I’m feeling a little like I am doing something wrong by returning Sandy to the rescue. It’s probably just me and my own doubts about myself and my disappointment regarding the entire situation, but still. I keep worrying I am coming off as someone who is giving up on Sandy. Am I a fair-weather dog owner? God, I hope not. I really don’t mean to be. I take all of this very seriously, I honestly do. You all know how much my pets mean to me– they’re my world. So… saying that I cannot handle one dog that has been entrusted to my care (by my own doing)… can feel like I am a quitter, hypocrite or worse. Am I?
There may not be an opening in the foster home network until December 23, so at the moment I’m mentally preparing to handle this on a possible long-term basis. I need to get a wire crate. I don’t have one, and maybe I can crate her out in the dining room area so she isn’t locked up in a bedroom. I don’t want her to feel that she is being punished; I just want to have a place to keep her away from Hurley so he can be safe.
I found out a little more about Sandy’s history last night, too. I guess the people who owned her would just lock her in the laundry room when she did anything inappropriate. She didn’t get a chance to learn how to behave among other dogs… she was just always taken away and removed from the situation. Of course, dogs need to interact with all kinds of dogs and people so they’re properly socialized from the time they are young. I don’t know that she knows that what she is doing to Hurley isn’t acceptable, and why. And Hurley’s not going to be much help in teaching her, unfortunately… he is so scared, timid and nervous around her at all times now that it’s like she can’t resist the urge to run over and bully him. He’s giving off the submissive, weaker-dog vibe and she’s just messing with that.
I have tried to use positive reinforcement so their interactions together are pleasant, and so far it’s not doing anything. Hurley won’t accept treats, and Sandy will take it, and once she has it, get all confident and start posturing at Hurley. Then, it’s like I am rewarding her bad behavior! Timing is everything, and trying to treat her at the moment she is being totally calm and cool has been so incredibly difficult. Nothing like most other dogs who learn through repetition, pretty fast. I tried positive reinforcement without treats, but with attention and praise, too. Same thing. The second she gets something from me, she immediately switches to Confident, Nervy Dog and uses that “happy” energy to look for a fight! Honestly, I’m at my wit’s end and I have read so many different articles and book excerpts regarding dog-on-dog aggression and what I’ve got here is a major problem.
One of my contacts at the rescue, C, is being very supportive and has sent me helpful resources and everything, and she said that it sounds like at this point, we would need the help of a professional. And that can be a big time commitment, not to mention a money commitment. C reminded me of something that made me cry last night when she said it: “You’re trying very hard and we can all see that, but we also see that you are a single person with a lot of responsibilities already on your plate as it is. I don’t want to make you feel bad, that’s not my intention, but L, you need to think about the realistic limitations to what you are capable of doing right now. This simply might not be an ideal match.”
I did feel bad when she said this, because I don’t like remembering that I am the only one doing everything with my house and yard, my pets, my life in general. So many things would be easier if there were another person there to help support me in this stuff. It’s true. I don’t like that fact, but it’s true.
I feel like a single loser on days like this. Not that a husband or boyfriend would automatically make this situation better, of course. But when people I don’t know all that well make observations like that, it hits the point home. Reminds me I am alone. That I am 35 and alone; not even dating yet. Ugh. Puke.
So, yeah. Today I feel like some people might think I am a jerk, and I hate this feeling. I feel like people might be thinking that I never should have adopted in the first place… I should have known that there was a chance I would be getting in over my head if the dog didn’t fit in easily. I did know that, on some level. But she seemed SO GREAT! Everyone who met her said so, too. She came off as sweet, calm, and normal. And yet, once she got comfortable her true nature came out and it’s violent towards my other dog. I can’t let Hurley get hurt. Period. If it were just a short dominance fight, that would be one thing. But this is something uglier. It’s very hard to watch. I should videotape it and post it someplace so people can see what’s going on first-hand. Maybe they’d understand why I’m resorting to FAIL as a dog adopter.
One final thing. Some people have reminded me of the similarities of the Sandy situation to the X situation. How, at the onset, everything looked wonderful and it seemed like I was with someone I was meant to be with. But then, as things settled in, his true nature came out. Gone was the easygoing, happy and carefree person and in its place was someone who could be downright nasty and controlling.
And so, it seems to be with Sandy. She was great when we first met her, and for the first several days. But then there was the aggression towards Simon, and now, Hurley. She’s a very nice dog, at heart, though, so that’s the difference between her and X! She doesn’t know any better than to behave the way she does, and she is still obedient to my commands. She’s trying to be good and loyal. She simply appears to enjoy being the only dog. (She attacked a cocker spaniel before I adopted her, but only after being around that dog for 4 days. Sounds familiar.)
It’s very sad that it had to come to this, for me. I wish I could do more. I wish I was “better” at this. I do feel like failure today.