Friday, December 17, 2010

Dealing With The Cards Dealt


One day five years ago an offer of some free hay had me heading out to check it out one morning. Jingle at 15 years old came along for the ride. From the email I gathered from what they briefly said they were moving and as i drove long i wondered why they didn't need the hay where they were going. I even went as far to question and wonder what they did with there animals and if they were giving them up. I also thought, I hope they don't have any dogs. It always hurts my heart for the animals being torn away from what they know , moved from there home and families.

On arriving i saw three dogs and during the conversation with the donor he told me they were moving to Australia and i exclaimed "but what are you going to do with your dogs?". Sadly the three dogs would be separated and the big one had still not found a home. This is how i got Buddy.

Buddy is unlike any dog that has lived with me. He prefers his own company and appreciates a good love when he asks for it. He likes to be on my bed but not when i am in it. He is a bit of a loner and prefers to do things on his own. He doesn't follow me around when i am outside working for example. Unlike my other dogs who would lay in front of the barn as i did chores and then followed me into the house when I was done. Buddy does and is where he wants to be it really makes no difference to him where i am. As long as i am there when he wants me to be.

When Buddy arrived at 2 years old he chased the pigs , chased the horses and scared my cats. He would learn, but it was a long process and my gentle Buddy, BUDDY , and then BUDDDDDYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY would escalate sometimes. Trying different techniques to teach him , changed very little of his behavior.

Buddy had not ever been dried off and i know this because when i dried his feet his lips with snarl and he would growl at me. It took a lot of guts to teach this dog as he was big and bending over to do this put my face next to his. Every chance i got i touched his toes, held his paws when he laid down and eventually he got used to it.

When he is on my bed and i would go in and lay down to cuddle i questioned if his voice was a growl or if he was talking. But when a friend came to stay with me and leaned up on the couch he was laying on and he growled i knew his growls were exactly that.

He was here when Rose was brought in as a baby. He seemed taken with her and took on an almost protective nature. They played together, chewed toys , he let her sleep with him and on him. With me always watching the big dog and reminding him to be gentle with her . They were great friends.

But as Buddy got older as did Rose i watched a new behavior emerge. One of an Alpha dog who when Rose would come to greet him as she did since she was little, Buddy would get rigid. He would stand tall and his body language clearly sent a message to me that he was ready to take her on. Don't presume here because i rescue pigs i know nothing about anything else , i know aggressive body language i don't care who it is man or mouse. I kept a watchful eye on Buddy and would bark out the words "out" when i saw him do this. I had no control over Rose this way but I did with the dog and to prevent something terrible it was the dog who needed to move away from the situation.

If you go look back at my movie with then Bacon and Buddy, you can see what i see coming from my dog.

One summer day i heard Rose scream on the front porch and running out there was my dog and a pig whose face was bleeding. I didn't see it happen but i knew it was a dog bite and once again i questioned my keeping such a dog at a Sanctuary for rescued pigs. Pigs will duke it out and over the years when i have found one of my pigs with a scratch or two i have looked and wondered if it was my dog or not. And i have heard the horror stories of dogs killing pigs at Sanctuaries and i know what damage a dog can do to a pig as i have one here without an ear. I am always telling people never ever leave your dogs and pigs together unsupervised.

Last night when i got home from work i greeted Buddy in the driveway. I came in and Cotton followed Buddy right back out the door . A few minutes later i heard a blood curdling scream from a little pig . I rushed outside and saw the two separate and saw blood gushing from the pigs snout. I immediately called the dog in exclaiming "WHAT DID YOU DO????"?? That question carried so much in it you have no idea. My mind raced with how our lives just took a huge change, will i need to euthanize this dog , give him up , get a kennel a muzzle. I was using my hands to direct my dog and told him to get in here and get in my bedroom. And up on my bed a dog looked back at me with "don't you touch me" . His fur was raised and his eyes were black , this dog scared me but called him to follow and pointed to the pig and told him NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO now get back in my bedroom and i shut the door to attend to the pig.

