Hannah was a normal, healthy Labrador Retriever puppy: happy, boisterous, playful, and always willing to eat. Hannah’s owner, Connecticut resident Anne Hassett, bought Hannah when the pup was seven weeks old. Hassett trained, socialized, and loved the golden pup. A field-line Labrador, Hannah hunted on the weekends and enjoyed the comfy life of a companion Lab weekdays. Hannah was well known in hunting circles for her steady, easy-going temperament, the coveted hallmark of the Labrador breed. Hassett considered breeding her, and had the dog examined and tested for genetic diseases.
I first met Lucy at my local monthly “My Dog Can Do That” competition in January of 1998, at the SPCA in Monterey, California. She was easy to spot – a merle Great Dane with lovely natural ears, who literally towered above the competition. Lucy was attentive, responsive, performed even the most advanced MDCDT behaviors with ease, and consistently placed in the ribbons. It surprised me, then, when a few months later I heard Lucy had started threatening humans, and her aggression was escalating. This was not appropriate behavior for any dog, but particularly disturbing in one of Lucy’s size, with her potential for causing serious harm.