Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: North Carolina
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I'm really glad you got Prince to a behaviorist... but I do see a couple issues in the assessment that are possibly being overlooked.
1. The dog was obviously ill-at-ease throughout. I doubt the constant panting was due simply to being overweight unless he is massively massively obese. Dogs with a little extra pudge do stop panting.
2. He didn't show any protective tendencies over food or toys/rawhides. Apparently you guys have seen him protective over rawhides. The fact that he was not feeling "at home" in the environment, and therefore not feeling "ownership" over the items presented (or even much interest, in the behaviorist's own words) skews his behavior on these tests. If he were at home, comfortable, and with "his" items, would he have reacted the same? I have to assume that the answer, at least at sometimes, is no. Because you've already seen it.
3. Despite being uncomfortable in the environment and not seeming to stake any ownership over it, he still responded "protectively" to the stranger. I'm not sure that protective or territorial is the right term because there was nothing for him to protect and he had not claimed the environment as "his" territory. This wasn't his home. It wasn't his beloved owner/family standing behind him. This seems much more likely to be fear/anxiety... which is the cause of a great many dog bites (including, quite possibly, the two you've already seen with Prince). If Prince assumes "stranger danger," it's a problem... not something to post a smiley face about. (That's not an attack, just a call to see this as something more serious)
4. I know you don't want to hear this, but Prince is a dangerous dog. He had 2 serious bite incidents. I know part of you is thinking, "but only 2 incidents in 3 years isn't much," but it's the inconsistency of his behavior that can make him more dangerous, rather than less. If you have a dog that lashes out at unfamiliar people and/or dogs every time or protects his food/possessions every time... you're constantly on guard. You arrange his world in such a way as to keep him from being triggered and you never allow yourself to slip in that regard. When you have a dog, like Prince, who is okay most of the time but lashes out occasionally and unpredictably, he becomes a much harder dog to manage and you put the new owners in a situation where they may mistakenly give him just a little too much freedom because he's been so good for so long, and someone gets seriously injured... and Prince likely gets put down. That's tragic for everyone but especially for poor Prince.
Now, I'm not saying any of this to attack you or to imply that Prince is a "bad" dog who is not deserving of a second chance. It's only to point out some worries and perhaps some gaps in the temperament testing that could lead to problems down the road to rehoming him. I can't tell you the definite "right" answers, only what I would do if this dog were a part of my family. First, I would schedule a follow up appointment with a behaviorist to have him evaluated in his own home. It matters much more how he acts in his own environment than it does how he acts in an unfamiliar and unsettling one. Then I would take all that information from both assessments and get in touch with some of the rescues suggested in your sister's thread... the rescues that take on harder behavioral cases and have the resources/trainers to help Prince be all the golden he can be. I do not believe that this is a case where you guys should go it alone to screen homes for him. It's too risky for you. It's too risky for the new owners. And perhaps most importantly, it's too risky for Prince. This is not a situation that is going to be resolved by finding a new family on Craig's List. The type of people you need to help him don't look for dogs there. And as much as you love him and as dedicated as you are... you simply don't have the experience needed to properly screen the homes. I know it is discouraging that so many rescues have already said no. Most don't take on a dog with a bite history... but some do. And that's what you need to find. That's the only shot Prince really has.
I'm so sorry that your family has been through so much and that you are having to deal with giving up Prince on top of it all. Good luck.
Julie, Jersey and Oz
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