I got him settled and cried my heart out for a little pig who was brought here to be safe only to be attacked by my dog. And my dog .. what of his life now and how it will change.

Needing help and totally upset i looked towards a rescue forum only to be met with judgment and no thought to my experience with multi species. I for some stupid reason thought the people on there would be nice to me and offer up some kind of assurances or a home or help for my dog. Over the edge now and sobbing hysterically i edited all my words and shut this computer down.

This morning because I am high strung and an emotional Italian I have decided to CALM down and manage my dog. Last’s night ordeal sent me over the edge with working and coming home and getting back in here after 9 the night before to still feeding the inside crew and then me.. menopause and no sleep add’s to the mix of emotions.

I bring an animal in here to be safe and he gets hurt here … but the pigs duke it out and get hurt too so I don’t look at that pig any differently I just keep an eye out for the problems and remove them before they are one.

I have a dog who I will never trust. I just talked to a friend and she gave me an out if I needed one as she would take him soooooooooo now I have done musical chairs this morning with dog and pigs and will have to be way more aggressive with my watch. In order for Buddy to live his life out with me without being a danger to anybody here I can never forget what happened last night.

My bedroom will become his room , simple as that and I will buy a muzzle even though no one has suggested this to me it will make me feel better to have this option available at times.

Today Buddy found his front porch gated, his dish and water in my bedroom, also gated. He is NOT ever to be trusted with the pigs again. And no matter what i do I will be criticized mostly by dog people because there are more of them and they are who they are and love there dogs. And no doubt pig people will be on the other side of the fence saying get rid of the dog.

The decisions i have come to this morning were founded by someone who loves them both equally , this is my torment. All of our lives changed last night and in order to keep everyone safe precautions have been taken. Buddy's life will be the most dramatic change but verses the options It is the only one i can make. As an animal lover and to give him a life here unless i can truly find a better one for him somewhere else. Yes i would give him up ..

I am more educated now thanks to him, about him, then I will ever be now .. and he will never be the dog I ever wanted him to be and that’s just the way it is as I have a pig here who has the same issues and I manage him. Sucks but that the cards dealt to me and my dog.

19 comments:

Addie / Persephone/J.F. said...

Oh Janice, your dog shouldn't growl at you. There has to be an acknowledged hierarchy with dogs, and you should not be the one growled at.
Is your friend serious about taking him? Because you need your energy for your sanctuary. You can't be in a state of worry and fear. Maybe the dog would be happier too.
I'm part Italian too, btw :)

Janice Gillett said...

I suppose I will cry all day and at one time i would push Buddy to the ground and hold him , in way of reprimand. No way would i try that now.
This dog will heel and spin and listen to me like any solid trained dog but but and but.
My freind also runs a rescue and has more experience with working with dogs with issues.
This is my dog i am talking about giving up and it is killing me.. no matter what i do.

Jean said...

I know you will do whatever is best for both species, Janice. Remember to weigh what is right for you into that mix.

I am so sorry that our mutual acquaintances in rescue failed to be supportive. When we are at the end of our rope, we don't need someone hanging us with it - we need someone to reach out a hand and pull us back up!

Stay strong, my friend.

Janice Gillett said...

Thanks Jean.. and yes your both right that i do matter in this equation too. Maybe tomorrow I will be able to think about me.

Hunde Haus said...

Because I am more of a *dog person*, my first thought was "Buddy has excellent bite inhibition." Both times he nipped the pigs, he obviously held back. He could have very easily killed before you even stepped to the area. Keep that in my mind as well as your other thoughts Janice.

Buddy growling at you is 100% unacceptable. But...the growl is also his way of communicating. You were the only one there, only you know if he would be capable of taking it to the next step.

But he didn't.

IMO...not that you asked for it!...you should seek out the help and knowledge of a truly experienced canine behaviorist.

Your friend who runs the rescue that has offered to take him...unless she has devoted her life to canine behaviorism, isn't really doing anyone any service.

