**The following post is a story about one of the dogs from a rescue. It is written from the perspective of a volunteer, and may not hold to the opinions or beliefs held by this or any other rescue. It is meant to portray the story of one rescue dog-not all, and is meant in no way to criticize or degrade dog owners who make the choice to surrender their beloved pets**
Last year a boxer and her litter of puppies came into the custody of our rescue. The dogs were fostered by some of our choice puppy-fosterers, and ultimately adopted into loving and caring homes. One puppy in particular was a favorite of the litter. The sweetest, most docile, and predicted to be the most trainable. Each of the families who adopted these dogs has kept the foster family, and our rescue up to date with photos and messages.
Fortunately, the puppies went to homes where we knew they would be loved and cared for. Unfortunately, loving, and caring for our four legged babies does not completely cover all that they need -which is especially true with very young puppies who are extremely impressionable.
Last week, the family who adopted the favorite puppy of the litter (who they named “Brodie”) gave us a call explaining that their puppy had grown into a dog who was now aggressive towards humans, and as they have a family with young children, no longer felt safe with Brodie in their home. Many of our volunteers were saddened and confused by the news that our sweetest little guy had taken a turn towards aggression.
As we always do with all of our rescued dogs, we made arrangements for a pick-up, and went out to meet the now 1-year old Brodie. The report from our fearless leader is that Brodie seemed extremely timid of people-nervous of new situations-a sign that the dog has been under socialized. I would not classify this as a case of anise or neglect, but under socialization does often cause anxiety and fear for dogs when placed in new situations, and has the risk of developing into different forms of aggression.
Once home, and settled in, our fearless leader decided to do an evaluation with Brodie. To see what his issues were.
First she took him to our favorite Petco in Tacoma where he would be completely overstimulated by adoring fans and an unfamiliar place. In typical Boxer style, Brodie turned on the employees and customers-aggressively attacking them with his tongue.
With round one over, and thankfully unsuccessful-round two began. The fearless leader took Brodie out back with the other dogs where she assaulted them all with toys; running around, flailing her arms, and doing all she could to solicit any kind of aggression from this reactive dog. FINALLY-she got the response she was looking for-the answer to why this dog was returned. Brodie flew through the air. Body slamming her, pinning her to the ground, and (firmly, but playfully) gnawing on her extremities.
We believe that this is the behavior which caused Brodie’s family to label him as aggressive. I completely understand their decision to surrender their dog, and seeing as I have never personally been in a situation like theirs I will withhold my judgement.
I will however comment on what I believe may have caused Brodie’s unwanted behavior. It is important to remember when adopting a dog, that they will behave how you teach them to behave. I’ve seen many times, families who adopt the most adorable puppies, but allow them to play in ways that will not be adorable when they are fully grown. Rough-housing with puppies is and extremely bad idea. It teaches them that humans play like dogs, when in all reality-we do not. We don’t have tough fur to protect our skin, and humans tend to be more emotionally sensitive. Harsh, but true. When I bring a new dog into my home, they are not allowed to play-bite, growl, or jump on people-no matter if they are playing or not. The reason being, I would hate for a person-or God forbid-a child, to be injured (emotionally or physically) by one of my dogs. If they get too rough I let out a yelp (just as most puppies do when they are very young and learning to play with each other), and play time is over. Thus protecting myself from harm, and teaching my dog that I have a limit.
As I’m sure you all are convinced-Brodie is a very adoptable dog. Besides some work with his play-drive and some hard boundaries, he will make a perfect pet. Being a purebred boxer, and having a great personality, we were positive he would be adopted on his first Petco event.
Sure enough, after saying hello to his buddy “Drummer”, Brodie went on to meet and be adopted by his new family.