So…we are getting another dog. I know, I know…we must be crazy. I still feel guilt over what happened with Gunner. I think about him often and feel terrible that we did what had to be done considering it was the only option he left us with. I look back and think that Gunner was a very dominant dog, meaning that in his mind, he owned us and everything in the house because that was what his previous owner had allowed. It wasn’t until I started leaning more about dog psychology that I realized all this.
I remember the very first day his previous owner brought him to our house, she unloaded him from the car and Elle and her friend ran over from the neighbor’s house excited to see him. Obviously, this is going to startle a dog that’s unsure of what’s going on, but he growled and bared his teeth a little – aggressive dog protecting his property, or his owner. I also remember that his previous owner had allowed Gunner to jump up on her with his paws on her shoulders. While this seems like “affection,” it is not. It is the dog asserting his dominance over her and her love and affection in return to this behavior encouraged his dominance. He also showed he was quite dog aggressive with my sister’s 95lb dog and my brother’s 65lb dog.
Being in our home and having his dominance challenged was new to him. I don’t doubt for one second that it was stressful for him to be challenged and to relinquish his dominance over us as well as learned new rules and boundaries. Not only that, but although he was crate trained, he was rarely in his crate with his previous owner as she had much more time for him whereas Ted and I both work full time. Gunner was confined to his crate for three days out of the week for an extended period of time. Although he had a daily walk, I have no doubt that the confinement drove him a little crazy.
I’m not excusing his actions on Rhett, but just trying to understand his mentality and why he did it. We’ll never really know, but what I do know is that we are also responsible for what happened. And for our part in the incidence I feel terrible. With that said, we are getting another dog. Partly because I want to start fresh and “right our wrong” and have a forever dog to be with us as a happy family and partly because we (the whole family) enjoyed having dog companionship. Elle would accompany the dog-walker on the evening walks and I enjoyed a quick morning jog with Gunner when time permitted.
In our decision to get another dog, it was very important to me to have a younger and smaller breed dog. My thinking behind this is that a younger dog will not have as much history with another owner and perhaps less habits to retrain. I also wanted a smaller breed because in the unfortunate event that a similar incidence occurs in our house, perhaps the damage won’t be so extensive. I think that I’ve also resolved to setting up more actual physical boundaries in our home with gates rather than just trusting the dog will respect the boundaries, as was the case with Gunner.
We also ended up with a female dog. Not that females are any less dominant than males, but I think the tendency to be stubborn about the dominance won’t be as severe. With all that said, we picked out a little two month old beagle mix female. I’ve never even seen her in person, just this one picture. The children and Ted saw her the day they went by the pound and looked at her. I’m anxiously waiting for Animal Control Services to spay her so that we can get the go-ahead to bring her home!
Here’s the one photo of Sara (Elle named her after the little sister in Polar Express) I’ve seen: