home. The next day she sleeps most of the day also. My own dogs greet her, her reply is a growl, they respect her space and back away. She eats like she is starved, this is a good thing. But she is also food guarding, as if someone is going to take her food away.
I keep telling myself that she is still not well, give her a chance! She has lived a horrible life and needs time to heal.
Six weeks go by and still she is unresponsive, stiffens when you pet her and wants nothing to do with the other dogs. Fights have broken out over food and toys. If I raise my voice even a fraction so she can hear me (remember her hearing is bad) she pees. She paces constantly when she is not asleep. I have contacted the breeder who says she has no idea whom this dog is. I give her the information on the AKC papers for the dam and sire, she admits they are her dogs but no, she doesn’t want to take this dog back. She says I can do what ever I want with her. I am willing to bet it is a BYB or a puppy mill. She finds no happiness in anything. Toys are to be hoarded as is food. She doesn’t play, not even with my other rescues and personal dogs.
The rescues behaviorist takes a look at her. She sort of shakes her head when she is done. She is withdrawn, is not food motivated, and has no need for human contact. She doesn’t respond to praise. She sat the entire time the behaviorist was with her, looked away as if looking for an escape route. She even snapped at the behaviorist when she pushed her a bit to see if she could get a reaction. She gave me some exercises to try to reach her, but she thought maybe, just maybe this one was a lost cause. All we could do was hope for a miracle.
I keep working for the next two weeks, trying to put my hands on her, rewarding her with treats. She takes them in her mouth, spits them out and then waits until I am gone before she eats them. I try to get her to sit with me on the couch so I can love on her, pet her, show her that she has nothing to fear here. She usually runs for her crate or a dog pillow and turns her back to me. If I force her, she sits stiff and stone-like, no response from her at all. Nothing make her happy.
Then one day while I was giving her her meds, she attacks me and bites my face. I am not mad, it is probably my fault for forcing her more than I should to swallow the pill she is suppose to take for her ear infection. We had gone to my personal vet many times by now for ear problems, teeth problems and of course behavior problems. She saw what she did to my face, immediately freezes and pees all over herself. She cowers as if I am going to beat her, she whines and lays down in her own pee. I move not a muscle except to touch my face to see if I am bleeding. I leave her be and finally she crawls off for her crate.
Talking to the behaviorist, she decides to take her for a while and see if maybe she can reach her. She attacks one of her little dogs and kills it.
Today, I took her for one last walk, gave her some of her favorite food and we went for a trip to the vet. I pet her as she laid on the table, still growling at being held down while the vet preps your vein. A look of peace came over her face as the medicine coursed through her system. Then the eyes dull over. I cry hard. I cry so very hard because I felt I have failed her. I know she was illbred, mishandled, abused and not loved. How could someone do this to this lovely breed of dog? I tried so hard. I wanted her to know life as a loving pet, to know love and trust, to know how to be spoiled and pampered. I know she is happy now and no longer in pain. I look at the vet and curse the breeder and the family that the breeder never truly interviewed when they sold them this dog. I cursed her abuse, her inability to love and be happy, I curse her inability to trust. I cursed everything I could think of including myself. I am a rescue, I am not suppose to put dogs down!
Today, a lovely dog enters the rainbow bridge where she is healed and able to love. Where no one torments her and she can hear once again. I pray she is happy now and that all her demons are gone. For this was a beautiful blue Great Dane , one of the most lovely of all dogs. You think abuse never happens to such dogs, but it does. You think that breeders of this lovely breed would care. I for one will miss her, even if she is happier away from this life of pain. I hope today she has finally found happiness.