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02-24-2017 12:11 PM
dobie822
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnricesr View Post
First post here, but I'm not a troll. I've been looking for some advice on our Doberman and have read much on this site, and it seems that there are some knowledgeable people here that may be able to offer some advice. I think a little history is in order, so I apologize in advance for the length of my post, but here it goes.

Around May, 2016, we rescued a Doberman that had been placed five times previously. When I asked for the reasons, I was told that the dog (Max) had problems with large groups of people, that he had snapped at a cat, that he had snapped at a new owner who put his face in the dog's face, he had head bobbing seizures, and some other minor issues that I attributed to owners that did not know how to handle dogs. I spent some time with Max, and we bonded immediately. It was obvious that someone had spent some time with him, as he could catch, sit, and not jump on me.

I brought him home, and initially we had a little trouble as would be expected. He was aggressive at the vet, he growled at my daughter, and some other things that were easily corrected. He now shows no aggressiveness toward other dogs or people. I figured I just needed to make him know his place, and after working with him, he displays no alpha tendencies. When he messes up and gets corrected, he always bows his head. When he knows he's done wrong, he pouts without any correction. He is not allowed on the furniture (except my son's bed at night). He must give way when people need to pass. We've trained him to heel, down and shake. Other than what I'll get to in a minute, he's been one of the two best dogs I've ever owned. The head bobbing almost has completely gone away now that he's in a stable home.

He was initially terrified of guns. If I had one in my hand for cleaning, he would run to another room. With time, he seemed to realize that nothing bad was going to happen, and now he really doesn't seem to be concerned when I have one out. I mention this because I was initially concerned that he may have been shot at some point, but I suppose it's also possible that he was around the loud noise. Since we've had him, he has not been around any gun that was discharged.

I have never hit him. I don't hit my wife or kids. My house is relatively calm. Max is outside when no one is home, and inside when we are. If the weather is unfavorable and no one's home, he is in his large crate. Never for long periods of time.

We had two cats, now one, and he has never attacked them.

Now to the reason for my post.

Early in the adoption, my wife brought Max and out old Dachshund to the vet (this was after we thought his aggressive behavior was corrected). Max attacked the Dachshund, seemingly unprovoked, but didn't cause any serious damage. He did break the skin, however. Another time, when I was working in my home office, he did the same thing in my presence. Again, I saw no reason for him to do that. I intervened, scolded Max, he pouted and it hasn't happened since.

Also early in the adoption, we had a thunderstorm one night and a thunderclap woke Max and my son abruptly. Max bit my son in the face. Not an attack, but it was enough to draw blood. My son was terrified that we'd get rid of Max, but I agreed to keep him if he was crated during thunderstorms. There was another incident with my son, but I can't remember the specifics.

It has been months since having any problems, and I thought he was adjusted. Last night I was getting ready to wrestle with him like I've done many times before. This starts by me bending down to his level and pushing him at the shoulders. When I pushed him, I could see no evidence that he was irritated, and without any warning that I could perceive, he lunged at me biting my neck and face. I was able to push him off, then he got my shoulder. Eventually he latched on to my arm, and I was able to use it as leverage to twist his head around and get an advantage. In the process, his teeth went to the bone, but once I was able to get control of his head, he ran upstairs as soon as I gave him a chance to get away. He wouldn't come back to me when I called, so I followed him upstairs and told him to go downstairs and get in his crate, which he promptly did. He's been pouting since. I went to the Doc, and they looked at the bites in the waiting room and told me that if they admitted me, they'd have to notify animal control. I didn't want my son to see animal control come get his dog, so they advised me on how to treat things myself, and I left.

My dilemma is now this:

If this had happened to my wife or kids, the results would likely have been much worse, so I am concerned about them being alone with Max. I understand that there are situations where a dog will snap and retreat, and that's what the previous episodes seemed to be. However in this case, he didn't show any signs of retreating. I can't be sure if he let go of me because I was a better fighter than he was (I imagine he could have done much more damage if he had wanted to) or if he briefly lost his mind then came to his senses. I don't know how far he would have taken things if he had gotten hold of my wife or kids who wouldn't be able to fight back.

