Need a rescue for Twix
  • MdariusMdarius
    Posts: 56
    Hello. This is a difficult post to make. Last year when we got Twix we sought some guidance and shared some experiences here. Things have been going pretty well, thank you all for your help.

    Yesterday we learned that Twix bit a neighbor girl in the face. It was minor, a small prick of blood on her nose. My wife and I sat down and started talking about all the "little things" that have been going on that we have just managed and not discussed. What we found was a pattern of aggression towards anyone not in our family, an unacceptable aggression towards small children, and it is growing.

    Regardless of counsel and advice, we can not keep her in our home. We can not risk her hurting another person. We definitely don't want to take her to a shelter or have her euthanized. I have called and emailed a rescue in Eastern Washington, I think they are the closest to me here in Northern Utah. In the event they won't or can't take her, does anyone have any other alternatives?

    I called the breeder/trainer we have been working with and explained the situation and she said that is actually why they got out of the breed. So many of the dogs were great, but so many were unpredictably aggressive, and she just couldn't handle that. She is the one that recommended a rescue. So, no, they probably won't adopt her and work with her, as much as they have shown love for her already.

    I won't list her in the classifieds and risk her going to a home that can't handle her. Thanks for any support and help. We have truly done our best and our best just isn't good enough.
  • aykayk
    Posts: 1979
    I'm probably going to get some flak for this, but I think you should keep euthanasia on the table.

    Many rescues are not going to be able to adopt out a dog with a known bite history for liability reasons. With an American Akita, it's even more difficult due to their size and reputation. An Akita with a known bite history is best placed with a behaviorist/trainer who is interested in adopting a biting dog as a project dog and intending to keep the dog permanently. There's not a lot of those out there. There's not even a lot of applicants for a non-biting dog due to the bad economy. At least here in my area.

    Dogs with bite histories end up as sanctuary dogs (kept forever by the rescue) or euthanized by the rescue if they cannot be rehabilitated. If you have a good inkling that Twix cannot be rehabilitated, then how fair is it to ask a rescue to sacrifice a spot that could be used for a nice, non-biting dog or several non-biting dogs over the course of Twix's natural life? Or how fair is it to put rescuers in a situation where they have to do the dirty deed and euthanize the dog for you?

    I admit that I don't know your backstory or understand why Twix even has any access to the neighbor's kids in the first place and that may be why I'm a bit direct in my post. However, as someone who does work in a different breed rescue, those are my thoughts.
    Post edited by ayk at 2010-04-17 15:28:56
  • dlrobertsdlroberts
    Posts: 6552
    I don't want to minimize what happened because any time a dog puts their mouth on the face of a human, especially a child, and draws blood I would consider it serious. But, a small spot of blood on the nose is probably more indicative of a "correction" than any intent to do some harm. Again, not acceptable behavior by any means, but not indicative of "aggression." Have you talked about hiring a behaviorist? You mentioned a "breeder/trainer" in your post, but that is something vastly different from a certified behaviorist. My guess is this pattern of behavior that you and your wife put together would probably speak volumes to a behaviorist and help him or her to come up with a management plan that might enable you guys to keep her. I know it's scary to witness your dog whom your trust inflict harm on a child. But, that's exactly why seeking the advice of a behaviorist before you make the decision is smart. They won't be emotional in their evaluation of the situation. They will be objective and help you to better understand the degree to which your dog is a liability or not.
    dlrobertsdlroberts
    Dave, proudly owned by Joey (Shiba Inu), Tyson (Kai Ken), and PRG's Mason Julien McDieserton III, a.k.a. Diesel (Labrador Retriever).
    "My opinion may have changed, but not the fact that I'm right"
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • MdariusMdarius
    Posts: 56
    I appreciate the comments. I agree with the comments about the rescues. It wasn't a correction situation. She has a very specific personal space. With us she doesn't mind. If it's not family she does. You can't keep the dog completely away from other people. It's impossible. She comes to the door when it's answered and there's a toddler at the door, eye to eye. Or she's lying down and a toddler goes by within a couple feet, she bares her teeth. A 12 year-old friend that has been in our home and backyard with her a hundred times came to the back fence the other day. She was lying calmly in the yard but as he got to the fence she jumped up and charged the fence, with hackles fully raised. The appraiser was in the house the other day, she indicated she was comfortable with him, he pet her and her tail was wagging, she ignored him, but then he turned around and she first jumped back at the motion then forward with an aggressive bark. I stopped her.

