Mean Dog, Part 1

Nap time

Nap Time

by Terri Johnson Florentino

I received a call one day from a trainer in a neighboring state. He said he had a three-year-old Border Collie that needed to be rescued. “Can you help? Over the last year, he’s gotten aggressive with his owners, their children, and other animals. He’s bitten a few times.” The owners were wonderful people, he said. “They’re heartbroken.” They felt that they had done all they could for the dog. “They’re afraid euthanasia’s the only option left.”

When I rescue, I bring the dog to live in my home with my family and other dogs. I spend a few months getting to know and training the dog. I aim to place the right dog with the right family. Everybody wins.

This trainer and I talked for a long time, and then, with a heavy heart, I declined to help this dog. How could I possibly put my family and other dogs through the stress of living with such an aggressive dog? I feared for his fate.

About a week later I took my Border Collies to my friend’s farm to work our dogs on her sheep together. After we were done, she asked me to spend some time with a dog that she’d recently taken in. “His name’s Buddy,” she said. “He came from an excellent home but he’s got some behavioral problems.”

She came out of the kennel with a beautiful, traditional black-and-white Border Collie. He followed reluctantly on the lead with a deer-in-the-headlight look. As I slowly approached, not saying a word, Buddy got increasingly uncomfortable. He averted his eyes, and his body stiffened. I bent down next to him. He took a deep breath and let out a very long growl. His beautiful coat stood completely on end, and his lips curled so tightly, he was bearing every one of his teeth.

And yet, I didn’t feel threatened. He never made eye contact, nor lunged to bite.  I felt sympathy for the dog. His display seemed to come from fear and pain. I turned to my friend. “Where did you get him?”

Sure enough—Buddy was the same dog the trainer had called me about earlier that week.

Why did this dog keep coming to me? What would I do? What would you have done?

Comment & Stay Tuned…..

10 responses to “Mean Dog, Part 1

  1. I know what you did since I know this doggy 🙂
    But the question is what would I have done – if it happened 5 years ago when I knew nothing about behavioral issues I would have not given that dog a chance. I’m still no expert but what I have learned from my own personal experience with my dog (Chase) is that they all deserve a chance. We all have problems but we don’t turn our backs on each other so why should we turn our backs them. I have learned so much over the last 5 years that I would have to honestly say I would give him another chance, well with your guidance of course 😉

  2. I think you worked your magic…can’t wait to hear what happened…

  3. had a border collie for a little while – he was great when we were home but he hated being alone. he tore up the carpeting at the door once because he was trying to get out of our home (when I went to work). couldn’t keep him. took him to the humane society – they did their tests and let me know that it was typical for these dogs. the dogs have a nervous anxiety – fear of being alone. they were going to put him to sleep – I couldn’t do that so I took the dog back – I found a home for him with an elderly couple who didn’t work anymore (thus they would be home a lot). he loved them and they loved him.

  4. Terri, thank you for sharing Buddy’s story so eloquently. I began reading it about a week ago and it’s brought back so many memories. We loved Buddy so deeply and giving him up was the hardest thing Jim and I had to face. Because of how much we loved him, it felt so wrong to give him up. But when he bit our 2 1/2 year old daughter, we knew we had to face the truth. Local trainers we consulted with were not at all encouraging. Not knowing what his fate would be was especially devastating. Just writing this comment has me in tears as I recall the chain of events….

    • Thank you for sharing Karen. Ed & I understood and sympathized with your pain. You both know that you did the right thing for your daughter and Tulley. We are honored to call you friends.

  5. Terri, thank you for your kind words and for always being there for us. Your support and friendship during this time was incredibly important for our healing. Knowing Tulley (our Buddy) was in your and Ed’s hands gave us such comfort amidst our grief. Thank you many times over from the bottom of our hearts.

Whatcha thinking? Gimme that! Grr! Grr!

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