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Should I euthanize my dog?
Jackyowner posted:
Should I euthanize my dog?

I am in a pickle. I have a dear dog who is very good indoors but very barky and aggressive outdoors. I live in a city apartment with no back yard, but thankfully we can use a semi-private back courtyard for very quick pee trips. I adopted Jacky, the terrier/chihuahua mix, 18 pounds, when he was 10, on the occasion of his master's death. He'd lived in the suburbs all his life with a back yard and was used to doing a lot of barking, and he has a very high prey drive. He was never socialized around other dogs or taught to walk nicely on a leash. Indoors, in contrast, he is cuddly, obedient, and perfectly house-trained.

Once he began living with me full-time, his outrageous out-of-home behavior needed urgent help, so I paid $550 for a professional trainer. Jacky improved a lot but then relapsed, as I could not keep up the jerk-correction method. I have been using the positive/treat methods now for months, which help somewhat around adults. But Jacky still barks a lot outside the apt., and he fearlessly, without any provocation, tries to lunge at and bite anyone who is moving, including toddlers and other dogs. I really think he has inherited aggression, pretty intractable. I use a chain Martingale collar (no-slip) and a snout muzzle each and every time we go out to avoid catastrophe. When we get to the wide open park space, he does fine, but he hates other dogs and goes ballistic when we encounter them. In short, second-by-second control and avoidance of close contact with people and other dogs is what I have to rely on in order to avoid injuries and being sued. Jacky gets 2 walks a day, plus the shorter pee outings. (I work full-time.) He gets the Kong and other treats indoors, plus a lot of affection.

As for Jacky's health: he is now 11, has an enlarged heart, a grade-3 heart murmur, and continuously rising liver enzymes. We think he has heart valve disease/heart failure. Nevertheless, he is very frisky, slim, alert, and eats lustily. (He does have a distended belly, however.)

Now the complicating factor comes in: I live and work on the East Coast, and my 81-year-old father lives on the West Coast. Dad has recently become ill and needs help from my sister and me on a more frequent basis. To board Jacky with a pet sitter so I can travel, it costs $45 per day, which I am willing to do for a while. I do not have any friends or family who will care for Jacky, so I have to pay someone to do this. It looks like I will have to fly often from now on to the West Coast to be with my father. I could not bear to fly Jacky with me each time; with his temperament, the trip would probably kill him.

I have pondered trying to find a new home for Jacky, but none of his old master's family want him. And I know very well that with his age, health conditions, and aggressive behavior, no one here in the city would adopt him. I could not bear the idea of giving him over to a shelter or rescue camp, as there, too, I think he would just suffer enormously and then die. So for the time being, I plan to board him when I travel (alerting the sitter not to walk him to avoid injuries, just to use her private back garden for outings), but I find myself wondering more and more whether the simplest and kindest thing to do would be to send Jacky to Dog Heaven at some point.

Can anyone give me any advice? Thank you.
Home2strays responded:
Perhaps you could find a rescue? I know they are mostly full but asking doesnt hurt... what you could do to "sweeten the pot" too is when you are home (if he hasnt been adopted) offer to foster him back. This way he gets to visit his your home but still be up for adoption. One rescue that comes to mind (i dont know where you are) is Old dog Haven. Do a little research and calling, Im sure there will be ONE person out there that can help you guys : )
MikkieKim responded:
Oh how hard. I sympathize, but I have no answers for this one. I wonder how the vets will respond.
DogloverIam responded:
Wow this one is hard. Old Dog Haven is a good idea with you fostering or maybe they would foster for you when you need to travel but mixing Jacky sounds like it will be a problem.
My father and brother train dogs and they use the electric collar after the dogs learn the commands. They say it is not cruel when done properly. Sounds like Jacky knows whats right because he is great indoors so maybe this would be an option to try. When I looked into one at petsmart they told me I would have 90 days to return it if I chose not to use it or if it didnt work for my dog. Petsmart may also be able to offer advise with his aggression while you decide what you need to do.


William Draper, DVM, better known as "Dr. Will," is a well-known small animal practitioner in the Atlanta, GA area. He grew up in Inglewood,...More

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