Best to you in this excruciatingly difficult time.

Janice Gillett said...

Colleen i appreciate your words but i already new all of that before you needed to point them out to me. Forgive me here but this is my point with 'dog people' they assume i know nothing about dogs or anything else for that matter. And why i edited my post out on Brindle. As far as offers to take on my dog i am 100% capable of choosing wisely however it did bring me some comfort in knowing someone, anyone would.

The Rattie Crew said...

Such difficult decisions. Follow your instincts.

I hired a trainer to teach Mabel (and me) to leave the rats alone. Her prey drive was very high towards the rats. It was a lot of work but well worth it. I still wouldn't trust Mabel alone with the rats, but she is not the same dog. I know there is a difference between rats and pigs but I just think there may be hope.

Anonymous said...

Oh Janice, I am so sorry. You didn't say how Cotton is doing? Was it very bad? I know snout wounds can bleed heavily, so I am so hoping it wasn't serious. My first thought was- and I was putting myself in your place, imagining it was my dog, Penny, and one of my pigs, well, it was that Penny would have to go and live somewhere else. As much as I love her, if I couldn't trust her, she'd have to go. She has nipped at the pigs when her spot on the couch was coveted, or when one got too close to her food, and she's injured our little foster dog twice, so the potential is there, I think, so I keep her away from any pig who has the slighest dog-aggression. But things can happen in a split second, just as it did with you. I think as pig rescuers, we can only have "perfect" or "near perfect" dogs, because with the number of pigs we have, we don't have time to be training a dog. At least I know I don't. We totally lucked out with Penny. She is "near perfect." I trust her implicity with us, or any human, she has only nipped once, when we were trying to get porcupine quills out of her cheek. I don't know that I would say she has a high prey drive, although she's caught and "played with to death" a few birds, mice, and moles. We have one pig here who was attacked by a dog a long time ago, and hates them. He's gone after Penny once, despite our attempts to always keep them separated, and she (Penny) ran off in fear. I really could'nt live with a dog I couldn't trust, especially a big dog who could easily kill a pig. Dog people would probably say, "why get a dog if you don't have time to train it?" In our case, we got her because our son begged us for a dog, at a time when we had just moved to the country, away from all of his friends, and his lonliness was bordering on thoughts of suicide. I've thought more about this, while writing this novel, and I think my first thought still stands. I think he would be happier with a less-restricted lifestyle than he is now going to have to live. I know it kills you to have to give him up, to even think of betraying his trust. But dogs adapt, and if you trust this person who has offered him a home, and you think he could potentially be happy there at some point, I would do it. Personally. I think we are a lot alike, in that we feel what our animals are feeling, and I know I could never give up one of the pigs, no matter what they did, but pigs do not do well in new situations, rehoming them is always a worry. Dogs I think, are different. And if Buddy is as indifferent to you as you think he is, would he really be that hurt? I don't know. Maybe his whole problem stems from a previous abandonment. Do I think you have the hours in a day to "fix him?" No. Janice, this is just my opinion, something you've probably had just about your fill of for one day, but I want you to know, I respect the hell out of you, and if you can't do it, or if you can, I will never ever think any less of you. One other thought I just had, if you just can't give him up, what about a kennel for him? A dog run with a house and such? Just a thought. I wish I could give you a big hug right now, because I know you are heartbroken, but I just wanted to tell you my thoughts, in the chance that it might help.
XO
Sherry

Addie / Persephone/J.F. said...

I would be crying right now too if I had to think about parting with Grip. I loved your story about Buddy and his solitary ways. And maybe he growled because he was still mad at the pig. He was still annoyed and there you were, getting in front of it.
Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.

Hunde Haus said...

I am so sorry if I offended you Janice! My words, coming on the heels of a few twits on a rescue board must have irked you. :)

And I do know you have experience with other species. And I do know I wasn't telling you anything you already don't know. :))

I know you will think through it all and come up with a great solution, you always do.

Janice Gillett said...

