Dog Dilemma

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Muddee's picture
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Dog Dilemma

I posted this as a private message to an online friend over facebook but would also love the input from you ladies.

I hope you don't mind me bringing this up with you, I have a bit of an internal conflict I can't figure out, it's in regards to a dog.

DH and I went to a dog festival in June had a great time, it got me thinking of what I want in my next dog, it came down to us wanting a boxer mix from a rescue organization.

Cesar then released a list of top family dog breeds and I was looking to see what mixes would be best, one of them was a boxer/lab. I typed in several searches in Google to try and get an idea of what the mix looks like and ended up on Pet Finder. I was scrolling through and found this adorable dog, he is in a shelter just 45 minutes from my house.

DH drives by the shelter on his way home from work and went to check out the dog yesterday. He told me that the dog is 1 year old, it's been in the shelter for 7/12 months of it's life, the people surrendered the dog as a 5 month old pup cause it was chewing everything. Right now the dog has quite a bit of issues, he chews everything, nips in an excited but not aggressive manner, he doesn't have manners and jumps on people which can be a problem since he is LARGE. All of these things are a huge concern when you have 3 pets already (2 cats, 1 dog) and a pre-schooler in the house.

When we got Sadie (our dog) she had issues too, many of them similar, but she is much smaller and we only had one child, who was 8 at the time. Sadie improved so quickly under our care so I am positive that we could do it again.

DH and I really want this dog but am not sure if he would fit into our family dynamic at this time. I'd honestly love to foster the dog see how things go without having to commit the money (other then day to day care), and if it did work out I would adopt him, unfortunately the shelter is city run and doesn't allow fostering. It's also unfortunate that the shelter is a ways away, another option I would love to do is to volunteer time there, help them get the dogs in a more adoptable state.

I do know pets are a huge commitment and would never abandon the animal if I did take it in. I had a cat with dementia for the at least the last 3 years of her life, we eventually had to put her down at 16 years of age due to cancer. Sadie (our dog) has a sensitive stomach and we ran tests to figure things out (got no real answers) paid $700 for that and also spent over $1000 removing a fatty deposit from her butt by her tail. Thankfully my other pets haven't had any serious medical issues yet, but all animals have had regular vet check ups.

I'd appreciate it if you could give me some feedback, and help me make a decision on what to do, DH and I really want this dog but are unsure if it's really meant to be. If you have any questions feel free to ask away.

If you made it through that thanks for reading.

marymoonu's picture
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We had a boxer when I was growing up... We got her when I was 10 and she died when I was 23. She was a GREAT dog, seriously... I agree with all the things about boxers being great family dogs. She was an empathetic dog, if that makes any sense. Like she could sense when you were sad, sick, in pain, etc. and her mood would go somber and she'd just cuddle with you. She was very playful and great with kids (of course I was an older kid, so I could hold my own... you'd have to supervise closely and make sure the dog was gentle with Natalie, at least until the two were familiar with each other). As for chewing, jumping, etc.... Yeah, our dog was bad about that. I'd say at 1 year old with a boxer, it's par for the course, at least in my experience. Her "puppy" phase went on for years. They're high energy and need LOTS of activity. We had two large trees in our yard where my parents live, and she would just run huge figure-8's around them over and over to burn off energy. Anyway, I may be biased, but I loved my boxer and I'd seriously consider getting another one somewhere along the line after we move.

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Oh I probably should have mentioned that the shelter said that the dog wasn't a boxer/lab but a mutt of unknown origin (I'd get the vet to run a DNA test if I did get the dog), I was trying to get all the details in about other matters I completely forgot to mention that.

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All puppies chew until 2+ years of age. Obviously when they're bigger it's more damaging (well, usually, haha). That said, it's temporary. Also, you're a responsible pet owner and I think you could do what needs to be done to help with the chewing (and any other behaviors). Most importantly, WALK the dog on a daily basis for long, brisk walks. That kind of dog NEEDS it and it isn't negotiable. If you're willing to do that and provide outlets for chewing/energy/etc. (toys, play, etc. ) then I think you'll be just fine. You just have to be willing to put the work in.

My sister has a boxer and she is the sweetest dog EVER! BUT she's super high energy and requires a lot of walks. And she only has 3 working legs!

