Monday, 18 May 2009

His Bite is Worse Than His Bark

What can I say? Jake earned a reprieve from Death Row, the trainer came to the house twice, suggesting all sorts of things, many of which I've been doing. We have spent in excess of £300 over the last two weeks what with the trainer and the pain specialist. And Jake seemed a lot better.

But yesterday he bit me. Badly. On the thigh, thank God, though he could have gotten me on the face if I hadn't moved. I ran out of the room screaming because he looked like he was going to go for me again despite my turning away from him. He followed me to the stairs, where I collapsed. My daughter came running down to see what had happened and hubby ran in from the kitchen where the attack had occurred. I sobbed and sobbed. He ripped a great big hole in my trousers. My thigh is black and blue all over. Daughter started to cry too and threw up because she was so distressed by it all. She came home early from school today because she's still upset.

I blame myself again. He'd exhibited all the signs of anxiety and yet I persisted in trying to remove his halter. The trouble is Jake always exhibits all the signs of anxiety. He always smacks his lips, yawns, has half-moon eyes, scratches when there's no itch, chews on his paws. He only ever stops doing that about 5 percent of the day. He's a challenging dog, at least for us.

I've emailed the animal behaviourist yet again. I can't relax around this dog because some small thing I do might start him up again. So I'm avoiding him at the moment. If he comes up to me, I'll give him a quick pat on the head, no touching below the ears. Hubby handles him most of the time. He gets the halter on and off. He takes him on his walks. And Jake seems OK with him for the most part. But this isn't why we got a dog. We got a dog for companionship and protection. Instead, I need protection from him. I'm going to wait a day or two before I try to work with him again with the clicker and treats. He and I both need a break.

I understand him though. He feels that we haven't done our job as pack leaders in protecting him and keeping him safe and pain-free so he's taken matters into his own jaws. With disastrous results. We're afraid to walk him off the lead now. And he actually seemed better for it. The pain specialist thinks there still is some residual pain. He's on yet another pain killer. I'm in need of a few myself. But even Daughter is beginning to think the unthinkable.

Can this doggy be saved?

13 comments:

J said...

I sure hope he can be saved, for all your sakes. What a tough situation. I admire all the efforts you are making. Others might have given up long ago.

Dave Pie-n-Mash said...

I hope he can be saved. I have to believe, like J, that because you are working so diligently with Jake then something good can come of it. What breed of dog is he?
I was interested to see your descriptin of anxiety. My dog, which is a very happy little dog, does all of those things except the half moon eyes. I didn't realise he was displaying anxiety.

Fire Byrd said...

This is so sad, I know how much Jake means to you all.
I do hope he can be saved, but at what cost to you at the moment.
xx

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

J: We're taking it day by day, hour by hour. I know people who got rid of pets for a whole lot less.

Dave: I didn't realize Jake was either until we visited the animal behaviourist. Jake is a border collie. Need I say more?

Fire Byrd: Yeah, that's the hangup. We've spent in excess of £3,000 on Jake and all his problems. When does it end?

Mean Mom said...

So sorry about Jake's problems. You must have been terrified, when he bit you. You've obviously tried your hardest to help him and only you can decide what happens next. Hope you have all recovered now.

Flowerpot said...

What a terrible situatoin for you all. But you sound like you're doing all the right things - fingers and everything crossed.

Kaycie said...

Oh, sweetie, how horrible. I can't imagine what I'd do in your situation. I'll just send my best wishes.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Muscle relaxants. A very good way of treating anxiety in people and dogs. Baclofen is a muscle relaxant and is used for people but perhaps your vet has an equivalent - have a look on the net. I can guarantee that they are very very effective. Baclofen is a non-addictive medication so if there is a doggy equivalent then it must be worth a try. You will see a completely new dog and when his behavioural training has improved his behaviour then you can ease him off them. I know how heartbreaking tis must be for you so good luck - the alternatives are too sad to contemplate. Hugs X

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Mean Mom: I finally went and got antibiotics and a tetanus shot. We still have the dog. Hubby is his biggest defender.

Flowerpot: Thank you.

Kaycie: Thank you too.

MOB: Why has no one suggested this to us? I'm feeling quite frustrated at all the money we've spent and we're no further forward with this dog? I'll ask my vet. Thank you.

laurie said...

man, when does one call it quits? i don't know. like kaycie, i have no idea what i would do or when i would do it. it sounds like you've given it enormous effort. i'm hoping he doesn't have to be put down but that is often the solution for dogs that bite. once they start biting it's hard to train them to NOT bite. i hope MOB's suggestion works. if not, nobody would blame you if you did what you might have to do. good luck to you.

Eurekapaws said...

Along the same lines - I use Rescue Remedy for stressed dogs. It's a plant extract that's been around for more than 50 years for use in humans and dogs. I don't know if it's easily available in the UK, but in the US it's non-prescription, non-drug, and calms dogs (we use it for a dog who gets grand mal seizures and it really helps his recovery).

I hope Jake can be saved, but know that sometimes the best thing we can do for these guys is take them away from the pain. One way or the other, it will work out for the best.

Dave - if your dog is happy, it's unlikely that he is doing all those things from anxiety - yawning is a calming signal from one dog to another, chewing on paws often indicates allergies, etc. When a trainer or behaviorist looks at a dog, they consider how frequent the behaviors are, how many of them, etc. before saying "this is how I know it's anxiety".

Sparx said...

Poor you, I'm so sorry - I have no suggestions though but the muscle relaxant idea sounds a good one...

Fred said...

Wow...glad he didn't bite your face.

I'm afraid it sounds as though Jake can't be controlled in his current environment. Perhaps he'd make a better guard dog or police K9 instead of a house pet?