Christmas Cycle

PK9 Dogs

A few of my kids all curled up

thorinChristmas day started with white, beautiful snow on the ground outside. A lot of it – almost an obscene amount which made me glow with happiness since I LOVE snow and I love that we had so much. Especially on Christmas. I started a fire in the fireplace and watched the snow fall outside. I watch this particular serene beauty blanket the world. It really does look like peace on Earth. Dogs are snoring, asleep curled up in their beds. Dirty dishes in the sink, wrapping paper littering the floor, and I’m curled up on the couch in my comfiest pjs with my coffee. These are the little moments where I miss having someone the most. To curl up, drink coffee in front of the fire with the sleeping dogs, watching the snow. That’s my vision of a perfect Christmas. I better get used to having these alone from now on.

dishesI don’t miss the bullshit, it’s not worth it. Loneliness hurt < Betrayal/Trust broken hurt. Not worth it. But these are the moments where I really love spending it with someone special. These moments are the ones that tear me up inside and it takes a while for me to sew myself back together every single time. This wasn’t supposed to be this way. Not just anyone, but THAT person. Once I feel the hurt and the loneliness set in, the feeling immediately after is hurt and anger and betrayal. Seems I have a lot of that in my life. Seems people love to make me feel this collection of feelings. So, I’ll deal with the loneliness and I’ll compartmentalize these into a box that will remind me to leave my heart there. I have a hard enough time letting people in. Trust takes so long for me… then if it’s broken, it takes years to get it back. Just ask my ex napoleonhusband. He made one mistake that really hurt me years ago, and it took me a little over 2 years to be able to trust him again. It’s not my place to talk about the details of what happened, it’s his story too. After all that’s gone down between us, he’s still one of my best friends. I trust him. I don’t want to put myself out there to trust new people, it just seems to remind me every single fucking time why I don’t bring new people into my life. So, I’m sticking with the friends I know and who I know I can trust. I’m done with taking risks on people. I’ll meet people, sure. But they aren’t getting any pieces of my heart. Emotionally, I’m putting all that into a box. Doesn’t stop me from randomly crying about it though. I can’t stop it, don’t tell me to. Bipolar doesn’t work like that. ‘Just be happy’ doesn’t work for us. Sorry.

christmasmorningAnyway, my family came over, and we spent the morning together. I love spending time with my family, and I wish I had a little more flexibility to go visit them sometimes, but with my business, I can’t leave the dogs that long. And holidays are one of our busiest times because people go out of town. I love what I do, but I’m in the process of trying to make big changes so maybe I can go on vacation sometimes, or take a full day off, or visit my family. I feel a little guilty because Christmas snuck up on me this year, and I didn’t get any gifts for my family. I still plan on getting something really nice, but it’s hard because my dad has EVERYTHING! And gift cards are too mainstream. Anyway, I’ll figure it out! I was also invited to spend Christmas dinner with a client who has turned into a friend. I love her and her dog, and she gifted me a super awesome Jack Skellington shot glass. It means a lot, considering she wanted to keep it, and she absolutely loves it. I love Jack stuff, and she always finds the coolest little NMBC knick knacks!

danteI know I’m going through rapid cycling, because I’ve been really happy, and then really sad within a few minutes of each other. Went snowboarding on Christmas Eve, and that whole day I was off. I didn’t enjoy myself, and would rather just drink coffee, listen to music and watch everyone else ride. So, I did. That’s a rare occurrence when I don’t want to be up there on the mountain. Same thing though-snowy mountains with snow falling, Christmas Eve, and I’m by myself. First ‘single Christmas’ in about 10 years. It’s a much different feeling than I have ever had on Christmas. As I said, I better get used to it since I’m done with letting people in. No, I’m not self wallowing, just reflecting. Don’t feel sorry for me, I’m not asking for sympathy. Just want to explain feelings, and maybe someone else feels the same.

jinxAnyway, I have a showing for my house in a few hours, so I do need to clean up the wrapping paper, do the dishes, and sweep up all the dog hair. So I better get to it. Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.

