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Buddy’s Rehab 4 – Where did things stand at the 2 month mark?

Updated: May 2


If you’ve been following Buddy’s story, you know I offered to work with Buddy for a 2 month period, at which point I would transition him to his new home and provide the new owners with information and support to allow them to continue Buddy’s rehab and have a successful adoption. In order to accomplish this, I was videotaping and narrating some of our rehab sessions and planned to give those recordings to the new owners. This would allow them to have a resource to refer to as they continued Buddy’s rehab, which we knew would take a very long time.


As I was making these recordings, I was emailing some of them to the orphanage so they could see Buddy’s progress and learn the techniques I was using in the rehab. I also thought if they could see the exercises and know what the adopter would need to do in order to continue Buddy’s rehab, it might help them in the selection of the most appropriate adopters.


Buddy made some very good progress during the 2 month period. While nothing was completely resolved, his crate aggression subsided significantly during that period of time. He was becoming more comfortable in a portion of the house. He was starting to get used to the various noises of the house and appliances. His resource guarding of the low value level toys was significantly reduced. He was starting to make progress with becoming comfortable watching cars drive by the house. These were all good signs that Buddy had the potential to be rehabilitated.


As stated in a previous blog post, a bite did occur on day 2, which was at least a level 2 (and possibly a higher level) but since I was able to get away from him, I have no way of knowing what the true bite level would have been. In addition, I learned from a previous owner that the same type of bite occurred at the orphanage, so I could only be cautiously optimistic about Buddy’s chances, as I had not been given enough information from the orphanage to know Buddy’s true bite history. The orphanage was not willing to release Buddy’s records to me.


Orphanage asks me to take ownership of Buddy


During the 2 month period, the orphanage offered to transfer Buddy’s ownership to me several times, which I declined while reminding them of our agreement and the fact that I was only helping out and had no desire to adopt Buddy, or any other dog for that matter. I had to go back to work, which involved significant travel, so owning a dog was out of the question. At the 2 month mark, I learned the orphanage had not been considering potential adopters for Buddy and had no intention of adopting him to anyone (other than me) because they felt Buddy was a liability to them due to his aggression. They felt that adopting him out would potentially lead to an adopter being bitten and they did not want the liability and potential negative attention that would bring to their organization. When I asked why I had not been told this before, and why I had not been told of the bite that occurred at the orphanage, the individual told me, in a very emotional voice, that before I offered to help they were going euthanize Buddy. When I asked why, they said it was due to his aggression, the fear many of the orphanage staff had of him, and his severe anxiety. So it seems they withheld the bite information from me to get me to take Buddy into my home.


I reminded them of the progress made during the 2 months I had been working with Buddy, which they had seen in the many videos I had sent to them. I also reminded them that if that bite was in fact a level 2, Buddy’s chances for rehabilitation were extremely good. I asked what the real reasons for considering Buddy a liability were; what were they not telling me. They insisted they had told me everything, but said they still considered Buddy to be a liability and insisted that Buddy would never be adopted out. The two main authorities at the orphanage gave me conflicting fates for Buddy if I were to bring him back there. One said Buddy would be immediately euthanized. The other said Buddy would not be euthanized, but since they had no plans of adopting him out, this meant he would be kept in the same kennel where he was pacing all day long in a constant state of heightened anxiety. Neither was an acceptable or fair option for Buddy. Out of the two, euthanasia would have been the better option, but neither option was acceptable considering the fact that Buddy had made good progress during the 2 months he was with me.


As a result, after 2 solid months of working on Buddy’s rehab, and seeing him make good progress, I could not in good conscience bring him back there considering what the orphanage had told me Buddy’s fate would be. So I was backed into a corner, after 2 months of doing the orphanage this enormous favor (which equates to $4000 worth of rehab and training services I provided for free). On top of that, they required me to pay them a hefty adoption fee to take ownership of Buddy so he would have a chance at life. This was after they told me they would waive the adoption fee if I took ownership of the dog. I later learned that in addition to me paying the adoption fee for Buddy, someone else had previously paid Buddy’s adoption fee forward in the hopes that doing so would help Buddy get adopted. So this orphanage collected two hefty adoption fees for Buddy.


Taking ownership of Buddy meant I could not go back to work because, due to Buddy’s anxiety and aggression, I could not bring him on my lengthy work trips, nor could I leave him with anyone. If I wanted to resume my normal life, I would have had to euthanize him, which would not be fair to him. This, coupled with the very high expense of rehabilitating a dog like Buddy, put me in a very difficult position and turned my life upside down.


Why tell this "ugly truth"?