Obviously, we've learned to crate him during storms already. And now I've learned not to wrestle with him. I'm concerned about what other things might trigger an attack that we don't know about. He doesn't normally display any behavior problems that a behaviorist could help with (of course I may be wrong on that). It would be irresponsible for me to give him to a rescue, and I doubt they'd take him anyway. Are there any options for Max other than euthanasia? We recently had to euthanize a cat that got cancer, and good grief, I don't want to go through that again.
I am sorry to hear about Max's problems. We had a very similar experience several years ago with one of our beloved dobies, 2 yr. old Franklin, and sadly, our story did not end well. We had purchased Franklin as an 8 wk. old pup from a very reputable breeder and were delighted to bring him home to join our 6 yr. old dobe, Mitchell. All went well, and the "boys" got along great and both were wonderful with our small grandchildren. When Franklin was about 18 mos. old we began to notice the head-bobbing, seizure-like activity occasionally, but it was not severe enough to require treatment. One evening, when Franklin had just turned 2 yrs, I had brought home two new (identical) dog chew toys and gave each dog a toy. We had never seen any possessive behaviors between the two, and as usual, they were delighted and each went their separate way to play. A few minutes later, I suddenly heard Mitchell cry out in pain and I ran into the room to find Mitchell with a huge laceration on his side where Franklin had just bitten him. Mitch didn't appear to have provoked him, and Franklin didn't seem to notice as he continued to happily play with his toy. Mitchell went in for 12 sutures, and we were left perplexed.

Just two weeks after this incidence, Franklin was laying on the couch with a toy. i approached him and leaned down slightly to give him a hug and without warning or provocation, he suddenly bit me on the head. It was a single bite, and again, it didn't seem to phase him as he wagged his tail and continued to enjoy his toy. It required 16 sutures to close the wound. We were determined to give him the benefit of the doubt.... "I must have just surprised him when he wasn't expecting it. Surely this was an isolated incident."

Exactly two months later, I was laying on the couch one evening watching TV. Franklin came over to me wagging his tail, and layed down on the floor beneath me, propped his head up on the couch, and waited for "a scratch" ~ something he had done every evening since he was a pup. i leaned over just slightly to scratch his head, and without warning, he suddenly bit me on the top of the head. Again, a single bite, not an "attack" ~ he wagged his tail and brought me his ball and seemed oblivious. I was stunned and knew i had been badly hurt. I sat up and felt my forehead "slide down". I was bleeding profusely and ran to the bathroom, looked in the mirror, and to my horror, there was 2 inch by 2 inch area of my my skull that was visible on my forehead. My husband, a nurse, was on duty at the hospital and I was home alone. I am also a nurse, and I wrapped my head with in turban, phoned my husband and told him what happened and that I was on my way to the E.R. and I was going to need a plastic surgeon when I got there . I was shocked, but drove myself 14 miles to the hospital, (something I never should have done.) An x-ray revealed a hairline skull fracture in addition to the laceration. I underwent surgery that evening and the repair to my skull required 128 stitches, and a lengthy regimen of antibiotics. This was a wake-up call, and could have easily been a life-changing event. I felt so fortunate and relieved that it had happened to me, and not one of our grandchildren.

It was obvious that something was seriously wrong with Franklin and we took him to our vet the following day. He was given a thorough examination, and our very experienced vet determined that Franklin was suffering from "Jeckyl and Hyde Syndrome". We were not familiar with this condition. We learned that it is a condition that is not breed-specific and that it goes relatively undetected until the symptoms begin to appear at age 2. At that age, the dog's brain begins to have a significant growth spurt and the skull does not have the same growth. The brain soon becomes crowded in the skull and becomes compressed. The symptoms include but are not limited to sudden unprovoked flashes of aggression, (usually a single bite) and without warning (no growl). It is not a sustained attack, and prevalent is the tendency to quickly return to their normal behavior. The vet explained that there is no cure, and the behaviors are so unpredictable and are very likely to continue or worsen. He felt strongly that there is really no safe alternative other than to euthanize Franklin as someone will undoubtedly get hurt again. Reluctantly, and through tears, we realized that the situation was too dangerous to take any further risks. We scheduled "the appointment" for three days later~ we wanted to spoil him and spend just a couple more days with our wonderful boy. The day came and we took him to the vet, crying. They sedated him first, and then it was over. He was cremated and we have his ashes some sprinkled in the garden that he loved so much. Having to euthanize him was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Rest in peace, Frank...

