Many of our clients have heard us repeat over and over again the differences between dogs and humans. So many times (many times in good faith), we as dogs owners mistakenly treat our dogs they way we would a human child and unknowingly validate and encourage negative behaviors. This has many times lead to the creation of a monster. What you are about to read is a true story that was experienced by Maggie Forootan of Lead And Love K9 With Maggie of California.
By Maggi Forootan – Lead and Love K9
This is a true story. The names of those actually involved other than myself have been changed.
Today was a sad day.
Come with me as I take you on the journey of Sunny.
Little Sunny was rescued at three months old from a horribly neglectful situation. Left in a crate with her siblings for days on end, forced to lie in her own feces and starved. Thankfully a rescue organization stepped in and saved Sunny. She was underweight, and severely dehydrated. The rescue group got Sunny the veterinary care she needed, and then placed her in a foster home. She healed and grew stronger by the day.
Sunny’s foster mom Jill was kind and loving. She dutifully nursed Sunny back to health, and gave her the love and attention that she desperately needed. Jill felt really bad for Sunny, and allowed her to spend her days wrapped in a blanket while Jill cuddled and coddled her. Babying Sunny made Jill feel really good. She had literally saved Sunny’s life, and she felt that this sweet puppy deserved the lavish attention and love that she didn’t get in her tough start in life. As Sunny healed and got stronger, she started to become more assertive and demanding of her foster moms time and affection. Because Jill felt so bad about Sunny’s past, she gladly obliged her every whim. Sunny had few rules and boundaries in her foster home. Jill felt bad about correcting her for any transgression because she had come from such a sad situation. She gave Sunny total freedom, and thought that love, affection, freedom, food, toys, and cuddling were going to help Sunny grow up to be a happy, well adjusted, little dog.
Unfortunately, this was not the case. Sunny began getting bossy with the other dogs in her foster home. If she didn’t get her way she became pushy and a little aggressive. She even bit Jill when she tried to move her off the furniture, and struggled with her housetraining because Jill felt bad about crating her when she couldn’t keep an eye on her.
It was a happy day at the rescue organization when Sunny finally got adopted! It seemed that Sunny was finally going to get a chance to live a great life with a loving family. A few days later, she was returned to the rescue because her behavior was so bad. She bit multiple family members in her new home which included children. Her new adoptive family decided that they couldn’t keep her, and returned her to the rescue.
Sunny came back into rescue with her foster mom Jill, and was adopted by another family just a few weeks later, only to be returned a second time due to aggression and potty training issues.
I was contacted by the rescue to do an evaluation on Sunny to determine what was going on with her, and assess her aggression. During my evaluation she tried to bite me multiple times, growled and lunged at my dog trying to attack him, and was a nervous wreck on a walk…barking and lunging at people and other dogs.
I had no other choice than to conclude that without a full rehabilitation program, Sunny was un-adoptable due to severe aggression. Rescue organizations can be held liable if they place dogs with known bite histories in adoptive homes, and the adopter is then injured by the dog. Sunny was then evaluated a second time by a veterinarian, and he too agreed that Sunny was un-adoptable.
At the age of 6 months old Sunny was euthanized due to her aggression.
I am telling Sunny’s story not to criticize, or attack Jill. She has a big heart, and only wanted to help Sunny. But Jill’s emotional attachment to Sunny’s sad story, along with an overabundance of affection, love, cuddling, and babying; and a lack of rules, guidance, leadership and training, led to Sunny’s death. Jill had unwittingly kept Sunny locked in an insecure state of mind, and allowed her to become so unstable that she figured out that using her teeth on people was the best way to deal with things she disagreed with, or was unsure about.
Yes, dogs need love, but they need leadership more. They need to understand that to live with us successfully in our human world there are rules that they must follow. Currently in America, approximately four million dog per year die in the shelter system. Many of them are dumped at the shelter due to bad behavior…jumping on people, biting, destroying property, and out of control brattyness. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Share your love for your dog through leadership and guidance, and think about whether or not constant love, affection, and spoiling are really helping him, or just making you feel good.