 

snowboard

RIP Coba

Merry Christmas. The holidays are sometimes hard for people. I don’t normally get depressed around the holidays. This year, I did. I failed. I did everything I could. I caught up by writing back logs for this year, but I didn’t write about this. A confidence crusher. A mistake.

Project K9 Heather Rose CobaI got a call from a guy who got my number from a friend of a guy who adopted a dog from me a few months previously. Yeah, I know. Complicated. Anyway, he called me to surrender a puppy to me. A little black and white pitbull puppy. I took him in and realized shortly after I began training this kid that there were serious problems. He would seem perfectly fine, playing with other dogs, and then would escalate and try to latch on and attack the other dog he was playing with. If you gave him any sort of correction, he would redirect on you. That’s not all though. Even when I kept him calm and below his threshold, he couldn’t handle pressure from the leash, so no way was I going to use spatial pressure on this dog. He was responsive to the whip… when he wasn’t redirecting on it and trying to attack it. Same with the pet convincer. This guy was 3 months old when I got him.

Those are the more serious behaviors. He didn’t have a name, so I gave him one. Coba. Like the steps of Coba in Mexico. I had gone to Cancun earlier in the year, and the ruins of Coba resonated with me. I named him Coba because I wanted to climb to the top with this dog and find him a good home. I tried. I really did. He also had some minor behaviors as well. Like jumping, barking at you for attention, pulling on the leash, barking in the kennel, destroying crates, and a super fun one: eating other dogs’ shit. And then throwing it up and eating it again. Nice, huh?

So, I started him on the strict boot camp, working with him 3-5x a day on socialization, obedience, leash work, calm state of mind, tie back training, place, perception modification, pressure/release, ecollar, halti work (he tried to eat me), prong collar work, treadmill (again, tried to eat me), etc. He would be totally 100% doing wonderful, and then a feeling would change. No warning signs, just a feeling. And he would go after another dog, a toy, or a person. Aggression: Wanting to cause harm. He wanted this. He went from happy go lucky/calm state of mind to snarling, biting, snapping, and baring teeth. I kept at it, working with him, being patient, and waiting until we got to a better state of mind before finishing the session.

A lot of the smaller issues had been improving immensely, and I was hopeful I could get this kid into a home. But I had doubts. For one thing, placing dogs with any MINOR issues can be harder. Let’s add the fact he’s a pitbull on top of that. Oh yeah, and he sometimes tries to bite dogs and people. So.. I was hesitant to place him in a home with other dogs or kids. We’re in Utah. Good luck with that. Oh, I also needed to find someone who was willing to continue bringing him to socials and who would continue doing training. Probably for a long time. Someone who could understand treats and love could not help this kid. He needed much more than that.  Anyway, I was advertising him, but I was thinking about other options. I had to make a decision… I normally adopt fosters out a few days to a month after  they are surrendered to me. This guy, I had for 11 weeks..I needed to do something. Training wasn’t making a difference. He didn’t have a home to go to, I was spending my time working with a dog who wasn’t showing any progress. In the time I worked with him, I could have saved 2-3 other fosters. I’m thinking of all these things, as I continue to stall to make a decision.

Project K9 Heather Rose CobaThe final straw was when I was working on a ‘place’ command with him. This is a ‘get on your bed’ equivalent, where you control the space, and teach the dog to calm down without moving from a particular place. This is a psychological exercise. Anyway, he was doing great and laying calmly on the bed. I was ready to release him, so I walked over calmly and kneeled down to give him some calm affection. He had soft, loose body language, and I pet him on the chin and the side of his face. He seemed to be doing well, so I reached down to get the leash and he lunged at me, snapped at my face. I stepped on the leash at the last second, and prevented him from biting my face. He kept snapping and lunging at me, while snarling and baring teeth. I can’t correct at this point, so I just waited him out by applying pressure on the leash while I was standing on it. Eventually, he stopped, and was panting. Worn out from trying to attack me. I waited until I was calm to put him back in the crate. End on a … decent.. note, I guess.