I hope that you will find answers for Max, I know how much he means to you. I would recommend a thorough exam by a vet with neuro experience. Good luck to you
02-07-2017 01:56 PM
jeitzen I am so sorry for your loss. You are very brave for making this decision for you, your family, and for Max. Rest in peace, sweet boy. No more pain.
02-07-2017 01:06 PM
4x4bike ped Rough call. I applaud your family's courage and and compassion. I will have you in my thoughts for quite a while.

John
Portland OR
02-07-2017 12:33 PM
atomic My condolences out to you and your family, brought tears to my eyes following this thread and I applaud you with everything I have for your sense of fortitude and the difficulty in the situation that you went through. The same goes for your son. I sincerely and truly feel for you and yours, keep your heads up with the knowledge you did more than most people ever would even consider, and there are other wonderful dogs dreaming of a home like yours.
02-07-2017 11:13 AM
Fitzmar Dobermans It is a very hard thing to do - but I'm so glad you stayed with him and let him know that he was loved. He is now at peace and I wish peace for your family also.
02-07-2017 11:01 AM
StrykersPerson I apologize for my statement. I was lazy in my reading. I am so sorry. No excuses,

Hard decision.

He had something going on. You made the right choice, even though we all hate to hear that statement.

02-07-2017 10:45 AM
StrykersPerson Might I add my humble opinion?

Maybe contact a dog friendly law enforcement agency?

Seriously.

My favorite Uncle was a K9 handler!

I wouldn't even try to "mess" with his dogs. I respected his relationships with them.

Sometimes it takes a special dog AND a special person.
02-07-2017 12:11 AM
melbrod Iím sorry for your pain...itís an awful decision to have to make. You gave him the best you could while he was with you, and let him go with love in your heart.

Max can be at peace now, away from whatever devils had a hold of him.

Run free, Max.
02-06-2017 07:39 PM
Darkevs hugz to you and yours.

sleep softly Max, rest in peace boy.
02-06-2017 07:36 PM
71_340 I am very sorry and I know how you feel. If it is any consolation for you, Max was with his beloved family until they end and you and your son had the courage to be there with him.

Time will heal your wounds and then there will be another dog to fill the void Max created. There are so many rescues who need a home. Thanks again for being there for your boy and doing the right thing.
02-06-2017 07:07 PM
MeadowCat
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnricesr View Post
Thanks to everyone for all of the replies, and thanks to those that PM'ed me as well. I even received one while at the vet's office today. I really appreciate it, and I'm not sure if I can add anything that might help someone in the future in a similar situation who might be reading this thread, but I thought I'd let y'all know the outcome.

In addition to this forum, I had also talked to via phone and email to other people that were more experienced than myself, and they had the same opinions. There was one, and also one who PM'ed me, who suggested hypothyroidism as a possible cause. So we made an appointment for today with the decision that if the tests showed nothing wrong, we'd have to say goodbye to Max. Our vet suggested a full workup, which we did. We spent the weekend and this morning with Max, doing all of the things he loved and loving up on him, just in case things didn't go the way we wanted them to.

Unfortunately everything came back normal, and we had to have him put to sleep. My son is handling it as well as could be expected under the circumstances and wanted to hold Max while he went to sleep. The vet was very compassionate and patient, even giving us as much time as we needed with Max. Quite honestly, and I've been around a while and have had a lot of dogs, but I don't recall ever having to make such a difficult decision in my life.

