February 04, 2012

Making a Mistake and Moving On

I had to put our dog, Buddy, to sleep this week.  It's been one very hard week.  Buddy was good with us, but had fear/aggression towards strangers. While we worked with him on obedience - sit, down, stay and come and we were making some strides, it was his fear towards strangers that gave us a big problem. 

Buddy nipped my mother-in-law on Christmas Day and then within an hour he had his head on her lap sleeping.  They came in the door and he got scared.  Then when we would walk him he got very nervous when he saw other people.  Again, we would put him in a sit and try to get him through it.  We knew it would take work.

Then on Wednesday 4 women were walking across the street from our house.  I was in the backyard and they were just walking and not talking very loud.   Buddy barked and then he jumped the fence and ran up to them, barking and nipping. He nipped one of them - no bite mark, no breaking of the skin.  Then he took off.  I talked with the women, apologizing and making sure they were okay.  Then I got in my car and I took off after him.  It took about 15 minutes to catch him.

When I got him home and put him back in our yard, he was running around trying to jump out again so we put him on his leash.  I walked in the house and told my husband that enough was enough and that we couldn't have a dog with this kind of behavior. 

Buddy had been dumped at our house and I believe he had been a "country" dog allowed to run and perhaps his previous owners didn't care that he didn't like strangers, but I did.  So I walked back outside and put Buddy on his leash and took him to the vet to be put down. 

I didn't take him to a shelter as I didn't want to pass his problem behavior onto another family.  What if I did and they beat him?  It just wasn't fair to him or any future owner.  I did in my heart what I knew was right, but that didn't mean that my husband and son agreed with me. 

My husband took that dog with him running and my son, well, he just loves dogs.  However, I was the one home with the dog all day and I couldn't constantly be worrying about what he may or may not do.  Sometimes it is hard being an adult and making such decisions, but for our sake and Buddy's sake it was the right one. 

It has been a few days and we have moved on and are getting used to not having Buddy around. 

Here are the lessons that I learned from this experience:  1.  I will only adopt a puppy from now on and we will probably stick with the labrador retriever or golden retriever breed.  I do better with those breeds.  2.  It was a financial lesson.  Putting him down cost $130 and from the day we got him and he had his shots, checkup and was microchipped, I bet we spent at least $400, not including food and treats.  That is a lot of money to spend when you only have a dog for 4 months, but I am at least learning from my mistake. 

The one thing I have focused on is that Buddy had a good time at our house for 4 months. He was regularly fed, walked, played with and loved.  On his last day he got to run around the neighborhood, go for a car ride and go to the Vet (which he loved).  While at the Vet our son walked him and talked with him so that he was not alone. 

I am not against rescuing an animal.  For us it didn't work out this time.  It may for another family.

Now, that the grieving process is over and I am moving on, I can concentrate on my home and family.  Life is Good. 


Rose said...


You did the right thing and don't think for one second that you didn't. It is the responsible thing to do. some new neighbors (they moved from town 1 year ago) got the city folk now I'm country folk mentality and went on an animal spree buying so many animals it is Dr. Doolittle's menagerie. Well, they came with 2 or 3 dogs, but acquired a bunch more and what often happens is the dogs group together and form the "pack mentality," and there is nothing you can do to remove that once it is in their brains.

Fast forward to this week and the "pack" crossed over to the neighbors property and proceeded to attack one of his dogs so severely that it will be a long recovery. While the Mrs. was bandaging up the dog, the pack chased some cows to the far end of the field at a dead run and bit at it one and harassed it big time. End of story? Nope. That same afternoon another neighbor was riding his 4 wheeler down the shared driveway and his sheep dog was following along as always and the pack attacked his dog! All in the same day! Everyone is very angry with these neighbors who know nothing of country "rules."

The wife of the attackers came over and said there is no way her sweet little dogs could do such a thing and where's the proof and how do you know it was her dogs! The husband is like,"oh, those little stinkers." Really? Every owner who had their animals and livestock attacked have every right to put the dogs down immediately. They just don't get it. We also have children who walk this easement to and from the bus every day. How will they respond then? My DH asked me to walk down to get the paper with him yesterday and I'm like, okay, if we bring the gun.

These people need to be reported and have a complaint of dogs at large on file. Then, when they suddenly go missing when out on one of their escapades, well...

Martha said...

It is unbelievable to me that anyone would put an animal ahead of people. It was hard because I saw Buddy as a dog that would sleep and play with us and be good to us BUT I couldn't live with the other side of him. It wasn't fair to us or him.

It was traumatic but I know that it was the right thing to do. In our area if dogs were in the country doing what your neighbor's dogs were doing, those dogs would be shot when they were out again and no questions would be asked.

If I were to advise you of anything it would be to have everyone document when the dogs were out harassing people, description of the dog and such so that when someone has to defend themselves or their property, they have a timeline to back themselves up. Out here the Sheriff would definitely be siding with you and not with the owners of the dogs.

Anonymous said...


