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Eolith 08-19-2012 02:23 AM

Dog Wars
 
So, I just need to get this off my chest. Lately my dad has been going on a rampage, claiming that he is going to get rid of one of our dogs, Belle. The way he sees it, she's too big, too hairy, too rambunctious... the list could go on and on. He's just developed this deep and abiding hate for Belle and has decided to "put his foot down" and get rid of her one way or another.

What he doesn't seem to realize is that my mom, my sister and I all love Belle dearly. If he actually does get rid of Belle he'll have to do it behind our backs, because none of us will have any part in it. If he does go behind our backs like that, it will be difficult if not impossible for any of us to forgive him. My mom might even divorce him if he betrayed us like that (trust me, there are a plethora of other issues which have already weakened their marriage to where the banishment of a dog might end it). As far as we are concerned, the dogs are a permanent fixture in the family. They stay with us as long as they live. My dad might as well tell me that some of my sister's habits have just gotten to the point that he doesn't want to deal with her any more and is going to give her away.

No, Belle isn't perfect and I am more than happy to admit that she could benefit hugely from more training and attention. I am 100% ready to make that commitment. I will always do whatever it takes to make sure that my dogs (and horses) live the best quality lives that they can.

How can he not see that if he gets rid of Belle he will have created a massive rift between himself and the rest of his immediate family? How can he honestly think that his life will be better and easier without one blundering dog if the rest of us all resent him indefinitely?

Zeke 08-19-2012 02:44 AM

If I were you I'd start immediately with that whole "she could benefit hugely from more training and attention. I'm 100% ready to make that commitment." part. I know from personal experience that many dogs who are bored and left to their own devices can be destructive and I can only imagine the things Belle does if she's not getting the attention and stimulation from training/play/exercise she needs.

The adult thing to do, rather then simply whine to your dad that giving the dog away will cause a rift that you're unwillingly to consider fixing, would be to have a talk with you father about what about Belle bothers him really. Remind him that you're very attached to her and that you are sorry she's acted that way. Considering an apologizing for the lack of attention/training may be a good start and show him how you and your mom and sister can help remedy Belle to make her a better dog.

My mom loves my dog but when I slack on cleaning up after her shedding or Stella is begging to be played with because I've been busy or the worst...when she's made a mess with her toys my mom is quick to remind me that while these things frustrate her about Stella, it's not my dogs fault.
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Eolith 08-19-2012 02:56 AM

It's funny. Belle isn't actually destructive. Sure, there were some rough times during puppyhood, but she never takes anything that isn't hers now... and her housetraining is ironclad. She never actually damages or ruins anything. Actually, most of the time she's happy to chill out sprawled on the carpet nearby while we watch TV, work at the desk, cook in the kitchen.

Yep. I'd love to "fix" what's wrong with Belle. The only thing is, most of the things he rattles off about being wrong with her are things I can't change. I can't make her a smaller dog (nor would I want to). I can't make her a shorthair dog, and I can't make her stop shedding, even though I brush her out religiously. I have attempted a calm discussion of what specific issues he has with her, the problem is he isn't willing to allow me to train her; he's already come to the conclusion that we're getting rid of her "and that's final". Worse, even if I do train her he wants no part in it. So yeah, maybe I could get her to sit quietly when I come in rather than to wiggle all around and walk happy circles... but he won't care what command I use or how I do it. He'll just yell at her to get out of the way and tell her "BAD DOG".

The other caveat... I have a broken foot right now and I am dependent on crutches. I am physically incapable of doing anything to burn off her extra energy, and I can't even maneuver well enough to train very effectively. As if that weren't enough, I'm a college student right now and I don't live at home. I'd take Belle with me if I could, but my mom will not have any of it... my landlord and roommates would probably be pretty tough customers, and I don't have a yard to speak of.

Zeke 08-19-2012 03:09 AM

I guess my underlying point is that you can't talk someone into loving, or even liking, a dog. It's typically the dogs behavior that determines whether they're well recieved by everyone. I, and this is just some stranger on the internet's opinion, do not think the way to go about this is with the "why can't he just see how mean he's being? Why won't he just like her like we do? Why why why?" attitude. There seem to be other emotional issues at play already that you've alluded too, does everything have to be so dramatic? If he doesn't like her out of spite, whining and trying to verbally convince him otherwise won't help. Just my thought.

If you yourself cannot physically work with the dog why not your mom and sister? If they cannot physically either, what part of the family does this dog fall into? Who cares for her? I am of the mind dogs are lifelong pets too, but what life is it for a dog if no one will train/work with her because one single family member makes it futile? These can all just be rhetorical questions, they're just my thoughts on the matter, you seem to be at a true loss of things to try...
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Eolith 08-19-2012 03:35 AM

I'm sorry. I'm not trying to sound like one of those people who asks "why why why" without actually trying to find the answers. I have contacted professional dog trainers. I have done research on training methods. I have acquired new interactive food toys to keep her engaged. We've taken her to the groomer to have her professionally groomed. I don't know what I haven't tried, really. The truth is, this has been an ongoing "discussion" between us for about two months now... and I've only just now reached the end of my rope. I am always calm and controlled when I am speaking to him. I make a rational case whenever I can and I try to present the facts from my perspective.

