Tuesday, October 13, 2015

When your best isn't good enough

I hate writing this, and I'm sure anyone who reads it will hate reading it. Even though I'm writing it, I'm not sure I'll publish it. It's not meant to be a pity party, nor am I inviting criticism and abuse, even if it's deserved. It's just an account of what sometimes happens in the real world of rescue.

Barkley was euthanized Monday afternoon. He had at least two bite incidents on his record and I didn't feel that I'd ever be able to adopt him out. More to the point, I didn't feel that it would be responsible to even try to adopt him out again.

He was a nice dog, I loved him. He just wanted to be loved and I can identify with that. But he was very high strung, which is unusual for a Rottweiler, and he didn't have very good impulse control or bite inhibition. He and I could have been happy together forever, but he wasn't good with other dogs and he wasn't dependable around other people. His energy level was such that he would constantly harass other dogs until they got sick of it and then a fight would happen. Some dogs learned to handle him, others not so much. Even if he wasn't in direct contact with other dogs, his energy raised the anxiety level around here and brought out undesirable behaviors, e.g., fence running, barking, and aggression, in other dogs.

He wasn't quite as bad as Ochie, but he was close, and he met the same fate. Ochie went to another volunteer some time ago and I never said much about it. I wanted someone else to meet and evaluate Ochie because I felt that my judgment of the dog had been tainted for my dislike of the dog. He made me crazy, and he had the same effect on a lot of the dogs around here. Like Barkley, Ochie had never bit me, but he did bite Clay and his energy level and lack of control made me concerned about adopting him out. Sure enough, Ochie bit the other volunteer within a week or so, confirming what I had thought and sealing his fate.

I don't blame the dogs, it's bad breeding, bad upbringing, or both, but it's not a problem I could fix. I could have lived with it, but I couldn't ask anyone else to. Actually, in the case of Ochie, I couldn't live with it, he just made life intolerable around here. Barkley wasn't that bad, but he was close and he seemed to be getting worse.

Most of the dogs we have around here are dogs that weren't suitable for adoption, like Trooper, Sparky, Maya, Vince, and Max (let's face it, he's probably staying). But there's a limit to how many dogs we can keep, and keeping those that make it difficult to keep others just doesn't make sense. So I can rationalize it as the "right" decision, or the best one under the circumstances, but it still sucks.

I guess I should have left both these dogs at the shelter. I don't think they would have gotten out alive, however, and this way they had a chance at least, and an end of life experience with someone who cared and was there for them. They had some time that they wouldn't have had if they had been left in the shelter and I think they had some good times around here. Monday afternoon, after a buttload of sedatives, Barkley laid down on the floor pressed up against my leg where he felt the most secure and he breathed his last. It was the best I could do. It wasn't enough. It wasn't what he deserved.


Risa said...

Dog be with you, Brent. You did more than anyone else would for both Barkley and Ochi. Not to mention Franklin. It isn't your fault, nor mine, nor other volunteers.
These dogs were damaged long before they came to you, and without you, their lives would have been much sadder. You can't save them all. You save more than you lose. There are many happy dogs out there who found their new lives because of you.
So mourn and cry and rage at fate but soon you will get up the next day or week or month, drink your coffee or tea or beer, pull on your boots and start over again.
Peace to you and Barkley and Ochi.

k said...

You did all you could for him. You gave him another chance, which is more than most shelter dogs get. Thank you for everything you do for dogs.

Anonymous said...

No one is perfect. Our George certainly isn't, but he is welcome here and will, I hope have a good life.
That's all anyone can hope for.
Love Ya

Veronica said...

I'm sorry. You do a great job, and we all try, but we can't save all of them. They didn't suffer and they got a chance. It's sad, but there are so many wonderful dogs out there who need a chance.

Anonymous said...

Many good thoughts and prayers coming your way from the German shepherd loving ladies on Ravelry.

Anonymous said...

I could tell from the first sentence that I would cry reading your post today. You are in a tough spot all the time, having to make decisions about these dogs. You gave these boys a chance and that is more than they would have gotten at the shelter. I wish they could all be saved, but it's just not possible. When you start feeling sad, try thinking about all the good you have done for all the dogs that have passed through your hands. Look at Max and realise, you have saved a dog that most people would have given up on. You are an angel to these dogs and to people like me, who love dogs. It's hard to make the decisions you make. But you make them with sound reason. I hope you find some peace because you deserve it. Hugs, Jo