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I would be happy to share my story about Popeye... if it could only help someone… someday. Way too many times, I've heard people describe their dog as having behavior and temperament problems, and the end result, putting the dog to sleep because it has bitten someone. It is a really hard thing to cope with, and considered “Taboo” with animal rights activist or a “Touchy” subject around others, but sometimes it has to be done to protect human life.
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HereÂ’s his storyÂ…..

Our baby boy was a result of back-yard breeding. Some local person put two dogs together and had some puppies. Well, they were not the only people who did this... several generations of this type of breeding was in his pedigree. Because the dogs were registered with AKC they felt they were breeding great pet dogs! There was no testing for temperament or anything else that matters in a correct sound dog. He was raised in horrible filthy conditions with no socializing of any kind. The breeders couldn't get rid of him, mind you at six weeks old, and he was the only one left out of the litter. Gee, I wonder why they couldnÂ’t find him a home?

Anyways, we rescued him to add to our other rescued dog, because we felt horrible for him. At the time, we scoped newspapers in the area too see who was breeding what. We wanted to see for ourselves who was who in the breed, to learn the differences between good/poor breeders and good/poor bloodlines. You can tell by the quality of the adults and the homes, how the pups were going to turn outÂ… and no surprise to us - every single ad in the paper were placed by poor breeders.

From the very beginning, we raised Popeye with a great deal of socializing, obedience and conformation training, etc. We took him all over for different events, fun matches, dog shows, and the like. This was going to be my learning dog - I called him. We knew he wouldn't compete in conformation breed shows, but we used him so I could learn how to handle on my own. I even put a leg on him in Novice A obedience, being my first dog to compete with and his first time out. At first, he loved obedience and seemed to be sound when I worked him; however, when I did conformation with him, he was a totally different dog!

He first started growling at the judges that went down him for exam. No matter what sex, color, or age the judge was, it didn't matter, he would growl. I would correct him, have many people go down him, and train every chance I had, but that didn't seem to matter. I thought maybe because he loved me so much, being with me 24/7, he was being protective, since I was holding him on the leash at the time.... what little we knew about dogs' "True" protection abilities and the importance of a sound mind. We had other experienced people handle him at matches, as well.... it didn't matter; he would do the same thing. Many a times I came across un-experienced trainers or owners that told me his behavior was a breed traitÂ…. that he was being aloof. Unfortunately, it was farthest from the truth.

We finally took him to someone that was in dogs their entire life and also experienced in the breed. This person was huge into SchH and truly knew dogsÂ’ correct temperament more then anything else! Immediately, Popeye was diagnosedÂ…he was completely freaking out with this person.... We thought he was being a good dog with protection instincts. Ya, right - How wrong we were!!! Well, he wouldn't end his weird behavior... and couldn't seem to calm down. His hackles up the whole time... grumbling and hiding. How blind we were!!! What little we knew and what seemed to be a long road aheadÂ….

As a young pup, Popeye learned who the neighbors were and loved to play with our neighbor's kids. They enjoyed it for hours and we had no problems. As he matured, we would walk around the block and stop by to see them when they were outside. Popeye immediately would get in their face, hackles up, growling, ready to bite for absolutely no reason. He didn't remember who the people where and they were not doing anything but standing still! They were NOT running, playing, throwing anything, staring into his eyes, doing absolutely nothing. They did not provoke the dog in any way, according to what a dog would understand as a threat.

At the hotels when I walked him to ex, he would growl at things that didn't seem like they were even there..... he would imagine objects and people being there, but they weren't. It was very strange! He would stand close or behind me and didn't want to wonder away from me at all - a sure sign of being afraid. He would also growl at small objects, like a leaf or plastic bag rolling down the street. Most dogs would want to chase and play with them, but not him!

He continued to do this with all thingsÂ… and the older he got, the more violent he would become. Eventually, it was to the point in any situation, we couldnÂ’t hardly hold or control him. He was fixed, not for this reason, but because we had stopped showing him, and we knew we were not going to breed him. People feel this will stop aggression - it doesn't. It just stops dogs from breeding........ It got to the point that when I would go to shows, that anyone wanting to stop to pet him or just walking by, he acted in the same manner I described and could have easily hurt someone if I wasn't careful! It just wasnÂ’t worth itÂ….

Unfortunate, but true, he would see a couple walking down the street and he would stand there barking and growling, with hackles up, ready to bite at any moment. The people didn't behave unusual; in fact, human behavior and body language didn't seem to register in this dog's mind. He seemed to have snapped in his mind, not being able to understand the differences of a threat or normal actions. That is the easiest way to put it. No amount of control or obedience could help, there was more too it then this!

