Monday, January 7, 2008

Hound of the Baskervilles

As I sit here and take a stroll through the blogs I check in the morning (my new wakeup routine), the howling begins. Next door is a beautiful, but dangerous, Malamute near-puppy who howls all day long when her owners leave for work. We've dubbed her the Hound of the Baskervilles.

The problem with this dog is that it bites, unpredictably. It's a dear when it's with it's owners only. The perfect dog, sweet, and even obedient. But if a stranger approaches, she gets nasty. And, interestingly, nasty in a hidden way. She *wants* to get a bite in, so often shields her aggression so the person will approach close enough to nail.

The situation is very sad, because as I said it is a beautiful dog, and when alone with them a well-behaved one. She is pure-bred Malamute with beautiful fur and eyes. But, after researching what to do about the behavior problem, after going to multiple trainers, the owners are at an impasse. They've contacted rescue organizations, and foster organizations, and no one will take her because of the biting. They've seen a doggie therapist, and to my knowledge she still bites.

And they're now pregnant.

They're being cornered, it seems, into putting the animal down. It is looking like their only option, and they keep promising themselves if they hit one more brick wall, they'll do it. But, as I sit here, the Hound of the Baskervilles is still howling its sad cry.

Enjoy your non-dangerous pets,



Trappin' Pat said...

Dogs are domesticated critters and if they bite unpredictably they should be put down. The owners too should feel responsible because dogs require a lot of attention and training and this animal (probably) could have been a good dog with proper attention (dogs do best if they can be with their owner while at work, or better yet give the dog a job, but of course few of us can pull that off). It’s sad that the dog pays for people’s selfish desire for unconditional love but it was left to decide how to behave while the Alpha humans were out. It’s a painful fact that it’s logical for the dog to decide to defend the territory while the Alphas are gone. If it is a danger to people it should be killed--interestingly it sounds like they would be keeping it if they didn’t have a baby on the way and it would be a booby trap for a meter reader, fence-jumping kid (like I was), or a friendly dog-petter (like I still am). BTW always get a mutt: purebreds are fraught with all sorts of inbred problems.

Kate said...

sad =/
We just had to euthanise a 3 year old rottie at work last week because she'd attacked the owner's 5 year old twice. I don't know how much effort had been put into her training, but it was a bit late for rehabilitation at that point.
A malamute is a bit of a bad choice for a "leave-at-home" dog in general, but I feel for your neighbours. Not an easy choice at all and it sounds like they've at least tried to improve the situation. More than most people do.

Bpaul said...

Other than too much time alone at home, I do believe they've given tons of energy and effort towards correcting this dog's temperament. Even when she was a little tyke. She seems utterly resistant to training is the problem.

Sad situation all around.

Like Kate said though, they've already done more than 90% of the folks out there do.

Bentley said...

*nods* one of the saddest things we had to do when i was a kid was put down a German Shepard that was sharp-shy, he was GREAT with me and my parents, but if someone other then us backed him into a corner he attacked..

Stu Farnham said...

By way of prelude: I have owned dogs, mutliple dogs, for year, used to breed them, and field trial and hunt with them. As BPaul can testify, our dogs are treated very well.
However, we learned a long time ago (a) that dogs are not little people in fur suits (b) owners that hesitate to put a terminally ill or extremely ill-tempered animal are thinking only of themselves, avoiding their pain at the cost of others'.
When making decisions about breeding, life, and death, you need to factor your emotions out of it; in these circumstances, dogs are livestock, not people. This does not mean that they are not treated humanely and compassionately. You simply have to be objective. Hard core objective.
Most pet owners and too many dog breeders lack this kind of objectivity.
I also refuse to accept the idea that an aggressive dog can be trained otherwise or is "good with the family". These are the dogs you read about in the newspaper, the ones that unpredictably attack humans.
If this malamute were my dog it would be put down.

Kate said...

I guess I just see far too many people on the opposite end of the spectrum....thinking *only* of themselves, and willing to put down perfectly healthy dogs who aren't actually aggressive or unpredictable, just not trained. A pitbull/greyhound cross (now there's a brilliant combo) was brought into work to be euthanised a few years ago because she attacked the owner's other dog. We refused to euthanise because the owners had not tried any other solutions first, including trying to find the dog another home. My best friend ended up taking her and after only 2-3 months of training (hey, guess what...dogs who think they're alpha will act like it!) she's fine. She's never trusted off leash around strange dogs, but in 3 1/2 years she has shown absolutely no aggressive behaviour towards anything but her stuffed chew toys.
So while I agree that truly aggressive and dangerous dogs should be euthanised, I'm hesitant to jump to that option too quickly and I have to applaud those owners who will actually put some effort into trying other solutions.
Also, I spent the majority of this weekend at work dealing with a horrific animal cruelty case and my opinion on humans is a little low today.

matt_stansberry said...

You know, if it barked and snarled, letting you know it doesn't like you, that's one thing. But to pretend not to want to bite... that sneaky bastard's gotta go. I hate mean dogs and I've got the scars on my chest to prove why.

Stu Farnham said...


Believe me, I know what you mean. That's why I said that being objective does not preclude being compassionate and humane.

I would not support putting a dog down for house soiling, chewing, barking, etc. I know of cases where animals were euthanised simply because they were "inconvenient" for the owner.

The thing is, pooping on the carpet may be unpleasant, but it's not dangerous. Aggression, on the other hand ...


Dani said...

Sounds like something not quite right in that poor pup's noggin. :/ My mom once had a ferret (her last, in a series of seven) that was truely insane. He bit and bit and bit, and I refused to take my shoes off when he was around. None of her other fuzzies ever did that, and she was incredibly diligent about training them all. This one lost his original name and was called "The Demon" until the day he finally bit his last.

Fortunately, with a small critter it's easier to suffer them until the end...a malamute's a totally different case.

Bpaul said...

I'll have to check back in with them and see how things are going.

Maybe there's been a reversal of fortune, which would be nice.