modflowers: recent work So, the dog is gone.

We all cried. We still feel sad. Both for her, and for ourselves. We wanted a dog, but after our experience with Lupin… it is not to be.

There will not be another dog. I think that ship, the one with our dog on it, has sailed.

It’s been just over a week now, since we took her back.

During that week I discovered that three of the seven pups in her litter have been returned to the rescue, because of similarly difficult-to-live-with traits. So Lupin is currently living with one of her brothers, which is a nice thought in a way, but sad for both dogs in reality.

modflowers: recent workI also discovered that the rescue are already advertising her for adoption, describing her as “good with other dogs and children over twelve”. Lad is thirteen. When we took Lupin back, I gave them two sides of A4 listing all of her problems. Right at the top was the problem of her ongoing aggression towards lad.

So I called to tell them, again, that she wasn’t good with children over twelve. Or men. Or strangers generally. But it seems that their one-day assessment of Lupin’s character trumps our nearly-six-months of living with her. They say they have seen no evidence of aggression. So that’s that.

The thought that another family may go through the same painful experience as us upsets me greatly, as does the thought of Lupin facing a third rejection, but having handed her back it seems there is nothing more I can do about it. And so I have had to breathe deeply and let go.

modflowers: recent workA week later, and I am still hoovering up dog hair and wondering what to do with the packets of dog treats in the cupboard.

I should be getting on with work, I have lots to do, but I seem to be stuck.

Inspiration is always sparse at this time of year, but it’s worse than that. I feel a bit panicky when I try to start work. Some of the work I have done has not, to my eye at least, been my best.

Our new neighbours are knocking through their kitchen at the moment and it is very noisy. The builders have managed to dislodge the plaster on our adjoining kitchen wall – chunks and dust come cascading down. But that’s no excuse.

I clean the house as displacement activity. I try to drag up some creativity from somewhere, but it appears to have gone into hibernation for the duration.

It’s not because of the dog, I think. It’s just the winter, dragging on. It seems, like me, to be stuck. It afflicts me every year, this dark period after Christmas. I need to get stuck in, but instead I get stuck in a time warp.

Roll on spring. ♥

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. ♥

tiny steps

modflowers: fungi fellowSo life with a dog continues…

I never appreciated, as a child, the work my mum put into turning our dogs into the well behaved, well trained, well adjusted creatures they all were. But I tell you what, I do now.

Having a dog is hard work.

As with children, you have to put the needs of another before your own at all times, which can take a bit of adjustment.

In my case, getting out of bed around 6 o’clock every morning to “see to the dog” has made me glad that I was already on the way to becoming an “early to bed, early to rise” type.

Except now, I don’t really get the “early to bed” bit, since I have to wait for the whole family to be settled in their beds before I can calm the dog down sufficiently to get to bed myself.

modflowers: fungi fellow I am also getting a lot of exercise – walking the dog is the only way to get her to settle down in the house and stop her doing the “three B’s” – biting, begging and barking. When restless, she nips playfully at us and everything around her, can be a pest at mealtimes and patrols the garden trying to spot our neighbour – and warn him off.

Unfortunately, she seems disinclined to run after a ball or toy, meaning that usually I am covering almost the same distances as her, apart from when she is busy chasing after other dogs on the park – one of her favourite things, happily.

modflowers: fungi fellow Don’t get me wrong, it may be tiring, and difficult at times, but it is an enjoyable process for the most part.

I’m pretty sure I’m getting fitter, which is also much appreciated. Over time, as my stamina and the dog’s attachment and obedience increases, things will get easier.

Surprisingly (to me at least) I am managing to fit in a bit of sewing. Like making this little fungi fellow.

modflowers: fungi fellowI’m not sewing every day, because sometimes Lupin just won’t sit still long enough. And sometimes, the process of tiring out Lupin tires me out too.

So much so that during her doggy naps, when I should be getting stuff done, I am often also to be found crashed out on the sofa.

But we are both making progress…

All be it in tiny steps. ♥