I must say, it was a surprise, to have so many people react to my previous post about our dog, Lupin.
I wrote that post at a very low ebb, my patience stretched beyond breaking point, my optimism non-existent. I dreaded my partner’s return to work after Christmas and the thought of being alone with the dog again, battling through the days. I felt then, in my mind’s eye, that finding a new home for her was the best option. I talked to lad about it, explained, in tears, how we couldn’t go on like this.
But then, Lupin mellowed a little. And on we went.
She started to snap and snarl in the house less often and to do more tail wagging. She let us pet her, and started to at least growl in warning before trying to bite. Out of the house, I worked hard with her (using this system, if anyone is interested.)
However, there is nowhere near us she can safely run free (i.e. where there is no risk of her encountering pedestrians) and we’ve had to exercise her accordingly. Which is hard on her, because she needs to run. Not being able to do so off-lead makes her behaviour worse. It’s hard on us too, because she yanks our arms and pulls us over in the mud and clearly pines for the freedom we cannot allow her.
There are still plenty of bad days. Men in jogging gear or hi-vis jackets are not our friends. The men from the garage two doors down are viewed with great suspicion, as are smaller dogs, whom Lupin frequently tries to attack. My treats aren’t always enough.
After I spilled a few tears following someone’s kind words at the park, there are, I discovered, more people than you’d think out there who understand the difficulties that can and do sometimes accompany dog ownership. Some of these people have been wonderfully supportive.
But generally, things have continued, and not significantly improved. Lupin is still destructive. She chewed up my beloved Ercol furniture last weekend, which came out of the blue and had me in tears – she had never destroyed furniture before.
She still spends a significant part of every evening leaping to her feet to bark aggressively at things we cannot hear.
And she still doesn’t much like lad. The growling and snarling at him, specifically, continues, despite her being friends with him in-between times. It seems to matter not a jot how many treats he gives or how much training we do. Something about him triggers her aggression, suddenly, unexpectedly. He has, not surprisingly, withdrawn from her. Who can blame him?
I have tried to make sense of it all. Beyond the anger, beyond the sadness and disappointment at how things have turned out, I have tried to think what would be best, for us and for her.
I really have tried my best.
Every day I try to put aside my stress at what could happen. I walk, I train, I feed, I fuss. I try to be calm and to transmit this calm to Lupin. Yet, despite all these efforts, things aren’t really improving. Perhaps I should have made an immediate decision when she first showed aggression towards us, before she came to trust us a little. I still do not trust her. I still cannot leave her. I still, often, do not like her. But I do feel desperately sorry for her.
All of this has taken it’s toll on family life. We cannot all go out together. We have not been in agreement about the best way forward. We struggle to communicate and to align our feelings, our heads, and our hearts. We clash when we attempt to discuss things. Anger, love, resentment. Sorrow, fear and guilt. It is a potent and toxic mixture.
So, this is where we are now.
I contacted the rescue and suggested we foster Lupin whilst they seek a more suitable home – somewhere quiet, without children, where she has a safe space to run off-lead. I explained her, and our, issues in detail. But (and I understand why) this is not a course of action they will support.
So the only alternative we are left with is for them to take her back. She will be assessed (and then hopefully fostered) by a behaviourist, to establish “the level of her aggression and how much of a risk she is to the general public.” That phrase is chilling. Every part of me finds this upsetting beyond measure. Sad beyond belief. I feel so dreadfully guilty and ashamed that however hard I try, I can’t make everything all right.
A dog should be for life. Lupin has relied on us, on me, and I have failed her.
Sometimes, your best is just not good enough. ♥