Thursday, November 18, 2010

Goodbye, Huckleberry



Yesterday was Huckleberry's first birthday, and yesterday we put him down.

Calling the decision we had to make anything less than excruciating would be an understatement. There was nothing physically wrong with him. He was a young, healthy, active dog. To look at him was painful he was so good looking. Did I mention he was also smart? He was highly train-able, got his CGC at the age of 5 months, and we had just begun our second level of nosework. And we loved him. A lot. So why in the world would we put him down?

The problem is that he had an unstable temperament. While it does not appear in the form of a physical illness, like cancer or parvo, it is just as destructive and eats away at the dog from the inside out.

From the second he came into our home, we knew he was “off” and structured our lives accordingly. The shelter told us he’d been seized as a 5 week-old pup, alone, and before he came to us he had bitten the resident vet in the face. We knew he missed some critical milestones and was already displaying inappropriate behavior, so we scrambled to make up for lost time. Everything was a training opportunity. We had behaviorists and trainers evaluate and re-evaluate him as the months went by. Everyone agreed that he had issues that would plague him his entire life, but he was just a puppy. There was something so endearing about the way he would focus so completely on you. No one was wholly convinced he would fail, so why not give him the chance to succeed?

So we did. For the past 8 months we’ve been working so hard. Combining management, training, socialization and conditioning, we worked on slowly making him into a normal dog. In some areas he made leaps and bounds. In others, not so much. Overall, despite the occasional “red flag” his progress was such that we thought the worst was behind us.

But then, almost two weeks ago, he crossed the line we hoped he’d never cross and injured a stranger in the form of a muzzle punch to the face. The good news is that the injury could have been much, much worse, but the fact that he was willing to take matters into his own hands, given his troubled history, was not a good sign. Coupled with the fact that he was just shy of a year old, gaining confidence by the day, and the fact that dogs who bite once (this was an inhibited one) usually bite again but with much more severity, we knew that he was heading in a bad direction.



Don’t be confused, it is not a breed thing, it’s a dog thing. Across the board, a certain percentage of dogs are born “wired wrong” from the get-go. They come in all shapes and sizes and the severity of the unstable temperament varies as well. A dog’s success or failure depends on a variety of factors, including genetics and the human’s willingness to adapt their life around the problem.

We took a hard look at our situation. I wrote out his entire history in search of patterns. We met with all the behaviorists and trainers (yes, plural of each) who had been watching Huckleberry as he’s grown. The prognosis was not good from any of them. None could cite a single success story from a dog matching his personality profile. In every case the dog eventually did major damage to a human being.

Armed with the knowledge about his trajectory, we weighed our options. Medication was not viable as one of the side effects is lowered inhibitions, and that is a dangerous cocktail with a dog who’s warning signs are masked by good behavior. In his case, we had done so much work and behavior modification that he was able to seem perfect and well composed even when in reality he was way over threshold.

We had already modified our lives around his needs to a large extent but in our situation, keeping him safely away from people at all times was simply not a guarantee. Even if we were to never have anyone over to our house again, we live in the city and cannot walk outside the front gate without encountering people. The liability of keeping a known dangerous dog is high, and walking around in public constantly on alert for possible triggers just creates a situation where the dog feeds off of you, a never-ending cycle for a sensitive dog like him.

Adopting him out to someone else was also not an option. Not only is it irresponsible to pass off your problem, but considering the lengths we’d already gone to, there’s not much more another person could do. Basically, if he were going to succeed in a home environment, it would have been with us.

Dropping him off at the shelter would also have been equally irresponsible. A bad shelter would have adopted him out in a heartbeat, where he would then go on to do damage in his new home. A good shelter would have done a battery of temperament tests, most of which he’d fail so he would be euthanised after spending several stressful days in captivity.

For those who believe there is a farm out there where dogs can run free for the rest of their lives, I have a bridge to sell you. But in the world where Santa exists and so does this farm, socially isolating an unstable dog like that would only heighten their confliction if and when a stranger actually showed up on the farm, making them even more dangerous. And again, it would all come down to another person’s management, and management is never fool-proof.

All the options kept swirling around, none looking very good. Meanwhile, Huckleberry continued to be, well, Huckleberry. It’s really easy to make a decision when you have all the facts written up on a piece of paper or summarized in an email. It’s much harder when you have this dog, this otherwise perfect dog, doing charming things all the time, being so perfect and obedient, playing well with Xdog, and laying on your lap, looking lovingly into your eyes. You remember the good times, like the road trip to Mexico where he discovered “the ball.” Or how when you hold the nail clippers he jumps on the couch, rolls on his back, and happily presents his paws. This coming from the dog who wouldn’t allow any handling when he was young.



It’s kind of like a bad relationship. When you’re caught in the midst of one you deny it to all end. I mean, how could that face you love so much be capable of doing any harm? You get caught up in your version of reality, even when you get a hint of the truth. It’s only when you step outside and look back in that you get a clear picture.

In the end, we knew that we really only had one choice. It is simply not responsible to keep a dog that is more than willing to harm a person as his first line of defense. Had he been able to give us any sort of sign or protracted warning before actually inflicting damage then we could work with that, but his inner state is so well masked.

When people say of dog attacks, “it was out of nowhere! I never saw it coming,” that’s not true. Dogs always give signs. In the moment they may not give many signs, but there are always “red flags” leading up to the event. In this case, we saw the “red flags” Huckleberry’s whole life, but then he proved he was willing to take it to the next level. The writing was on the wall and we had to decide which meant more, our love for the dog or the safety of the public.

