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Sensitive issue, need advice

Discussion in 'General Dog Forum' started by CollieMad, Oct 27, 2014.

  1. CollieMad

    CollieMad New Member Registered

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    Hi, I am new here, just wanted to get some advice if at all possible.

    Its a long story so will try and reduce it enough so it doesn't bore you all.

    I have a border collie, got him in November 2010 from what we now think may have been a puppy farm, he has always had issues, sadly trainers in the beginning did nothing to help this, he has severe fear aggression towards the majority of dogs and people, he was diagnosed properly in September 2011 by a wonderful behaviourist who came to see us for 4 hours and saw how severe his issues were. She wrote us a huge report on him and gave us lots of tips, but made it very clear that if he wasn't able to cope and got worse to the point he had to be kept on lead all the time when out in public that his quality of life would be reduced greatly and she thought that this would in turn be unfair for him and that as an end result we would have to consider putting him to sleep. He is muzzled in public at all times, as he needs to be, but his recall was at a point he would always return to me on sight of a person or animal when out on large walks. Things were going well for a time, he could be off and was happy.

    In the last 8-10 weeks he has indeed got worse, he cannot cope with being outside, he gets very aggressive with dogs who he was always amazing with, and its a vicious reaction, not just a snap here and there like collies are sometimes known for. He also reacts to everyone and everything he sees when out, and sometimes even when in the house. He refuses to go for walks and is getting to the point of being on high alert in the home, and growling at those of us who live here with him and have always lived here with him. Vet check has shown no problems happening that I have missed, so I know I am not being stupid and missing a health problem going on and making him this way, he hates the vets so I know that he couldn't cope with being left with them for any period of time either. I would even go as far as to say he is now worse than he was when the behaviourist came to us in September 2011. Having read and re-read the report they wrote for us and emailed the behaviourist again I know she stands by her report fully. I worry bringing someone in may well send him over the edge he already seems to be teetering on at the moment.

    I know its a tough one but just wanted to ask what people would consider when in my position, I know that pts is obviously a very real reality for us, I guess in some ways I worry about it incase its the wrong thing to do, I love this dog with all my heart and just want him to be happy, I do obviously have to take my families (including kids) safety into account also. Thanks all
     
  2. chelynnah

    chelynnah Whippet Servant Registered

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    Fair enough that he's always been a bit aggressive and you have managed it well. What you describe in the past few weeks seems to have come on out of nowhere, and usually does indicate some kind of medical issue, sometimes something as simple as pain somewhere (sore tummy, small fracture you've not noticed), but in a worst case scenario it can indicate a brain tumour.

    I know it's a horrible thing to have to be considering, but I do believe you are at the point where his quality of life is suffering, he's not happy, you are worried about him and his health, about what he may do, about what's best for him. It's not a good situation. It would be very hard for me too, but I believe in your situation you have done absolutely everything you could to give this dog the best life possible. I think it's time to give him the peace that he so desperately deserves, no matter how much it hurts you. And I think you know this.

    I'm so sorry you are having to face this decision. We are here to listen if you need.

    Wendy
     
  3. CollieMad

    CollieMad New Member Registered

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    HI, thank you so much for replying to me. It means a lot you have taken the time to respond to me and not judge me as far too many have done in the past.

    Its just so hard facing this decision what with him being so young, I know dogs (and pets in general) can get ill at any time, but I truly thought we had got past he worst of our times and that we wouldn't have to make this awful decision for many year to come yet! At 3 years old it seems so young to have to say goodbye, but I do know this is a realistic outcome for him. He is my life, has taught me so much, and having to think of life without him truly breaks my heart.

    Not only this but I know those close to me wont understand why I would have him put to sleep, I know they will say I should have just done it years ago rather than let him get better and then worse again.

    I have wondered if he could have a brain tumour, how would this be diagnosed, blood tests and xrays?

    My other worry is how my vets will treat me, I don't want them refusing to help me, or taking him off me as he is in no way able to be rehomed. It isn't safe to do so.

    I know how pathetic I sound and I do apologise. People are too quick to judge me, but I have only ever worshipped the ground he walks on, and love him more than anything. We truly believe there is a gentic issue due to the horrendous breeding that produced his litter.

    I am devastated it has come to this, I don't know how to explain to people, to my kids, and how my other dog will cope...
     
