We adopted Louie almost two years ago during a trip to South Carolina. Whereas our previous dogs, Monty and Molly, were pure bred AKC Labrador Retriever puppies ... Louie is a conglomeration of who knows what. When we adopted him from the shelter, we were told he was a Cocker Spaniel - Mountain Cur mix but I'm sure he has some other breeds in there, too. From what I've researched online, Mountain Curs were bred specifically for treeing small game but they have also been known to tree bears. I'm not surprised. Louie will spend hours every day peering out the kitchen window whimpering at the squirrels and deer racing around our backyard and whenever the door opens, he'll fly around the yard like a banshee. I'm surprised - no, shocked - that he hasn't caught a squirrel yet.
Surely it's just a matter of time...
Last year, we took him with us to Michigan and things were great. A few weeks later, when I (sternly) corrected him for eating a stick of butter off the counter, he cowered away and then came at me with teeth bared, growling and snapping. For several weeks afterwards, I was ready to take him back to the shelter. But I instead, blamed his response on MY behavior, and read Cesar Milan's book, cover-to-cover with the goal that I would be a more calmly assertive (emphasis on the "calmly") dog owner.
I'm sure Louie sensed that his future with our family was uncertain because his demeanor changed almost instantly. Perhaps he realized that he was on thin ice because he became more keen to listen and please. Except for when he's on leash and then, even with the gentle lead, he's awful. But he ceased snapping at the kids and became more playful and fun. Things were certainly going better and I again began to imagine him with us forever.
Then he turned on me again, albeit not nearly as bad. It happened when I was trying to get him to roll over so I could put medicine on his stomach for a rash that he'd developed running around the backyard. I was trying unsuccessfully to flip him on his back and was beginning to get cross. He snarled. I backed off, petted him gently, and told Charlie I had a job for him to do.
(My husband's much better at flipping dogs on their backs than me.)
This past March, our neighbor Tom had to put down his nine-year-old pure bred German Shepard. This was his fourth German Shepard that he's had to put down before they reached the age of ten and he was devastated. While his wife was trying to convince him that at 72-years of age, the last thing he needs is another dog ... Tom did not agree with his wife and brought home his new 8-week old AKC German Shepard puppy last month. Tom really knows his way around dogs and told us that once the puppy was a bit bigger, he'd like for him to meet Louie.
Today was that day.
And here's how it went...
But wait .... first I have to tell you how we took Louie to go fishing today. In my mind, this would be a FUN thing to do. A beautiful day with the dog at the lake, what could be better? I'll tell you what could be better: A beautiful day with NO dog at the lake. For two hours straight, Louie was yanking on his leash, whimpering, yanking, whimpering, yanking, whimpering. Like it's not challenging enough to go fishing with four children who nearly gouged themselves (and others) as they were casting their lines ... now add a hyper dog to the mix. Sometimes I wonder how I've survived this long without medication? When I felt like hanging Louie from a tree, Charlie scowled and asked, "Remind me again why we have him and not a LAB?"
So then we arrived home and less than an hour later, Tom is at the door asking if we'd like to introduce Louie to the puppy? Sure I thought. Maybe Louie can redeem himself in our book of good graces. We walked Louie over to meet the new puppy who has doubled in size and is now slightly bigger than Louie. Louie, who typically does well with other dogs once he realizes that they are much bigger and more dominating than him, wagged his tail. Things looked promising. Until we put them in the fenced yard together and the puppy started to jump around and chase Louie. That's when Louie said in dog words, "Me Not Like You."
Looking back, I see that once again it was my fault and I should have immediately taken Louie out of there. But I thought that he'd warm up to the puppy, because isn't that what dogs do?
Well, I thought wrong. After the puppy tried to leapfrog over Louie's face, Louie went primal. He turned on the puppy, snapping, and once the puppy started shrieking in pain from an obvious bite, Louie went even more primal - running after him, snapping. I jumped in to the fray and grabbed Louie - who immediately looked guilty - put him on leash and had the children take him out of the yard.
Meanwhile the puppy, who was still shrieking, ran and hid behind a garden hose. When Tom and I went to the puppy, we saw that Louie had taken a chunk out of his face. The beautiful AKC puppy now only has one and three quarters of an eyebrow.
Tonight I went online to read about what provokes dogs to attack puppies. And the next thing I know, I'm on a website that is selling pure bred AKC Labrador Retriever puppies.
There's a part of me, a big part, that says, "We tried. We really did. It's time to give Louie a shot at life with another family that might be a better fit." But there's another part of me, an equally big part, that says, "You can do better. You owe it to Louie. You owe it to the Universe."
So I jotted down the pros and cons.
Here are the Louie pros:
He's smart. He's cute. He's good with our children. He's a nice size and can be transported easily. He's finally housebroken and doesn't chew things that he's not supposed to chew.
He's skittish. He's jumpy. Even with different collars, harnesses and leashes, he's very difficult and frustrating to walk. He can be extremely hyper / obnoxious around other people and dogs. He has a track record of snarling and snapping when provoked. He bites harmless puppies in the face and takes off chunks of flesh.
Ah yes... Perhaps the SUBCONTRACTOR would like a mixed breed Cocker Spaniel - Mountain Cur that sometimes responds to the name of Louie.