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How do I let her go?

Big DookieBig Dookie Smells great!Houston, TXRegistered User regular
edited February 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
No, it's not a girl thread. It's a dog thread. And even thinking about this makes me very sad. This is probably going to be long, so bear with me if you can.

chinese-crested.jpg

That's my dog, Nina. Well, that's not actually her, but I don't have a picture of her handy and this dog looks almost exactly like her. She's a hairless Chinese Crested, for those who are curious and have never seen one. They're a small breed, generally well-tempered, and all around fun dogs to own. I've had Nina since she was a pup, which was almost eight years ago.

A little background about Nina: Chinese Crested dogs are fairly small, but Nina was the runt of her litter. This is kind of why I picked her out of her siblings - she was the smallest, but she was also the most energetic and I just fell in love with her. She has remained energetic over the years, but she has also become extremely attached to me. This is apparently a trait of the breed, in that they will often become very attached to one specific person, if they are owned by a family. The attachment became a bit unhealthy, in that anytime I was away from her for any extended period of time (even a day or two), she would basically become depressed and wouldn't eat or anything until I came back. So the point of this paragraph is that Nina is very, very attached to me.

I got married about two years after I got Nina, and things have been generally okay. It took Nina a long time to adjust to my wife, but eventually Nina learned to tolerate her. Then, in the fall of 2005, my daughter Claire was born. This is where things start going south. First, it becomes obvious right off the bat that Nina does NOT like my daughter. At first it's just general apathy, but as my daughter became more active and mobile, Nina would begin growling at her and snapping at her (not biting, but scaring her). As time went on, she bit my daughter once or twice. Not bad (it didn't even come close to breaking the skin), but it was still disconcerting. Nina was never aggressive like this, so it seemed very unusual. We thought maybe she could have rabies or something, so we had her tested and she turned out to be normal. Plus, she still acted completely fine around my wife and I.

So needless to say, we had a problem, as things got progressively worse between Nina and Claire. And it recently got a whole lot worse. I should note here that I have allergies, and one of my specific allergies is to dogs. It is not a bad allergy, and Nina is supposedly a hypo-allergenic dog, so it has never been a real issue for me. However, in the last several months, my daughter has had continuous issues with rashes, congestion, etc, and she recently became old enough to be tested for allergies. Sure enough, she's allergic to dogs, and her allergy is apparently much worse than mine.

I've known for a while this day was coming, but this most recent development has sealed the deal. We are going to have to get rid of Nina. I know it seems like such an obvious thing, and it shouldn't even phase me to make this decision... but it does. Understand, I've had Nina since before I met my wife, and long before Claire was born. She's been part of my family for nearly as long as my wife and daughter combined. Even thinking about her not being with us makes me incredibly sad. Yet, I know it has to be done for my daughter's sake.

So my question is, what do I do? My two main options are either to give/sell her to another home, or to give her to the humane society. In both cases, I'm worried about what will happen to her. Seeing how she has reacted in the past to relatively short periods of my absence, I'm afraid that a permanent seperation from me will literally kill her with grief. Of course, this is assuming she isn't euthanized in the later case first. Are these really my only two options, or is there something else I'm missing? Keeping her is not an option, as much as I wish it were.

If you guys were in my situation, what would you do? I just feel lost. It seems so stupid to me when I rationalize it - it's just a dog, I shouldn't even be thinking twice about this. So why do I feel like a part of me is dying? I don't even know if there's any good advice that can be given in this situation, but if anyone has gone through something like this in the past and can give some input on how you handled it, I'd really appreciate it. Forgive me in advance if I don't reply for a day or two, as I'm leaving after this and might not be able to get online for a while. Thanks.

tl;dr - I love my dog, but she's aggressive toward my daughter and I recently found out my daughter is allergic to her, so now I have to get rid of her (the dog). I'm worried about what will happen to her. What are my options?

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    TrowizillaTrowizilla Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    First off, have you worked with a behaviorist to deal with Nina's aggression? And if you could get her to behave around your daughter, would you be willing to take steps to keep the allergies from becoming a problem? Hepa filters, regular bathing, and keeping the dog in a separate room all are known to help with dog allergies.

    If this doesn't work, I'm afraid the chances of an 8-year-old dog in the shelters are pretty slim, especially since she's had some aggression problems. You could look into a breed-specific rescue or try private rehoming, but unless you're sure that a) she'd be going into a responsible home and b) she can get over losing you, that's iffy. Don't give her away to a stranger for free: that's a good way to have Nina used as a "bait dog" to train dog fighters. Your best choice may end up being humane euthanasia, as unfortunate as that is. I'm sorry this is happening.

    Trowizilla on
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    MandaManda Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    First of all, I'm so sorry this has happened to you. Don't feel stupid about this - the fact that you're having trouble letting Nina go is a sign of just how awesome she's been all these years. It's only natural to feel sad.

    That said, I would look for a Chinese crested/small dog rescue group in your area. A quick google search gave this: http://www.crest-care.com/members.htm What I like about rescue groups is that 1) they'll take older dogs, 2) they often know how to handle tough cases (i.e. depression through separation), 3) they thoroughly screen before adopting or foster your dog permanently if need be and 4) your dog will never be euthanized.

    As a side note, I live in Atlanta and the small dogs in our Humane Society always get adopted within 48 hours of arriving. If you live in/near a large city with a well-kept Humane Society, this might also be a good option for you. Again, I'm so sorry.

    Manda on
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    IreneDAdlerIreneDAdler Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    I'm afraid I don't have any specific advice regarding your dog, but I wanted to say that you're not dumb for taking this so hard. It's only natural for people to form a deep emotional connection with their pets. My boyfriend and I have had our cat for over 7 years, and I just can't imagine parting with her for anything. If I were in your situation, I might consider giving the kid up for adoption before I'd let my cat go :P Anyway, I'm really sorry you have to go through this. I hope everything goes well.