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Hey Amanda! I saw this on FB and here, figured I'd respond here with my thoughts Smile

Time spent in a shelter is hard on a dog. This dog has spent very important periods of puppy socialization and learning in a shelter. The months most puppies are socializing, learning boundaries, proper bite inhibition etc were spent in a shelter with limited exercise, no training and limited human/canine interactions. In some dogs that means little in other dogs it can mean a lot. One of the most frustrating thing I've run in to with dogs from situations like this is that both positive and negative reinforcements seem to encourage them. I have that with my one foster dog right now. Where a pup you've raised from the get go strives for the positive and gets the negative a dog who has basically had no real attention in a shelter gets ramped up whether you're saying no or good boy. So it becomes really important to be consistent - pick a strategy for dealing with the negative behavior and ensure everyone follows it all the time. We redirect with a sit command, a watch me command and if he's really bad I put him in his crate (with no real correction, just a quiet time out) or I put him in the yard for a few minutes. He's REALLY mouthy and it's very hard on Evan. Evan is too little to really handle it so I have to manage it all.

This is the kind of dog you'll probably want to do obedience classes with. For multiple reasons -- socialization with other people and dogs, bonding with you and your family and then just general training. The exercise piece gets hard when you start adding dogs. Chances are he has no leash manners. Walking him, your other dog and having kids will be hard because he's going to really require some focused training on walks. If you have time to do it it will be great for him again bonding and training but at least for me I've found the more kids and dogs I have the harder it is to really focus on that training. You need a good amount of time a day AND you need enough patience not to get frustrated. Being honest even when I have time the patience is probably my biggest opportunity.

I would also mention the dog-dog and dog-cat dynamics. Do you know how he does with both? Upsetting the dynamic happens no matter what but a dog with limited socialization and potentially limited exposure to other dogs and cats can be more difficult to integrate. The cats especially. If he has any prey drive it can be tricky. Some dogs do fine some are cat killers.

If you bring him home assume for a good while EVERYTHING will need to be managed. You don't know anything about him and he's lived in an institution for a long while. All food, toys, freedom etc will need to be supervised. I wouldn't leave him alone with kids, other dog or cats until you give him time to settle in and understand if he has any additional issues with resources. Resource issues in shelter dogs are common - food, space, territory. He will need to be fed in his own space, toys should be picked up for a while, don't assume he can handle a toddler hugging, pulling etc Especially at first as he learns to trust and settle in.

I of course think it can work or it might not. I love my rescue group because we consider the first 2 weeks a trial -- to help eliminate the guilt, people need to be able to try and see if it works. And the dogs are coming from homes so we can provide help. But shelters aren't so lucky they are up against a lot more with over crowding etc.

Let us know what you decide!

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Meet the dog today myself, DH took the dog we were looking at for a quick walk when we first got to the shelter, we then went to the "gym", just a larger empty room, and brought the girls and Sadie to meet him. Sadie is a bit timid of him, probably cause he has no doggie manners, but was fine to just look and keep her distance. Natalie he just sniffed and then walked away, Dana could have interacted with him a bit more but she's 13 so I am sure she'll be fine. My impression is that he's a really good dog, really smart, even tempered and eager to please. So we filled out the adoption papers, they gave DH a quick call to go over some of their concerns (mainly the cats and how we'd manage introduction) and they'll get back to us on Monday to let us know if we've been approved.

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Very cool Amanda!! Just give the cats lots of escape routes to safety and realize if he has a really strong prey drive it might not work. But giving him a chance is certainly better than not. I'm of the opinion that a GOOD chance with a GOOD home is always worth a shot. If it doesn't work because of something like the cats everyone knows more about him than they did before. I know it's emotional and no one wants it to not work out but every placement is a chance to learn (I had a dog go out EIGHT times....seriously....EIGHT #9 was his forever home...I have a lot of stories lol).

GL! And post pics!

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My mom is being a complete spazz about the whole dog thing, she thinks it's a bad idea, and she's constantly telling me her opinion on the matter and doing it in a belittling way. :firemad: Still haven't heard from the shelter if we are approved to get the dog, and I am not sure what I'll do if we don't. I found a pup (5 month Catahoula Leopard Dog/Boxer Mix) at the local humane society and would love to check him out if the dog we applied to adopt falls through. But at the same time I really really really don't want to deal with my mom and her BS again.

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We get the dog!!! The papers are going to be signed off some time tonight and DH can pick him up tomorrow Yahoo

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Yay congrats Smile

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Well didn't get the dog, they decided to test him with cats today, since we have two, and he apparently was aggressive towards them, so the papers didn't get signed. Of course I don't know what conditions the cat introduction was done under so I can't say if the dog really was being aggressive or just playing. Our own dog plays with our 1 year old cat and NEVER hurts him. I have so many questions like, was the dog walked before cat introduction? Was the cat dog friendly? This dog has been by 3 other people and hasn't been adopted out, I think the supervisor at the shelter might be attached to the dog them self (but probably can't adopt more) and is just finding excuses in every case not to adopt this dog out, the sad thing is that dog really just needs a home I think when he has someone walking him and and a yard to run around instead of being in a 6' X 6' cage 23 hours a day he will be a wonderful animal.