He had a great final 24 hours. The whole week leading up to his birthday we had thrown house rules out the window. He was allowed to sleep on the bed, eat food off the counter, and completely destroy all of the supervision-only toys. We closed the store and played with him like mad. Friends stopped by to say goodbye. We ordered the “Huckle-Burrito” which consisted of every type of meat the taqueria had, nothing else (they were extremely confused by that phone order), which he ate with gusto, tortilla first.

On the morning of his birthday, we woke up early, went to Huckleberry’s favorite park, played ball until he almost dropped, and took a cool down stroll up Bernal hill to get a full view of the city. We hopped in the car and headed to the vet’s office, where he spent his final moments licking peanut butter and baby food from our hands while we cradled him on the floor.



Goodbye, buddy. We miss you more than you'll ever know.



116 comments:

Jessica said...

Ana,

I'm so very sorry. I know just how you feel, and how difficult this decision was for you. The reason I got into dogs and training was because of my beloved saint bernard, Bailey. Such a handsome, beautiful boy who loved me and my family, but was aggressive with strangers. He was a very shy puppy, sometimes getting so frighted of strangers he would hide under the bed and get the hiccups.

We tried many different trainers and worked with him a lot, but by 10 months old he was only getting worse, so made the heart wrenching decision to put him to sleep.

I was just looking through his puppy photo album last night, remembering all the good times we had together. While I miss him dearly, I've never regretted the decision to put him to sleep, I know it was the right decision. I only regretted having to make that decision in the first place.

My thoughts are with you, may you remember all the happy times with Huck and know that you did everything you could to make his life amazing-and it was.

Jessica

Mike Hayes said...

Sorry for your loss. I know it was an extremely difficult decision, but you did everything right imho. Take care.

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how hard that last week must have been for you.

Casey M. said...

That's probably the most difficult decision I've ever heard someone have to make... My deepest sympathies go out to you.
-casey

Bully_Lady said...

Thank you for sharing. You did the right thing and that cannot be underestimated! I have been there, more than once, and it sucks every time! I hate that this will be looked at as a breed thing, which it isn't, as you pointed out - it is a DOG thing!

I am so sorry for your pain. He looked like such a moosh in the pictures.

Lana said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Knowing it was the right thing to do doesn't make it hurt any less.

He was lucky to have your family as his family. And he was lucky to have you look out for his best interests 'til the very end.

All the best,
Lana

Labtopia said...

Ana,

I faced a similar situation with a dog (not a pittie) that was born with faulty wiring. We got him when he was 8 weeks old, so we socialized and trained him from day one. As soon as we realized we had a problem (pretty scary to watch a 10 week old puppy go after friends who visited the house), we intensified our efforts even more.

As time went on his behavior escalated. As you say, no system of management is foolproof. You can't pass the problem along to someone else, and you can't just dump your dog at the shelter. The buck has to stop with you. Thus we also made the difficult decision to euthanize our dog.

I so much admire and appreciate your frank and loving blog post on this hard topic. RIP, Huckleberry.

Katie

nattyjphotography said...

I'm so sorry that it had to come to this for your family, but I'm glad that you have the knowledge to make such an informed and proper decision, be it a very hard one.

I'm currently at that stage with one of mine, wondering if that's the right thing to do or not. He's not human aggressive, however he's severely dog aggressive towards any dog that isn't his "older brother," Niko.

Run fast at the bridge Huckleberry.

Kandis said...

Thank you for sharing this story. I can only imagine how hard this was for you because this was hard for me to read. Its good to hear how much he was loved in his lifetime and he will be remembered forever. My thoughts and prayers go out to you. Rip Huckleberry

Kandis

Lisa Reilly said...

So sorry for your loss! Having been in this same position before, I know how judgmental people can be, always insisting you could have done more, called in the dog whisperer, medicated, etc. You chose the right path, even if it may not consistently feel like it. We went through so many ups and downs and questioned ourselves for weeks, but take solace in knowing you have so much support and Huckleberry had an amazing life with you!

Wanda said...

This is absolutely heartbreaking reading this but it's obvious you did what had to be done. It sounds as though you left no stone unturned in your quest to find help for Huckleberry. Bless your hearts for giving him a chance.

Noelle said...

Ana,
I'm sorry you had to make this difficult decision. Thank you for being strong enough to do it before someone got seriously hurt. I've had to do it myself, and it's indescribably difficult. Hugs to you and everyone who loved him.
Noelle

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ana poe said...

negative comments from anonymous sources will be deleted.

Julie(t) (Coberly) Farmer said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss and for the difficult (but very responsible) decision you had to make.

I keep hearing more and more stories about dogs biting--all different breeds, big and small, including beloved Golden Retrievers and Labradors. With the amount of irresponsible breeders in business these days, I think it's safe to say there's no guarantee with ANY breed.

I could go on and on, but that won't lessen your sorrow. Take comfort in knowing you've done a humane thing for Huckleberry. Thank you for being a responsible pet caretaker.

Danita said...

Ana,

I am so very sorry for your loss. Sometimes the right thing to do is the hardest. Huck's life wasn't in vain - he inspired me to be a better dog mom.

I hope you find peace and healing.

Godspeed Huckleberry.

And to those who are leaving negative comments after Ana has bared her soul here and shared her pain with us, get a life.

Charlene said...

My heart cries with you! Yet you did the kindest thing, you did all you could to help and when you had the incident you did what you needed to do, reconise the potential of something more severe. I agree it is not a breed thing (BTW Huckleberry is very handsome) You had the straght to be your buddy's best friend and to be with him to say that last "good dog" I know the pain as likely many Two of my dogs crossed the bridge within this year my favorite saying:
http://www.companioncanecorso.com/carina-bridge.jpg

Kelly Jean said...

