Every week I hear about more and more dogs contracting heartworm.
There are many reasons for this; some people think that the heartworm meds are overpriced and can’t afford it.
Some people think its not necessary if the dog is an inside dog.
Some people just don’t bother with them because they figure the chances of a dog contracting heartworms are small.
I’m here to tell you that lots of dogs get them and yes, its a killer and yes, its preventable.
My own dog, Levi had heartworms when he came out of the shelter he was rescued from, and then, despite me giving him heartworm medication, contracted them again. I have always given heartworm medication to him every six to eight weeks as I honestly don’t like Heartguard and then, I, stupidly, like many others, bought a generic brand of heartworm meds which were supposed to be just as good as Heartguard.
He either got heartworms again, or they were never cured in the first place when he came out of the shelter. Either way, I had to treat them, and fast.
Levi had had the awful immiticide injection before to cure previous heartworms, and so no way was I going to put him through a month of incarceration after all that he had been through. I had to find an alternative treatment that would allow this dog to run and play and not suffer unduly throughout, as his quality of life had been compromised for so long in the shelter.
A friend of mine had been working with Dr Pat Zook at Gwinnett Animal Hospital in Snellville for her bassett with stage four heartworms, and she told me Dr Zook had recommended a protocol made by Dr Gerald Wessner, a holistic vet in Florida. I can’t tell you enough how highly I recommend this veterinary clinic as they totally embrace holistic medicine and yet keep a firm grounding in traditional western medicine. The result is a conjoining of the two that gives the best of both worlds to the animals; combine that with a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere and so much time extended to each consult, and you have an outstanding veterinary practice.
We were poor as church mice at the time and were struggling to pay the bills so we got the phone number of Dr Wessner, told them the details of our case and sent off the 75 bucks for the protocol.
We followed it to the letter for the next eight months with a gradually declining dose and backed it up with a great diet and heart supplements every day.
Throughout the entire process, Levi ran and frolicked in the field, swam and splashed in puddles and never even realised he was undergoing treatment.
He went from strength to strength, week by week and nine months later tested negative for heartworms.
It was a pleasant experience for him; he was administered his meds every day with a huge dollop of whipped cream or cheeze whizz, and he would sit and drool waiting for it.
If your dog has been diagnosed with heartworms and you’re wondering what to do, give the office of Dr Gerald Wessner a call on
1 352 245 2025 and talk to them about your options.
I found the treament miraculous and kind and would recommend it to anyone.
I’ve always thought that what makes someone good at what they do is the level of experience that they bring to the table.
I don’t just mean work experience, although thats obviously important, I mean life experience. I truly believe that the more you live, the more you do, the more you struggle at times, then the more you understand.
Years ago, in my early days of studying to be a behaviorist, I was working for the first time with a ‘positive’ dog trainer on my own dog Nelson and watched him helicopter my dog on a very tight martingale collar right in front of me. When I screamed at him to stop because Nelsons eyes were bulging, he told me to butt out basically, and told me it was incredibly funny to him that I was studying to be a behaviorist when my dog was so incredibly badly behaved.
As you all know by now, its BECAUSE Nelson was such a torment to me, that I decided to go down this road of enlightenment, and in all honesty, along the way, there have been many lows that have challenged me, made me doubt what I’m doing. Now, older and wiser, I realise that those very challenges are the things all dog owners go through and this brings me to a greater degree of understanding for their plight.
I know many many dog trainers, (even though I am not one, I need to work with many for my job from time to time), and I’m always impressed with the ones who have taken on a diabolical little hellion of a chihuahua who wants to eat someones face off, or some abused pitt bull, or a separation anxiety ridden great dane and adopted them into their family.
Not only does it show me their heart for rescue, but it also tells me that these people are up for a challenge and aren’t scared of getting their hands dirty.
We learn more from our mistakes than we do our successes; our mistakes, our failures, when the outcome is vital to us, spur us on to make that final tweak that will make it work…that process, whatever our profession, is what makes us experts. It’s about walking a mile or two in those shoes…
I do about four behavioural consults a week, and this weekend I am going out to see a couple whose five dogs are no longer getting along. There have been bites to both humans and canine family members, destructive behaviors, separation anxiety…. all manner of goodies.
