ChelseaG16
   I have never been on a grief support forum until now, and I find myself desperately in need of counsel and to know I am not alone. We had to euthanize my beloved Utah on Sunday July 6th at 7am due to increasing and dangerous aggression. I am a lifelong animal lover and professional horse trainer, so losing pets is not new to me, but this has been a loss very different from all the others, and I am beside myself with guilt and grief. I find it hard talk about with people because so many haven't been in this position, and seem to think some how it must have been easier because he was "mean," but no one seems to realize that if anything one becomes even more attached to an aggressive dog because your entire existence revolves around them. You spend every waking moment avoiding their triggers, working on solutions, making their increasingly secluded life as enriched as possible, and worrying about them constantly when you're away. And the loss is overwhelming. I have never had to take a "happy" healthy dog that absolutely worshiped me and end its life here on this earth. The guilt and grief is truly overpowering and inescapable, and the emptiness left in his wake is almost palpable. I have three other dogs and yet it still feels like the house is totally empty.
   We adopted Utah from a shelter just a few days before his kill date in October of 2011. At just 2 years old he was heartworm positive and had already been through the system 3 times. Every person that adopted him either brought him back or dumped him again. Even before his aggression began he was an extremely difficult dog. Highly strung, hyper-focused, neurotic, etc. He required an enormous amount of exercise/discipline/routine, and from then on my life basically revolved around his needs. At that point he wasn't aggressive at all, which was a necessity for me as I take my dogs with me to work and basically everywhere I go, so they are exposed to a lot of other dogs and animals. He was intelligent, comical, jubilant, and adored my husband and I. He had escaped from every owner that he had previously, but we couldn't keep him more than a few feet away from us. He was a very high maintenance creature, yet I fell in love with him in spite of myself.
   The aggression began subtly; he was territorial of male dogs being in the house and certain large male dogs would trigger him. Then his patterns became more sporadic and less predictable, to the point where I was nervous about letting him be loose at the barn without constant supervision, so I continued bringing him with me but kept him tied up on a 15 foot leash. He never seemed to mind this, but he then started getting territorial of the leash space whenever I wasnt around him, and attacking any animal that could come within reach. I did SO much work with him over the course of years... obedience, recall, prey drive reducing exercises, and more, and I know he viewed me as his alpha, but when the incidents occurred it was like he left his body and this monster took over. You could see his eyes change and then afterwards he would look like he had no memory of what happened and couldnt understand why I was so upset with him. Nothing was gained from insights with vets, behaviorists and trainers, nor any progress made with electronic collars, calming supplements,muzzles, you name it.
   Over the last 6 months is when it really spiraled out of control. In that span of time he attacked 2 horses, a cat, and 5 dogs, one of them being my older, precious guy that would never hurt a thing. His attacks were becoming violent, he no longer would recall out of them, and they had progressed from a lot of noise and fur flying to blood and serious injuries. We were paying vet bills out the nose, and I could no longer take him to work with me as he had hurt animals at every barn where I went. The last two weeks of his life I had to leave him tied outside in a big run while I left him with my other dogs to go to work. It was devastating. He had shelter, shade, a fan, a crate, etc., but the look on his face when I would leave him every morning shredded every fiber of my being. It was last Saturday night when he attacked another family dog that was just minding his own business and about ripped its throat out that I knew I had to make the decision and do it fast before I changed my mind like I had so many times. We euthanized the next morning.
   He had never been aggressive towards people, and that made it even harder for me to make the choice, but as swiftly downhill as it was going that may have been the next phase. I more so did it to spare the lives of my other dogs. Utah's playing had become so aggressive and I noticed how my other dogs were becoming worrisome and fearful of him at times. I could NEVER leave them unsupervised, and I knew in my gut it was only a matter of time before he seriously injured or killed one of his pack mates. He had been churned through so many homes and shelters, I couldn't bear to try and rehome him knowing how bad he was getting and how horribly it could have ended for him.
    I feel that my grief has only worsened since it happened. I feel angry that I did everything I could to save him and failed, and yet even in releasing his spirit I still cant get any peace. I feel like I betrayed him and my own heart as well. I miss every thing about him, I even miss the constant chaos of trying to control the situation. I miss the "production." I miss Utah.
Utah2.jpg 
   
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spiritdog
Wow. You did everything you could and more. For whatever reason he was a mentally damaged dog that could not be repaired no matter the love or training.

I had a small dog once that the vet did say "if he was a big dog he would have been put down" because of his nature/personality. He was one angry dog, his past did it to him. His eyes did as your dogs did, they changed and he would be out of control, devil eyes, not in the present at all, just angry. I could see the eyes change ie and come back to reality. So I do know what you mean.

Sadly my dog passed away from a poisoning. But I wanted to write you and know I do know what that kind of dog is and how there was no choice. Love him still and forever, you released him from his turmoil.