    Her personal space issues are unpredictable from day to day. With the advent of spring and kids playing outside she is very agitated and stressed. She WANTS to be with them, but she can't be. We don't let her out to play with them because they can't control her and she could bite someone or another dog. The neighbors got a lab puppy that she wants to tear apart. The other neighbors are letting their Chihuahua out more that the weather is warm. She is tearing down the fence to get at it. She has been very stressed lately. We do try to take the time to make proper introductions, but when a guest comes for a short visit and it takes the dog 15 minutes to become comfortable with the person, proper introductions don't always happen. Most people don't have patience or desire for proper introductions. They get scared because the dog isn't reacting like a lap dog or a lab. It's better for the breed and the person for us to just say that "she's a little stressed today" and put her in a room after she doesn't settle in with them after a short period.

    Even if it was a "correction", try explaining that to the parents of the child that was corrected. It doesn't offer a lot of comfort to the next one who is scarred for life and terrified of dogs. I won't take the chance. My 100 pound dog with 1" teeth and unpredictable lightning speed is not a fair match for a 5 year-old child. A behaviorist is a good suggestion, but someone else will have to hire them.
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • MdariusMdarius
    Posts: 56
    I just got off the phone with a rescue in NM. Her recommendation is to have her thyroid checked. With Akitas Hyper-thyroidism is the number 1 reason for increased aggression. The panel costs around $100+, which is tough to swallow, I'm recently unemployed, but we'll do what we need to. If this is the cause and a couple pills a day is the solution, that's great news.
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • StrangerStranger
    Posts: 49
    It's great to hear there is still some hope for Twix! You have been through so much with her, it would be very sad if you could not keep her.
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 12224
    Mdarius - The type of aggression you are describing doesn't sound like a thyroid issue. I have seen aggression due to a thyroid problem and that type of aggression is unprovoked, unpredictable, and unexplainable. Sorry, I'm sure you don't want to hear that. What you described above sounds rather predictable and could have been prevented. Due to poor selection, Akita have become a rather weak-nerved breed, what you are describing sounds to me like weak-nerves (aka "fear biting").

    Having written that, I would still run the test for thyroid issues, but only send the panel to Dr. Dodds, she is the leading expert on thyroid issues and she looks at the results on a breed-by-breed basis. Dr. Dodds: http://www.itsfortheanimals.com/DODDS-RESUME.HTM - info on where to send the blood sample: http://www.itsfortheanimals.com/HEMOPET.HTM

    ----
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • I don't know what to say, but I want to say I know how difficult this is, and I think you're doing a good job of trying to think it through.

    you might be able to find a vet who will do the thyroid panel cheaper. Mine was about $40, though it wasn't a full panel...it was just the...hmmm...T-something. It showed all my dogs were hypothyroid. My female Shiba had the typical low thyroid behavior Brad mentioned, but my GSD did not. His was what is sometimes called "play aggression." He would get overly excited while playing and bite, and he began to lose his bite inhibition (he did bite hard enought to draw blood once, which is when I also though I would have to have him put down). He improved 100% with the meds....when he got excited he would quickly go and get a ball or a toy and bite that instead (if he wasn't already playing with something). So Brad's right, it's worth doing the test anyway. .

    I think the rescue people here in NM are great, btw. Never met them, but have "talked" by email and I was impressed.

    Anyway, I wish you the best. If the thyroid doesn't treat it, it will be a hard decision, I know.
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • StaticNfuzzStaticNfuzz
    Posts: 1671
    Madarius:

    Wow, this is very sad to hear, has the shelter from which you adopted from been informed? Generally, the shelter has the first right of refusal if the adoption fails. Now that this happened there very few options.

