A Hard Decision

Ryder2I have done everything. I trained, I trained my heart out with this dog. I went to workshops, I learned more about how to handle dogs like him. I have seen other trainers, and used their expertise. I have worked with the family, and they have done everything.  It isn’t their fault. It isn’t my fault, I know that too. But I can’t help but feel like I failed.

We have done training, we have sought out other trainers’ advice, I tried to find the right home to adopt him, and I have tried to adopt him myself. He is SOOOO much better, but not good enough.  It is no one faults’ but the person who had him from when he was puppy.

They just tied him up in the backyard and left him there with little food. The first 2 years of his life he was set up to fail. We spent 8 months undoing 2 years of neglect. And he was set up to succeed from the beginning. However… hard core, intense training is exhausting and hard for the family. I’m so proud of them for sticking it out as long as they did.

We cannot adopt him out because of liability. I didn’t even think about this before, but because I am the trainer, I am an ‘expert’ in my field. I am supposed to fix everything and be able to have answers to everything. I have sought out help from another trainer friend in my area. She informed me of the problems of adopting out a dog like this. I was completely unaware of the risks and felt pretty naïve once I understand why I shouldn’t.

Here are the reasons why he should not be adopted out.

-He has received 8 months of training from yours truly. Whether the family discloses the information or not, I am legally responsible for the training he has received so far. Which means I am liable if anything happens.

-He has the potential to do a lot of damage in the wrong home. There are not a lot of ‘right’ homes for dogs like Ryder. Someone will need to be home at least 70% of the time for training. No cats, no kids, and the family must have experience with difficult or aggressive dogs in the past.  The family must understand this is a difficult dog and potentially dangerous.

-Putting Ryder in a home that isn’t 100% perfect is setting him up to fail.

-Training him for another year or even a few years is not a guarantee he will get better. It’s just a recommendation. Meaning the current family or a new family could continue training forever, but he may not get better.

-Even if he does benefit from another 2-3 years of intense training, he is nearing the end of his Great Dane life at that point, and then won’t be able to experience what hard-earned freedom is like. His whole life will be spent with intense training. (Since Great Danes only live to be about 6-8 years old).

So, after many discussions with other trainers, the family, and my husband, we have all agreed this is the best decision and in his best interest to euthanize Ryder. This decision was not taken lightly and we have been discussing this since I took him to the Difficult Dog workshop. It was an option then, and now it is becoming a reality.

I am really struggling with this decision, and I still am. He isn’t sick, he doesn’t have a disease, but at the same time.. he can be dangerous in the wrong situation. And because he is a big dog, he is also harder to physically restrain if needed (which in the case of an inexperienced home, people tend to use physical strength as a training tool). This is not a good position for Ryder to be in – because he will bite.

Please understand, the family and I have talked at length about this decision and it really is the best thing. I don’t want to have to justify this decision over and over again. I don’t like explaining everything because it makes me want to throw up. It makes me want to be put down with him because I am a horrible person for letting this happen.  But inside, I know I’m not and I’ve done everything.

Ryder will be put to sleep at 4:30 on Friday afternoon. I will be with him, along with his doggie dad. I am going to spend some time with him today and let him know how much he is loved and that he won’t have to worry about anything anymore. He will be able to run free and play all he wants soon. The training will end and he will be free to do what he pleases at Rainbow Bridge.

12 thoughts on “A Hard Decision

  1. It sounds like you’ve done everything you possibly could to save Ryder. Unfortunately, as with 2-footed babes, when he was a puppy and badly neglected, it set him up for failure. You received the information you needed from another trainer, and that’s a blessing. I’ll be sending some energy your way on Friday at 4:30, to bring you some peace as well, when Ryder goes to his forever home at the Rainbow Bridge.

    • Thank you for your positive comments. I will need them. I think a piece of myself will be going with him…

      • I could hear that. And I’m so sorry. It sounds like you went above and beyond, in order to save him. He will ALWAYS know that, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he came to visit you once in a while, in your dreams – just to let you know that everything is in divine order, and he’s okay. While a piece of you will go with him, you will also receive a piece of you back, with another one whose spirit is ready for the training you provide.

  2. Heather, I know you have put so much time into him and you have put your heart and soul into trying to make this situation work and then trying to find another. You are an amazing person and can not reverse the abuse that happened to him before he was removed from his bad situation. I know it is going to be hard to find peace in this decision and I know it was not taken lightly. But know that you are a wonderful person and you have tried everything anyone possibly could. It is not your or the families fault by any means as you all have given him everything you have. My heart breaks knowing how hard it is going to be but I hope that in the end everyone is able to find peace 😦

    • Thank you Lynz. It’s getting better everyday and I have received an incredible amount of support on this. I was expecting to be chastised for choosing this, but I really feel I have done everything. I am starting to learn peace about this

  3. What a terribly sad decision for all! God bless you with *PEACE* as you have done the BEST you can!!!!!!!

    • Thank you, Tania. I really appreciate it. Every day I get feel a little better, and I am coming to be at peace with this decision. It is still hard, and I still seem to break down and cry at random times throughout each day, but I am realizing more and more that this really will allow him to be the dog he wants to be. He will run free soon.

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