I turn down lots of requests for consultations because sometimes I think someone else might be better suited to do it than I, or for reasons of time or geography, but I never turn one down, if I can help it, in a case like this.
You see, I’ve been there.
I have had dogs in my home that don’t get along, partly at times because of my own stupidity and a couple of times because, with teenage hormones and female menopause combined, it was a combustible atmosphere. I didn’t maybe realise HOW big of a deal, and just how tangible a thing energy was in a home, until I went through this myself.
I tell you, I learned more as a dog behaviorist when my son broke his back and came home from hospital than at any other time in my professional life.
Joe had been involved in an appalling car accident where the car was rammed into a tree at 95 miles an hour, caught fire, and the local sheriff, who was following the drunken teen driver of the car he was in, had to pull Joe out of the car before it exploded. Joe suffered from post traumatic stress disorder after this, as you might expect, and it tore him apart. I deal with many military families who are going through this and everyone says the same…its pure hell, on the victim and their family. I wouldn’t wish it on a rat.
My family was in turmoil and I watched as my dogs took on every ounce of negative energy like sponges, watched them try to expel it as we exercised them, played with them, distracted them… but my own anguish was so palpable that they were constantly confronted with my weakness, and thus, they felt a need to try to take charge when I could not, to be the leaders where I could not be….
Well, when you have two strong males in a household, one old and wise, one young and fast, there will be competition, and thats what set Nelson and Freddie off every time.
Both of them male weimaraners with all of the angst that sometimes goes with that breed; Nelson at the time was 7 and Freddie was newly matured at 2. Freddie entered our home at ten months of age as my first foster/residential rehab case due to aggression issues and ended up turning out so beautifully that he stayed. The two dogs had at first gotten along well until Freddie reached maturity and then of course things changed somewhat. Joe’s accident just elucidated what was already there but which I had been subconsciously keeping a lid on…
I tried every trick in the books on my shelves, nothing worked…. diet, exercise, supplements, Prozac (yes, I went there too, for the first time with a dog ever, and it didn’t work which is why I now counsel against it in all but one scenario). You name it, I tried it….I just wanted calm at any cost, any way I could get it. I then realised that I was so far in the grip of this heap of crap that I was incapable of making a coherent decision so I decided to get a second opinion. I hired a local trainer, who unfortunately failed to grasp the problem or to give me effective solutions, and actually sat rooted to the spot in fear when the two dogs got into a fight during her visit. Thankfully, my 14 year old son Jake pulled them apart.
In despair, after a short while of trying her suggestions, I had consults with other behaviorists both here and in the UK who all agreed that, temporarily at least, I needed to separate them completely and remove some of the stress from my home.
It was the right advice…….. Within days, the mood was noticeably lighter, both dogs settled despite the pack disruption and we stopped walking on eggshells quite so much.
Then we stopped walking on eggshells completely and realised, looking back, how bad it had been and for how long.
Freddie, being the younger dog, moved downstairs to the dog hotel full time and immediately started going to work with me every day as my way of giving him time with me; he played with every dog that stayed, went on every meet and greet and eventually took to the work of being a rehab dog like a duck to water.
People would ask me how I could put him with other dogs so confidently when he had fought so bitterly with his housemate Nelson, and I would tell them, ‘He doesn’t hate every dog, he just hates that one.’
That was four years ago, my son has long since healed almost fully and has blossomed into a fine young man I adore and am mightily proud of. Nelson has calmed and retired ostensibly, and lives out his halcyon days at eleven years of age between our twelve acre field, the meadow and the chesterfield couch, meeting a few dogs here and there but just generally chasing things he can kill and eat.
