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Dozer's Story

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I posted this earlier on another forum, but I wanted to share it here, too. It's long and complicated, and if you read it, you're an amazing individual!

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I forget that not everybody has ready my intro thread. This will be long, so please bear with me... I'm going to give the long version.

About a year ago, we moved to Indiana from out of state. At the time we were having a *lot* of financial difficulty, and some "friends" offered to "help us out." Of course, when we got here, we found out that they were completely indigent, and were unable to afford their own monthly rent. Both of us had jobs within three days of our arrival, with paychecks arriving within two weeks. Money was borrowed to prevent eviction, and things got "on track" with two families paying the total rent for the month.

These are not personally or fiscally responsible people -- keep that in mind when reading. The woman in the relationship has the mentality of a six year old, and often acts out on that mentality. While unable to afford their *half* of the rent, both of these individuals would go to "Toys R Us" and purchase "Yu Gi Oh" cards for themselves and other such things. They could "afford" cable TV, but not their rent, etc, etc.

The woman wanted to get a puppy. DH and I were often going to the pet store to get feeders for our reptiles, and a couple of times these people went with us. At one point, the woman saw a Yorkie puppy at the pet store, and decided she wanted one. Keep in mind that this store was selling the puppy for $1,200 (probably from a BYB, never the less!). They applied for financing for the puppy, in spite of the fact that the husband is not a "dog person" and thankfully their financing fell through.

A few months later, we were at a different pet store (one I preferred just to enjoy the large reptiles they had for sale there) and the wife went with us. Of course they had puppies -- mostly mixed breed, but occasionally they also sold "Pit Bulls" (mixed breed that looked like pits, I believe). On this occasion, she saw the "cute puppies" and decided to hold one of them. Then she decided to buy one of them. They would cut her a deal and give her the puppy and "all" of the supplies he needed for the total of $80 *if* she took the dog home that day.

DH and I tried to talk her out of it, but that didn't work. In retrospect, we probably should have told her that there was no way the puppy was going home in our car, that she'd need to call somebody else and wasn't allowed to use our cell phone in order to do so. But we didn't want to deal with the probable ensuing temper tantrum if we had done so, so home came "Scrappy" (as he was called at the time).

The husband was none too pleased, but because there wouldn't be a refund if they took the puppy back to the store, he agreed to allow her to keep the dog. An old crate that had once been used for the cats was found, and "Scrappy" got about an hour of play time before being shoved in the cage. At the time, DH and I had agreed to have nothing to do with the entire thing, as irresponsible as they had been.

Not long after, they went to bed. Without taking the dog out before going to bed, or setting the alarm for an hour later to take the puppy out (he was only FOUR weeks old at the time!). I'm a night owl, and throughout that night, I took "Scrappy" out when he needed to go out, cleaned up any accidents that occurred in the mean time, and kept him out of the tiny "crate" he'd been put in, so that he could be active, social, and do what puppies do (play, for the most part).

In the morning, the wife no longer wanted the dog. He had diarrhea and constantly trembled, a clear sign of a problem, and of *course* they couldn't afford to take him to the vet. A free vet visit was supposed to be included in the purchase price, but that never happened -- the vet wouldn't honor it and despised the pet store from which the puppy was purchased! The pet store was called -- they wouldn't take the puppy back, with or without a refund! Oh for heaven's sake! We called the SPCA and Humane Society. Among four people, we had *one* car, and my husband had it for the day at work. We couldn't get to the shelter because it's over two hours from the apartment in which we were living at the time!

So I figured that we had no choice but to keep the dog (DH and myself taking responsibility for him). I called the vet, described symptoms, and told her that we couldn't afford a vet bill at the moment unless we were able to finance it. They wouldn't finance, but did tell us that the problem seemed to be food-related. We switched his food and within two days, all symptoms disappeared. We also wormed him (of course).