    I would heed what ayk has to say. If you cannot work it out, talk to the shelter that you adopted Twix from to determine the next step.

    In terms of history, when you adopted Twix from the shelter you knew from the first week or two she had some space constraints and territory issues. It was good that you sought some advice, but maybe not soon enough, as I know the issues and evaluation were put off for a time since the particular breeder you called could not work with you on the critical points right from the beginning.

    Many here posted other training/trainers/behaviorists to investigate so Twix’s problems would not escalate in the duration. We also mentioned that it was absolutely essential to be proactive and to monitor her after multiple aggressive attempts toward your older dog were made and somehow that was not fully followed through. Thus, resulting in a final scrimmage where the older dog died due to the injuries.

    Again, it was mentioned that this was sign that more work was needed and huge commitment from you to make sure that Twix’s behavior be proactively monitored to prevent territory issues with dogs overlapping to the human space given there were lots of kids in your home.

    I know, I know ....woulda, coulda, shoulda.....For everyone’s sake I really hope the issues are medical so that treatment will help. It is very painful to hear so forgive my bluntness.

    Snf
    Post edited by StaticNfuzz at 2010-04-19 16:02:40
  • MdariusMdarius
    Posts: 56
    SNF, thanks for being blunt, sincerely. But actually, the "I told you so's" aren't all that deserved. I don't post up everything on here. Sometimes advice from too many voices is too much, especially when I only check in occasionally to provide information, so people only get part of the picture. I did contact several of the people you (populace you, not individual you) recommended. Their availability wasn't better or more solid than the trainer we wanted to work with. When we got scheduled the schedule changed and we were put off for a week. "What's a week? we can wait." Then it turned in to two, and three, but it was always just around the corner. We did get in and the training was wonderful, and helped us with socializing, but Twix still has agency. We found no behaviorists within 50 miles that were willing / able to help us. The one we talked to 60 miles away was busy with other projects and referred us further South. The final scrimmage between Twix and our old man dog was due to a door that we thought was closed and either wasn't or Twix worried it open while we weren't home. She's done that since then, so we're not sure.

    We have been working aggressively on socializing with people, with dogs, etc. We worked with a friend that has a well behaved dog that we could socialize her with...over weeks and following instructions and taking it slow. When we let our guard down thinking she was catching on she took the other dogs muzzle during a nose sniffing greeting. That's when we realized better the personal space issues.

    If you were totally right I'd just say, "you're right." But you're only partially right. We have been working closely with her, not just expecting her to behave like a lab. Yes, we could have done more, but we did a lot. Every walk has been a training exercise. Every visitor has been a training exercise. Every time she's in the back yard, it's a training exercise. It's actually been quite exhausting, because the only time it's just play and companionship is in the house with just the family. Even then, we do training in the house every day. Maybe it's been too much training for her and she needs a break? No, because she CAN'T be in the backyard and behave on her own. She can't be on a walk and just ignore...anything. She needs the training to clear her head. She really seems to enjoy the training.

    Not to complain, but since we got Twix in June of '09 we've had 5 deaths in the immediate family, we've sold our house (haven't moved yet), I was laid off (don't have a job yet), moved my mom to a new place, euthanized our dog of 11 years, been on three great trips, graduated obedience training, broke an arm and an ankle, and had some wonderful experiences and memories along the way. Life kind of went from stable to "AAAAHHHHHH!" about the time she came to live with us. Maybe not ideal, and I'm not making excuses, but it is what it is and couldn't be predicted or avoided.

    We might not have done everything right, but we're sure putting up a good fight.