Freddie’s move downstairs was the best thing I ever did…. It gave this highly intelligent, highly intuitive and incredibly spiritual dog a bigger purpose in life; he has aided in the rehabilitation of hundreds and hundreds of dogs and literally saved that many lives. He is the ‘go to boy’ for all our aggression cases, whereby he leads the dogs by example, sometimes with cool indifference, sometimes a show of strength but never aggression, but always it works.
Sometimes God puts what we think are obstacles in our way and we think it’s a trial, when really it’s a doorway, an opportunity for something wonderful….an opportunity for change.
When I go to see this family at the weekend, I wont be going with trepidation or anxiety at their situation. I’ll be going with an open heart, an open mind and a confidence that this is a door opening for them, a way out of the chaos that I’m certain is bubbling away behind the scenes that only the dogs are daring to acknowledge…and if they embrace what’s waiting for them on the other side, their family will be all the better for it. Remember, when change happens, change happens.
I’m excited to see where this leads us…..
For those of you who have visited the Ranch, you will know that we have a couple of signs on the long driveway, on the left as you go down the drive, and at the main gate. Both of these signs are very clear…one says not to come in unless visitors have an appointment and the other one, 100 feet further down, says not to enter the gates as dogs may be loose, but to call the number on the board and let us know you’re here.
A few days ago, I was just planning to put one of the rehab dogs in my car for a trip back to the jail, and, as I walked up through the house to get my keys, there was a knock on my kitchen door. I opened it, shocked as I wasnt expecting anyone, and there was a young lady, holding her purse and cell phone in her hand. She asked me, ‘I just wondered if you had any job openings?’
I stood there, open mouthed and Pete, knowing what was coming, sucked in his breath and ran inside….
I asked her did she see the sign, and she said yes, she had. I then asked her why she didnt pay any attention to it, and she said ‘Well, I was just looking for work, so I thought I would come down anyway and knock on the door’.
In any other situation, I would have commended this young lady for being industrious and go-getting, but in all honesty, in an off leash dog facility, where it clearly states that you must not enter without calling first, I actually just thought she was being nothing short of stupid, especially as her phone was in her hand. Why couldn’t she just have called? (Had she done so, I would have interviewed her as we are actually looking to hire someone!)
I told her that I couldn’t hire her because she had stumbled at the first hurdle………’YOU CAN’T READ!’
Peter was grimacing at me as I slammed the door, and told me I was a miserable old grunt and I should be locked up. He’s probably right, but I’m too old to care these days. However, I explained to him my reasoning for being such a nasty old sourpuss to the poor girl and then he grudgingly agreed that I had half a point. Just half a point!
Firstly, dogs, and people, learn some things through ‘one trial learning’. If its unpleasant (and sometimes if its pleasant), one time is all we need to learn the lesson. I guarantee that because I was so unpleasant, that girl will pay attention to every sign on every driveway for the rest of her life. Nevermore will she run the risk of some weirdo English woman’s wrath and decide to take a chance. Hopefully this will save her from getting her ass bitten in the next off leash dog facility she tries.
Secondly, my business is ALL about signs. Not the written kind, but the ones that dogs give us every moment of every day. Its this very thing that stops a dog fight before a problem escalates; paying attention to the visible signs. If you don’t pay attention, its too late.
Dogs give us signals all the time and its from looking at these signals, which are sometimes as small as micro expressions with maybe a slight tightening of the commissure, that we are able to determine whether the dog is planning seriously what he’d like to do to another dog, or if he’s just thinking ‘what a douchebag’ and not taking him too seriously.
I was at the jail taking the dog Hank Williams back after a six day rehab stay here at the ranch. Part of the rehab work I do requires me to talk to the inmates handling that dog, and yesterday, myself, Hank’s two handlers and the deputy in charge were sitting in the day room, chatting about Hank’s progress and his chief handler started to play with him.
At first Hank enjoyed the game, then he started to growl but in a ‘play with me’ type voice, the same type of voice that he would use if they were playing tug of war, maybe. Then, within less than a second, there was a change. The sound was the same, but I instantly told the inmate to leave it alone, and then look away. Hank’s commissure had tightened, and his eyes had hardened slightly. We distracted Hank calling him to me for a quick rub, then he shook himself off (this is a tension releaser), and all was well. Had the inmate continued on with the game, Hank may have decided to lunge for him, and then he would have been in big trouble.