Ana,
I am so saddended to read this. After Pacos death, I was hoping you had found another perfect dog. Your decision was the hardest that all pet owners have to make. Your honesty about this situation, should inspire people that may be rationalizing their own dog's inappropriate behavior. I'm sorry this was something you guys were faced with, but thank you for making Huckleberry's last days with you amazing. And from the standpoint of a vet tech, thank you for staying with him while he corssed the bridge. He went to a happy place in the arms of those that loved him and not in the arms of a vet that barely knew him. You gave him more in his year of life than many dogs have their entire life, and for that he will always be grateful. My thoughts are with you guys during this time of sadness.

Shanda said...

I'm glad Huck had such a good last week, not that I thought for a second that you'd do otherwise than spoil him rotten.

I don't really know what I believe on the whole afterlife thing, but I'd like to imagine him bumping into Lemonhead and just having a grand time while we wait to see them again. I am glad I got to share a sofa with the handsome grey guy for a few nights and if I get to go where they went I look forward to snuggling up with him again for a spell.

All my love to you. I hope your heart heals soon.

robin said...

Ana,
I am so very, very sorry. All my love to you and yours. Thanks so much for doing so right by Huckleberry.
Robin B., Horace, Hazel, and now Pedro.

Anonymous said...

Ana,

I am so very sorry. You gave Huckleberry the best possible existence and did everything right by him. Thank you for loving that boy so very, very much.

Hugs to all of you,

Michelle, Chloe & Cookie
(littleCloClo)

Anonymous said...

Oh Ana, I am crying big tears for you all, it's perhaps made even more raw to me because of my own recent loss, but I know it's so individual to love and lose a dog- a family member and friend. There are no words, but I'm sending lots of love and want you to know that I'm very proud to call you and Aaron friend, you two are among the best there is for a pup in the world today. Thank you for you're example of fearless love. Peace~ Cam

Aditi Terpstra said...

Ana and the Paco Collars crew--My thoughts are with you. I was thinking a lot about you yesterday and again today. Ana your writings blow me away sometimes, even when you're talking about the toughest of subjects, you have a way of drawing us all in.
Please continue to know that you made the best decision for Huckleberry, albeit a very hard one. It is a dog thing and we don't always know the degree to which a dog can be rehabilitated until we try. And then, sometimes those efforts are just not enough. You did everything and more. Huckleberry knew love and compassion that he probably wouldn't have known with any other person.
I am also relieved to see you took down the negative posts, I was so upset by what one person had said, I needed to get up and channel my energy into vacuuming! F* those people, if they had a clue about dog behavior and training and how sometimes very tough decisions need to be made, they wouldn't be commenting like they had.
May the wind always be at your back,
Aditi

Anonymous said...

gosh, i am so deeply saddened for your painful loss - you showed him what love is and in the end, you showed him love through mercy :o(

Jess said...

Ana, This sucks, there's no other way to put it. I know that this was one of the most difficult decisions you guys will ever have to make. Clearly you did everything possible for Huckleberry. I am so, so sorry. I am facing the same decision with Maple, my heart is breaking.

- Jess

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful boy. I'm so sorry for your loss. I hope you find peace in knowing that you did everything you could for Huckleberry before facing the decision to let him go. May you find solace in your happy memories with him.

The Foster Lady said...

Ana, I only know you through the wonderful dog collars you make and I'm all the way across the country, but I have to say....you did the absolutely kindest thing you could have done for Huckleberry. Why is it that people have no issue with humanely euthanizing a dog with terminal cancer, but can't bear to do what is right for the dog, who is suffering a disease of the mind that you cannot see or feel or touch? It's as painful for the dog as cancer...and I am very proud of your courage...your sweet boy is at peace...finally.

Dina Hitchcock

Anonymous said...

I hope when it's my day to check out of this world I get to do it wrapped in the arms of those who love me best know that in that moment I'm their world.
It sucks that the "right" thing is often the hardest thing.
I firmly believe that Huckleberry understands and is smiling down upon you.

Rachel said...

I cry this post as I have been there. I made the same decision with my own just shy of a one year old pit bull. He made me the person I am today, and he loved me more than words could discribe. Chevy reacted at two people on two different occasions, one wasn't a stranger... I couldn't risk it. Rest in pease dear Huckleberry, Rest in pease dear Chevy... know you are loved

Joy said...

You know, Huckleberry got the exact right owners for his short life. I do believe everything happens for some reason. It may be that you will never know the reason for him entering your life. But he got a great life, even though it was so short. You did your best by him and that is perfect pet ownership. If only every pet owner could be like this.

So very sorry for your loss. It's a horribly difficult situation at any time. Thank you for such a great post and for the great year in pictures that we facebook folks got to see of him.

hugs.

Betsy said...

A friend forwarded your blog entry to me because I just went through the same thing with my dog Rascal. It's heartbreaking to do the right thing.

I'm so sorry for your loss. :(

Ashley said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Not an easy decision and one that takes a lot of courage. Rest in peace Huckleberry.

Liv said...

It takes a very strong and compassionate person for such emotional, physical and strenuous work.

It's definitely something to be admired.

My deepest sympathy.

Liv
Family Dog Rescue
San Francisco

sooshyviolet said...

WOW! I am so sorry for your loss but I commend you for being such a responsible pit bull owner. That is the hardest decision any dog lover could run across. You are a wonderful person & I respect your decision of public safety being the most important thing. You are an amazing, talented woman!!! I know that you will come across the perfect dog (as perfect as XDOG ;) and I hope its in the form of a pit bull!!!!! Much love, Bridget

Boris said...

Ana and the whole Paco collar gang, While it might be a family decision, I'm sure it impacts the whole crew.