Sorry for your loss. You gave Buddy a great home for the short time that you had him. It's hard to say what kind of a life he had before he came to your house, and that is probably why he acted the way he did. You gave him the chance to know that people can be kind and what it is like to be a part of a family. Sometimes doing the responsible thing is really difficult. As much as we'd like to, some dogs just can't be saved.

tammyyarbrough said...

Wow. I hard that you could do this very hard to swallow. 4 months is not nearly enough time to spend trying to teach dear Buddy how he should behave. There are many families that would and could have not given up so easily.

Debby said...

Sorry for your loss :(, we had to put one of ours down a few years back for a second bite. He was such a sweetheart with us but I couldn't trust him around anyone. It's so hard to do the right thing sometimes.

Anonymous said...

If you didn't want to take the time to train him properly, you should have put him in a pen he couldn't escape from or kept him on a leash when he was outside. When people were at your house he should have been in a crate.

NicoleMarie said...

Hi Martha, sorry to hear about Buddy. You absolutely did the right thing. Sometimes the best decisions are not necessarily the easiest or the most popular ones. It was good of you and your family to give Buddy a loving home for the past few months. My thoughts are with you. Nicole

Anonymous said...

Thank you Martha.
As hard as it was, you did the right thing. Passing problems to someone else doesn't work.
I was nipped 2x by the neighbours dog.The dog was out of control and was only put down after he attacked a small child. It was awful.

Anonymous said...

Horrible! What you did was terrible. I can't believe you put a dog down for behavior problems. Would you put your son down if he started acting up. Buddy needed to be worked with and not just Killed because you did not want to deal with him. Sad just sad. I am so glad my family is not one who kills an animal because we can't deal with them. I am so sorry this dog had to die.

Barb said...

Martha, I am sorry to hear of your issues. That said, as someone who adopts dogs that other people give up on, please reconsider next time and give him to a shelter. The fact that you were unable to train him does not mean that somone else cannot. Ihave two dogs that were in multiple homes because people gave up on them, and prior to that I had two dogs for eighteen years that came to use because of the same issiue.

If you take him to a shelter, he will be evalated by the staff, they ill observe him and THEY will decide if he is adoptable or not.

I wish that I had been able to take buddy. I will also say tht training a dog takes lots of time and lots of love.

hopefully you willnot consider this a negative comment, but four months is not enough to decide on the end of the life of a dog.

Martha said...


Your comment is not negative - it is one of nice advice. We have had several dogs over the years, so Buddy was one of many that we have had in our lives.

I had been in consultation with an animal behaviorist and also an expert trainer from the moment we adopted Buddy. I took their advice, evaluated and was working daily with Buddy. When it came to the point that Buddy jumped the fence (after he had had several incidents of aggression), I knew that I could not keep the dog anymore.

I consulted local shelters who informed me that they were full and that most likely Buddy would be put down.

So, I could have taken him there and the result would have still been the same. However, at least if I would have put him down it would have been at our Vet's office which was a fun place for him to go. He loved going to the Vet. We couldn't find anyone to take him (wish I knew you) and I was afraid that someone would adopt him and then abuse him. At the very least beat him into not being "aggressive."

As a side note, if he would have bitten someone, I could have been sued and even been dropped by my home owner's insurance company. This is something to consider.

So, the incident over the fence was the final decision point. It was not taken lightly after 4 months of trying. In the end the animal behaviorist, the trainer and the vet agreed with my decision. In fact I got e-mails and calls for days after making sure that I was okay, and backing up my decision.

As one of them told me, "the shelter is full of throw away dogs and when you had no one that you could find to take in Buddy, you made a courageous decision."

I cried for days and it was only until this past Monday that I was starting to feel almost back to normal.

Our shelters are over run with dogs and cats right now. Why people don't get their animals spayed or neutered is beyond me. Well, maybe I do know - it is expensive. But all you have to do is go to a shelter on the day that they have to euthanize animals and smell the air while they are creating the remains which makes you think twice about adopting a dog and wanting it to have puppies.

Again, I do not take your comment as ugly or unkind - on the contrary - it is very considerate. Thank you.

Donna said...


You made a very responsible decision. Responsible decisions are not always easy decisions. I love animals but, danger to human life must always be our primary concern. I have walked in your shoes. It was not an easy decision but, it was the right thing to do. I commend you for doing the responsible thing.


Xa Lynn said...

I am sorry about Buddy. As someone in a similar position, I think you made the responsible decision. I wish the rest of my family would agree.

Xa Lynn

Paula said...

I'm so sorry about your dog, and for the hateful comments of some. We are cat lovers and our cats have lived for as long as nineteen years.

We have adopted two from the shelter who were wonderful, long term pets. We have also adopted two who just could not be integrated into our home and we took them back, both times after having spent quite a bit on supplies and checkups at the vet. One of these cats seemed to have mental problems. Suddenly attacking fiercely for no reason. After spending a lifetime around cats, we were literally afraid of this fellow.

I know what it is like to have a long history of loving and caring for animals and be judged on the rare occasion you just cannot live with one. Perhaps the people who judged you so harshly would like to have had the dangerous animal in their home and risked a lawsuit when he bit someone without warning.