Dogs aren’t like us, they can’t say ‘Actually, I think I’ll stop this here old boy, think I have had about enough of this, see ya, lets do lunch…..’
Dogs rely on us to see their signals; failure to do so puts them at risk.
In a situation like Hank’s at the jail, it puts him at great risk. He’s come a very long way as you all can see from the videos we post regularly, however, he is a work in progress, and is yo-yoing between us and the jail so that he will learn and consolidate, learn and consolidate, until he’s ready to be adopted.
The other jail dog that we have been working with, Hoss, who we now foster here at the ranch, is completely rehabilitated from his fear of men, the reason we were asked to work with him. However, that doesnt mean that I can get complacent and not pay attention to his body language and the signals he gives off in a new situation.
Hoss meets all the male visitors that come to the ranch, and is great with all of them, however, we are careful to ask that they let him instigate the greeting, and ignore him otherwise. Once someone pays him no attention, Hoss’s puppyish curiosity is peeked and he has to go see if theyre immune to his charms, which of course no one is.
A guy that came here last week, wanted badly to meet him and refused to just let it happen naturally; even though I am a professional and have worked with thousands of dogs, he knew better because ‘ALL DOGS LOVE ME’ (oh please, how many times have I heard that before someone got lunged at?) and began to crouch down to Hoss.
Hoss, like the good boy he is, looked at me as if to say ‘Mum, what do I do?’
His eyes were round, his ears were slightly back and his body was infinitessimally tilted back from the man. He was uncomfortable, and wanted permission to leave this guy who was invading his space, even tho only by a little. I called Hoss to me, popped him in a sit, and then as I was standing, put my leg in front of him, shielding him somewhat from the man.
He didn’t growl, he didn’t grumble, he didn’t bark.
It was the slightest of movements, the smallest of expressions, but it told me all I needed to know in the moment. He was grateful and happily settled behind my leg, relaxed visibly and later, when the guy wasn’t paying attention, went and sniffed his hand.
As humans, we tend to look at life in sound bites, not ever paying attention to the meat of anything, just the highlights. We look at pictures and miss things all the time….if you don’t believe me, try and do one of those spot the difference quizzes in a women’s magazine and see how well you do. Sublety is getting more and more lost on us with each passing decade.
With dog behaviour and handling, we need to remember that they are a species that notice EVERYTHING.
If you’re sad, your dog knows. You don’t have to bawl your eyes out, just the subtle shift in your energy tells him all he needs to know.
Feeling great? No need to scream it to the world, your dog’s right there with you happy and relaxed as your mirror image….and you didn’t have to say a thing.
The changes in your expression, the subtle lift of your spirits that is evident in the way you hold your head; the set of your shoulders, it all tells your dog everything he needs to know about you.
If you only paid half as much attention to your dog as he does to you, you would know all there is to know about him too. The signs are there for all to see. All we have to do is look at them, and learn from them.
The British press have been all in a tizzy this week over the inclusion of horse meat, yes, horse meat, in the beef lasagnes sold in supermarkets like Tesco and Aldi. Frozen lasagnas made of ‘guaranteed 100% beef ‘ were in fact composed of up to 100 % horse meat. Much of these products were made by a major food manufacturer operating in France, where horse meat is eaten more routinely than on these shores or in England.
I remember years ago standing in a bit of a crummy supermarket in the Esst End of London looking at all the meat in the refrigerator and deciding not to buy what was supposed to be chuck steak because it looked like Horse meat. My friend who was with me asked why I wouldn’t buy it…’Theyre all the same aren’t they? They’re just ruminants, animals that eat grass…you just don’t want that because you think horses are too pretty to eat, like people turn their nose up at rabbit or deer…’
Well no, on that count you were wrong, Pippa.
As it turns out, horses are very often injected with a drug called Phenylbutazone, a drug considered extremely harmful if it finds it s way into the human body.