  4. chelynnah

    chelynnah Whippet Servant Registered

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    You are in a tough spot and no one should be judging you, only supporting this hard decision. I'm not sure how to diagnose a brain tumour. Blood tests, X-rays and other scans are involved. It can be costly and generally the prognosis isn't good.

    I see no reason a vet would judge you, or take him off you. You are doing the best you can, and have moved heaven and earth to try and give him the best life. All part of why you feel so close to him, and the thought of letting him go after all of that makes it so much harder. I still struggle with the dog we lost a couple of years ago suddenly to bone cancer. She was just shy of her 15th birthday, so had a good life, but even then I felt robbed. Had she been the age of yours I can only imagine how much harder it would be.

    I'm not trying to sway you one way or the other. I think in your heart you know what's right, but only you can make that decision. But I don't think he can be happy being unpredictable. He knows he's disappointing you, he can feel your stress. And you do run the risk of something happening to a family member. You have to balance out if you could live with the decision of delaying and then something happens.

    I think a trusted vet is your first port of call. But remember, if it comes to that painful decision please know it's out of love and kindness and what's best for him

    I really do feel for you in your situation. I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 2, 2014
  5. CollieMad

    CollieMad New Member Registered

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    Thank you. I am sorry for your loss of your dog a couple of years ago.

    He has taught me so much in the time we have been together, he is my own first dog I have had and I know he has been a massive handful, but so amazing and I truly believe he came to me for a reason, a friend said if he had gone to another owner he may well have been put to sleep a long time ago at the first sign of aggression.

    You are right, I do know what is the right thing to do, its just hard admitting that, I truly feel a failure, but I also know that I cannot wave a magic wand and have everything change for us. Its taken so much work to get him to a point where he was enjoying life, and then to have him set back and become even worse has just broken me if I'm honest.

    Thank you again, I appreciate you listening to me rambling on x
     
  6. colliemom

    colliemom New Member Registered

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    I too have a Border collie boy that has come from a bad breeding background (tho not a puppy farm) and he has severe issues. He is incredibly noise sensitive and fearful, reacts badly to some people. He too lives life on constant alert for scary things.

    My boy is seeing a psychologist at the animal behaviour clinic of a university and tho progress is slow (they say they don't very often see dogs as fearful as he is), he is showing improvement. He had a 3hr assessment followed by unlimited phone/email help and advice, I would highly recommend them if you're interested (whereabouts in UK are you?).

    I appreciate that you need to consider the safety of your children (I have young grandchildren who cannot come to grandma's house, I always go to see them), but what about contacting a Border Collie rescue? They might be prepared to take your boy and see if they can help him before you have to consider pts. Was the behaviourist you saw particularly knowledgeable re collies? Advice from someone with years of experience in collie rescue can be invaluable. I had sought advice from other behaviourists before going to the people we're seeing now - none had the knowledge or expertise we now have access to.

    I really feel for you.
     
  7. chelynnah

    chelynnah Whippet Servant Registered

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    You are not a failure. Those are the people that get a normal busy pup, and give it away within a week because it's eating the children's toys and peeing in the house. What you have done for this boy is heroic. You may not feel that way, but you have gone well above and beyond...

    I would agree with colliemom except for the fact that you have already had success, and this sudden onset again sounds like it's likely a more medical issue over a collie issue.

    Hugs. Keep us posted whatever you decide.
     
  8. CollieMad

    CollieMad New Member Registered

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    Thank you both for your replies.

    The behaviourist we saw was very knowledgeable with collies and also the DDA watch, so I trusted them more than any of the others we ever had meetings and help from. He is not able to go to rescue, I have been told that by more than one source. I would not feel happy letting him go when I know what he could potentially do and also the risk of him going and then having to be pts anyway, if he has to go it has to be stress free for him and he needs to be with people that love him and he knows.

    The vets, myself, my family and behaviourist believe this to be a medical issue instead of a behaviour issue as it has been a sudden change instead of a sudden and slow change over time.

    I do feel a failure, but also know I adore him and have done everything I could possibly think of for him to help. I am having a meeting with the vets later today to see if they feel we could and should put him through more invasive tests. They, as well as myself, worry the stress of being in a vets for a long period of time could cause even more damage to him and his stress levels.

