I didn’t see this coming. Its not what I wanted. But for several reasons we have decided to try to keep Shadow.
I’m saying we decided to keep Shadow because whether he will live out a natural life here or be euthanized depends on his ability to improve. Currently, I think the odds of him improving enough are better than 50-50, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
The issue with Shadow is his aggression toward other animals. He regularly wants to get in fights with dogs and he hates cats and other animals. Given that Mr. Rogers is my buddy, the fact that everyone loves him, and he was here first, Mr. Rogers comes first. We can continue keeping them apart for a little while longer, but doing so is not a permanent lifestyle. So, Shadow will need to learn to ignore Mr. Rogers.
Last week, I found out I won’t be getting a guide dog for at least another year and most likely it will take 18 months or more. That reality has made it much easier for me to give Shadow this chance, because it isn’t interfering with my ability to get a guide dog.
The other thing worth mentioning is how difficult it is to find an appropriate placement for a dog who suffers the expected affects of long-term abuse and neglect. I tried dozens of rescue and shelter groups. The only rescue group that tried helping totally misrepresented what Shadow is like and how hard working with him can be sometimes. There is no way I was sending him to a situation where his failure was guaranteed because people were misled about his current capabilities.
While the above paragraphs may seem negative, I’m really just trying to honestly report things. I truly believe Shadow is in his heart a good boy. He has obviously suffered abuse and neglect that has made him the way he is today. That is, of course, not his fault. So, taking his life without giving him every opportunity to reach his potential and enjoy the love he deserves wouldn’t be right in my mind. While I was hoping there were resources to actually provide for dogs like Shadow, I can’t turn my back on him without knowing we tried our best.
If Shadow learns to behave and lives a life free of fear-based agression, he will owe the quality and longevity of his life to Mom. I’m amazed by the effort she is making to socialize him and to get him to used to the outside world. She walks him at least twice a day, even though walking him isn’t easy. She has begun taking him to parks so he can see other dogs playing and hopefully begin to learn playing isn’t threatening. I don’t know another person who would go as far out of their way for a dog as mom is doing. While I have done my part, I would never attempt to do what she’s doing.
Today, I’m hopeful of scheduling training sessions for Shadow and us. With luck, he will continue making the improvement he sometimes shows. I’m looking forward to the day when Mr. Rogers can freely walk around here again and to Shadow coexisting with my next guide dog. But I’m also looking forward to the day when Shadow really trusts that he can be loved and enjoy his life without worrying when he will next be beaten.