This was a drug, a non steroidal anti inflammatory, that used to be used for humans in the treatment of gout and arthritis, however it was withdrawn from human use when it was discovered that it was responsible for the suppression of white blood cells, and aplastic anemia.
Hmmmmm, what does this have to do with my dog, you might ask?
Well, some of you may remember, and I mentioned this recently in another article, about the largest pet food recall in history. It took place in 2007 and involved millions of bags of pet food and more than one hundred pet food companies. Many, many dogs lost their lives; there were countless court cases where people sued pet food companies for the death of their pets, and, to this day, I know of at least ten people who aren’t sure whether their dog died of kidney failure as a result of the tainted wheat gluten and rice protein imported from China, or whether their dogs were just sick anyway. They will never know, but the pain and loss remains.
In many cases, these pet food companies were buying product that they thought was okay, they never set out to buy tainted food from China, they were at the mercy of their suppliers who instead of buying quality ingredients decided to save a few bucks here and there. The results were disastrous.
I wrote an article last week about the contents of a bag of dog food, and got a tremendous response….some people asking what I would consider quality food, others asking what’s wrong with Pedigree, Iams and Science Diet, Ole Roy etc?
The fact is, just as those poor consumers in England who bought what they presumed to be was 100% beef lasagna from a huge and trusted company like Findus, or supermarket brands like the giant store chain Tesco or Aldi, todays pet food buyers often have very little idea about the sourcing of their food.
I truly believe you can only know whats in your pet food, and be certain of excellent and appropriate nutrition for your dogs, if you first of all do your research and secondly, consider making it yourself .
I like pet food manufacturers that source all of their ingredients within the USA and Canada from local ranches and farms. I like pet food companies that do not use genetically modified ingredients. I like smaller, mom and pop businesses as they are less likely to succumb to the seduction of far lower prices over in the far east.
In response to the many requests that I have had about making your own dog food, I decided to offer out some guidelines that we use here at the ranch. You will want to consult your veterinarian about this to determine what level of protein and the safety of certain ingredients, but on the whole, feeding your own dog food is going to be safer because you are going to buy fresh human grade meat from a supplier that you would use to feed your own family.
We, at the Desperate Dogs boarding and rehab ranch, roughly use the recommendations of esteemed holistic veterinarian Dr Marty Goldstein of Smith Ridge Animal Hospital in New York. He advises one quarter meat, two quarters grain and one quarter vegetables…..basically, a food pyramid. If your dog is a grain free dog, you may use carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and white potatoes, quinoa, yams…the list is endless. We change diets up for the dogs that we have here, as some have higher protein needs than others, some have specific needs like ginger for pain or turmeric for inflammation, yoghurt for probiotics.
Think about dogs from years ago, when we were kids, who routinely ate leftovers, and only leftovers, from the human mealtime. They would get meat scraps, bits of vegetables, milk from cereal bowls, the odd piece of sandwich…they all lived generally long and healthy lives and all seemed to have cast iron constitutions, unlike so many dogs today.
If you want to find out more about feeding home made food to your dogs, there are some excellent recipes in Dr Deva Khalsa’s book, ‘Natural Dog’ published by Bowtie books. Also Dr Marty Goldstein’s ‘The Nature of Animal Healing’, and Ann Martin’s ‘Foods Pets Die For’.
Every week I get emails asking me to consult on behavioural problems; more and more of these are involving dog/dog aggression cases.
I got one a few months ago that is not untypical and thought I would share it with you..
The lady, we shall call her Sarah but thats not her name, emailed me to ask if I would go down to her home and help her with her dogs as they were in ‘a terrible state’.
She had seven dogs, number seven being an un-neutered great dane /pitt mix called Junior whom she had adopted six months earlier. At 14 months old when he arrived, cocky and confident, he was entering his adulthood and quickly realised he was the biggest dog in the house, plus he was the only one physically able to reproduce as everyone else had been fixed, so that in his mind put him straight in as head honcho.