Later, I let dogs out of the kennels like I always do for potty time. I had been working with him for 11 weeks at this point. Never in that time had he ever gone after a smaller dog. Usually it was when they were playing and it got too rough. This day, he grabbed my chihuahua and shook him. I yelled at him, grabbed him, and he let go. But there was no warning before that incident occurred.

I made the call. I decided I could not rehome this dog. I couldn’t surrender him to a shelter or a rescue and be honest with them. They would just put him down. And if that was the case, I would just do it myself. So I made the call. I made the appointment. He was to be put down the day after Christmas. I was on the fence about the decision for so, so long. I know this sometimes happens, but this doesn’t make it any easier.

It was not this dog’s fault. I felt there was something going on in this guy’s head. A mental issue. I don’t believe he deserved to be killed, but in the training world, we see it as a kindness. He wasn’t physically sick, but mentally, his brain had something wrong with it. It never gets easier. Coba was around 6 months when I sent him to the land of eternal dreams. I felt I killed a puppy. But now, I think I saved him.

The feeling of loss, and then the feeling of release. Like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Then guilt, because I feel better. And then I feel worse because I’m thinking about my feelings, and not mourning the loss of this puppy. I hate this feeling. It hurts. I’m starting to get used to hurt. Seems it’s a recurring theme in my life.

I hope you are healthy now.

RIP Coba. June 2014-Dec 2014

RIP Mamma 2006-2015 (click here for her memorial)

Project K9 Heather Rose Mamma Coba

Rest in peace, Coba and Mamma

 

Added a small dog to our PK9 pack!

project_k9_chihuahuas_our_packMarshall was a dog I trained a few months ago, around June/July. I fell in love with this little guy when he was here. He was PERFECT when he went home. Originally, his issues included marking, humping, barking, running away, and pottying in the house randomly. Basically, I just needed to work on leadership issues with him, E-collar, and some potty training. This guy was golden when he went home. During the go home, I mentioned if for any reason they couldn’t keep him anymore, to let me know. There was something about this pup.

Anyway, about a week ago, I receive a call from the owners saying they want to surrender Marshall to me because they are moving. I tell them to let me think on it for a couple days before I make a decision. I end up saying yes, and that if he ends up not being a good fit (I doubted it), that I could adopt him out. He doesn’t really have any issues, so he would be easy to place if I needed to.

project_k9_chihuahuas_pitbullsHe’s younger, but has a very good, even temperament and delivers perfect corrections. He is controlled, and very dominant. I like that, and I loved what he did to my pack. There was a bit more play than normal in the beginning whilst they were figuring things out. Now, he is the most dominant dog in my pack, and keeps everyone in line. He rocks at energy control.

I wasn’t planning on expanding my pack so quickly after getting Mamma, but hey-it happens, right? And he’s little, does he really count as a whole dog? Ok, maybe I’m in denial. *wink* He really does add a good balance, and I use him quite regularly with puppies and dogs who are rude. Not your average, run of the mill chihuahua here. He’s a stud, and quite the calm little guy. He doesn’t bark at the doorbell, or when he does, I tell him to hush and he’s usually done. He responds to corrections easily, keeps the pack in order, and really does contribute quite a bit.

Welcome to the family, kid!

project_k9_utah_dog_training_chihuahua_pack

 

Working with my fearful Pup

Jinx has started to settle in to her new life and has learned most of the house rules. We are going pretty slow with all of her training, so as not to overwhelm her accidentally.