All that comes to mind for condolences in this type of situation is a quote attributed to a famous California missionary,
Blessed Padre Junipero Serra:
Siempre Adelante
Huckleberry in some ways is a lesson of our humanity and our limitations to control those things around us.

You've said your peace, now it is time to move on - always forward.

Leaving with another inspirational quote shared by my family:
"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you. ~Maori Proverb"

Boris' Famiglia

MIA said...

Huck had an amazing life regardless of length, and thank you for adopting him, loving him and doing right by him. Big hugs to all of you.

Kirsten said...

Ana,
Reading this I was struck by how hard this must have been, and heart-breaking, but also that Huckleberry couldn't have had a better home than yours.

Our two year old Lab X has some territorial fear-based issues with strangers. (He's well-socialized around dog parks and out and about, but has always been nervy about strangers coming onto the property, due in part to the fact that we don't have many friends over, and most of our visits when he was a pup were from workmen the landlord sent over, meter men, etc.) I can relate to how hard managing a sensitive dog can be, and how they feed off our concern for them. Our Thomas has improved so much, and I hope like hell he will continue to, as we work with him more and socialize him to more scenarios. At some point I'm sure we'll find ourselves at that crossroads: we've done everything we can, and he's OK, or we've done everything we can and he's not OK. It's SUCH a hard call, but I think you made the right one.
x Kirsten

Anonymous said...

Ana,

I'm so sorry for the loss of your sweet, funny Huckleberry. You certainly loved him well and responsibly. We're thinking of you.

Joanne and Linus from nosework class

Pat said...

Ana, I am so sorry. He was a beautiful little imp, and you worked so hard to make him into a good boy. Your decision was brave and right. I don't know that I could have done that myself.

Run free, Huckleberry.

Hugs,
Pat Luchak

NorCalRose & Riddick said...

Doing the right thing can be so painful.

Peace and comfort to you all.

Ana PS said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I cried so hard while reading this post and have never felt this much sadness and sympathy for a person and a pooch. May your heart be filled with peace and may Huckleberry RIP.

"He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea. He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for bei...ng; by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him. (I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.)

When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive. When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile. When I am happy, he is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, he ignores it. When I succeed, he brags. Without him, I am only another man. With him, I am all-powerful. He is loyalty itself.

He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.

His head on my knee can heal my human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me... whenever... wherever — in case I need him. And I expect I will — as I always have. He is just my dog."

Tears and Laughter ~ Gene Hill

shell said...

such a sad story, thank you for showing unconditional love to animals, you are angels....

AlexC said...

I have done the same exact thing for the same reason. It's a devastating decision- it takes great courage and love to do what you did. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Dana said...

Ana,

With tears in my eyes, I too understand your experiences and have a similar one.

In the security around familiar faces my American Bulldog Buxton was the most loving, smart and amazing buddy: http://www.audigirl.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=4862 (brindle and white dude on the right). Anything other than that he was a wily ball of fear aggression.

I took him to VHUP animal behavioral hospital in Philly, PA, numerous trainers and made massive modifications in my life and our living environment to support his success and confidence. Even with his tireless efforts and dedicated deep love to me, close friends and family, he too was getting worse. At 10 months old I felt his sweet life fade from his body.

It was the most difficult decision I've ever made in my life; I lost friends over it. I also know that I protected him and others by making it.

I'm grateful for all the love he shared and the abundantly silly playtimes we had when he was here - I still miss him.

Thank you for opening your hear to us and sharing your story about Huckleberry.

Blessings,
Dana

Jessica said...

I am so very sorry for your loss...doing the right thing isn't always easy. Thank you for having the courage to do right by Huckleberry, and for sharing your experience.

danielle said...

I'm so sorry for your loss Ana, Aaron, and Xdog. I don't know what else to say except thank you for sharing your story. Although I never got to meet Huckleberry, you are all always in my heart. xoxo danielle, erik, and Alabama

msteeleart said...

Such a beautiful boy. I never even met Huckleberry and this breaks my heart. I have a female pitty and I couldn't imagine the pain if I would have to put her down. I'm so sorry. :(

Anonymous said...

What a heart-retching story. You made the right decision. I hope that readers see this as dog story rather than a pit bull story. Thank you for sharing.

Bambi said...

Been thinking of you guys all day. Your bravery, your sense of responsibility to the community, your ability to sacrifice for others.... I'm proud to call you a friend.

Pam said...

I am so, so sorry, Ana. You absolutely did the right thing-- putting down a physically healthy dog who you are in love with has got to be one of the most wrenching decisions a person can be faced with. Try to find solace in the fact that you gave him the best chance to succeed that he could have possibly had. I doubt another guardian would have elicited the help of all the talented people you consulted. And most importantly, you treated him with love the entire time he was with you. In fact, the decision itself was an act of love, for the alternatives would only have caused more pain and confusion for Huckleberry, not to mention you.

poe said...

The right choices are often the hard ones, AR, you made the right choice. I am so sorry.

Anonymous said...

well this was so tough to read.
i hope you find great dog.n you..sometimes when you get an adult you know more about temperament and can pick the right dog for your home. I hope you get another pit bull that you can have as a breed ambasssador with all of your training experience! They deserve it and so do you.

Julie said...

As a new pibble owner who just ran across your story, I want you to know how my heart hurts for you and Huckleberry. But you did the most loving, humane thing you could in the situation. Although it made me cry, thanks for sharing your story. I'm holding my little girl closer tonight.

Julie J

Bent Barrow Farm said...

I put down my beautiful, kind, funny, wonderful dog Satchel at the age of 5 (two years after we'd adopted him from a shelter) for very similar reasons a few years ago, and while I still feel a little heartsick over it I never did have any regret. Satchel was a good dog, a loved dog, and a special dog, but by putting him down before he badly injured someone we spared him from being a bad dog—a dangerous dog—a criminal dog. I very much appreciate that you spared Huckleberry the fear and trauma of being passed along to a different home where his issues could compound.