    Shall keep you all posted, thanks again x
     
  9. chelynnah

    chelynnah Whippet Servant Registered

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    Hugs
     
  10. eingana

    eingana Do my ears look big in this? Registered

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    I'm sorry to hear about how hard you've tried to give your dog a happy life and how much it seems not to have worked after all of this time of getting to grips with everything. It must be so frustrating for you to have implemented so many steps and then for everything to stop working suddenly.

    I'm in no way going to judge you with this either. I used to walk an aggressive BC girl for someone, and she was so desperately aggressive towards children that even when I was dropping her off after a long walk, if there was a child within sight on the street I had to put her on a head collar to just do the 10 feet to cross the pavement and get in through the front door from the car, because no matter how tired she was she'd have taken off to go for the child. She was perfectly well bred, from show BC lines, and she was socialised, trained, stimulated and cuddled just like she should have been. She went to classes, she did agility, she had lots and lots of human time- and none of it stopped her from turning on anybody she thought she could get away with biting.

    Her owners were convinced that they must have done something really wrong in bringing her up until they took the decision to go back through the dog's breeder and contact the other families who had taken dogs from the same litter, and found that out of 6 puppies, 3 had already been put to sleep for exactly the same behavioural issues that their dog displayed and the remaining 2 also showed similar issues. If all 6 pups from a litter show signs of the same behavioural trait then it's nothing that the owners have done, is it?

    We put so much down to nurture, but we cannot possibly predict how many of the problems are down to nature.

    It sounds to me that you've done everything that we would encourage people to do when they have a dog that's clearly at odds with the people who are around them. You took your dog to classes, you got a behaviourist involved, you have had him checked out at the vets. If you knew that your dog had these issues and you didn't muzzle him, then I'd judge you for putting others at risk. If you considered putting him to sleep without trying to understand things from his point of view first, that wouldn't get much understanding from me either.

    You didn't do that- you tried, and you continued to try for years. For that you get my respect, not my scorn.

    When I worked at our local cat shelter we had a very long conversation with the whole team about what constituted a severe enough mental health problem to be the cause of a cat having no quality of life, and when, as a result of this lack of quality, it could be considered ethical to euthenise a cat for mental health problems. The answer was that many people didn't consider that animals' mental health/emotional health issues could ever get serious enough to warrant considering euthenasia until they met a cat who was so severely disturbed and unable to cope with life that she couldn't function in any capacity as a cat and if we didn't have her put to sleep she would have died from kidney failure within a couple of weeks because she was too terrified to eat, drink or use her litter tray. Everybody who met her, observed her for any length of time in a non-intruding way or crossed paths with her agreed that she was sick enough that letting her go was preferable to forcing her to live any longer through her terror.

    You know your dog better than anybody else, and if you talk to a vet (maybe the first consultation needs to be without your dog there, in order for you to discuss things fully) about the lengths to which you've gone to provide what your dog needs then I can't see that any vet would judge you either.

    I don't know whether letting him go is what is needed in the circumstances, but I do know that to move forwards you clearly need to feel that you've exhausted all viable alternatives before you take that decision. It's possible that a vet may have some medication ideas for things that could help him through whatever has made things bad in the last few weeks, so it's certainly worth exploring before you feel you have to decide. There are such things as doggy anxiolytics and doggy antidepressants, so they may be worth a try with your boy.

    I hope you find a way forwards and get him to be the happier dog that he clearly deserves to be :)
     
    chelynnah likes this.
  11. CollieMad

    CollieMad New Member Registered

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    Thank you for your comments.

    Just wanted to update, we did vet consultation, I say we, I went on my own so as not to stress him further. We did a pot for urine sample, which I returned and it showed a slight urine infection and also blood in his urine, so he is on some antibiotics and also prescribed some diazepam, and I am taking in a urine sample from him on Friday this week after his course of antibiotics have ended.

    We attempted a walk the other day in a quiet area but was a nightmare, he only saw a dog or person or anything he didn't like the look of and screamed, it was heartbreaking.

    After the urine test we are going to have more tests done and then see where we stand, going to try everything I can, but vets have said she honestly believes this is something chemical in his head and that I need to be prepared she may not be able to "fix" this but she will do all she can to help him. This isn't looking good to be honest.

