Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tough Times

An issue has arisen in the house of boy.

A friend of his got married this past weekend, and he was a groomsman in the wedding. This meant he was out late on Friday night with the rehearsal dinner/bachelor party and then gone most of the day Saturday for the wedding.

This, of course, left his dog alone for quite a while in a new place.

The boy had been making headway in the crate training. After all, he didn't want the carpet in the new place to end up like it did in the last place. For short periods of time, Tyson had been left in the crate with some success.

But the boy got up late after the bachelor party, walked Tyson, and then started getting ready for the wedding. This was obviously a different routine that what Tyson had become accustomed to. (during the cohabitation experiment, if the routine was altered, Tyson would begin crying and digging at the door immediately....sometimes waking Emily up at 6:00am and almost losing his life in an unpleasant manner.) When the boy was leaving for the wedding, he noticed that Tyson already seemed anxious since his normal routine had been altered. When he left, Tyson began digging at the carpet immediately.

The boy returned to the apartment, and put Tyson into his velociraptor crate. (Go on. Click on the link. Take a refresher look at the crate in all of its glory. I'll wait.)

I would show you a picture of what the crate looks like now (not to mention what Tyson looks like now) but it's seriously horrifying to see. The upper right hand corner of the door of the crate is bent back, and the top lock is broken off. (Keep in mind that this is aluminum sheet metal!) Tyson has broken off his last remaining canine tooth and broken or split four nails from digging in the metal crate. His face is disfigured from the swelling that resulted from pushing his head against the sheet metal door to bend it back in an effort to escape from the crate. There are several scratches around his face from the metal door.

He is still limping today and has a visit with the vet tomorrow to see if he needs further medical attention.

I would normally joke about the craziness of the dog...but now I feel horrible for just assuming that the dog was being stubborn and not realizing that he really is mentally unstable. He hurt himself (and badly) trying to get out of the crate that he's learned to tolerate in small doses - simply because something misfires in his head and tells him that if he's left in the crate, something horrible will happen.

So the boy faces a horrible choice. Life his life completely around the schedule of a mentally unbalanced dog, or put his buddy to rest.

Me? I'm left angry at the person who did this to Tyson. The person who did something so horrible to Tyson that it left him scarred before the boy or I ever met him. I feel guilt that there's nothing more I can do to help him.

On the one hand, Tyson is a great dog when he's not separated from the boy for long periods of time. On the other hand, no one's life is so structured that there won't be sometimes when the dogs will only get a quick walk between outings or commitments. Should the boy have to live his life knowing that he can't be away from his dog for more than eight hours at a time?

One the one hand, Tyson isn't at all aggressive. On the other hand, he can't live with another alpha dog because, while he won't start anything, if another dog tries to exert dominance on Tyson...well, Tyson doesn't let them.

On the one hand, Tyson doesn't chew or destroy anything when left to his own devices in the apartment and on a set schedule. On the other hand, any variation to the schedule and he can be destructive - to both property and himself.

On the one hand, Tyson could be medicated. On the other hand, what will that do to his quality of life? Maybe there isn't a medication that will work. The first one that we tried had no effect.

It's a very difficult situation, and it couldn't have come at a worse time. Between our cohabitation hiatus, and this situation with Tyson, the boy feels understandably depressed. I'm doing the best I can to be there, but I'm at a loss as to what to do. There is no advice I can give - the boy has to do what he feels he needs to do. There is no comfort I can give if he has to give up his buddy. I can only take him to my vet and hold his hand. (and offer to let him cuddle with Blue and Casey to see if they can do something I can't.)

Just keep him in your thoughts, okay? And any advice you can give him (or me) would be much appreciated.


Candace said...

I don't know what to would be very diffacult to keep a pet that required so much attention...But I don't know if I could ever willing put a pet to sleep. This will be a very tough decision.

Anonymous said...

That's heartbreaking. Who could treat a dog however Tyson had been treated to make him so afraid of the crate/being off schedule? I hate those people!

Would there be any possibility at all of finding Tyson a new home? Would he adapt or is he too attached to the boy? I'm thinking something like maybe some nice retired people with a very set schedule that could keep him happy. Or maybe even someone like a truck driver that could have Tyson with him pretty much 24/7. (I used to drive truck and Toby was with me and there was always plenty of exercise opportunities and he loved being part of it all. Not to mention I never had to lock the truck at truck stops!) I know most adopters would not want to even attempt to take on an unstable dog but there are a lot of very caring people out there too. But I suppose it is wishful thinking on my part.

I hope the boy can come to a decision he can tolerate, whatever it is.

StaceyJ said...

Oh my, I think my heart actually broke a bit reading this. I enjoy Tyson thoroughly (and yes, I realize I have never had to live with him). I also can't imagine putting a pet to sleep, but as I've always said, it would be impossible for me to make a serious decision without actually being in the situation myself. Poor boy(s). Maybe I could dog-sit? Not that it would help because it certainly wouldn't be routine...
Too sad.

Farmerspice said...

You know I'm so sorry about all of this. I know the right decision will be made and your both in my thoughts. I really hope that it all works out the way it's supposed to.

AnnD said...

Yikes!! We have been there done that when Cash tore through our house to get outside (he tore his face up too).

I wouldn't put him to sleep much as I admist to fantasizing about putting Cash to sleep, it would take a lot for me to actually do it. I don't kill bugs in my house if I can avoid it. Killing is just not my responsibility, it's God's.

I know the boy has been against medicating him in the past but that's what I would do. Honestly, the Prozac didn't touch Cash but we were also told by other people that his dosage was way too low compared to what they've seen other dogs on. Our friends have a dog who is terrified of thunderstorms and lots of people. So, whenever there is a party at their house, they give their dog Valium and he sleeps right through it. I don't know what they do for thunderstorms...I think they medicate him sometimes for those depending on the situation. But, in the case of the wedding...where it is a predictable change of routine...he might have benefited from a big dose of Valium. Life will have changs of routines and this will not be the last one.

It is very sad that the dog is so emotionally unstable that he can't be alone, but I feel more bad for the boy who has tried so hard, time and time again to make the situation better for this dog but to no avail. The fact is that early trauma in human beings can alter their brain chemsitry to the point some people need to be on psychotropic medications their whole lives! In a sense, they are truly brain damaged. This has to be the case with Tyson. Medication isn't a crutch, it may be a necessity to treat a brain chemistry issue from early trauma.

Tell him to hang in there and consider medication.

AnnD said...

I have to apologize. When I first commented, I had just skimmed the story (I was between sessions) and I just read that he did try the medication. What medication was it?