the end of the road

modflowers: LupinI 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 He has, not surprisingly, withdrawn from her.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.

modflowers: Lupin in kitchenI 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. ♥

whilst I’ve been away…

modflowers: Lupin So, as you may have gathered, I haven’t been around on here much recently.

I was a bit burned out with blogging.

Having written a blog post most days over a few years, life became busier than it had been when I started out. It was getting more and more difficult carving out the time and space and energy to blog.

And when I did actually sit down to write, I felt like it had all been said before and I was just going through the motions. I just didn’t know what to say any more.

So I gave myself permission to stop.

Not forever. I fully intended to come back, hence no apologies and no tearful goodbyes.

I just needed to put my limited energies into making, for the time being, that and the other thing that takes up much of my time these days.

Our dog.

lupin2You may remember, it was back in August when we got a dog. It was the fulfilment of a long-held dream for lad and I. My parents always had dogs throughout my childhood; gentle, loving creatures that provided entertainment such as ball games, toe-licking and food-stealing; an excuse for a walk; a furry listening ear and a loving companion. Lad was desperate for a dog. And I was quite keen.

So I railroaded my other half, who had never had dogs and wasn’t actually much keen, into welcoming Lupin, our rescue dog.

She moved in, and we all got to know each other. So far, so happy ending.

Except it hasn’t been a happy ending at all.

Our dog is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the happy, placid, loving creature I envisaged sharing our lives with.

Lupin has turned out to be… challenging. Antsy, unsettled, unhappy. Fierce, barky and bitey. Sometimes downright scary.

Lupin is damaged goods. She has, we think, been mistreated at some point before coming to us. She does not like to be left alone, even for a moment. When she is alone she cries – and then she destroys stuff. Shutting her in anywhere results in splintered wood, bent metal, ripped fabric and chewed paper. The sound of fireworks, street noise or other dogs (our new neighbours have two) has her barking like a maniac.

She is distrustful of most men, apart from my other half and men with dogs. She is what is properly termed “reactive”. She barks, lunges at, and sometimes tries to bite men, joggers and some women and dogs when we are out and about with her. She is very strong and this is very scary.

Often, she does not like lad. She jumps up from her bed when he moves and rushes over to snap at him. She lurks sulkily beneath the kitchen table, growling and lunging at him. When we try to get her to come out, she bites.

Lad is very good with her, calm and committed. He feeds and fusses her. We work together on training: recall and sit and wait. All of which are entirely ignored as soon as Lupin leaves the house. She seems to be untrainable. Or rather, she knows all the commands, but chooses to ignore them – and us – utterly, whenever we are in any situation where they would be of any practical use.

lupin3Lad does everything asked of him regarding dog ownership, but he will not take her out for walks unaccompanied. For which I do not blame him. I walk her alone, often in tears, mostly avoiding other dog owners with their friendly, happy pets. I feel like an outcast, with a monster at the end of the lead.

None of this was foreseen. When we first got Lupin we would let her run free on the country park, marvelling at her speed and agility as she flew through the long grass, darting and dodging. But now she can’t be allowed this freedom since, oblivious to our calls, she heads for the nearest pedestrian to bark and nip. We do not know why.

Lupin seems truly happy only after a long, long walk, when she settles down to sleep peacefully for a couple of hours, before the cycle of pacing, barking, chewing and snapping begins anew.

So I walk her for hours each day, avoiding people where possible, distracting her with pocketfuls of treats, trying, not always successfully, to keep out of trouble. When we get home I stay with her in the kitchen, unable to go anywhere else, even in the house, without her. It is, of course, easier when my other half is around.

As a result I am fitter, but more time-limited, more tired – and much, much more sad, than I was before we got her.

Before Christmas, I rang the rescue where she came from, for advice. They had none to offer. They could take her back, if we wanted.

I believe that a dog is for life, but I was very close to taking them up on it. At times I actually hate her and would be glad to be rid of her. But it would’ve broken all our hearts.

So we soldier on.

For now. ♥



see you in the new year!

merry christmas from modflowers!