Here is a VERY brief bio of Satchel, who is still remembered and loved in our household. I hope you'll be able to cherish Huckleberry's memory, too.

http://www.dogster.com/dogs/163890

It's funny . . . after all these years, I still carry a lot of grief and guilt (misplaced) around euthanizing my 13 year-old, paralyzed, wheelchair bound, cancer-riddled cattle dog, Mirri, but I never question putting healthy, physically-perfect Satchel down. It was the right thing to do.

Anonymous said...

ana, i read your blog posting and the story of huckleberry and applaud you for being a loving courageous and compassionate person. i have two rescued bully girls, and completely understand your situation. again, my heart aches for your loss but i have to say you are an amazingly strong and awesome lady!!!

Anonymous said...

ana, i read your blog posting and the story of huckleberry and applaud you for being a loving courageous and compassionate person. i have two rescued bully girls, and completely understand your situation. again, my heart aches for your loss but i have to say you are an amazingly strong and awesome lady!!!

Yana said...

couldn't hold back my tears...
i had to face the same choice you guys made...till this day i feel like i've betrayed her,but welcoming a baby to the house with the dog capable of severely injuring other dogs was out of the question...

Nicole said...

Ana, I am so sorry for your loss. Huckleberry was lucky to have found you and been loved by you. I am thinking of you all.

Marylen said...

So very sorry for your loss. You were lucky to have each other. Go forward, dear folks. There's another dog needing you out there...RIP Huckleberry...your people love you. They did the greatest thing they could when they let you go...they kept you safe from the bad things that can happen to dogs...you had them to the very end and you'll forever be in their hearts.

Mindy said...

I had to put my 10 month old pittie puppy, Roo Roo, down for the same reasons. Was the sadest day of my life and I still cry for her occasionally. I applaud you for having the courage to do what you though was right.

Robb@dogsavvy said...

Ana,

So sorry to hear about what you had to go through. I wish you peace and condolences. You went above and beyond to make the best decision possible in a truly difficult situation.

Best regards,

Robb Horen
Dog Savvy

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, Ana. Thank you, though, for doing the right thing -- hard as it was.

Deborah Flowers said...

With tears streaming down my face, I just want to say I am so very sorry and sad for the loss of your beloved Huckleberry. My God give you peace and comfort knowing that you did all you could. I love that you loved him so much. God Bless you.
I too had to put down my beloved Davey Boy Jones, he became so dog aggressive, he repeatedly tried to kill my smaller English Staffie.
The fights and the blood and the panic became more than I could handle. That was more than 15 years ago, and I still have "dog fight fear".
God Bless you and your family.
Huckleberry was a gorgeous boy. I know he's romping it up at the rainbow bridge.
Gods speed Huck...♥

Anonymous said...

how terribly terribly sad....
thanks for sharing your story.
Im so glad he had you and your partner and xdog and it went it down the way it did.
poor little man might not have had it so easy in someone elses hands.

RIP beautiful boy.
you did good, ana.

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pitbull crazy said...

I am so sorry and can honestly say I have had an almost identical experience with Kobe. He was my first pitbull. He came from pitbull rescue in New Mexico. I was going through obedience training with my neo mastiff when the trainer, which was in charge of the local pitbull rescue group, had this tiny 8 week old puppy that was getting trampled on in her house of 8 adult putbulls. I said I would take him until she found him a home, my husband was not happy when I walked in the door that night with my Neo and this puppy, but didn't take long before he said "This is his home" and we decided to keep him. I saw the warning signs early also, but just assumed we could correct whatever was wrong with socialization and training. He was neutered at 12 weeks, was very socialized, but didn't like people outside our immediate family and the people at my work(vet clinic). When I took him back to training and the rescue lady saw him and saw that I had a muzzle in my hand she was confused until he lunged at her(out of nowhere). She immediately told us that he was unstable and unpredictable and should have him put down. He passed obedience(muzzle and all)with flying colors, was the most perfect dog at home, minded, never destroyed anything, could be left loose in the house and most of all I felt very safe. We never took him out in public without a muzzle and when company came over he was always in his crate in a back bedroom with the door closed. He also would show no warning signs when he went for someone...in fact he would wag his tail(the whole time I would tell the person he was not nice) and they just couldn't resist his gorgeous face...then they would be shocked to see the devil come out of him. He was great when we had our first child(we had contemplated putting him down before she came, but had to give him a chance). Even when we had our second child, again fine, the oldest would even get caught stealing his dog food(yuk) and he would just be sitting beside his bowl looking like "that's mine, right?" We ultimately came to the same decision that you did when I was in the military and couldn't find a house that would take pitbulls. We stayed in a hotel for 4 months straight trying to find a house(not easy with 2 pit mixes, pitbull, 2 cats and 3 ferrets..oh and 2 children and 2 adults). I really believe he went kennel crazy, which was enhanced by his already crazy aggression and hyperness. He began to lung at my husband when he came close to me, played with me, tickled me, etc...I told him it was time, he said give him another week-maybe he just needs to get out more...one week later he was still the same. We had already discussed when he was 6 months old that if it ever got to the point where we didn't trust him with our family then he had to be put down, but not before then. When he was young I told my husband I would never give him to someone else(as we, like you, had put so much work into him and could not completely fix him, thought it would be irresponsible. I took him to the vet just short of this 3 year birthday and it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Putting to sleep a perfectly happy, healthy, obedient, awsome dog. That was in 2005...I still think of him almost daily and me and my husband still talk about him and compare other dogs to him. The next year I got Cajun for mother's day and she is now 4.5 years old and CGC certified, goes to work with me to promote the great pitbull breed and has changed many lives. She does not replace him, but it is a little easier now that I have another. Again I am so sorry for your loss. Sometimes it helps knowing you're not the only one and this has been the first account very similar to mine that I have come across and no-one seems to understand that it's not a pitbull thing, it's a dog thing and, like people, sometimes they are just going to be 'off'. nickie_97@hotmail.com

pitbull crazy said...
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pitbull crazy said...
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Anonymous said...
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ana poe said...

negative comments from anonymous posters will be deleted.

