This too shall pass

Don’t cross swords with Piper Dawg
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She’s so bad ass.  Today she made Wootie cry, because she bit him when he tried to play with her soccer ball.  Which is a basketball.  And which does not belong to her.

Oh yes it does.  All the balls are belong to me!
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We’re not playing Dumbball these days because it hurts Tweed’s feelings when we play and he can’t.  He refuses to play with anything bigger than a tennis ball, so he’s not offended when he’s not allowed to play with the basketball.  Piper’s making do, but I think she’s missing Dumbball, so it’s making her angry – hence the Wootie damage.

Eventually she allowed him to play, but she wasn’t too terribly impressed with my lecture on the joys of sharing.
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Dexter wanted to play too, but he sucks at it.  First of all, he’s usually hiding behind something while eying the ball, so it makes it difficult to interact with him.  When he does come out of hiding, he flies over and grabs the ball right when I am about to kick it.  As a result I have accidentally kicked him in the face about 9 times, twice in the ribs and once I fell down.  I can’t say I’m enjoying my puppy very much right now.

This is me playing ball.  I swear.
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Actually, if I’m being honest, I am not really enjoying Dexter very much at all at the moment.  I suppose it’s his age, but he’s downright pesty.  Everything I try to do ends up with his face or feet in the middle of it; every cuddle I try to give another dog ends up with Dexter squashed into the mix; he bit the cat for getting on my lap while he was on the sofa; he smashed up my brand-newly planted flowerbed (which he has never, ever walked in before I planted things in it); he tried to kill the hand-raised friendly goats at  farm I was visiting yesterday … every time I turn around he’s in my way. I swear I holler “get out of the way Dexter!!!” about 19 times day.  Even when I try to interact with him in a positive way he ruins it somehow – this morning I tried for a snuggle and got a paw in the mouth and then very nearly a black eye when he clocked me with his hard, pointy empty head.  I’m ready to throttle his skinny little neck.

And I’m not the only one.  Piper has stopped playing with him altogether.   Wootie hides when I put my boots on because when Dexter gets excited about a walk he turns into a tornado and jumps on every dog in sight.  He deliberately lies down in front of Tweed and puts a paw on his face, which Tweed HATES so the poor old guy can’t get any peace.  TWooie just bites Dexter whenever he flings himself into TWoo’s atmosphere.

He is The World’s Most Irritating Dog right now.

Ah ha ha ha ha ha!
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It may be selective memory at work here, but I don’t remember any of my other puppies going through a phase so irritating that I actually disliked them.

There are things I dislike about all my dogs, of course.  I wish Tweed wouldn’t bark at trains.  I wish Piper would shut up at breakfast time and not growl at everyone.  I wish Wootie would at least pretend to pay attention to me.  And TWooie, of course, could stop biting other dogs.  But at the moment, I am hard pressed to think of anything to like about Dexter!

Except, you know, he’s awful cute.
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This too shall pass.  He’ll outgrow this phase and I will love him again, I’m sure.

But it has gotten me thinking … when do you think a person should throw in the proverbial towel on their human-dog relationship?  Is it ever okay to look at your dog and think “you know what?  I just don’t like you and I don’t want to live with you”?  In all my years of doing rescue, I think I have heard every excuse in the book about why someone is giving up their dog, but I don’t think anyone has ever said to me “I just don’t like him.  I bought him, raised him and it turns out I just don’t care for his personality.”  I wonder how many dogs are really given up not because they are too much work, or they dig up the yard, or their owners are moving or whatever, but really just because the owner doesn’t like the dog’s personality … I don’t mean because the dog has issues or baggage or whatever, but rather the human-dog connection just can’t fuse because for whatever reason, the human doesn’t like that particular dog.

There are lots of dogs in the world I don’t really like.  I’ve had a few fosters that have gone on to homes that love them while I do a happy dance at their departure and break out the celebratory glass of wine.  There was nothing wrong with those dogs in particular and they are all making people very happy in their new lives, but I didn’t much care for them and would not have wanted to live with them for  15 years.  They just were not my cup of tea.  But that’s okay, because I was just offering them a temporary halfway house anyway and they were never meant to stay forever anyway.