Project K9 Heather Hamilton Rehabilitating Fearful DogsWe have taught our house rules:
-No dogs on any furniture at any time. Completely unacceptable.
-No dogs allowed in the cat room (we are still working on this) or in the kitchen.
-Must sit before going outside, putting a leash on, mealtimes, or when we ask for ‘hugs’
-No jumping on people unless we are asking for ‘hugs’. She really only jumps on me anyway. We just don’t want unnecessary jumping at all.
-When the family is settled, she is settled. It is not playtime.
-No playing allowed in the house with other dogs. Inside toys are fine, but must be calm play.
-Must be respectful of our cats
And we are working on training:

-Sit, down, wait, stay, place, ‘kennel’, ‘out’, ‘back up’, ‘come on’, ‘here’, ‘easy’
-She has already learned her new name and wants to please.
-Crate training
-Leash work – she originally didn’t pull, but put on the brakes and didn’t want to walk. Now, if she is feeling more comfortable, she will pull. Which isn’t ideal, but it is moving, so baby steps.
-Working around other dogs – she’s great.
-Working around strangers  – not so great. This is our biggest issue. She is insecure about people.
-Working around people and other dogs – forget it, she shuts down. It’s too much.

Project K9 Heather Hamilton Rehabilitating Fearful DogsWith the improvements she has shown in the house, around my husband and her attitude in the house and outside, she is doing just wonderfully. However, once I put a leash on her and walk outside, she is her insecure self again.

We have been going on walks around the neighborhood every day, and stopping and waiting until she calms down when there are people, cars, barking dogs, or children playing around. Sometimes, we don’t make it very far. But that’s ok. I’m aiming for a healthy state of mind, rather than worry about distance.

We have been taking her to socials on Saturdays, pack walks and introducing her at any opportunity we have. We advocate for her, however, and don’t let people touch her when she is in an unhealthy state of mind. We will not reward that type of behavior, nor ‘comfort’ her when she is scared. I protect her from people who are well-meaning, but want to touch her. She’s not ready for that type of interaction from strangers yet. It will just take time. We are in this for the long haul. I love this dog, and I am so impressed with the little things so far.

Project K9 Heather Hamilton Rehabilitating Fearful DogsWe are documenting her progress with video and will create a before/after documentary when we are finished. It may be a few months from now, or a few years.

No one wants a project dog. Everyone wants a dog who is already trained or who needs just a little bit of work. I fell in love with this dog, knowing she needed work. How much work wasn’t apparent until we took her to her first social class the day after we adopted her. But again, I wasn’t disappointed – I realized she would be a project to help her gain that confidence back.

She shows all the signs of the dog I wanted – dominant with other dogs, she administers corrections when needed, and she responds well to corrections when she needs them. She plays hard in an excited state of mind, and then calms herself down almost immediately. I need all those things. Napoleon has also helped her with eating (she’s a poor eater), and given her confidence around certain situations. He is a very confident dog, albeit unbalanced and gets excited easily. However, he communicates with her appropriately too. He gives calming signals when she is insecure or anxious. She is kenneled at night, and he sleeps next to her kennel.

Project K9 Heather Hamilton Rehabilitating Fearful DogsShe will get there, and I’m putting in the work. We have done some leash-confidence building exercises on the prong collar, as the Halti shut her down. She did fine on it until there were people around, and then she shut down. She does much, much better on the prong. She is very sensitive, so it just takes a small amount of pressure to communicate with her.

I want to start her on the eCollar to help with that confidence as well. Both of the eCollars I currently own (Tri Tronics Sport G3 model and the Garmin Delta combo collar) are gentle, but I think she is too sensitive for that one, even on the lowest setting. (I haven’t even put it on her yet), The ‘beep’ sound doesn’t have a stimulation attached to it, but I think the sound would scare her, so I won’t be using that function either. Some people ask about the vibration feature. This feature usually scares dogs, so I avoid that feature altogether.  I will be purchasing an Einstein collar soon, as it has a much gentler stimulation.

I have learned so much about fearful dogs from her, and have now experienced the feeling of heartbreak when your own dog shuts down when they are overstimulated. I get it. I understand. But I won’t back down from our training. I won’t coddle or baby her. She needs to earn attention, just like any other dog. I just have to go slower, and start at an earlier step.

I can do it. So can my clients with fearful or insecure dogs. And yes, I’m a little picture happy – she’s just beautiful, isn’t she?

Project K9 Heather Hamilton Rehabilitating Fearful Dogs

Stages of Grief

Ryder was not my dog. Sometimes, like when he was at my house for boarding or for workshops, I felt like he was. He got to stay in my basement and snuggle up with Napoleon right at my feet while we watched movies. I really miss him.