You might wonder why I am telling this part of Buddy’s story in the detail I have – after all, it is not a “pretty” story. My reason is to illustrate to the many “orphanages” out there the importance of being honest about a dogs behavior issues, and also the importance of the orphanages holding up their part of the agreement (I am not saying that all “orphanages” behave like the one I dealt with, and hopefully most don't, but unfortunately some do). When people like me generously offer to help, the worst thing an orphanage can do is put us in this type of situation, manipulating us to take ownership of the dog when we have clearly expressed that is not something we are willing or able to do. Why would anyone else ever want to help these orphanages if our generosity is rewarded by being pushed into a corner like I was? While the orphanage justifies their actions by the fact that they believe Buddy ended up in the best place possible, that is not an excuse for their dishonesty and their manipulative methods. They did not know anything about me, my responsibilities, other things I was dealing with in my life, etc., to make the decision that I should have to take on their responsibility. Any one of them could have taken Buddy into THEIR home and THEY could have spent all the time and money on his rehab that I am, but instead, they choose to be dishonest and manipulative. So instead of gaining an ally in me, someone who could have helped them with many other dogs, and someone who could have made monetary donations to them if I would have been able to go back to work and earn a living, they have completely alienated me. They did not hold up any part of their end of the agreement. They were not honest about Buddy’s level of aggression, they did not participate at all in Buddy’s rehab as they said they would, they actually had a hand in creating Buddy’s level of aggression, they were not trying to find him an appropriate adopter, and they had no respect for the fact that I needed to go back to work to earn a living. They basically “played” me, knowing that as a person of good morals and conscience, I would not bring this dog back to them and allow him to suffer at their hand based on the things they were telling me they had done, and would do, to him. The only way they could possibly save face in this situation would be if they would admit their mistakes, take responsibility for what they did, and modify their practices to ensure nothing like this ever happens to anyone else or any other dog they encounter again. Situations such as this not only make this particular orphanage look bad, but it casts a shadow on all orphanages, even those that operate in the most upstanding fashion.


Let this be a lesson to all the “orphanages” out there who might be using manipulative methods to place dogs in homes… You do not have the right to treat the public this way. If you are lucky enough to have people volunteer to help you with the animals you decide to take in, then treat these volunteers with the same respect you would expect to be treated with if you were the volunteer. Live by the golden rule.


The Challenge Orphanages face


Now don’t get me wrong, I clearly understand that there is a problem with dog over-population and the orphanages getting overburdened with relinquished and stray animals. This is an overwhelming problem and it can cause some orphanages, out of desperation, to resort to less than honorable methods to get these animals placed. They may not even realize that is what they are doing. However, there is a better solution, and Buddy’s Dream is going to challenge EVERY orphanage in our area to jump on board with us on this.


"An Ounce of Prevention is worth a TON of cure…"

A Solution -The Buddy's Dream Challenge


Instead of orphanages continually being in the reactive mode, why not put your organization in a PROACTIVE mode? Many orphanages in our area are in the reactive mode of taking in the animals and finding them homes. I understand this is something you can't get away from. But why not also be proactive and educate EVERYONE who walks in your doors on the proper way to train and manage their dogs in the ways that are scientifically proven to be effective and which do not cause the side effect of behavior issues that cause dogs to be relinquished in the first place? Get out IN FRONT of the issue. While this may sound difficult and time consuming, it really does not have to be. Yes, having a full blown educational program is ideal, but you can still make a sizable impact by simply distributing educational materials to everyone who walks through your door. There are plenty of resources out there (some of them are free) that you can easily distribute to every person who contacts your organization. I have 2 free e-books I can provide to you, written by a world renowned Veterinary Behaviorist and Trainer, that you can give to EVERY person who inquires about adopting from you, and to EVERY person who does adopt from you. These books will help educate your adopters and give them the knowledge and tools they need to raise and train their dog so that unwanted behavior issues do not develop. They use positive reinforcement/reward based methods that are scientifically proven to work.


A word on Dominance and Aversive based methods: We know these aversive methods and aversive tools, while they may seem to give a fast result, this is only an illusion. They do nothing to address the REASON the dog is having the behavior issue. The aversive methods and aversive tools have the side effect of causing additional behavior issues such as aggression and escalated aggression, and in addition, the aversive tools are often misused further escalating the problem.


Educating your adopters will help to ensure less dogs are relinquished for the reason many get relinquished – behavior issues. This will not only lessen the burden to your orphanages, it will help to ensure the dogs you place will truly have a great life. Isn’t that your ultimate goal?!!! In addition, I have a wealth of other resources I can provide to you - for free - for you to both provide to your adopters, and to educate your staff as well.


I challenge EVERY dog orphanage in this area to Take the Buddy’s Dream Challenge, and join Buddy and me in our mission of providing educational materials to all dog parents so we can create a culture of positive training and handling and stop the cycle of dogs losing their homes because of behavior issues which develop due to improper handling. Your organization, and the dogs you serve, will only benefit from doing so. Email me at BuddysDream1@gmail.com to get started today!


In the next blog post (Buddy’s Rehab 5) I will discuss the medical issues found which were contributing to Buddy’s aggression.





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Note and disclaimer: All information in the blog posts on this site is my opinion based on my own experience rehabilitating an aggressive dog. I am not a professional behaviorist or otherwise involved in the Veterinary profession. If you are dealing with an aggressive dog, I recommend you seek the advice of a Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist.

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