Thanks again, guys.
My heart really goes out to you. I'm very sorry.
02-06-2017 07:02 PM
Cressrb Wow. It makes my heart ache and tears come thinking of what you have been through.
Someone told me once, it was the strongest act of love you could give your dog.
Your son must be made of the same fiber as his Dad.
BLessings to you.
02-06-2017 06:34 PM
johnricesr Thanks to everyone for all of the replies, and thanks to those that PM'ed me as well. I even received one while at the vet's office today. I really appreciate it, and I'm not sure if I can add anything that might help someone in the future in a similar situation who might be reading this thread, but I thought I'd let y'all know the outcome.

In addition to this forum, I had also talked to via phone and email to other people that were more experienced than myself, and they had the same opinions. There was one, and also one who PM'ed me, who suggested hypothyroidism as a possible cause. So we made an appointment for today with the decision that if the tests showed nothing wrong, we'd have to say goodbye to Max. Our vet suggested a full workup, which we did. We spent the weekend and this morning with Max, doing all of the things he loved and loving up on him, just in case things didn't go the way we wanted them to.

Unfortunately everything came back normal, and we had to have him put to sleep. My son is handling it as well as could be expected under the circumstances and wanted to hold Max while he went to sleep. The vet was very compassionate and patient, even giving us as much time as we needed with Max. Quite honestly, and I've been around a while and have had a lot of dogs, but I don't recall ever having to make such a difficult decision in my life.

Thanks again, guys.
02-04-2017 10:36 PM
Dobejazz
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnricesr View Post
Thanks for the pdf. Very informative. It was a level 4. Also, thanks to the others that have responded. In my heart, I figured that euthanasia was likely the only realistic option, but I had some hope that there might be a way to get his behavior corrected. The unpredictability aspect made me think otherwise, but I'm willing to admit that I'm not an expert. I really like this dog otherwise, and it breaks my heart to have to do this, but my family is my primary concern.

Now I'm struggling with whether or not to tell my son the truth, or tell him that I took Max to a shelter. He's 13.
I agree with everyone else on telling the truth. My daughter was 6 when I had to make the same decision as you. It was quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever done. The stress both on Casper and the family was intense we were all miserable and on edge wondering what and when the next trigger would be.

I continue to rescue and am comfortable that Casper was loved and well cared for in his short life. I can only imagine what may have happened to him if he did not end up with us to know what love and compassion were.
02-04-2017 10:12 PM
bleh60 I may have missed it but what age is this dog? Also what is the age of your daughter?

I'm not sure how to write this since its such a hardship you are going through......, and I don't want to take anything away from your hardship and the decision you may have made. In fact, it is in large part because of your careful consideration that I am going to say these next two things(even though they may be unpopular opinions)... and in other part, because if anyone in a similar situation comes across this thread I want them to know this as well.

This is all internet advice you are being given. A lot of it is solid responsible advice in my opinion. That said, I would still want, if possible to have a dog like this fully vetted including complete blood workup (and yes, this would include purchasing and using a basket muzzle before entering the vets office).

I would also want a reputable behaviorist and/or qualified trainer to discuss these things with you in person. None of us can be there and although you gave a lot of information, having the right person there with you in the flesh can sometimes help you get the best picture of what is really going on with your dog.


Just something to think about, AGAIN, regardless of the decision you have made, it may give you and your family peace.
02-04-2017 09:41 PM
71_340 I am very sorry about your situation but for the sake of your family's safety and the safety of others I don't think you have another choice but to have him euthanized. Trust me, I say this with a heavy because we had our dog Sandy euthanized in October 15 due to her failing health.....she was with us for 14 years.