La la la.  Was someone speaking?
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Do you think it’s okay to part company with a dog because you don’t like it?  Or are you stuck with that dog for its lifetime?  Is it ever okay to give up your canine because you just can’t mesh?  I’m not talking about someone who would abuse, neglect or otherwise mistreat a dog they didn’t like, I’m speaking of your average, loving, responsible dog owner who just for whatever reason can’t find it in them to appreciate the qualities of a particular dog they decided to acquire.  Someone who would go on to provide a wonderful home for another dog they got on better with.

Is it okay to break up with a dog?

Run.  RUN!  This is leading into a rant!
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Shut up Piper!

Personality, in a dog, is really important to me.  I spend an awful lot of time with my dogs, so it’s necessary that we get on well.  If I am going to spend 10-20 years with someone, I had darn well better like them, and that goes for the dogs too.  That’s why we put so much emphasis on personality in our rescue, and why we work so hard to evaluate the dogs and why I write pretty in depth bios on the website.  I want people to know about as much as it’s possible to know about a dog without meeting it, long before they ever decide to apply.

So it drives me absolutely CRAZY when people apply for dogs who are nothing more than a photograph. If I post a photo of a dog in the “coming soon” section, with absolutely NO information about the dog, inevitably someone will apply for that dog and usually with the world’s most irritating phrase:  “I can tell he’s perfect for me!”

I always want to ask them if he’d still be perfect for them if they learned he was epileptic, or had three legs, or an obsessive-compulsive shadow chasing problem, or killed cats, or had mega-esophagus, or mange, or separation anxiety or was blind, or house soiled or … you get the idea.  And I know that the dog is NOT perfect for them because when the dog has finally been assessed and has a bio up, those same folks are no longer interested because they need a dog that likes kids, or they don’t want to deal with car chasing, or they can’t deal with a shy dog or what have you and – !surprise! – the photo that was perfect for them is a dog that isn’t.

I’m perfect.  Just check back a post or two and you’ll even see that she said I was.
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And it’s not just an occasional thing either.  I mean, it happens with virtually every dog we post in the “Coming Soon” section.  So it’s not a handful of people, it’s a whole teeming segment of the population who thinks they knew everything there is to know about a dog from a single photograph and they’re willing to sign over the next 15 years of their life based on that intuition.  I think that’s crazy!

Because you know what?  I think that a lot of the dogs that we get into rescue are there because someone just didn’t like them.  Nice dogs with no real issues, people with flimsy excuses … I think that they just ended up with a dog they couldn’t love.

Yeah yeah yeah.  Snooze.
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Not to change the subject, but you can see in this photo how much weight he ISN’T putting on his right front leg (the white one).  That’s the one we’re xraying tomorrow.  Wish us luck!

(and if you don’t ever hear from me again it’s because I have to skip Tweed’s breakfast in case of anaesthesia, and there’s a very strong possibility that he will kill me if everyone else gets to eat and he doesn’t!)

Comments

  1. Leandra says:

    When I attended puppy pre-school with my latest puppy, the instructor said “Tell me something you like about your puppy”. It’s rare to find this focus on the positive rather than on the negative. As usual, the class contained owners with ridiculous expectations of their 10 week old puppies and that attitude is the reason for so many dumped animals. It’s one thing to rehome a dog after careful consideration because you know it will be happier elsewhere. It’s another to discard it because we have very unrealistic expectations. We don’t have smooth sailing in our relationships with the human members of our household but we’re usually more willing to weather the difficult periods. Most of us don’t suddenly dump our two year olds or our teenagers when life gets rocky, no matter how much we’d really like to. So I think we owe it to our pets to be a little more tolerant when they go through different and difficult stages, and try to accomodate or manage the situation where we can.

  2. sevenpets says:

    This post has sure hit a chord with people! I don’t like two of my seven pets. I used to not like three of them but my partner’s dog has grown on me. I’m not crazy about her but after five years we have settled together. The animals I don’t like are a cat and a parrot. The cat is highly medicated (due to an “inappropriate urination” problem…and being just plain crazy) and I have dealt with her issues for 12 years. She has very limited freedom in the house because she pisses on everything. Obviously I can’t give her to anyone else but it is very hard to decide to euthanize an animal due to a behavioural issue. I look after her very well…including providing affection because it is part of my responsibility but I don’t like her and I don’t want her.