The thing that really ticks me off is DH took him for a walk and was told when he returned the supervisor would talk things over with him and papers would be signed, he got back and the supervisor had left for the day and the papers were not signed.

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Sounds a little shady....but I have turned folks down over the cat issue. Sorry it didn't work out Sad Jeesh most shelters around here will send dogs home with anyone!

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They left the decision in our hands but not knowing the exact circumstances in which the cat test was done I don't really know if I want the dog. If he was truly cat aggressive he may not be the dog for us.

Thing is from seeing the dog without cats he seems very friendly, so its difficult to believe that it's true aggression. I think the test was done wrong, the dog had no release for it's energy before they shoved a cat in it's face, the person that walks this dog daily came in after the test was done and the dog hadn't been walked since DH went there last night.

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DH wants the dog, and I am torn but logic is winning in my mind. I'm thinking that since there are so many negatives around the the matter, zero support from my family, pet bills can be quite high, and it would take a lot of work to integrate the dog into our family (mainly cause of the cats) I don't think it would be the right fit. Both DH and I feel really bad cause we know the dog needs a home, being in a cage for 23 hours a day is not doing him good.

Really wish we could foster him, get him in a state where he could find a forever home, or where we could be comfortable adopting him.

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I told DH to ask the supervisor at the shelter if we can have a trial period where I don't have to commit right away. If we are not allowed to do a trial period I made it clear that my answer for getting the dog is no.

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Makes sense. Typically it's not aggression with cats in the way folks think -- like unfriendly dog biting people. It's prey drive. Little running cat = prey = kill it. I have multiple cat killers in my house who are great wonderful dogs as long as there's nothing small and furry moving about. Dogs and cats never mix in my world b/c the cats would be mince meat. I deal with hunting breeds so prey drive is the norm.

I would think if the shelter truly wants him to get a try after so long they would work with you but who knows....GL!

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Great news! We are allowed to foster him for 2 weeks! After two weeks we have a few choices, give him back, extend the foster or adopt. If things don't work we can bring him back sooner.

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YAYYYY! I'm SO glad they worked with you! It seems like this is TOTALLY in the dog's best interest. Even if you can't keep him the shelter will learn so much about him they wouldn't know with him caged 24/7 and you don't have to feel locked in! That's exactly why my rescue group adopts EVERY dog out with a 2 week trial so folks don't feel trapped and we can send dogs home to places we THINK will work but aren't 110% positive.

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I thought I updated here about the dog, guess not.

We returned him to the shelter after 8 days, and it was very sad because he had made so much progress in such little time, he learned sit, stay, how to walk on a leash and was beginning to learn leave it. He had one major issue that could take a long time to sort out, he has redirected aggression and bites, he's never broken skin but with the biting we couldn't keep him in a home with a 3 year old and 2 cats. So he got returned.

DH and I haven't announced it on FB yet so no comments please but we've been looking at some Sheltie/Collie cross puppies at a rescue organization, they require you to fill out an application before seeing the dogs so we've done so and sent it in.

Here is their petfinder link.
Petfinder Adoptable Dog | Shetland Sheepdog Sheltie | Etobicoke, ON | Puppies

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SUPER cute Amanda! I'm not much for herders but a guy I do rescue with does shelties and I dog sit his when he travels and they are pretty cute little things. I tend to be an eager to please hunting breed person vs a super smart & bold herder. I like a dog that does what I ask and doesn't ask why LOL. A herding dog person once told me (when I commented that my corgi mix is bloody FEARLESS and ALWAYS in charge) that to be a 20 or 30 lb dog facing a giant cow, big sheep etc you HAVE to be in charge and fearless. Good luck!

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Sadie (our 6 year old dog) is an American Eskimo/Lhasa Apso (best guess), mainly a watch dog by nature but has a bit of a herding instinct. Fetch is funny she circles the ball/toy/stick but never retrieves it.

I think she has the worst nose on the planet for a dog, can't find a treat under it, so definitely not a hound.

If you looked at the website our preference is for the brown/white one, though we will talk to the rescue/foster organization and see which ones temperament would work best for us.

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Well we have a 9 week old baby dog now, Sheltie/Border Collie, he's absolutely adorable. We named him Apollo, after the Greek god. He has a wonderful energy level so introductions to our other pets went well, the only aggression has came from Mal (male cat) he swung a paw at the puppy, but Apollo just whimpered and ran away.