I also applaud you for rescuing and there are many more Dobie rescues waiting for a good home like yours. We adopted our Max after Sandy passed and he is a great dog, easygoing and really gentle with children. Still, I quit wrestling with my dogs many years ago because I don't want them to think that it is acceptable behavior to show any type of aggression even if it is just playing.
02-04-2017 01:16 PM
Cressrb I am feeling your pain and appreciate your honesty here. Loving, owning, and bearing the responsibility for these animals to the very end is not for the weak of heart. It hurts.
I just know that what you have invested in him and what he has given you will always be with you.
02-04-2017 12:37 PM
RMcIntyre every adult dog I have taken in has had issues of one sort or another that had to be dealt with. some were minor and easily fixed and some were much more complex. The hard ones are the ones that you see so many positives in and yet have to make the hard decision. Yours is one of those. If it were just you alone and wanted to accept that risk it would be understandable to a degree. But having a wife and child there if you don't make the hard decision you may find the questions you have to answer for that decision hard if something bad happens. and as far as your son. I have two who are now grown 21 and 25. From my personal experience I will say honesty is always better. as far as going with you to the vet, That is not the way you want your son to remember that dog. You want his memories to be happy, fondly remembering that he slept in his bed. You don't want him to keep remembering the look in the dog's eyes as he was starting to fade out. That is hard for an adult. I used to work at an animal shelter and was the one who had to use the needle. I reached my breaking point and had to quit and they weren't even my dogs. He may think he wants to go but it will be much better if he doesn't. If you want to talk about the process you can PM me for my phone number.
Reggie McIntyre
02-04-2017 10:53 AM
Fitzmar Dobermans That you are struggling with what to tell your son tells me that you are trying to be a good parent. He is old enough to know the truth - even though it hurts. If it helps, let him read this thread.
As a parent, I really sympathize with you. I've always told my kids the truth - even when they were very young. Depending on their age, you keep it simple and in terms they understand. My kids are 20 and 18 now - we have lost 4 dogs over the years and they have seen one still born. We have lost 2 dogs to sudden death, and I let them say goodby. It is never easy, and it shouldn't be.
02-04-2017 10:50 AM
KitaTanya I cant offer any advice but i do feel your predicament. Good luck in whatever decision you make.
02-04-2017 12:04 AM
Busytown My son is younger so I may come from a slightly different direction in terms of what they can handle, but...

First I agree that you should tell the truth, it is unsafe and you have to put the dog down. You know your kids better than we do, but kids have a hard time grasping these things and see things more black and white. I would personally speak with a behaviorist, or animal control or something to show your kids that this was a carefully considered decision. It helps it be more clear and less confusing. That helps it be less like a whim because you are mad at the dog or something. It isn't "the dog bit dad and dad had the dog put down" it is "The dog bit dad badly after several other bite incidents. After talking to a dog expert it became clear that the dog is unsafe and must be put down."

I would not personally take my kid to the euthanasia appointment. If they were dying and you were sparing it pain it is hard enough, but putting down a dog that seems healthy to them is just way too much for them to handle.
02-03-2017 09:01 PM
sandy2233 A horrible situation for sure. Why would you not want to tell your son the truth? I think being open and honest is always the best way. I won't say your dog is vicious or mean. I will say your dog is unpredictable. And that for me would be too scary to have him around. My personal opinion would be to put the dog down. You sure wouldn't want to pass this animal to someone else. How sad that it cannot be worked out, but your family's safety comes first.
02-03-2017 02:37 PM
windamyr1 This is a horrible predicament. I feel for you, I really do!!

AS a Mom of two boys, my best advice is do not lie to your son. Have a frank discussion with him on why you've come to a decision, and allow him to say good bye and grieve. Explain to him that as horrible as it is, it is the kindest thing you can do for Max, to avoid having him abused or worse if you dropped him at a shelter. Allow your son to come with you if he needs to, in the room, or in the waiting room, leave it up to him. I've always found with my boys, honesty, no matter how hard a truth may be, is always the best choice
02-03-2017 01:55 PM
MeadowCat
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnricesr View Post
Thanks guys. I thought of something else as well. I don't want to teach my son that it's acceptable to allow another family to take a dangerous dog. This sucks.
It really, really does suck. I'm so sorry you have to go through this.
02-03-2017 01:52 PM
johnricesr Thanks guys. I thought of something else as well. I don't want to teach my son that it's acceptable to allow another family to take a dangerous dog. This sucks.
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