There are other behaviors that he would do: Every single time I would get a garbage bag out to place in the trashcanÂ… the dog would run!!! Tail and but tucked under himself, scared to death! He would hide behind the couch. True sign of a scared dog.... He could never relax around certain noises or circumstances that scared himÂ…. Not able to recover from them, knowing full well that they wouldn't harm him! No matter what type of training, he couldn't overcome these obstacles.

He was known to be gun shy when tested, which is another sign of being afraid. We would go to different places, public places to walk, and he would be totally scared of these new surroundings. It got to the point that I couldnÂ’t take him anywhere.

After visiting several behaviorists, trainers, and people who have been in the breed - breeders, and the like, when they all saw him, they all concluded the same diagnosis. Which confirmed in our minds that they knew what they were talking about.

One person we talked to, said to get rid of him... so we debated on giving him to someone who had a great deal of acreage - fenced in and be the only dog - and have only one person to care for him. But we thought... What if he wouldn't be able to get along even with this person? This wasnÂ’t an option!!! Most other people told us this wouldn't be wise because he wasn't stable and placing him with a stranger in a new environment would bring out the worse in him. We would also be held responsible for whatever happened, selling a vicious dog. Since we were told that the older he was going to get, the worse it would be, we knew they where right.... because he was!

A few weeks before we let him go, my husband was in the yard and Popeye treated him like he was a total stranger. He had snapped like we had seen before many times. We couldn't get him to realize that it was all right... I couldnÂ’t call him off of him, he wouldnÂ’t listen, and he was totally in fear mode.

Then one day after that, I went out to the kennel to let the dogs out, Popeye didn't recognize me.... the one that trained, fed, cared, and loved him more then anyone else! I would talk to him in my normal voice, and try to get him to see whom it was.... he wouldn't calm down. He totally didn't know! The other two dogs were fine. No barking, no growling, happy to see me. Not Popeye! He went totally crazy. I looked around the neighborhood making sure it wasn't something he saw, that I didn't... there was no one around, but me. I left him in the kennel, knowing full well that it was the safest place for both of us. After an hour passed, I went out to get him, and he was fine. Acted just like he always did when he was... I guess you could say - normal and happy too see me.....

The next day, we took him to the vet! He seemed to almost know that he wasn't coming home and that it was all right. He gave me this look - that was amazing to me, than gave me a last kiss goodbye to wipe away my tears.

As I'm writing this, too this day, I cannot forget that! It hurts deeply. It was extremely hard to let him go, but we knew what was best for him and us, including many people who could have been a victim to his bite. We didn't want anyone to get harmed. People are more valuable, no matter how hard it is to put otherwise a healthy dog down... in body, but not in mind! It wasn't Popeye's fault that he was born this way and it wasn't our fault for not being able to help him in that capacity. We did all we could and it didn't matter, he was still sick.... mental illness can come in many forms, even in animals.

Fear aggression is a horrible thing to deal with in an animal. I have seen many smaller breeds have this same problem, because they don't temperament test them before breeding and smaller dogs - if they bite - usually don't do much damage. But we have to remember the size and strength of a large dog. They can and will kill a human life. Being that you could have criminal charges brought against you and loose your house insurance, along with a great deal of money with law-suits, medical bills, and the like, it seems better to let the dog go to a peaceful place.

There are many types of aggression. Some forms are behavior problems that can be fixed and are totally prevented if the owner knows what to do. Other forms cannot be helped, no matter what type of training you do, and is better left to the professionals.

You will miss them, and you will miss them even more, every time you think of them. It doesn't get any easier. You can also be afraid to get another dog because you don't want the same thing to happen again. But you also remember the good times and beautiful memories you had when they seem normal. Having a dog in this capacity will make you more aware of how a correct dog should act and knowing that going to a reputable breeder does help, but it is not always a guarantee. There are no guarantees in life.......

If you purchase a dog, try to get one that has some form of training and temperament testing. Look for these types of titles in the dogÂ’s pedigree. BH, CD, CDX, TT, ZTP, BST, SCHH, RTD, etc. also remember that this is never enough! Make sure to visit the parents and have your puppy evaluated by someone who knows how to test a puppy's true temperament.

If you're going thru this, remember you are not alone with this sort of thing. Please don't ever feel guilty for doing what is right for you and your dog! I know in my heart we really did help him and many others in the endÂ… thanks for letting me share his story.
 

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What a touching story. I believe that every thing happens for a reason in life and Popeye was meant to be with you for the time he was here. Whether it be a learning experience or because god knew he would be in good hands with you as a owner seeing what was happening with your Popeye thank goodness he was ! If someone else would have raised him he might has bitten or worse really hurt someone ! You did the right thing for you and your Popeye and I know he is truly missed ...
 

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Ditto what Kitty said ! BUT, it still sucks to HAVE TO put down a family dog no matter how you look at it. I'm sure you miss him. I have taken tworescues with some " issues " and what a dogs they turned out to be.
 
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