    IreneDAdler on
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    LadyMLadyM Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Do not give her to the humane society except as a last resort! First of all, it is a very stressful environment for a dog, especially a needy dog. Secondly, there is a chance she will be euthanized. Since she's a small purebred, she probably won't be for lack of adoption . . . but if she doesn't pass the temperament tests, she could be anyway.

    Also, do not put an ad in the paper offering to give her away for free . . . because to some people, "free" means "worthless" or "something I don't really have to take good care of, I mean it's not like she cost me any money." God help the dog if someone like that gets her. Also be careful of people who just want her because she's unusual and are into "faddy" dogs.

    But here is what I would do in your situation. First, I would see if you can get your daughter on allergy medications. If they don't help her rashes and such . . . then at least you will have tried. If that happens, look for a Chinese Crested rescue group or a small dog rescue group. Or see if any friends/family you know personally would take her. Family would be especially good because then you could visit her.

    If the allergy medications work, I would consult a behaviorist. Honestly, your dog's problem (jealousy and nipping) are not very unusual. It's a "serious" problem in the sense that it definitely needs to be addressed and stopped, but the fact that the bites didn't break the skin are a good sign. It is your responsibility as a parent and an adult both to train the dog and to keep the kid safe. Part of keeping the kid safe is keeping her from bothering the dog. Your little girl's about three now, right? Make sure she isn't pulling tails, poking her fingers in the dogs ears, etc. Make sure the dog has a safe place, like a crate, where she can retreat to when she wants to be alone. Don't let the little girl try to pick up the dog or dress it in doll clothes, etc.

    And never, ever leave them unattended together.

    This is especially important since your dog is so small, your kid could hurt her quite badly by accident just by falling over on her.

    If you absolutely can't afford a behaviorist, I would go to www.chazhound.com because I know some of the members there are licensed behaviorists. But getting a local behaviorist in to assess the situation is much better.

    I would also put the dog on NILF training . . . "Nothing in life is free". You and your wife make the policies in the house, not the dog. The dog doesn't have to do backflips for joy when your daughter toddles into a room, but the dog also needs to realize "Okay, I have to accept that this little person shares my house." (Don't worry, NILIF training will never tell you to hit your dog or anything like that.)

    I can tell that you love both your dog and your daughter . . . I really think you'll be able to find a solution that lets you keep your dog.

    LadyM on
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    Big DookieBig Dookie Smells great! Houston, TXRegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Thanks for the advice everyone. Just to address some things, we have actually tried a number of behavior training techniques, to varying levels of success. We don't have enough money hire someone to train her, unfortunately, so we've had to do most of it ourselves. I think with enough time and patience, we probably could train her to tolerate Claire better, but so far it has not been easy. To some level, I guess we're afraid that something bad might happen before we can get her completely trained. We're basically keeping them completely separated at the moment, but one mistake could lead to something bad.

    I asked the doctor about Allergy medications, and he said we're certainly going to be doing that, but he recommended that we also get rid of the dog. I of course would like to say that medication would be enough, but my wife tends to agree with the doctor, and it's hard to argue with both of them. Believe me, if there were any way to keep her, I'd definitely do so. At this point though, it's just not going to happen. We just can't devote the time or energy to her that she needs now, and the allergy issues on top of that have made it a certainty.

    Thank you for the suggestions though, I really appreciate the advice. The rescue group thing sounds like a pretty good option. I'd never heard of them, but it sounds like they are good at specializing in certain breeds and catering to their traits and needs. I'll definitely look into that and see what I can find out about them in my area.

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    starmanbrandstarmanbrand Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Just to add in some more advice, and sorry if this was covered in the OP, but why not give it to a friend, or at least someone you know/work with?

    I bet a little, cute dog like that could find a home pretty fast, especially after you told them why. This would be beneficial for you because you could still see the dog, and also it would allow the adjustment process to go a little easier. Seeing the dog maybe once every couple days the first week ,then slowing it down.

    It would leave the door open for you to have the dog be apart of your life without it being a danger to the kiddo.

    starmanbrand on
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    mugginnsmugginns Jawsome Fresh CoastRegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Where do you live? Could you have the dog live in your back yard in a 'run' with a nice big doghouse with hay/carpet or whatever to keep her warm?

    Otherwise I'd second giving it to a family friend, or even your parents or her parents.

    mugginns on
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    AtomBombAtomBomb Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    First off, I feel really weird saying this. I'm usually of the type that forums are not a substitute for medical advice, and that you should listen to your doctor. HOWEVER, I myself have very bad allergies, which I've had all my life. I am allergic to dogs. I had a dog growing up, and I have 3 now. It's manageable with medication, but if I forget to take something I definitely know it. I've had two different doctor's in my life that said that I shouldn't have dogs, even that I should get rid of the dog I have. To them, there was no reason to have what they viewed as an allergen in the home. It seemed like they looked at my dogs as a fungus or ragweed or something. They seemed to have no understanding of why I had dogs, and why I would choose to take medication for something that could be cured by taking my pet to the Humane Society.

    I would ask for a second opinion before giving up the dog. Go to another doctor and state that you would like to keep the dog, but only if you can do so in a way that won't harm your daughter. Their might be options that your other doctor isn't considering because, in simple terms, getting rid of the dog is the easiest solution.

    As an aside, medication has it's advantages too. For a time after my childhood dog died and before I got the first of the three I have now I stopped taking medication. No insurance and all that. It didn't affect me that much at home. However, I was miserable if I went to someone's house that had pets, and if I even handled something cloth-like from a house with cats I would get a rash (I'm really allergic to them too). With meds it's not really an issue.

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