Over the weekend , I boarded a few dogs, and on Friday when I got home from the vet, I heard one of them barking. Without thinking, I asked my husband, “Is that Ryder barking?”

My husband looks at me and says, “That’s not Ryder, Heather.” And that’s when it really hit me. At the vet, it felt like he was going to wake up at any second. He looked like he was just sleeping. I was honored I got to spend the last few moments with him and whisper to him how much he meant to everyone and how much I loved him, and how this wasn’t his fault. How he’ll be able to play all day with the other dogs and chew on as many bones as he wants. He’ll be free.

I don’t believe in a heaven or hell or God or devils. I believe that all life is returned to the planet. No, I’m not stealing the plot from Final Fantasy VII, it’s just the best way I can explain it. When a person, animal, or plant dies, their spirit is returned to the planet so we can keep living on this Earth. I believe this, and I believe Ryder lives on in a different way. I won’t see him again, but I’ll feel him. I’ll feel him in the air, and in the trees, I’ll see moments of him in my clients’ dogs or within my own house. I’ll remember him and laugh at how goofy he could be.

I know I made the right decision, and the family knows that too. But I’m feeling all the things anyone would feel for making a hard decision. Guilt, pain, sadness, depression, anger. Sometimes, I’m inconsolable.  I’ll be sitting at my computer, or talking to a friend, and then I’m completely overwhelmed with sadness and I just end up crying.

GriefI’m experiencing the 5 stages of grief, and as soon as I feel like I’m ok, I remember something about him that was goofy and silly. Like how, when he thought he was going to get some food or a treat, he would sit automatically and back up about a foot so that his long legs could comfortably sit on the ground. Then he’d stare at you with his adorable face. If you waited long enough, he would paw at you to give him what he wants. No, this isn’t ideal behavior, and we had really worked on this. But last week, he got away with it. Why not? He was on death row, he could have whatever he wanted.

Or that time when he was at my house for the workshop and was exhausted at the end of the day. I accidentally dropped the leash and he bolted into my house, down into the basement and snuggled up in his kennel all on his own. I miss these moments, and he’s not even my dog. I just… got attached.

And it will take time to be ok. Sometimes, it’s only once a day where I am in a depressive state. Other times, it’s pretty much the whole day.  I know I’ll feel  better with time, and I know this was right. Sometimes, it feels like I have to remind myself that this is what he needed. Because it feels like I made the decision to kill him. Which isn’t what happened, but emotions sometimes overcome logic.

Today, one of my coworkers asked me how I was doing, and I could barely speak. If I kept talking, I would start crying and would have to step out. So I said I wasn’t ready to talk about it yet. But on Sunday, I could talk about it, and I felt confident with my decision. Yesterday, I had a migraine to keep me occupied, but then when I was feeling better, I just wanted to curl up in bed and go to sleep. So, I went to bed around 9:00 pm and didn’t go to sleep until after midnight because I was crying. It just hurts so much sometimes.  So, if you ask me about it, there is a chance it could go either way. I could be fine and tell you about Ryder and about my decision, or I could be completely overwhelmed with sadness and be put into a depressive state… walking on eggshells, I guess.

In time, everything will go back to normal.

His story comes to an end

Hard decisions make us the people we are. We want to be the one to make the hard decisions and take charge of a difficult situation. Sometimes, this is easier said than done. Sometimes, we want to be the person who is being taken care of, instead of the decision maker.

You see, when you become a trainer, it’s not all about playing with puppies and teaching Sit/Stays. You have to work through the hard issues too. Hard issues like euthanasia of a difficult dog. Hard issues like the possibility of having an aggressive or dangerous, unpredictable dog in the presence of a child. Specifically a very large dog who is unpredictable.