Little Cotton was very upset last night as you can imagine and i gave him some arnica montana immediately. A canine caught his little inside of his nostril and he kept blowing out the blood. The other side of his snout has a canine tooth stab wound along with the scratch it left about an inch long. Today he is back to his self and the wounds look clean and not worrisome.

A kennel and a house was also on my mind. I fenced in the front porch as a quick less expensive option for now with the same purpose in mind so he can be out and see what is going on when the pigs are out.

I have been thinking about calling Colleen Nicholson.. ratti Mom that is a animal communicator maybe she can help me and find out why Buddy snaps like this.

When the people gave me this dog they told me he was food aggressive when they first got him. He has never showed that here but his snap at the pigs is really the same issue .. IMO it was never about food with the dog i don't think . It has always been about his space, his bed, his couch , his my bed, his deck, his toys, his feet ..

Anonymous said...

good for you for thinking this thoroughly thru and coming up with a initial and workable plan...it is so easy to get caught up in the knee jerk guilt and fear of the `what if`s...reactions. buddy and the pigs appreciate the time and effort you are taking to figure this out the best way you can.
and you are so right pigs can bite pigs and dogs can bite pigs and pigs can bite dogs sometimes too.

and it may all cause we as humans problem,s because we don`t think any animal should ever bite but the fact of the matter is that sometimes they do.

our job is to try to do our best to look at the issues and options and possible solutions and then choose what we believe works best for all involved.

and that janice is what you do every day in rescue so you have the skills and the knowledge and the experience to do it again today.

trust yourself.
c

Janice Gillett said...

Cripes i just looked up a picture and it was five years ago not 3.. where does the time go?? Buddy is 7..

tbsomeday said...

oh janice
i'm sorry :(
i understand the high emotional state you must be in
and how everyone's comments can be grating...though it sounds like everyone is really trying to help..it can come off as an attack when you are feeling so vulnerable

you are a good person who is just trying to continue being good to all animals

i do dog rescue
i will add my two cents but know i'm trying to give it as humbly as i can...you obviously have a "feel" and knowledge for animals of all breeds...and though i think i know dogs pretty well--i can always learn from what others have to say...a different perspective sometimes is all you need

it seems like buddy is getting a little out of hand
you should never have to fear your dog...they know as soon as you do--they feel the shift and it can get ugly from there
i would have been afraid in your shoes too
and have been in your shoes
we aren't all the dog whisperers nor do we all have a boot camp like cesear milan and 24 hours a day to devote to rehabilitation

i've had lots of dogs with a really high prey drive learn that "our" animals are off limits--no matter how enticing they might be
but those dogs were strongly bonded to me--my approval affected them deeply--they loved me and needed me--even though they were also very independent dogs--if that makes sense

i think most behaviors can be modified...but time and resources aren't always available for the difficult cases
i used to think i could take on any dog...but as my life and priorities changed i have passed dogs on to others who were more capable
it was hard to swallow at first but then it was freeing

it seems like buddy does not respect you as the pack leader
his loner behaviors are a bad sign i fear--though some dogs are just that way...they should still want your approval deep down
it doesn't sound the case here
buddy coming to you for attention when he wants it is an alpha move--as well as not sharing your bed, etc
i think locking him in your room is possibly dangerous
in one way it feeds his power as that is the prime spot in the house
it's also likely he will become frustrated and start acting out more

you are not a failure if you re-home him
shut up in your bedroom all day is probably not the best life for either of you
sometimes letting go is the hardest and the best thing
i know as "rescuers" we don't want to admit "failure"
but i always tell people that not all dogs are made for all people
it's all about the right match
and though it's very noble you took buddy in and don't want to give up on him...search your soul for why you don't want to give him up
try to think about what would be best for him
and what would be best for you
you have a lot on your plate...you don't need to worry about anything extra.
consider finding him another home another successful placement
as well as freeing you up to devote more energy to other deserving animals

i think this other woman willing to take him is a gift
a sign

i pray that this does not come off badly
i send it with the best intentions
i have been in similar shoes and i think i know what you are feeling
bless your heart for loving too much
hugs

Janice Gillett said...