I am so sorry for your loss.
"People disappoint, dogs never do" - spiritdog

"You MUST be your pets ADVOCATE, if it doesn't feel right walk away." - spiritdog
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ChelseaG16
Spiritdog thank you so much for your thoughts and condolences. I too have known a lot of snarky or dangerous little ones that are able to get away with it because of their size. I wish Utah had been small and maybe I could still have him beside me, but he was not only larger but all muscle which didnt help; there was no quit in him when he had the "rage."
   I am so sorry about your dog, what a tragic passing. The loss we go through is truly unbelievable, and I am so glad to have found this forum to talk to people like yourself. Thank you and much love
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spiritdog
I am glad you found your way here. I know that you loved Utah very much by all you put into him. We do give our all, animal people that we are.

Little Mitch? I was surprised he even survived his first year. He argued with the horses over the carrots, to the point one day I saw a horse paw at him and throw him backwards, he flew through the air a long ways because he'd bite at their noses! I had a 200lb. pig who was scared to death of him, he stole Pigs food all the time. I had to put up chicken wire over the fencing I already had so Pig could eat without getting bit by Mitch.

I saw him "attack" the mailman's car, only to be run over (not by tires), down the middle of the car and spit out the back, as my vet said "small dogs bounce well" and there was no damage to him.

He was a very big dog in a 7lb body.

But that anger was always in him, and like you I had to watch for it. But yes being small? I could pick him up by his harness and hold at arms length in the air while he had his angry hissy fit, I waited for the eyes to change back to normal before I put him back on the ground.

Yes that rage is uncontrollable and in a bigger dog it must have been heartbreaking and scary to see. It is rage.

Please realize you gave him the love he probably never had before, and he thanks you for that. Sometimes all the love, training, devotion can not fix really damaged dogs not completely for them to have a full life. You tried and that matters a lot.
spiritdog

"People disappoint, dogs never do" - spiritdog

"You MUST be your pets ADVOCATE, if it doesn't feel right walk away." - spiritdog
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ChelseaG16
Good grief, it sounds like Mitch and Utah had a lot in common. Utah frequently terrorized a miniature donkey at one of the barns and as I said earlier attacked 2 horses. He obviously caused injury though so instead of kicking back they became afraid of him. In February of this year he broke loose out of the house and was hit by a car running across the street to attack a dog almost two blocks down. Even being hit by a car never taught him a lesson, he just became nervous around cars. The last time we took him hiking in a public place he had gotten so bad my husband had to pick him up and carry him when we passed strange dogs, sort of like you holding Mitch by his harness. It's kind of comical when the little guys do it, but when it's a 50 lb pit bull mix it's like Moses parting the Red Sea, people are terrified and rightfully so. Ironically I have a chihuahua too and he's the biggest baby if them all!
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Bellamum
I read your post with tears in my eyes.  I am so sorry for all that you have been through and I am especially sorry that in the end you had to say goodbye to sweet Utah.  I love the photo that you posted.  He is such a big beautiful boy.  I can see your love for him by the way you are snuggling close to him.

 I can only imagine the turmoil that you went through.  You were a wonderful mum/mom to Utah.  You tried everything you could think of the help him, but unfortunately, no matter how much we want to fix things, some things are out o four control.  You did more for him that many people would have done.  You did not fail him.  You didn't give up on him and you fought for him until you couldn't do any more.  He will know that you loved him with all of your heart and that you desperately wanted everything to work out.
 
Nothing I can say will take away your pain, but I believe that Utah is now at Rainbow Bridge and all of his "troubles" are gone.  He is now a secure, well adjusted dog who is playing happily with all kinds of happy little creatures up there, including my sweet beagle, Bella,  and he is playing nicely.  He will play like this while he waits for you.  When it is your time he will greet you with excitement and gratitude for all that you did for him. 
I wish you peace and healing.
Karen
(Bella, Charli and Buddy's very lucky mum)