    With that said, we went to the vet today and paid them $70 and sent the blood sample to Dr. Jean Dodds in California for a T5 panel, another $70. Did I mention I'm still unemployed? I look forward to the results. If it's thyroid we'll have additional tests until the meds are balanced. If it's not thyroid, hopefully a rescue can take her. If not, there will be a final visit to the vet very shortly. It would be unfortunate for all of us. She has tenderized my heart and we all adore her. She is so obedient and loving when she's not in full alert mode. It's really funny to watch her when three of us scratch her at once. Her tongue hangs out, her eyes roll back, and she just falls over. Good times.

    BTW, the best training treats we have found so far are at IFA (Intermountain Farmers Association). SunPro Chicken Chips. They are 100% chicken, dried in wafers about the size of a quarter, easy to carry in a pocket. No additives, no preservatives, no fillers, no dyes. Just chicken. I think they had beef and pork too. She'll do just about anything for them and they are cheap compared to others we've tried.

    Thanks again for comments and counsel. It's not ignored, just weighed. There are a lot of factors that have to go in to a decision and not all are aired in a discussion thread.
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • StaticNfuzzStaticNfuzz
    Posts: 1671
    The shelter does have a right to know and they should be able to help you should you need to release her for new ownership through them. They might be able to find a rescue if need be if she is returned to them. I would look back to your contract with them. Is Twix under quarantine now?

    Thank you for updates and for getting the lab work done. It will help to rule out at least one possibility.

    Snf

    PS: It takes a lot of “knowing thy self” to know your own limits in skill set and tolerance, the limits of family skills and their behavior and also the threshold tolerance of the dog to make it fully work out. Perhaps, this was overestimated or skimmed over? Only reflection on your part can whittle that out. A proactive role as part of leadership in any household means being able to look ahead and determine if the safety objectives and rules will be able to met before it becomes a worst case scenario. In doing any less puts so many at risk and the dog in particular loses and that is the saddest part. “Knowing the limits” on what would be practical may have given Twix a better chance at other options via rehoming early on. Sometimes the bigger thing to do is to give someone else a shot at adoption etc before the behaviors reach a crisis level, if training was not or could not meet the needs of a household. Not every home is the right one for each animal.

    We all know it isn’t a perfect world and nor are there perfect dogs, nor perfect humans, but the responsibility to safety and being proactive is double when you have a case such as yours. You did take that upon yourself when you adopted Twix and knew from the first encounters early on that any slack would be problematic, all other life crisis situations aside.
    Post edited by StaticNfuzz at 2010-04-21 19:02:11
  • MdariusMdarius
    Posts: 56
    Knowing thyself comes through trial and error and self analysis. Unfortunately this part of the process. Under normal circumstances I think we could have handled it fine. This last year does not represent normal circumstances. I recognize that under current circumstances we are a bad fit.

    The thyroid test results came back normal from Dr. Dodds. I'll call the shelter on Monday.
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • StaticNfuzzStaticNfuzz
    Posts: 1671
    Mdarius thanks again for having the thyroid checked. If you take Twix to the shelter please be sure to call your local Akita rescue also to let them know as well. Most likely the shelter will work with other individuals to determine a better place.

    I would stick with making sure that all becomes very stable in your life before deciding to bring any breed of dog home. Absolutely line up a training center before a pet is again a consideration.

    Snf
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • I feel bad that I'm not in a place at the moment to take Twix. I understand her exactly. She doesn't like others in her "bubble", she's not a social dog, she's a family dog and she's a good dog...just doesn't like to be pet by strangers. She has a low threshold or tolerance level.


    It would be awesome to see her go to a single or couple home where they don't have quite so many visitors and preferrably no other pets. And when they do have visitors Twix should be put in a crate or kennel run where she won't be bothered.


    This is a very tough decision but if you've done all that you can and feel that she might do better in another home. Then the wise choice would be to place her in the proper situation/environment.


    I wish you, your family and Twix all the best.
    Areyarisu Shikoku Kenimage

    Kotomi | Maika | Zoey | Asra | Ranala

    Other Canine Members of The Airreyalis Crew: Zander (Alaskan Klee Kai) | Saphira (Belgian Groenendael) | Izanaiya, Sanosuke & Okiana (Yakutian Laika)
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00

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