The wife had decided that the dog made an ideal "Christmas Gift" for my DH, who did *not* want a dog at the time. He's a dog person, but he didn't want a dog right then.

I'm sure you can already see a problem emerging, but DH *also* didn't want the puppy to be put down or taken back to a pet store and shoved in a small cage with his eight brothers and sisters. Yuck!

The dog stayed with us and our room mates in that small apartment for about two months, until the apartment complex came to us to point out that the lease holders (our room mates) hadn't paid a dog deposit for the dog. They didn't know that there was a separate deposit for dogs and cats. We had to have the dog out within 24 hours or be evicted.

Dozer (as he is now called) went to stay with a friend for a couple of weeks while we searched for more suitable living environments for us and the dog. We found a place that had a quarter-acre, fenced in back yard. Nobody told *me* that the dog wasn't allowed in the house, but that's beside the point. Dozer wound up in the back yard, unfortunately chained because he could jump over the fence once he got a little bit larger.

We were there for six months, and moved not long ago into a much larger house where Dozer could come inside and nobody complains about either him or the cats. Great! Except that he's a *very* high energy dog who needs to be able to run and go for long walks. He doesn't have any recall right now, so the dog park isn't an option. I can't walk him because I'm so late in the pregnancy, and DH thinks that twenty minutes of walking is sufficient for a high energy dog.

Truth be told, he needs room to run, and we don't have that here (though if he learns recall, then we won't have a problem taking him to the dog park, and neither would our next-door neighbor mind taking him for us. However, he is extremely unsuited to our "calm" lifestyle, especially with a baby on the way. He's great with kids (thank God!) but other than that, we simply do not "agree" with this dog's personality at *all*.

If it had been up to us, we would have done months, if not a year's, worth of research, found a good, responsible breeder, and purchased a dog from a breeder, with temperament of the dam and sire in mind when we did so. It's not that we don't like mutts... But we *do* like some degree of predictability, and having a dog like Dozer just dropped into our laps proves to us *why* we like that predictability.
post #2 of 13
Wow, so that is Dozer's background. I can understand his behavior issues now a little better. What do you expect of him? What do you want him to do or not do? I think that is what needs to be worked on, with consistancy. From your posts in the lounge, he is a very intelligent dog and can learn. You just have to be consistant in order for him to learn that.

It's harder to train an older dog (we are struggling with Brooke) but it is possible.

Basically, I think it comes down to this...do you want to keep this dog? You keep saying that he doesn't fit your lifestyle. Dogs are a lot more work than cats. If you aren't ready for a dog right now, try to find a new home for him. You don't have to take him to a shelter, you can find a home for him locally. But keep in mind, the high energy is probably just because he is still a puppy (I'm guessing this all happened in the last yr?). He probably just needs more exercise to burn off that energy. In a year or so, he will probably calm down.

But, the decision is up to you. Do what is best for your family and for him.
post #3 of 13
He has had a difficult start in life! The question really, is do you want a dog right now? Because if you do, you can find a way to turn this dog around. But I do understand your concern about trying to manage this situation in parallel to bringing a baby into your home.

There are dog breeds that are prone to certain demeanors. But there will never be a guarantee with any dog you adopt. I have 2 dogs whose mom is an irish setter mix - a breed that is normally very high strung yet her offspring are very calm because we have influenced them that way.

I can see by the length of your post that this decision is eating you up, and can also see that you have developed a long list of reasons why you need to rehome this dog. None of us are in your shoes and none of us can make the decision for you. If this were me, I'd find a way to work thru his problems, but that is me.

Do you love this dog and do you have the time and willingness to work with it? That should guide your decision. It takes a strong person to admit that they are beyond their means to care for an animal. And if you come to that point, no one here will judge you for that decision.
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post

I can see by the length of your post that this decision is eating you up, and can also see that you have developed a long list of reasons why you need to rehome this dog. None of us are in your shoes and none of us can make the decision for you. If this were me, I'd find a way to work thru his problems, but that is me.

