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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Second opinion


Recently we were approved by a well known Golden Retriever rescue society to adopt a dog from them, and a few weeks later I went and viewed a castrated Golden Retriever, which was a four hour round trip away. This dog was described as 'good with other dogs', and although in his write up it was stated that he had been put into rescue because he had reportedly bared his teeth at somebody, the rescue and foster carer didn't think that this was an issue.

When I went to see the dog, I took our four-year-old chocolate Lab bitch with use, who has been spayed. The two dogs were walked together and seemed to get on ok, and in actual fact, didn't take an awful lot of notice of each other once the initial sniffing had finished. After the walk we returned to the foster carer's home where the two dogs were allowed to play in the garden. The foster carer doesn't have another dog, but the assessment on this Golden's temperament was presumably carried out during his meetings with other dogs while on lead. I thought he was a beautiful dog, though didn't think he was pure Golden, but possibly had some collie in him as well, but if the dog was the right one for us then this wouldn't matter. His play was a little rough, but I know that this sometimes happens and that dogs will settle down after a while. Ruby, my Lab, went indoors though to 'escape' his attentions and he was put on a lead for a while, then later he was let off-lead again, and things seemed to become settled.

I decided to adopt this dog, and take him home. He travelled well in the back of the estate car with Ruby, and two hours later at 10.30 pm we arrived home. The dogs went into the garden first for a toilet break, then we went indoors. This is when the new dog turned into an animal that I hadn't expected. Within minutes, he had gone for Ruby when she took a toy from her toy box. He flew across the room to get to her to do this. I didn't think any damage had been done to her, but took the toy box up anyway. Then the dog turned his attention to his bed, which he 'bonked' so much that I took this up as well! His attentions then turned again to Ruby, who was by now on her bed. His play was lively to say the least. Anyway we eventually went to bed, and the new dog decided to join me on the bed, which I don't generally allow, but it was late and we were tired. Ruby has her own bed in my bedroom, and I hoped that I would be able to do the same with the new dog. We slept until 4.30am, when the new dog woke up and decided that he was going to 'play' with Ruby. She didn't want to do this, so I ended up putting new dog on lead and keeping him on until 7am when I fed the dogs their breakfast.

What followed was a total nightmare. New dog made continued dives onto Ruby with what at first looked like he was playing, then losing control of himself and going for her. He was put on the lead again. They later went into the garden and because new dog seemed calmer I let him off again, where he made several unprovoked aggressive attacks on Ruby. I couldn't see any immediate damage, but my main concern after checking Ruby out was to get in touch with the rescue and tell them I wanted to return the dog. I told them all that had happened, this dog was literally hanging off the side of Ruby's face, neck and head. We had to wait until the evening before the foster carer could be there to take him back, so at 6pm we left to do the two hour trip to return the dog. Ruby was on the back seat, looking more than a little traumatised after her day. The other dog screamed the place down and scratched to be let in when he was shut in the kitchen for a short while! Ruby just wanted to be near me all the time.

A week after all this happened Ruby starting scratching at the top of her head, neck and side of her face, and during the next two days wet eczema developed and we took her to the vet. During the trip to the vet, she tore her face open with her scratching, and it was so bad that when we reached the vet she was kept in overnight, while she was sedated, clipped over the large affected areas and given antibiotics and steroid cream. During the next week it was awful for her, and difficult trying to keep her from scratching, and we returned to the vet as arranged a week later where she was given another week's worth of antibiotics and a steroid injection. Thankfully today she was discharged, but this has left us £170 out of pocket, and last week my husband decided to try and claim off the rescue's insurance for the vet bills incurred. However the vet says he can't confirm one way or another whether a dog bite would have taken this long (a week) to cause the problems that it had, so won't support our claim. We are absolutely certain that as the trauma has occurred in the areas that Ruby was bitten, that damage even if it was to soft tissue was the cause of the problem.

Can anybody with veterinary experience give their opinion on this please? Coincidentally this afternoon we bumped into a walker also with a chocolate Lab bitch, who was similarly attacked a while ago, and developed wet eczema on the bite area a week after the attack.

This has really put us off getting another rescue dog, although our beautiful Ruby is a rescue herself, and came with issues, as most rescues do. However rescue societies need to do a proper assessment of dogs going up for rehoming, and owners handing their dogs over to rescue should be honest with the problems which they are handing over with their dog. I am an experienced dog owner and trainer, but have never witnessed the behaviour shown by this dog, during nearly 30 years of being around dogs.
Many thanks.

Name supplied, by email

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