Of the countless topics I don't address in this space, there's one that should count more than others: the matter of the dog. After all, in July we will have had this dog for two years, and yet he hardly appears in these bloggy pages at all.
There's a big reason for that: he's a biter, or to be fair, more regularly an attempted biter. We've kept him in check, thank god, and we've tried our damndest to break him of this habit he brought with him from his former life. But I didn't want to write about it here because (a) it's embarrassing and (b) I didn't want to put anything in writing, lest he actually bite someone--I didn't want evidence that I had prior knowledge of his aggressive tendencies.
We've had some close calls. Because he looks so damn friendly, people try to pet him when we're out walking, and he inevitably lunges at them. On walks, I carry a muzzle in my back pocket for that exact reason. We worked for a while with a trainer whose advice helped quite a bit, but during obedience class even she had difficulty controlling him, once mentioning that he seemed to be "on crack" and telling us to drug him with Benadryl before training sessions. (We never did drug him, preferring to try to wear him out first.) When we have friends over, we have to crate Obi and put him in a room away from the action because he's both anxious and territorial.
Obi has come a long way, but not far enough. This past week Obi crossed a big, fat line: he bit my husband. You can read a first-person account at Fang's blog.
Accordingly, we're seeking a new home for Obi, one with someone who has more time and energy to devote to this crazy high-energy and clearly troubled dog--and more importantly, one without kids around. Preferably on a farm. Upstate. With rabbits. And no--I don't mean for that to be a euphemism for euthanasia. I looked up information about dog bites, and it appears dogs that produce the kind of bite Obi gave Fang can usually be rehabilitated. I really think this dog, who is bright but with a couple screws loose from being passed around (we are his third owners that we know of), would with some rigorous training make an excellent working dog. He's really well-behaved when I walk him off-leash in the fields and even is a gentleman when I've been brave enough to take him to the dog park.
But in the house? In the yard? On the leash? A totally different dog. Almost feral.
The good news is when we adopted him from the SPCA, the organization said we could return the dog at any time. I've e-mailed the folks there and asked them to contact me to discuss Obi's future. I want to be absolutely sure he doesn't go to a home with kids, and I may even mail a registered, notarized letter to that effect when we hand him back to the SPCA folks.
I feel terribly guilty and depressed, because in my experience with pets, adoption is a lifelong commitment, and I feel as if we've failed this dog. And despite his quirks and his destructiveness and how much he frustrates me, I do love the beast.
If we didn't have a four-year-0ld kid, we'd redouble our efforts, as after all we are dog people: We could do more obedience classes. Get him on calming drugs, maybe some Eastern medicine from our fabulous holistic veterinarian. Have more one-on-one sessions with a trainer. Exercise him for hours each day so that he's completely worn out when he's around the house and other people. But at this point in our lives, we can't have an unpredictable dog in the house.
It's absolutely breaking my heart.