Do you love this dog and do you have the time and willingness to work with it? That should guide your decision. It takes a strong person to admit that they are beyond their means to care for an animal. And if you come to that point, no one here will judge you for that decision.
Well said momofmany!

I also suggest getting Dozer into a doggie daycare a couple of times per week, it will be a wonderful way for him to burn off some energy and come home tired and well balanced.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
I've come to realize over the past several years, that many, if not most, people tend to think that others think in the same way that they do. This is rarely actually the case. So please allow me to give you the opportunity to see how *I* think.

If I want to keep Dozer (and this is just an example, of course), I will be more likely to come up with a long list of reasons *not* to (given that we do have some problems here). If I wanted to rehome him, I could come up with a long list of reasons to *keep* him.

So, in response to specific questions:

Quote:
What do you expect of him?
I expect Dozer to be a dog. That's all. I don't expect him to behave like a human being. I don't humanize him and put human traits on him. I just expect him to be a dog.

Quote:
What do you want him to do or not do?
I want him to learn basic obedience, and probably at some point, more advanced obedience. I want him to learn to be happy and well adjusted (this is on us, not on him).

I want him to learn to walk on a leash without dislocating my shoulder (he nearly did recently!).

I *don't* want him to bully us. We've made a *ton* of progress with this particular behavior and continue to make more progress with him every day.

And by the way, at a year old, I don't consider him an "older dog." He still has a lot of good learning time left in him. He's only an adolescent yet.

Quote:
The question really, is do you want a dog right now?
No, I don't want a dog right now. BUT, I want Dozer right now. To me, he's not just "a dog." He's Dozer.

Quote:
Do you love this dog and do you have the time and willingness to work with it?
ABSOLUTELY to points 1 and 3. Right now, I can say yes to 2 as well. Come another couple of weeks, I can make no guarantee of that, but I'm willing to work him into the schedule that's about to change, even if it includes having a friend watch the baby an hour or so a day to work on training and having DH sit with the baby while I walk the dog.

All the questions answered (those that I could find, anyway), my reasons to *keep* Dozer.

1. I love our play time together. It's so much fun to watch him bound after his "fetch" or to see how he's learned new "tricks" when he plays tug-of-war (like putting the rope between DH's knees and using DH's legs instead of his hands to tug against).

2. He's always there, and he enjoys being with me.

3. He gives me a reason to get up in the mornings when I'd rather just stay in bed -- he has to go out to potty!

4. He gives me a reason to get outside and get fresh air when I've been an "indoor person" for such a long time.

5. He responds to me on an emotional level, even when it's not in a good way.

6. He's intelligent, and can be easy to work with when you've got his attention.

7. Sometimes I think he understands me better than DH.

8. I feel somewhat responsible for his bad early start in life, and I want to give him the best possible rest of his life.

9. A pet is forever, not something that is bought/adopted and then thrown away.

10. Most importantly, I love him.
post #6 of 13
So is Dozer a bully mix? If he is it's very understandable that he would have a strong personality. He'll be a great family dog, but if he hasn't had a lot of dog socialization up to this point you'll have to take that slow and be aware that he may have a little problems with it. You should be able to control that, but depending on his mix - you won't be able to get rid of that tendency. And if he's dog friendly, that's great.
Having a strong personality yourself will work well with him, bully mixes love to please their owners and really need the obedience training. You can easily find sites to help with training tips.

Read up on the breeds you think he might be part of. And if he "looks" like a pitbull be aware that some communities have BSL that will target look alike dogs.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
We aren't sure about his mix. He does appear to have some pit bull in him, as the pet store said, but I'm not sure. The personality just isn't there (we have a friend who breeds ASBTs). It's the only "bully" dog that was supposed to have been in the mix, and the "bully" behaviors that he exhibits I think happen more out of insecurity than an attempt to be "dominant" or a "bully" with us. They're more annoying than anything else (like shoving us out of his way).

