Monday, June 2, 2014

Must Be The Only Dog

More and more lately I'm seeing posts on Facebook, ads on Craig's List and emails in my inbox about dogs who are in rescue, need a foster or adopter now for various reasons or they will either be in boarding or taken back to the pound or put to sleep.  In 90% of these ads it is said that the dog has had training with  trainers and loves humans, but just can't be with another dog.  No cats are included in these ads as well and many times no children. 

It seems to me that there is something really wrong here.  Shouldn't a dog who has gone through training - usually board and train - a specific type of socialization, and behavior modification, be ready to be a dog?  To live with other dogs?  I can see the no children because of size considerations in many of them, I can also see the point in no cats as it's usually the cat's fears that cause the issues.  But shouldn't a dog who has been through this type of program be able to live with other dogs? 

I follow the posts about the various dogs that hit the E-List for behavior issues, agonizing over every one of them because I know that if I had the facilities, the energy and physical attributes I had 10 years ago, I could help these dogs.  But alas, that isn't the case. So I resort to hoping that the behavior issues are only due to the stress of being in the shelter and not something carried over from a prior life.

But, what I see are these dogs, who have issues with other dogs, put into a board and train situation for a month or two, sometimes more, and come out the other end still not able to live with other dogs.  Why?  Isn't that supposed to be what they are in training to fix? What are they learning?

It doesn't take that much time to bring a dog back to it's natural balance, it's social nature.  One month of concentrated behavior training, and in the worst cases, two maybe three, and the dog should have let go of it's fears, learned how to communicate with it's own kind, and be able to be social in most circumstances.  Even with a dedicated foster taking the same dog to group classes that deal in reactivity and aggression and actually doing the assigned homework can "cure" most of these dogs in 8 weeks. Why is this not happening?

This is a lament more then a rant.  I want so badly to be able to help these dogs.  I know I can do it, I've done it way too many times in the past and am still doing it with dedicated owners and even some fosters in the allotted 8 week time period.  The dogs I work with are just as fearful, just as dedicated to eating anything that scares it, just as "red zone" as the ones in these ads. I work with dogs with fight and bite histories that would curl your hair in seconds. I work with dogs who are so out of balance that they even want to kill the fake dogs I use to assist in their rehabilitation.  They are so out of tune with reality due to their fear, they really do think the fake dogs are real.

But I've never been good with raising money for situations like this.  And so I have to sit on the sidelines and hope that someone younger, someone with a similar education and understanding of ethics, biology, physiology, evolution, behavior analysis, ethology and compassion will come along and do what I no longer can.  I am forced to sit on the sidelines and watch while someone with a prong collar, a shock collar and no true education can claim to fix behavior issues and fail.  And listen to the people who think these trainers are wonderful because the dogs can now sit, down, stay, heel, come and walk around in circles ignoring other dogs for fear of getting whipped.

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