Whole Dog Journal's Blog October 19, 2015

Sometimes a New Home is Best

Posted at 04:04PM - Comments: (4)

I had a hand in a "rehoming" event recently, and while it's often framed as a failure when a dog is "given away," in this case - as in so many – it was absolutely the best thing for the dog, his former owner, and his current owners.

As someone with a strong interest in training, I was confident that I could help Murphy's owner train him into being a good dog. Murphy is the dog I wrote about in the October issue editorial; he moved into the house where I have my office with a friend who was seeking refuge from a traumatic divorce. Murphy had been rehomed badly several times in his short life already (he was just 10 months old), but this was not a great fit, either.

My friend already had one highly strung dog, and doesn't have that much experience with training. While she found the Treeing Walker Coonhound to be gorgeous and affectionate, she wasn't really prepared for a dog with such strong behaviors: he jumped all over people, he pulled on leash, was dramatically reactive to the sight of any other dog on walks, had such terrible manners when he met other dogs that he would invariably get "corrected" by the dog he was being so rude to, and was so aroused by contact with other dogs that he would respond immediately to another dog's "Hey, back off, pal!" with aggression. He's also a classic hunting coonhound - prone to "selective hearing" and following his nose off into the wild blue yonder if given the opportunity and in need of a ton of exercise.

He is also very motivated by and interested in humans. So much so that his mild separation anxiety had him pushing through screens and jumping out onto the second story roof of my house when his owner left for a few minutes on an errand (even though there was another dog in the home; as in many cases, the presence of another dog doesn't usually solve true separation anxiety).

I worked with Murphy, took him out running for miles and miles with my dogs, and showed my friend how to work with him, too. He was making terrific progress: He learned not to jump on people, to ask permission to jump on the couch and to enter and exit through doors (by polite sitting), was already way better on leash, could be called away from the sight of other dogs, and was learning to greet other dogs much more calmly.

But my friend still found him to be overwhelming at times. One day, after a bad walk where everything went wrong, she admitted to me, sobbing, that he was just too much for her to handle and was complicating her life to an unbearable extent. I hadn't previously heard her express anything other than her wish to make their relationship work out - and maybe she hadn't said anything like that to me before out of fear of getting judged. But I actually think rehoming can be a HUGE favor to all parties sometimes – especially in a case like this, where the dog and the person are so mismatched (she's a middle-aged, calm, quiet person, a massage therapist – not someone who enjoys exuberant baying of hounds!). He was likely going to be a trial for her for years – and was never going to be fully appreciated for exactly who he was. The only way he was going to make her happy is if almost everything about him changed, which was bound to be hard on him. They'd both be better off going their separate ways!

Fortunately, I know a GREAT hound rescue group, the American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue (coonhoundrescue.com) and they were able to take him in. He spent a couple weeks at a dog daycare facility in a large, social group that included a lot of other hounds, and within a couple of weeks, much better socialized to the presence of other dogs, he was adopted by a couple who was looking for a dog exactly like him. Hurrahs all around.

 

Comments (4)

What a wonderful, compassionate article about such a difficult topic. Your friend was very lucky to have you to help transition her pup to an appropriate rescue group. The shelters are filled with dogs that weren't so lucky. But what a happy ending for Murphy.... and your friend.

Posted by: SFLSue | October 20, 2015 12:15 PM    Report this comment

Sorry to hijack the thread but i want to comment on the top article about the pell otic. My flat coat retriever suffered for years w/ear problems. Even on a raw diet he got little relief.

Thanks to Whole Dog Journal I learned about Pell Otic. It is miracle medicine. No more infections, no more constant head shaking, & the yeast smell is gone. His ears still get a little goopy but I can deal w/that.

I still apply periodically to the ear that gets the goopiest ( is that a word?..lol) & it dries right up.

It's miracle medicine....

Posted by: Scamp's mom | October 20, 2015 11:43 AM    Report this comment

Sorry to hijack the thread but i want to comment on the top article about the pell otic. My flat coat retriever suffered for years w/ear problems. Even on a raw diet he got little relief.

Thanks to Whole Dog Journal I learned about Pell Otic. It is miracle medicine. No more infections, no more constant head shaking, & the yeast smell is gone. His ears still get a little goopy but I can deal w/that.

I still apply periodically to the ear that gets the goopiest ( is that a word?..lol) & it dries right up.

It's miracle medicine....

Posted by: Scamp's mom | October 20, 2015 11:42 AM    Report this comment

Rehoming is always regrettable, but never so regrettable as forcing a dog to live a life they are not suited. It does come with a great deal of judgement, though. I had to return a puppy at 8 months because she had an extreme fear of people that began gradually at 4 months, and worsened because she did not live in an environment where I could keep her under threshold. She is very happy on her farm as a house pet with lots of dog company as well as the ability to go or stay when people arrive. Since she is able to stay under threshold enough to think and learn, she is so much better. I had worked with the breeder (I know), my vet, in classes, and with a trainer, but could not change the environment we lived in. It was the most heart breaking think I've ever done. It was the best thing for her as evidenced by how quickly she adjusted. She was over it long before I was. My misery and shame were compounded by the anger and judgement I received, some from those very close to me. It definitely made a bad situation worse and increased my already large grief. Ironically, it was those who thought they knew all about dogs who felt the strongest. The people and professionals that actually did were very kind.

Posted by: Alice R. | October 20, 2015 11:06 AM    Report this comment

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