The vet thinks he's mostly GSD, which I think is possible, looking at him.

Also, he's had a decent amount of socialization with other dogs. What he doesn't like is to be separated from them by a leash or a chain -- it irritates him (understandably!). He's not rough with them, but with smaller dogs he can forget his size (not uncommon for the larger of two dogs).

As for BSL... Our area doesn't seem to have laws with regard to the keeping of "aggressive" breeds. Like I said, in our area we had a friend (as in, he moved, not he's no longer a friend) who bred ASBTs and there are several pit bull and Rottweiler owners in our area. Our lease doesn't even have a statement against the breed of dog, so I'm pretty sure that we're safe.

Besides, one glance at him and you'll probably first see GSD, if not some Rodesian Ridgeback.
post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghosthunterbeck View Post
It's the only "bully" dog that was supposed to have been in the mix, and the "bully" behaviors that he exhibits I think happen more out of insecurity than an attempt to be "dominant" or a "bully" with us. They're more annoying than anything else (like shoving us out of his way).
Pitbulls are not supposed to be dominate dogs at all. The bred was not originally developed to be that way. In fact, they're not even supposed to be people aggressive (or as big as many "pit bulls" are...).

GSD are known for having a prey drive and ridgebacks, as I'm sure you know, are a type of hunting dog. So it sounds like you definitely have your hands full. Look up training specific for these two breeds. There sure be some nice tips. And I'm glad you don't have any pesky laws to deal with, makes life a lot easier if you know that no one is going to be after your innocent pets.

Good luck training him, and if you can get him sufficiently tired everyday he should calm down a bit.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
He actually has no real prey drive. He's great with the cats (just wants to play, nothing major), only wants to watch the rats. He will play a good game of fetch (which almost requires a prey drive) but all-round he's a pretty good dog, all things considered.

I've known a lot of pits in my time, and none of them have shown the types of behavior that is considered "typical" of them. I hate the reputation that they have, but there's not a whole lot that can be done about it. They are considered a "bully" breed though!
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghosthunterbeck View Post
I've known a lot of pits in my time, and none of them have shown the types of behavior that is considered "typical" of them. I hate the reputation that they have, but there's not a whole lot that can be done about it. They are considered a "bully" breed though!
Did any of those pits stand taller than your knees?
I grew up with two that were pit and american bulldog crosses, big dogs - too big to be considered true pits. Neither of them had any dog aggression. Yet another, small one that could actually be consider pit/staffordshire, did have a lot of dog aggression She would bark at people, but wasn't human aggressive. (and would have been a complete loss as a guard dog - there was a reason her name was Opossum, you'd think she was dead when she was asleep )
Most of the dogs I see being called pits are obvious bulldog, cane corso, or even dogo mixes. These are all more territorial dogs that get used for hunting and as guard dogs. Even one so called breeder that my parents knew when I was child had very few that were pits.

That aside, yes - I know that you said Dozer has no prey drive, I meant that more in the urge to 'get up and go'... and go, and go, and go - so to speak and the hunter type dog not wanting to give up before he's ready. A dog that needs to do something - maybe think of more games he can play as part of his training?
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Nope, none of the staffordshires I've known stood higher than my knees (at least not at the shoulder). One did, but she was a particularly lanky dog, too, and definitely all Staff (pedigreed). I've seen dogs that are *called* pit bulls that are that big, but if you know the breed, you recognize pretty quickly that they aren't true pit bulls.

He definitely has the "go go go" thing going on though! He just wants to know everything that's going on all at the same time, really. I can't wait until we can start doing the dog park. He'll be fun to watch!
post #12 of 13
Agility? Flyball? They are wonderful activities to do with your dog.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
What's flyball? I'm still trying to figure out if agility's the best option for him -- I'm not sure he has the attention span (at least not right now at a year old) to make training for agility work for him, but I need to seriously look into it before I rule it out. I think *I'd* have fun at it!
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