You asked who cares for her? Really, all of us care for her except for my dad. I may have been unclear. It's not that no one is taking the time to spend with Belle and that she's going berserk because no one is playing with her, getting her out, or training her. My sister takes her out on long runs and hikes regularly. We toss the ball for her all the time. My mom and my sister have been doing some training, but as anyone should know there's no such thing as an overnight fix. These things take time and incredible consistency, which is impossible to achieve when he isn't willing to listen to anything we say without announcing that it doesn't matter anyway because we're getting rid of her.

Eolith 08-19-2012 03:44 AM

Just thought I should add... I can see far deeper into the recesses of this problem than is perhaps any of my business. I can perceive that at the end of the day, it's not entirely about the dog. It's about my dad. To get into all of those details however would be to expose far more about my family than needs to be said on the internet, which is why my "pared down" version probably sounds so shallow, helpless and whiney. Really, I just needed to try to get it off my chest, let off a bit of steam... not that it's helping to fix anything.

Zeke 08-19-2012 03:58 AM

It was definitely becoming apparent that this is more about your dad and family issues then the dog. I have no experience with such issues, I wish I could help and I'm sorry that it's weighing so heavily in your mind.

I hope you can eventually talk to him about how whatever is happening is effecting you, without mention of the dog if that's not where the issue actually lies.

Eta- writing this may not immediately feel like its helping, and I know it sounds cliche but writing feelings and thoughts out really does help us to process ideas and emotions in order to see what's actually bothering us so we can address it. Don't feel like writing and venting is useless! If anything it blows off steam.
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Meatos 08-19-2012 08:42 AM

Was everybody on board with getting Bella in the first place? In my line of work, I see A LOT of dogs rehomed and usually it comes down to the family (or at least one member of the family) not really being ready for a dog to begin with. How old is Bella? Most dogs are rehomed between 6mos-1.5yo because people aren't patient enough with them to realise that most dogs don't grow out of puppyhood until they are 2 or 3yo. If you have a big dog, a big puppy can be really frustrating.

What kind of dog is Bella? I have a great dane so I can sympathise with the annoying oversize puppy stuff, but again, it's one of those things that everyone has to be on board with before the puppy comes home in order for the dog to grow into a well-behaved adult. My Scarlett was 2 before she started being a "normal" dog but at over 100lbs since she was 6mos it was an uphill struggle, and at 140lbs and almost 4yo now, I'm glad we put in all the hard work from day one.

It's definitely a major cop-out on your dad's part to just want to get rid of Bella. I think that really sucks. It sounds to me like he is being pushy and unreasonable and since your parents' marriage isn't in the best shape, he's looking for someone to be angry with. Not Bella's fault at all. Your dad needs to work through his own issues before he decides to break his family's heart by getting rid of a beloved family dog. There appears to be several underlying issues here and if they aren't resolved, he'll just find more things to complain about once Bella is gone (if he gets rid of her, that is).

On the shedding front, have you tried a Furminator brush? They do an amazing job of de-shedding a dog and might be a worthy investment for you guys (they can run up to about $75 but are worth their weight in gold). Brush her outside.

Eolith 08-19-2012 10:42 AM

You're right, Meatos. He wasn't completely on board with getting her in the first place, but we did get his reluctant permission. We wanted a dog that would grow up to be athletic enough to keep up with my sister since she does so much jogging and hiking... and we wanted the dog to be big enough to offer an intimidation factor towards any creepers she might encounter while on her excursions. Belle fits in with that perfectly. As far as my dad is concerned however, the only really acceptable breed of dog is a Dachshund. We already complied with that ultimatum once. We got a Dachshund a couple years before Belle, despite none of us actually wanting a Dachshund that much (though now we have all completely fallen in love with our Dachshund). The Dachshund isn't suited for long runs though, and there is certainly no intimidation factor there... so our priorities were never in alignment.

Belle is going on 5 yrs old now, and she's nowhere near the crazy puppy she was. She's a mutt. Our best guess is a Labrador/Border Collie mix... though there have been other theories. She's about 75 lbs.

http://i418.photobucket.com/albums/p.../bellelove.jpg

I think you are largely right about this mostly being a cop out. There are so many other issues already present, but he's latched onto Belle as the thing that is "wrong". It's as though he's testing who we love more -- him or the dog. What he doesn't understand is that it doesn't work that way. I love him. I love the dog. But if he starts throwing his weight around because he thinks that the love I already have for him isn't enough, it will only backfire and cause a huge amount of damage to our relationship.

I guess you could say this is a dramatic summer. I'm a college student who is normally away, but because of this broken foot of mine I've been at home this summer. My sister will be moving out to go to college this year and once my foot is healed I'll be back to school as well. The dreaded "empty nest" is about to come on and I suspect that it is completely freaking my dad out. One of my psychology professors told us that when the kids are grown up and moved out, the marriage between a couple usually either strengthens and becomes more meaningful... or it ends. I'm sensing that my parents' marriage is coming precariously close to ending, and it scares me. They do plan to get some counseling and a professional dog trainer's help once my sister and I are gone. I'm just not sure that I see it working out.

On the Furminator front -- yep we've got one! We love it too.

Failbhe 08-19-2012 11:39 AM

She is adorable... I can definitely picture her being a very high energy dog!

I agree with what Zeke said a little further up - just writing things out is a great way to process and get things off your chest.

Are you and your sister going to college in the same area? Would it work for you two share a small house or apartment where you could take Belle with you? Then your sister can still go jogging with her dog, and your dad can experience life without the dog and might realize he misses her. I know if that was an option you probably would have thought of it already, just wondering.


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