Marge said...

That was a very difficult decision that you had to make, but it was a very responsible thing to do also. We had a pit bull mix that we had to put down. Maxie was a great dog, very loving. She would lay on the floor and cuddle up to our cats. But then one day, when Maxie was outside and not leashed up or in her kennel, left to run freely in the yard, she chased, caught & killed one of those cats that she normally loved. When it happened a second time, it destroyed my world completely and I had no other choice. Maxie was taken to the vet the next morning and was put down. It was the responsible thing to do, but it hurt so, so badly. I completely understand your pain, and I grieve with you.

Marge said...

That was a very difficult decision that you had to make, but it was a very responsible thing to do also. We had a pit bull mix that we had to put down. Maxie was a great dog, very loving. She would lay on the floor and cuddle up to our cats. But then one day, when Maxie was outside and not leashed up or in her kennel, left to run freely in the yard, she chased, caught & killed one of those cats that she normally loved. When it happened a second time, it destroyed my world completely and I had no other choice. Maxie was taken to the vet the next morning and was put down. It was the responsible thing to do, but it hurt so, so badly. I completely understand your pain, and I grieve with you.

msnform said...

Ana i am sorry for your loss, i can't imagine it...i also laud your decision--difficult, rational and responsible. but most of all i admire your ability to write clearly and compassionately about your experience, it speaks volumes.
thank you.
Lisa

Keith Sanna said...

I just finished ready your post about Huckleberry and your journey.

I sit here in tears. My heart goes out to you forever and ever.

Keith

Holly said...

My heart is with you. I know I'm late but I hope my words bring at least an ounce of comfort. With such an impossible decision you were brave to be able to make it. What happened here shouldn't have had to happen. It wasn't fair. But then again life isn't fair. I hope that somehow you are reunited with this amazing pup. He will be living on in many people's memories.

Anonymous said...

Your story of Huckleberry broke my heart. I understand what you went through and why it came to be.

I am so very sorry you lost your special friend. I had a German Shepherd that way, and it ended very similar. It sucked.

Godspeed any pain you two may still have. I know Huckleberry is waiting on the other side.

With much love...Diana

Anonymous said...

Oh, I just read this blog post.

RIP Huckleberry.

Ana - you did the right thing, despite how difficult it was to do. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for your loss Ana. Huckleberry was a beautiful boy but it seems you had no other choice. When I was a 10 year old little girl I was mauled by a friend's dog (a blue heeler). He was put down, and even though I was the one he hurt, it still broke my heart. Just as I'm heart broken for you and your family. Life just isn't fair sometimes.

Sarah said...

You know, I had to make that same decision with a dog with what seems to be the same issues. :( I had Willy for a year and a half, working with a trainer, working with friends to help him learn correct behaviors. That only worked with people he knew. Once we tried to use those lessons near strangers it always went wrong. In the end, I decided on my own that it would be best for everyone to have him put down. It just didn't seem responsible to keep a dog that was so unpredictable, especially living in an apartment on a college campus.

Everyone I talked to (except my boyfriend and my vet) was against putting him down. They were all idealistic people who think that every dog can be "saved". They blamed me for not trying hard enough. Me? Not trying hard enough? I changed my entire career path through university in my search to find a way to help me help him. I dreaded holidays because he'd have to be cooped up in his crate for 5 days while visiting family who were scared of him.

I actually lost some close friendships over my decision.

It's been over 4 months since he's been gone. I'm relieved, honestly, that I'm not the only one who's gone through this situation and come out with the same difficult answer I did. It's still sad, but a relief all the same.

Becca said...

Despite knowing his history, you gave him a second chance at life and loved him unconditionally. That's the greatest gift you could ever give someone. Sometimes life just isn't fair, but just remember where ever he is now, he's finally at peace and free of his mental suffering. Maybe now he can finally be the happy, normal dog he should have been in life.

My heart breaks with you, but you did the right thing.

Brenda said...

I'm grateful for your lovely-written story and that you stood firm by your principles of right and wrong even when it hurts so badly. I've been in that situation with a cat, and did the same thing at the end. Realizing that she could not help herself, I let go of the anger and loved her only and then after the vet visit when I took her body home to show the other cats, the cat that grew up with her showed me how this was the right decision by standing on her face and purring!
On the dog breed discussion, a 10lb poodle bit my husband badly on the calf just because he was standing there. It took 3 weeks to heal! This dog needed to be euthanized before he hurts someone else, but the poodle was not my dog there was nothing I could do. Dogs biting people is a line that cannot be crossed, IMHO.
On a happy note, I have a Rottie mix that was very badly abused before 12 weeks of age and happily we were able to teach her to be an outstanding citizen with extensive structure the help of our cats and our older dog as a role model. She worked hard and overcame her fears, and she is an exception.
So I agree with you, sometimes it is possible to help the animal understand and recover. Sometimes when we love something we have to set it free beyond this life. I believe dogs transform into energy the same as people and I've been witness to that fact. When you release your loved pets from life on this planet in a humane way, they can support you from the other side. Meditation is a good way to cuddle with them when you need to.