My gorgeous girl, Bella  26/07/2004 - 03/04/2014
"You were once by our side, but you will be forever in our hearts. Until we meet again baby girl."
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L0ganpc2
I'm so sorry that you had to make that decision. Utah was a beautiful dog.It sounds like he had a rough start to begin with. We never know what genetics and environment will bring when we rescue creatures. Wishing you peace.
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ChelseaG16
Bellasmom and Logan, thank you so much for taking the time to send me words of comfort and condolence. I am so sorry for your loss of Bella. No matter what the cause of their passing may be, it leaves us in heartache. Utah had such an enormous presence and the hole he leaves in his wake is just huge, sometimes I feel like it will swallow me. Just knowing there are other out there that share my pain and loneliness bring me great comfort. Thank you again
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ralphiesmom
ChelseaG16 - I just had to let you know that I feel really bad for your loss.  My little toy poodle Ralphie was aggressive most of his whole 11 years here with us. We bought him when he was weeks old, so he's been with us his whole life.   In the beginning for a couple of years, he was the perfect little guy so cute adorable fun etc.  I feel that the seizures he had from day one throughout his whole life did something to him, because as the years went on, he got meaner and less tolerant with anybody and everybody that he came in contact with.  If you pet him the wrong way or came upon him and startled him then he would attack you.  You just never knew when he would do it.  My whole life with him until the day he died was a constant awareness of him, protection of him, and on alert for him.  Like you, I was always there trying to defend his actions, feel bad when he bit someone petting him, and apologize for him when he was bad, because I loved him and everyone else gave up on him.  Like you, I would have never given up on him, never given him to someone else, and never not been there for him until the end.  When he died I felt guilt, and sadness even though he was a handful .  I thank god he was a little guy, because everyone does put up with it from a littler dog.  So in the end, you just never know what kind of personality your animal will have, and I feel once you pick them, or they pick you, you can't turn your back on them and you have to try to help them through life until the end, whatever that may be.  I miss my little Ralphie terribly and a lot of people are relieved he is gone, but I'm not.  I hope this helps your grief, because it has helped me to know other people have gone through this too.
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ChelseaG16
Ralphies mom,
Thank you for sharing your story. I can so relate to the pain and frustration you felt. It's been over 6 weeks now, but I still feel so torn over whether or not I did the right thing or if I could have tried something else to save him. The fact that he never bit a person made it less black and white for me, but his aggression was worsening so quickly I fear it may have come to that point. I miss him so much. You know how much it hurts, and I am so grateful for your words
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PongosMom
ChelseaG16 - Thank you so much for sharing your story. It seems like you did everything that you could do for Utah. At the same time, I think it was both wise and very brave of you to make the decision that you did. Our dog, Pongo, was recently mulled to death by a dog who was able to escape its collar and jump over the fence while Pongo was being walked. The attack was so sudden and unprovoked. When we talked with the owner, the dog apparently showed no aggression when it came to humans. And, for some reason, it just snapped. These decisions are especially difficult, especially when these animals become such an intricate part of our lives. I'm not sure the extent to which this message will bring any solace, but as a parent who lost a pet in such a tragic and sudden way, I really appreciate the proactive steps you took in training Utah, getting him help, and really looking out for his interest...especially given his past. I think he was so fortunate to have an owner care as much for him as you did. Please don't ever feel that you gave up on him. For some reason or other, the different interventions did not work, but I really feel that you did all that you could. That is more than can be said of other owners. 
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Gertie
Hi, Reading about your journey made me cry. What a difficult decision you had to make. Utah had some inner torment, you will never know what happened to him early in his life. All I can say is the end of his life was filled with love, you cared for him like no one had before. Remember you gave him the greatest gift, you let him go to find peace. That is the love of a good Mom, you did what was right for him. I made that decision last year when I put my 9 year old Lhasa Duncan to sleep. He was not aggressive like Utah but he had a lot of little health issues. In the end he was on steroids for 9 years, that did change his personality. He also need 2 more surgeries and still would have had the same health issues. Putting him to sleep, I lost a part of myself. Duncan took a little part of my heart with him. Like you I questioned myself and my decision. A year later I now know I did the right thing, for Duncan. My love for him lives on, he will be my forever Dog.

I hope you find peace in you heart. Please know your baby is safe now. The love you shared lives on.

Hug's to you,

Duncan's Mom xx
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ChelseaG16
Pongos Mom and Gertie,
   Thank you so much for your condolences and thoughts. I took a break from the website to allow myself a little time to heal, and getting back on and reading them made me feel validated and understood. Pongos mom, yours especially touched me because that was the biggest thing I worried about day in and day out; that Utah would one day kill someone else's dog, and how absolutely unforgivable it would be after all the attacks and warning signs he had shown. As awful as it was for me to put him down and lose him, it would be even more painful to be the owner of an innocent dog that was killed by one as aggressive as he was. I am so deeply sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing your story.
  Gertie I too still feel that agony of confusion over whether what we did was the right thing, but I do feel more solidified in my choice as time goes by, especially not having to worry about the welfare of my other dogs, or those belonging to those around us. I am sure you must have agonized fro so long over what to do with Duncan, but in the end they are the ones entrusting their welfare to us, and relying on us to make the right decision by them when it is time to let them go. I feel certain in saying that we both did the right thing, even if we can't fully realize it right now.
   Thank you both again so much and I look forward to the day when we will all be united with our beloved kids.
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Gertie
Chelsea,

Thank you for letting me know how you are doing. I feel Duncan & Utah are playing, free from pain and torment. As time passes I know my little Duncan is in a better place. You, one day will know for certain Utah is OK, watching over you.

Take care, Hug's to you.

Duncan's Momxx
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MyLenny
To ChelseaG16 I don't know if you will get this, but I would like to 'talk' with you. I just found this forum and it is helping but not a lot of people understand. Not even family...Yesterday was a year for me losing my most precious Lenny. Everything in you original post is exactly what I was living with. We had to stop giving my boy walks. He was pretty much just an inside dog anyway. But he'd always see his brother's going for walks and it always broke my heart not to take him. I'm really in need to talk to someone who has experienced this kind of loss, because it can be no worse, it IS the worst and people can say they understand but unless it's happened to them. They just can't fathom! I am hurting so bad and I just want to talk to someone that's been there too! It's been a year, my boy and I were so close! His name is Lenny. I love him sooo MUCH!!!! This morning I spent most of the morning sobbing so hard! Everytime someone asks me how I am, I cry. Everytime I think of him I cry! I just can't get it out of my head! I keep praying I'll wake up from this night mare but I never do...I hope you see this. . . 

Ann
Ann Meehl
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