Junior had been given the keys to the kingdom from the outset; a stray who had been in pretty bad shape, when Sarah brought him into her home she lost no time letting him have the best seat in the house, covered him with a blanket, hand fed him in front of all the other dogs, carried him up to her bed, kicking off the two labs who had previously slept there every night for 5 years, sat him on the sofa beside her and told him he was safe and loved and everything would be alright…. Junior was, without doubt the Little Prince.
Junior was too sick to neuter straight away so the testicles stayed on right until he was 19 months old by which time the mange had cleared and he was physically and mentally strong.
Now I have no problem with dogs not being neutered if they are breeding dogs, and also if the owner is going to school him properly and be a strong pack leader. There is also an argument for fixing a dog closer to his first birthday as opposed to at six months old as some vets prefer these days, so that the dog can benefit from the full force of testosterone coursing through his body as he develops. Testosterone is not just the sex hormone as people think, its also responsible for muscle mass, bone growth and hair growth, as well as general well being. Neutering a dog too early can result in dogs without these developmental advantages.
Sarah loved Junior from the get go..a huge powerful looking dog, even in his ill health, plus she felt very sorry for the bad rap that pitt bulls get, so she determined that she would keep him.
Only problem was…Sarah didn’t bother asking the rest of the family, canine and human, what they thought about it, so they all, as Junior became more and more spoiled and more and more sure of his place, had to set about doing the very thing that Sarah hadn’t bothered to do…knock the little bugger down to size!
Nine year old Sadie quickly got aggravated with Junior stealing from her food bowl as she was a slow eater, and wasted no time letting him know that this was unacceptable… for which she received a stern reprimand from her owner.
Billy got into tousle after tousle with Junior over the copious rawhide bones that were left lying around ‘to keep the dogs quiet’. Sometimes the vet had to sew him up, sometimes not; always it was Billy’s fault because Junior had ‘clearly never had a rawhide and didn’t want to share them.’
Paco, the smallest member of the group was sleeping quietly under a table one day and didn’t want to play so he snapped at Junior, and almost paid for this action with his life when Juniors huge jaws wrapped around his head and had to be prised off by Sarah’s son.
Job, who, like his name had exhibited much patience with the newcomer, got tired of 100 pounds of exuberant dog constantly on his neck trying to bring him down to the ground ‘in play’ and snapped to warn Junior to back off, for which he received a time out, and a torn ear from Junior. [As an aside, when people wonder why I cut off play at certain junctures, this is the reason why…here at the Ranch we don’t like play to escalate lest one should feel threatened or uncomfortable. Many a damage has been done by dogs who’s owners say ‘He’s just having fun..he loves to wrestle!’ Play MUST be viewed as such by BOTH parties.]
Junior would go to work with Sarah, who runs her own business, and sit under her table as she had meetings and typed. When he was 17 months old, he bit one of Sarah’s clients as they left her office, and shortly after administered a nasty bite to her nephew who had come to meet Junior at her home.
Her kids were scared of him, her employees were scared of him and she started taking meetings at Starbucks instead of in her office; her husband had given up the ghost about two weeks after the arrival of Junior and retired to the basement lounge to watch TV while Sarah spent her evenings on the main level with Junior. One by one, in quick succession, every other member of the family joined him.
The final straw was a huge fight when Sadie didn’t want to give up her dinner to the ‘school bully’.
Junior bit her, and Billy stepped in to help Sadie. In the melee that followed, Junior received dreadful wounds, Billy and Sadie were pretty torn up, and Sarah’s hand was bitten so badly as she tried to separate them that she had a hole right through her hand. Months later she still cannot use it and has to maintain a leave of absence from her business, costing her thousands over and above her vet and hospital bills.
As I read her email, it read like a what not to do in any home with dogs…no training for any of the dogs [ didn’t have time], poor quality food [didn’t have the money for all that “fancy holistic stuff with seven dogs..we feed Purina Dog Chow”], didn’t walk the dogs on leash [they pull], only had a small fenced yard area although they actually owned 5 acres, allowed the dogs wrestling and playing very rough with each other and never took time to play with the dogs or take them anywhere herself [ too busy working].