    Thank you all for being so lovely, it means a lot at this awful time
     
  12. eingana

    eingana Do my ears look big in this? Registered

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    I'm glad that your vet acknowledges the severity of the situation- that must be a comfort for you that it's nothing that you've done :)

    The urinary tract infection could have a lot to answer for, at least in this current flare up of his symptoms. Cystitis can cause pain and anxiety and if it tracks up into a kidney infection that can cause problems with maintaining blood pressure and a very high pulse rate, which itself can cause pain and make anxiety worse, so it's a pretty sure bet that it won't be making his situation any better and it's a good idea to postpone any long term decisions until it's all treated and you're back to his background issues.

    I agree that there's a very high probability that this is a true chemical imbalance in his brain which is causing these behavioural issues, since it started so very early in his life and nothing behavioural has treated it effectively. You may find that he does really well with a treatment that the vet tries him with, and if you do then that's great, but if you don't then at least you know that this is nothing you have done, there's nothing that you could have done to make a difference and you're doing the very best that you can do for him in the circumstances.

    Have a hug from me and mine- I'm still hoping that this will be a turning point, not an awful time :)
     
  13. chelynnah

    chelynnah Whippet Servant Registered

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    I agree with the abov, the current flare up could be agitated by a UTI. You sound like you have a good and compassionate vet. I'm really glad for you that you do so you don't feel so alone in this. I'm glad there's a plan in place, even if it doesn't lead where you hope. At least you know on your heart you gave your boy every chance.
     
  14. colliemom

    colliemom New Member Registered

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    Hi CollieMad :)

    You say in your original post that your boy cannot cope with being outside and is getting worse, reacting to everything and everyone. If he is afraid (and a lot of aggression is fear based) then continuing to take him for walks and pushing him over the threshold of what he can cope with will exacerbate the situation. That was exactly the case with my boy, so we were told to stop making him go for walks if he didn't want to go and instead we played with him at home, doing brain games and training to help tire him. If your boy is afraid and unable to cope out on walks, he won't get any better if you continue to force him to confront his fears. He needs to be taught new behaviours and ways to cope but he cannot do that if he is in a state or fear - scared dogs cannot learn.

    What exactly were the "tips" you say the behaviourist told you to do with your boy? Did you receive a comprehensive behaviour modification programme? Are you still implementing it? Did she, or has your vet, discussed the possibility of medication as eingana mentioned? I hated the thought of doing that to my boy at first but I realised nothing would change unless we did (the animal psychologist we see is also a trained vet so can prescribe). Meds can help calm a dog enough that they can start to be shown new behaviours and ways of coping - trust me, it does work. My boy is extremely noise sensitive, not just the usual fear of thunder/fireworks, but an absolute crippling fear of a variety of noises (even training mats dropped onto the floor in obedience class), on walks sometimes he would bolt, sometimes completely shut down and be unresponsive, unable to move. He's still very scared of noises, especially military jets, but he's learned that as soon as he feels unable to cope, we head straight back to the car, his "safe place" - he hasn't bolted or shut down for many months, just turned and started to walk back to the car, at a fast pace but will stop and wait for me if I ask him (whereas he used to be deaf to any commands thru fear, just ran full pelt). He doesn't react to things out on walks anywhere near as much now - I'm much more alert to everything around me so that I can usually spot a potential problem (bike/jogger/odd looking person!) before they reach us and that means I can take action while my boy is still below threshold. There have been a few occasions recently where joggers/cyclists have taken me by surprise, coming up behind me and making me jump - in the past, my lad would have kicked off barking and lunging big time, but he's barely reacted at all, even when I have!

    I've been unable to take him to training classes for a couple of years because he was too scared to go in any more, he used to dig his heels in and refuse to walk in - he now happily goes in to watch the last 10mins or so of classes I do with our other dog.

    A combination of the right medication (there are several that can be used, you have to find the right one for your dog) and the right training programme may help your boy. It can take a long time and you have to be consistent but it does make a real difference. We still have a long way to go and I don't always get things right by any means, I make mistakes. Sometimes its really hard living with a dog with such severe issues, I've cried an awful lot (still do on a bad day) and I won't deny there were times in the beginning when I wondered whether it would be kinder to pts, I'm just so grateful we found out about the place we now take him.