    The parrot hates the world, except for me. I love him but often I don’t like him. Life would be better without him but I can’t imagine giving him away. It would break his heart. I am his whole world. If he was my boyfriend though, I would have broken up with him long ago.

    So, yes, I don’t like some of my pets but I can’t bring myself to do anything about it except take care of them to the absolute best of my ability, which I feel it is my responsibility to do. I do love my two dogs, one cat and lizard though!

    TFL…you should charge for counselling services! This is like group therapy!

  3. i live with several dogs that i don’t naturally mesh with…i do care deeply for them all but some (like phoebe) irritate the heck out of me most days. but i sometimes look at her and i do recognize that i actually love her alot…..maybe even more than some of the others because i have to work so hard at actually loving the difficult parts of her….it is easy to love some of them, harder to love others but loving easy or hard or not is a conscious choice that we do make….we learn more about true loving from the ones we have to work at tho..at least that is what i tell myself so i don’t kill her every other day.

  4. Natalie says:

    Oh my doG I was laughing so hard I nearly cried reading this. The thing is, I know how you feel!!! Unfortunately everything you described about Dexter as an adolescent is what we deal with with Zeeke. And he is not an adolescent – he was when we got him, but he never freakin’ grew out of the obnoxiousness.

    And I can tell you right now, I love Zeeke and he’s part of the family, but I do NOT like him. Personality clash, beyond belief. Good thing he’s not my dog and I am not the primary caretaker, because I seriously just can’t imagine having to deal with him all the time for the rest of his life. He’s a great dog. He is. But he and I, we just don’t get along. He rubs me wrong every single day. I try to give him some positive attention and, yep, I get a paw in the mouth. Or he jumps to his feet and nails my chin so hard I see stars. But his personality matches my husband’s and they have some kind of alien mind-meld.

    On the other side, Zoe has just as many behavioral issues as Zeeke does, but very different ones: anxiety, over-reactive to sounds and movement, terrified of strangers… but she matches my personality so well that it rarely bothers me. We mesh. (And, yes, she drives my hubby nuts with her quirks.)

    It’s a very interesting topic, and absolutely why rescues need to do pretty extensive personality matching with prospective owners. I think so many do go into dog ownership not thinking much about “matching” and getting along with their dog, though some people (not all, not by a long shot) seem to understand that some breeds are better matched to them than other breeds. Getting a good match can be such a beautiful thing. Living with a bad match can make you really, really miserable.

  5. Hi Sheena,

    Glad to hear that you’re keeping the big goof. But as an academic discussion…

    I think that if there is truly a mis-match, there’s no shame in rehoming a dog. Having the dog continue in that situation doesn’t do anyone good. Including the dog.

    But:
    1. There has to be a true honest effort to work it out first. Or outlast it, in the case of dog adolescence. Or training &/or animal behaviorist consult – for both the dog and the owner.
    2. Only responsible rehoming is acceptable. A better home than yours. If the dog came from breed rescue (like BC rescue), call for help. Or even if the dog didn’t – they still might be able to help in some way.

    And no, I don’t think that rehoming your dog kills a shelter dog. It just opens your home to another.

  6. riosmom says:

    Wow, as you so often do, you have really struck a chord. I’ll keep mine short. I adopted Gracie on the basis of a picture, a single visit, and scanty but mostly negative information and she is the love of my life as well as a first class pita – but she is MY pita and challenges me and makes me laugh every day. I not only adore her, I LIKE her.

    I adopted Patch after several visits and info I suspected wasn’t true – it wasn’t – and I cannot bring myself to like this dog. I have come to love him because it is not his fault he is such an air-head but I just can’t like him. I would re-home him in an instant but he has issues I can’t pass on to someone else so when he licks me – which I HATE – because he is so pathetically needy and eager to please and incapable of understanding he is doing the opposite I grit my teeth and say “Get your toy!”

    Is it ok not to like a dog? It may be but it sure doesn’t feel very good. Is it ok to re-home a dog? Definitely if it for the dog’s sake as well as yours and for the sake of the new owner. Is it ok to “get rid” of a dog. Nope!

  7. A year or so ago I got my first foster dog. A lot of my friends were convinced that I was never going to let him go, that I would bring him into my home and he’d stay there.