You can work as hard as you can, but it’s not enough. Again, now is one of those times. I did everything I knew how to do and exhausted every resource. I made all the recommendations, and the family followed through with all the homework. They really did everything, too. But it comes down to how much progress has been done and how much more needs to be accomplished. It’s more than what I can do, it’s more than what the family could do. Even if he went with the best trainer in the world, I believe the outcome may have been the same. There was a ‘right’ family out there for him, but either it wasn’t the right time, they weren’t experienced enough yet, or they didn’t hear my cries for help. Either way, the decision has been made and the end has come. I also can’t think like that anymore – there is always something else to do. That’s a pet owner’s way of thinking, and I will torture myself thinking ‘What if?’. Thinking as a trainer, I exhausted all resources and didn’t come to this decision lightly.

The question needs to be asked, “Can you trust this dog to make the right decision?”. The answer was No. It has been no for the last 8 months, and I don’t see this changing. With dogs like this, you have to constantly be on your guard and be ready in case things go bad. The one time you let your guard down will be the one time something might happen. This dog was fine 95% of the time, but in those small moments when he wasn’t, bites have happened. A dog that gives no warning is the most dangerous kind of dog. A dog that is unpredictable makes this situation even worse. Even though he is sweet 95% of the time… the moment you let your guard down is when something will happen. This dog was not a monster, but sweet and confused. The product of a hard puppy-hood and negligence and malnutrition. He was a great dog.

It’s exhausting, and you don’t see an end. A decision needs to be made. Can you rehome the dog? Can you adopt them out? Is euthanasia the only option? How do you find the right home? What are the conditions of adopting out an unpredictable, dominant, possibly aggressive dog? What about liability? Is that a life for the family? Why should they have to do this? What kind of quality is that kind of life for a dog? And what if, at some point, he does finally get to be a decent dog? How much time will this senior dane have left? How much time will he get to enjoy his hard-earned freedom? How many people are willing to take on a project senior Great Dane who is likely to bite again? These were all things that we discussed. These were all valid points, and unfortunately, the answer was that in the most ideal family, and with the best training, he would still be a project dog and once the training was ‘done’ (because training is never ‘done’), he wouldn’t have much time left in his short life.

That’s always something to think about. At some point, you need to weigh the cost and quality of life for the animal. Euthanasia is a better alternative, and this way, he can be happy.

Sometimes, that means euthanasia is the best option. Weighing this option is never an easy topic. It’s never easy to think about or discuss, especially with a dog that isn’t yours. How do you even bring up this topic? What if you get attached and you don’t want to accept it yourself?

I have always been of the opinion that euthanasia was an unnecessary option. It was a ‘lazy’ option for people who didn’t want to fix the problem. But after seeing some of the best trainers in the United States have to make the same decisions, my opinion was swayed. I still want to do everything else to not have to make this decision, and I thought that when I had to discuss with a client, it wouldn’t be this dog. It wouldn’t be this client, and it would be years later in my training. But after exploring every angle, talking to the best trainers, and discussing options with the family, I am confident this is the right decision. Even though it hurts and feels like I’m being ripped apart. I know in my heart this is right.

What happens when you have to have this discussion, not only with a client, but with a friend? I handled it in a way that I knew how. I thought about how, if a trainer told me this was the best option for MY dog, how would I want to be told? These are my friends, and I love this dog. But that doesn’t mean it made it any easier. In fact, this made it harder. Part of the job – the hardest part. This is the part where trainers get judged the most, and where second guessing makes this decision even harder.

I’m trying to turn this around and think in a positive light. This will make me a better trainer. I’m sure I will have this same discussion again in the future. If I want to work with difficult dogs, which I do – this is not the last time I will discus euthanasia. I can do it, and I will learn how to better handle these situations. I can learn from this experience and I can learn from everything this dog had to teach me. I won’t forget anything, and I won’t tarnish his memory by making the same mistakes again. I will remember this dog and all the work the family did, the dog did, and how much I put into him. It’s not anyone’s fault it didn’t work out. I will get better, and just like Albert, I will learn from Ryder. To see all of Ryder’s progress, see his notes here.

I love you, kid.

R.I.P. Ryder
2010-2013

Taken on 7/24/13

Taken on 7/24/13

MemorialStone1

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.