Friday, March 29, 2019

Chronicles of a Rescue Dog: Final Installment

Picking up where the last post in this series left off...

A couple of weeks ago, Kai flipped out when a middle-school girl came by selling candy, barking like a maniac and trying to rush the door. I crated him until she was gone, but it was disheartening, because in the past he's been okay when people came to the door. Welcoming even.

Then, the next day, our next door neighbor came over to help Old Dog install a new microwave oven over our stove.

Since the day Kai arrived, he's been triggered by the people next door. Whenever he sees them he flips out, orbiting the yard at top speed, barking hysterically, and churning the grass along the fence lines into shredded mud.

Because of this aversion, it seemed best to leave him outside while the installation took place.

After the guys got the new microwave set up, the neighbor stayed to have a cup of coffee and chat. Outside, it had started raining, so I let Kai into the basement. He really wanted in the house, though, and he seemed to be okay, so after warning Old Dog, I released the hound.

Kai took one look at the neighbor leaning against the counter and bounced over to sniff his shoes. He seemed intrigued--right up to the instant when he launched himself upward and bit the neighbor in the side, breaking the skin and drawing blood. Old Dog yanked him off and crated him. The neighbor assured us he was okay.

But it wasn't okay.

When I talked to K9 Guy, he said biting someone's torso was bad, a step up in aggression from biting arms or legs or buttocks. A dog that will do that is a far more serious threat than one that just goes after extremities.

And that was it. We finally understood that Kai is more than we can handle.

I asked K9 Guy if he had any suggestions of someone who might take Kai (hoping, to be honest, that he'd volunteer to take Kai himself) but he didn't.

So on Monday I contacted the rescue folks and told them we couldn't keep him, knowing it was almost a foregone conclusion they would euthanize him. And I couldn't blame them. Short of being placed with a professional trainer, he's unlikely to do any better anywhere else. He's beautiful and smart and funny--and kind of a psychopath.

My rescue rep got in touch with the original trainer who had evaluated him. She still felt he could be rehomed. She talked to K9 Guy. He also felt Kai should be rehomed. We made plans to send him back to K9 Guy for a couple more weeks of training while the original trainer tries to locate a permanent placement in a working dog home that will have a job for him.

Last Thursday, I took him to the vet and updated his rabies and bordetella vaccines, which were due at the end of the month. On Friday we went to the gym and walked 12 laps in the parking lot. He was much more attentive than usual, glancing over frequently  to be sure I was right beside him--the acme of good heeling behavior. We came home and played ball in the yard and then I gathered up his toys. I put his puzzles through the dishwasher so they wouldn't be covered in dog spit and packed them up, along with his squeaky snake and a couple of his Chuck-It balls.

Then I took him to a boarding kennel to stay for a couple of weeks until K9 Guy has an opening. The original trainer met me there, along with a lady from a rescue in Cincinnati. I was standing next to the original trainer, who had him on a leash. The rescue lady was standing a couple of feet from the trainer. She didn't move toward Kai. She didn't make eye contact. Without warning, he lunged and bit her arm. (Full disclosure: she had on a sweatshirt with voluminous sleeves, so he didn't actually make contact with her skin.)

On Monday, the original trainer contacted me to say she'd conferred with K9 guy and they  agreed that Kai should be euthanized. His unpredictability--the fact that he bites with no warning--no growling, no barking, no ruffled fur--makes him a danger, even for an experienced trainer. A split second of inattention and someone could get badly hurt.

I am sick over this. As I write this, there's a guy installing a $2000 door we'd planned to use to let Kai out into a secluded part of the yard, to keep him away from the boundary fences and people. It's in my nature to always feel like if I were smarter/kinder/more disciplined/generally a better person, my failures wouldn't occur. This time, I know that's not true. I did everything I could reasonably do to give him a good home, but he was so broken when he got here it just couldn't happen.

K9 guy says some dogs are just mis-wired. After the incident in Cincinnati, he decided Kai fit into the classification.

I keep thinking, "He never seriously hurt anyone. He didn't even make contact with that lady's arm." But the alternative would be to wait until he did hurt someone and that wouldn't be okay.

Sometimes life really sucks.


  1. I am so sorry. You've done everything you could. Heck, more than most people would. Kai didn't stand a chance by the people who (mis)raised him. That's on them. Not you. (((hugs)))

  2. I am so sorry. It sucks. You gave it a good try. He had a chance...several of just wasn't meant to be. I agree with the trainer...a bite to the torso is not acceptable. I am sending you a hug.

    1. Thanks, Connie. It feels like what's not coming through here is how stinkin' adorable he was some of the time. He was so bright and curious. But, as you say, it was not to be.

  3. It is sad that there was no alternative but you and Bill went way beyond what most people would have done.

  4. Thanks, Pauline. I could see him getting more aggressive as time went on.


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