Anonymous said...

As an Akita rescuer for over 26 yrs, I want to say THANK YOU for being responsible, caring and knowledgeable. Too many owners explain away bad behavior, are sure they can protect everyone from their dangerous dog and then when the bite happens, its always "out of nowhere!!" I know how hard this was for you -- I had to euthanize my first adopted Akita in 1987 for the same stranger-aggression after having him for 9 months -- likely 8 months too long but I was much younger, much less knowledgeable and willing to assume we could 'work it out'. It led me to rescue, to be sure no one else would ever have to live with an Akita like this if I could help them. I have euthanized countless truly "wrongly wired" Akitas over my years in rescue and cried over every one of them -- even the ones I couldn't touch or hug or hold. I applaud your honesty in telling your story. Anyone who is negative to you is living in a dream world -- what you did was necessary yet harder than most people will ever know. Keep your chins up and move forward -- your next dog will benefit from your knowledge!!

Ellen said...

I am so sorry. I have a dog reactive Corgi and the one thing that makes all the difference is that he is not reactive to people. I am a dog trainer and he has been my 10-year experiment and he is on medication (Prozac) which does make a difference for him. He is also small and I can pick him up and carry him out of trouble, and I know exactly what his triggers are and over time the strength of his reactions have lessened. Having a dog that might hurt a person opens up a scary world of liability and bad karma and appalling amounts of stress. Know that you tried. I applaud you for speaking with multiple professionals about him. You now get to keep this knowledge for any future dog.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

I want to thank you also for being responsible and thoughtful. You gave him every opportunity, but you also did not allow it to escalate to the point of someone being seriously hurt. Very sad, powerful story. I hope that your hearts start to heal soon.

Anonymous said...

What a heart wrenching, and honourable journey you went on with your wonderful dog. My hat goes off to you. You honoured him until the end, and continued to as you wrote this article.

.

Roger said...

I can't even begin to express how very sorry I. It is so hard to lose family. The most important thing is that you loved Huckleberry as demonstrated by everything that you guys tried to do for him. Despite this terrible loss, I am sure that you wouldn't trade your time with him for anything. My thoughts and prayers are with you both. Rest it Peace Huckleberry!!!!

Paula McCollum & the Blueticks said...

May your hearts find peace in the honor you have showed Huckleberry.

Roger said...

I can't even begin to express how very sorry I. It is so hard to lose family. The most important thing is that you loved Huckleberry as demonstrated by everything that you guys tried to do for him. Despite this terrible loss, I am sure that you wouldn't trade your time with him for anything. My thoughts and prayers are with you both. Rest it Peace Huckleberry!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being a responsible dog owner, I wish there were a million more of you. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

I, too, had to make this difficult decision. My heart goes out to you. It was the ultimate act of love ...


Anonymous said...

You killed the best dog you will ever have. I know because I have one just like him. But I don't set him up to fail. I protect him.

Anonymous said...

You did the right thing. I have a dog who hates strangers, other dogs, and has an intense prey drive. My life is structured around prevention, and it is not easy. Luckily, however, she is on the smaller side (30 lbs) so I can restrain her. She is never allowed to be alone with anyone but myself and my husband. I don't trust her, but I love her and I have learned her body language and triggers. It's exhausting. However, she has never bitten anyone, so I'm working with her and multiple trainers who have taught me to be diligent about not exposing her to triggers.

I love that you shared this painful experience and your responsible decision. I really think if people understand that not all dogs are friendly they will be less likely to shove hands in their faces, tower over them, stare directly in their eyes and exhibit various intimidating behaviours.

Again, you did all the right things for all the right reasons. Please never second guess that.

Anonymous said...

such as Sad story, My vet once told me, we see our family members suffer because it's against the law to euthanize them, how lucky we are able to do this for our pets. It is the kindess act we can do for them. This was a man who saw his father suffer for years with cancer.

Anonymous said...

You are brave and strong. I admire you.
Gayle

Anonymous said...

I posted your blog on my facebook page, and you have had many people, many, who all thank you and support you for writing this.

Thank you from me too.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Naughty-Dogge/99010211245

Monique

Empty Nest Notes said...

I follow Buck Brannanman the renowned horse trainer and behaviorist. He conducts clinics all across the country teaching people his humane methods of all aspects of proper horsemanship. At one clinic, a woman brought in a stallion who was ready to kill anyone who entered the corral. Buck also found out that this woman had several eral other stallions in the same pasture. These poor horses, being not gelded were spending all their days in heated battle and so their formative years were a disaster.

Buck told the woman to put down this stallion and any others who would readily injur or kill a
human being. It broke his heart to tell her this but even Buck could make it right. The woman took his advice and put down the dangerous ones and gelded the others. A good lesson we all can learn by... love and devotion are not enough at times. RIP sweet Huckleberry...at least you were loved and cherished always.

Mia said...

I, too, went through almost the same situation.. I read your stories with tears as I remember what I and my family went through. It will take a while before I can wrap my head around the fact that "I" could not do anything to save/help/change the situation. After years and years of training and showing dogs, I thought that I could make this work. After 5 years, it was becoming more difficult each day. My dog was trying to kill my older dog. Everyday was being one step ahead of her. Watching for the "red flags" as you spoke about. Tiresome, but necessary. Now, I live with the coulda, woulda, shoulda's. But, my family and the rest of my animals are in peace. So is she. Proud of your courage. You did the right thing. And, I agree, some dogs, like pepole, are just wired wrong for whatever reason. Breeding, maybe a medical issue in the brain or neurological issue that cannot be fixed or changed. Never the less... we love them as much and as hard as we can until the end. That is what we, as humans are supposed to do. That is what they expect of us.

kelley luckett said...