The final paragraph asked if I could help her to rehome Sadie, the nine year old female.
I asked her why she thought Sadie was the problem and she told me it was because Sadie was the one who started the last attack and because she was a troublemaker…
I know, if you have any sense, you are probably as shell shocked as I am at this response and so my first question to her was what was she actually prepared to do to change things?
Would she be prepared to rehome Junior as she was quite clearly overwhelmed and had way too many dogs for her lifestyle, plus her family disliked the dog he had become, the dog she had turned him into..?
Would she be prepared to embark on an in home training programme with all of her dogs so that she could establish herself as firmly in charge?
Would she view this whole problem from the point of view of the dogs and see that they were only doing what she drove them to do? She had created a brat in Junior by allowing him to do whatever he chose…he never had to ingratiate himself and work his way up through the pack, he never had to earn a darn thing, it was all handed to him on a plate. Would she at least see that Sadie had ostensibly been left with no choice but to do what she did……… Sarahs actions made no sense to a dog?
Would she commit to exercising her dogs every day so that they had some way to blow off steam and experience a larger world outside of the home, thus giving them something else to focus on instead of the growing problems within their domestic set up?
Would she feed a quality food that at least gave their brains a chance at producing some serotonin and creating some calm?
Would she, instead of dropping rawhide bones all over the floor for the dogs to entertain themselves with, manage the dogs environment so that resources like bones and food were strictly controlled while a programme of resource guarding training was carried out at home?
Would she stop treating the dogs like children and realise that they are huge, strong, highly physical creatures with teeth and different sensibilities; that to over -affectionalise a weak and feeble newcomer in front of the established pack who have earned the right to be there had made Junior public enemy number one from the get go?
Would she at least put her family first and listen to their reasoning?
The answer to all of the above was NO!
She had an excuse for everything, a reason for everything she was doing and saw nothing wrong with her actions…couldn’t I just help her to put the dogs back together again? She had seen on the website and the facebook the hands on work we do with aggressive dogs, so she really wanted to pay me to come out to her place and help her to reintroduce the dogs after their weeks apart, as she felt sure things would have died down by now. The other dogs were all getting along famously upstairs, Billy and Sadie’s wounds were almost healed and she felt the time was right as everyone was more peaceful and relaxed.
Plus, she was so sad for Junior having to live in the basement on his own..”He must be soooo lonely without all his buddies”.
Now, having been through a problem with my own dogs where two didn’t get along, I very much see the value of separating dogs, working with them each separately on impulse control and obedience and then re-introducing them in a neutral environment. With time and the right combination of personalities, sometimes success can be achieved.
This is not what Sarah wanted; she wanted me to just be with her in her home as we reintroduced these dogs and hang around for the first two or three hours as back up basically, because neither her grown son, nor her husband would be any part of this. They had told her that Junior needed to go.
Here is where the problem of the TV dog behavior specialist gets in the way of my job… Sarah had been smitten with a certain dog behaviorist who, when the dogs want to fight each other, puts each on their side, knuckle punches them on the shoulder, puts them in a state of ‘calm submission’ [when you unpack that phrase, by the way, think about what it actually means…if you forced me to submit to someone I wouldn’t be calm, I tell you] and then body blocks to get them to stay apart.
I’m sorry to say that in real life, this isn’t how things go, and only an idiot would put feuding dogs back together without having done all of the necessary remedial work first. The TV shows just don’t show you the weeks of behavior modification that goes into each case, which always shocks me. Why not show the huge amount of hard work that the trainer/ behaviorist and the family have done to effect this result? Making it look easy is dangerous, surely?
Needless to say I declined as being paid fifty bucks an hour simply to get my ass kicked and watch seven dogs try to do the same thing to each other, is not my idea of fun.
I’ve lived here in beautiful Georgia for seven years and I’ve found that you Southerners have a wonderful expression for most things and in this instance, only one will cut it.
You can’t fix stooopid!