Thanks very much for the many compassionate messages of support and sympathy for the tragic loss of Tito and my former foster dog, Ruby. Many readers commented on the post I wrote on the Whole Dog Journal blog page about the incidents that led to the dogs’ deaths (one as a result of injuries, and one by euthanasia) – and many readers told their own heartbreaking stories dog-aggressive dogs that they loved and tried to rehabilitate. It’s impossible to refrain from blaming oneself for the many missteps that we can’t help but take when trying to manage such an unmanageable situation, but it helps to know that none of us are the only ones who have experienced it.
Speaking of euthanasia, this issue contains an important article about the emotional rending practice, and things to consider before making this final veterinary appointment for your terminally ill dog. While seeking a painless and peaceful end for two geriatric pets, trainer Jill Breitner had not one but two terrible experiences with a practitioner who claimed to practice “fear free” medicine. Breitner explains how to find a veterinarian who truly practices Fear Free or Low Stress handling, and why it’s critical to employ one of these professionals at the end of your dog’s life.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of you that life with dogs is highly emotional. Our canine companions can make us laugh hard and cry hard, sometimes on the same day! But I, for one, wouldn’t trade my time with them, even the difficult ones, for anything else in the world. I’ve learned so much from working with them – and there is always more to learn. This month, I’m taking Training Editor Pat Miller’s article on “demand behaviors” to heart in order to deal with a budding problem with Woody’s newfound attention-seeking behavior. I feel just like any other dog-training student as I fail, again and again, to ignore his repeated efforts to engage me; he’s just so cute!