    I didn’t. As cute as he was he was annoying and I really, really didn’t bond with him. He insisted on being under my feet at all times, he had to be touching me if I was sitting still and yet if you’d let him off his leash outside all you’d see was his fluffy tail disappearing over the horizon.

    He’d bark and yap if he was excited. He guarded his food against anything, including me and my rabbits, but would only eat if you were in the room with him.

    I was so glad to see him go! He still comes back occasionally for dog-sitting and everytime he leaves again I’m glad to see his fluffy little tail bouncing away from me!

  8. I kept a dog I didn’t like for eleven. long. years. I’d have given her away if I could’ve found her a home – but surprise, nobody else much wanted a hyperactive dog-aggressive Great Dane either. *sigh*
    She’d wound up in a shelter as an adolescent – which happens often with giant breeds. I guess somebody looks at them one day and goes “Whoa. You mean they really do get *that* big?” And then dumps ’em. Or more likely, the person thought it’d be really cool to have a dog *that* big, until the discovery that teething means you can lose a couch in under an hour (seriously, I once came home to a living room full of kapok and a frame).
    This girl wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but I liked her all right. Until the day my lab bitch tunnelled under the fence and picked a fight with the Dane. And the Dane killed her. I just never could bring myself to like her much after that, but I could never find another home willing to take her on. I always felt bad for the dog, who should have had the chance to live with someone who loved her. But at least she was fed and taken care of and had one good dog friend (she and my late GSD loved each other).
    And of course she lived to be nearly twelve , which is a long life for a Dane. To me, it seemed like even longer. :-)

  9. Jennifer Jackson says:

    Hope Tweed’s Xray went well. We’ll keep our Scottish paws crossed on this side of the pond.

  10. I too live with, and own, some dogs that I don’t like all that much. I love them, mind you, but I don’t really … like them. I find their responses, their mental processes, and just their personalities not very congenial to me.

    Would I ever re-home them? No. I would like to think that I would never re-home a dog. I might euthanize an aggressive dog, but just not liking a dog — I can live with that. I do live with that. Fortunately, I have six dogs and am absolutely nuts about a few of them, so it does even out.

    Honestly, I knew very early on that I was never going to mesh with Miss Pip, who is now almost 13. But she’s been a wonderful ‘auxiliary dog’ and every other dog in my household loves her; I do work her in rally-o because she likes the routine; and she’s a pretty easy keeper in most ways (once you factor in the shouted imprecations and curses that formed my communication with her for the first few years of her life).

    I don’t expect to like all my dogs all the time any more than I expect to like all my family members all the time. :)

  11. I do not feel throwing away a dogs’ entire lifetime in an existence of resentful tolerance is a compassionate option.

    When I told my story earlier about Weasel, I left out her side. She was miserable. I *tried* to be as kindly as possible, but until my feelings for her changed, she was frightened, insecure and neurotic. Now that I have grown to love her and she senses that and has bloomed, it makes me all the more aware of how wretched her life was. She was tended and tolerated, but like all creatures, she needs to be wanted and loved.

  12. i absolutely think it’s alright to re-home a dog if you don’t get along with it. i’ve done so, so i must think it’s alright.

    in my humble opinion there are so many different personalities in people, and then so many personalities in dogs, that there is literally someone for everyone. so why should i be miserable and the dog be miserable because we don’t get along? we shouldn’t.

  13. Good points….I guess it’s a tough question for me. I’ve had 3 (possibly now 4) dogs of my own in my lifetime, not counting the family dogs we’d had when I was a child. My first two dogs I had an incredible bond with, one I raised and one I rescued. My last dog, Grady, I’ve had for about 5 years and he was a rescue. I’d say the bond I have with him is totally different. I dont’ have the same connection with him that I had with my previous two dogs, but I love him for what he is and could never imagine giving him up. I honestly don’t know if I could adopt a dog and then not like it. Of course, I’ve been told that I’m one of those people that doesn’t know when to quit. ;)

  14. Deborah says:

    My dog flunked out of her first home at 8 weeks. It wasn’t entirely her fault but dang, I understand why they needed to find her a different home! There was more than one day during her first year when I cursed I couldn’t just dump her because we’d microchipped her.

    I wouldn’t have done it but I did THINK it and I’ve never thought that about any dog I’ve had. At about 2 1/2 she is still a trial at times but I no longer regret the microchips.

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