This breaks my heart.For you, for Huckleberry, and for the memories it brings back of the same hard decision you had to make.

I know how hard that decision is to make, and I applaud you for being so honest about the struggle that you went through. I also applaud you for being a responsible dog owner, and making a decision that was best for all involved.

I will keep your family in my thoughts!

Anonymous said...

I could have written that exact story, only changing the dogs name. Everything you tried was exactly what we tried. At age 2, we had to put our dog down, for the exact same reason. I have never cried so hard.

Thank you for sharing your story. Now I know that others had to make the same hard decisions.

Anonymous said...

I've been in your exact position with an 80-lb Standard Poodle who also bit us. He was afraid of everything, even peanut butter. It took us 3 years to come to the same decision as you and I only wish we'd done it sooner. Those years took a huge toll on us and our other dog.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Karen Hales said...

Thank you so much for putting this in the perspective that so many will be able to gain the strength they will need to do what they have known in their hearts needs to be done with one they love. It brings me comfort to know that the decision I had to make, after many failed attempts to realize I needed to do the same for my Naomi, was the right one. Know that Huckleberry got the best and his story will be an inspiration to others.
God Bless!

Stacy Howard said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I cried reading your story. That had to be such a difficult decision for you, but very responsible. You did everything possible, and not everyone would go to those lengths. It was definitely LOVE. Thank you for sharing your story!

Daniel Audet (daudet@carolina.rr.com) said...

Hello, my name is Daniel Audet. I run a dog training forum at www.balancedtrainers.com

Is there any way I could contact you about Huckleberry? This story has caused a fair bit of discussion, and many of the members would like to have more insight into Huck's history. There is a chance that the information you provide, could helpful to someone else.

thanks for your time,

Daniel Audet
daudet@carolina.rr.com
www.balancedtrainers.com

Anonymous said...

You're right, some dogs are just too broken to fix. My heart goes out to you.

Anonymous said...

What an ultimate betrayal to your dog. You wouldn't do this to your child, would you? You would do whatever it takes, make whatever sacrifices you have to make, to ensure they live a happy and FULL life. One thing trainers and behaviorists often fail to tell people is that sometimes you are just not the right owner for a particular dog. You as a person do not like everyone, just as everyone does not like you. The same goes for dogs; they just simply may not like their owner. You failed as a dog owner and your dog payed the price. I do not feel any sympathy for you, you still have the rest of your life to live. I feel sorry for your dog for ending up with someone that felt they had the right to play god with his life.

Anonymous said...

I read this over and over, thinking I had missed something. The reason for his death was a muzzle-punch??

Let's assume this was not a result of you allowing the dog to become overaroused/too excited. Let's assume that he was not exhibiting something that many dogs do and muzzle-punching for curiosity or attention purposes.

So, assuming that he muzzle-punched a stranger as a warning (if this is the case they tend to happen before a growl or an air snap, even). Why would you kill him because of that? Would you kill your dog for growling when you put them in an uncomfortable situation?

Why wouldn't you say 'thank you for letting us know you are uncomfortable meeting a stranger in this type of situation, we will condition you to a muzzle for our own peace of mind and avoid making you feel that you need to bite.'

I just can't understand killing a dog for this.

Anonymous said...

You bailed on your puppy. Shame on you for trying to sanitize what you did. You should never have another pet of any kind or children either because you don't stand by them. What a horrible person you are.

Todd Bonvino said...

We faced an almost identical scenario with our Rottweiller. We tried everything, but had been attacked multiple times by him. At 120 lbs of muscle, I was afraid in my own home. We put Boston down at only a year and half old, and we loved him dearly. Hardest day of our lives as pet owners and dog lovers. We empathize with you..

Todd Bonvino said...

The unpredictability of a dog who shows signs of an uncontrollable short fuse causes you to envision him biting someone's child in the face. You have never experienced that fear, so you criticize. She consulted multiple dog handlers who confirmed her fears. That's why you can't understand: you're lack of perspective and experience. Just like saying you could handle a drug addict teenager. You'd show em whose boss, right?

Todd Bonvino said...

The unpredictability of a dog who shows signs of an uncontrollable short fuse causes you to envision him biting someone's child in the face. You have never experienced that fear, so you criticize. She consulted multiple dog handlers who confirmed her fears. That's why you can't understand: you're lack of perspective and experience. Just like saying you could handle a drug addict teenager. You'd show em whose boss, right?

Mary said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. What a horrible decision to have to make but I admire you for all that you did and to make that very decision. Too often of late I hear and read of people who live by the save them all not seeing the torture the poor dog is in every day. Thank you for sharing this heartbreaking story with all of us.

Jacquie Humphrey said...

You are incredibly brave and strong of heart. It takes so much strength to make these heartbreaking decisions when the dog looks so well physically but understanding the mental turmoil is another dimension, I have sadly walked this same path. I tell myself at least my dog had a happy life short as it may have been and you have worked hard and been so committed be kind to yourselves and thank you for sharing such an emotional experience.

Lise said...

Deepest Sympathy on your loss. I am so sad for you. I also respect you so much for this terribly difficult decision you have made. Putting the safety of the public above the love you felt for your dog is an incredible act of altruism and responsibility. As a dog owner myself, it takes my breath away and brings me to tears. As a professional dog walker, who often encounters loose aggressive dogs, I am grateful for your ability to honestly assess the situation. Thank you. I wish you comfort.

aisu said...

From what you wrote, I don't feel you were justified in killing the dog. IMHO your fear was irrational and sadly Huckleberry paid the ultimate price. I agree with the person that said you shouldn't own another dog. I feel very sorry for Huckleberry.