    I disagree (just slightly!) with what eingana says re if other pups from the same litter have the same problems then its not down to the owners. I know that at least one of my boy's littermates has similar issues and have been told that their mother was a fearful dog (long story but we didn't see the litter with their mum, our boy came to us as a temporary foster (that worked!) at 8wks old) . So yes, there's clearly a genetic link to my boy's behaviours. However, with hindsight, I do believe he was giving off signals that he was struggling for a while before we realised we had a major problem but we didn't recognise the signals at the time and things were allowed to deteriorate until it was obvious. If we'd picked up on those little signs earlier, maybe we could have helped prevent things getting as bad as they did.

    I think dogs frequently give off signals indicating they're uncomfortable about something but many of us humans just don't pick up on them until the dog suddenly reacts in an obvious way and then we wonder why they've "suddenly" done that when they've been "fine" before. I think I've learned a lot since having to deal with my boy's issues, I'd like to think that in the future I'd pick up on a dog's signals a lot sooner and step in to do something about it before it escalated to the levels we're now having to deal with.

    Whereabouts in the UK are you? If you don't wish to put it on the forum, if you'd like to pm me I'll tell you where we take our boy, how much it costs etc. Their help has been absolutely invaluable and is making a real difference to my boy.

    Sorry, gone on a bit :rolleyes:

    Best of luck to you and you boy.
     
  15. CollieMad

    CollieMad New Member Registered

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    New sample dropped into the vets today so now awaiting to hear from vets that she has tested it and where we go from here.

    Vets have been amazing and really supportive so couldn't have asked for more from them at all.

    I in no way forced him to go outside for his walk which I mentioned above, he was positively rewarded as he has always been and was in an excited state as we had my mother here who he adores, so when we went out he was happy, but this changed when he was out, everything is always done at his pace and as soon as he displays any signs of anything other than being calm and happy he is brought to his safe place again. I would never force him to do anything he was not happy with. We have and continue to do everything tip the behaviourist taught us and again its on his terms.

    Yes the vets and myself discussed medicating him to help him, so far this has not worked and if anything as time is going on he is declining more. The behaviour is getting worse and worse, he is reacting to more and more things within the home now and also with medication he goes into biting mode with those giving the medication to him, which is obviously dangerous for us and also upsetting that he is that stressed over it.

    I would like to think I know a lot about dog behaviour and also signals they give off, as we all know though, we never stop learning from our animals, they teach us new things all the time.

    My boy cannot attend training, nowhere in their right mind would allow him in, as well as this I cannot have people in my home, I don't need him thinking he doesn't have a safe place at all and ends up hurting someone, especially with the new laws in place!

    I am and will continue to do all I can for him, and I am not going to give up without knowing I have exhausted every avenue for him. Its not easy knowing where we may very well be heading, its breaking my heart. I am lucky to have support from my immediate family and friends as well as a great vet team. I know I have to take into account my children with every decision as well which makes things altogether more difficult.
     
  16. CollieMad

    CollieMad New Member Registered

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    Vets and me have spoken, infection and blood trace in urine have cleared, so that's good but also not as means its not those that are causing this behaviour.

    Heartbroken and coming to terms with it all and processing where we go from here.
     
  17. chelynnah

    chelynnah Whippet Servant Registered

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    :(
     
  18. eingana

    eingana Do my ears look big in this? Registered

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    I'm sorry to hear that clearing the infection hasn't started reducing the issues :(

    I have to say that if you were anywhere near me I'd make a point of coming to your home, if only to demonstrate to your lad that not every visitor is scary, and that not every visitor is determined to make him react. I've got a long history of getting into houses where 'problem' GSDs live without getting bitten (well, only once, and that wasn't one of those dogs) and a really dog savvy visitor who can be in your home without interacting or displaying any body language at all to the dog is usually a very useful diagnostic technique for what is going on with them.

    If you've gone back to all of the basics that helped him initially and none of them have helped now then I am at a bit of a loss of how else to help I'm afraid, but I couldn't not post to share support for your tough time.

    Thinking of you :)
     
  19. CollieMad

    CollieMad New Member Registered

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    Thank you, means a lot x
     
  20. CollieMad

    CollieMad New Member Registered

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    Just to update you all, we lost our lovely boy 10th december in the evening. We were with him until the end and now have his ashes home with us. Thank you for the time you took to reply to my post and talk to me, i appreciate it all. We are struggling as we knew we would.
     

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