If the home offered was one without livestock and little dogs and by a man he would of been gone last night. I can't in good conscious put him into another fire and risk him hurting someone else. I feel this dog would do better with a man .. then here with me and all these pigs.

Buddy will not ever be locked up behind a closed door.. he was just out with me at dinner feed as we always do.. tonight he stayed close to me. But in the house , this will be his space until i figure things out. No one is going to want this dog. There are so many good dogs who need homes.

Thank you all so much for writing and I will reread everything again tomorrow so i make sure i am not reading with what is so weird a protective defense mechanism towards my dog. The dog who is tearing me apart..

Dayna said...

What a sad and trying time for you.
As I respect you, I know whatever decision you make will be the right one.
Dayna

Janice Gillett said...

i don't walk him regularly. And for a dog like this it may be exactly what he needs. And i don't mean for the exercise because he gets plenty racing around here . But by walking him will reinf...orce my position with him. It may be just a walk but it is a time when he is off the property and must be focused on me first and then his surroundings- this little exercise will reinforce me as his pack leader. Somehow i must find time to do this and i will google muzzles as i hate the idea of him being in my bedroom and not being able to look out a window , move freely around the house in the evening when it is tv time etc. And i sure don't want him thinking of my bedroom as his space and getting protective of that.

My horses haven't been ridden in years as i don't have the time for that anymore. They have a run in barn , coming and going when they feel like it. The only time I ask them to do anything is when the ferrier comes and they need to be held by halter and lead rope. I have noticed they are both getting a little pushy and not so careful of my space . By putting a halter on them and leading them around asking simple things of them such as watching my body language , stopping and moving around me. This can take all of five minutes and until the horses lower there heads and it shows me they are now giving in to me only then do i let them off. I do it quietly and no tricks just a little one on one time and walla , they start seeing me again.

Working with pigs and keeping up with the work for the around here has left me a little rusty and short on time. Buddy is a product of a big dog with a dominant mind being left to his own demise for two long , well now he has my full attention. Like my horses he needs to be "checked" every once in a while and reminded who is the top gun around here. I am not being mean to him but i am asking him to respond to me strongly right now.

Janice Gillett said...

i don't walk him regularly. And for a dog like this it may be exactly what he needs. And i don't mean for the exercise because he gets plenty racing around here . But by walking him will reinf...orce my position with him. It may be just a walk but it is a time when he is off the property and must be focused on me first and then his surroundings- this little exercise will reinforce me as his pack leader. Somehow i must find time to do this and i will google muzzles as i hate the idea of him being in my bedroom and not being able to look out a window , move freely around the house in the evening when it is tv time etc. And i sure don't want him thinking of my bedroom as his space and getting protective of that.

My horses haven't been ridden in years as i don't have the time for that anymore. They have a run in barn , coming and going when they feel like it. The only time I ask them to do anything is when the ferrier comes and they need to be held by halter and lead rope. I have noticed they are both getting a little pushy and not so careful of my space . By putting a halter on them and leading them around asking simple things of them such as watching my body language , stopping and moving around me. This can take all of five minutes and until the horses lower there heads and it shows me they are now giving in to me only then do i let them off. I do it quietly and no tricks just a little one on one time and walla , they start seeing me again.

Working with pigs and keeping up with the work for the around here has left me a little rusty and short on time. Buddy is a product of a big dog with a dominant mind being left to his own demise for two long , well now he has my full attention. Like my horses he needs to be "checked" every once in a while and reminded who is the top gun around here. I am not being mean to him but i am asking him to respond to me strongly right now.

Addie / Persephone/J.F. said...

Yep: the more I walk Grip and the more we do things which involve her getting a treat at the end (i.e. waiting at the top of the stairs until I say "o.k.")--the more she loves and respects me.

So, if you can walk Buddy more, things will be better.
It'll make you feel great too ;)