Ca$h was at our local shelter. I saw him on the web page and camped out for him cuz I was missing a black lab from my collection. We fancied ourselves experienced dog people and had yet to encounter a dog situation we couldn’t handle. Pretty much from the moment he came into the house it was turmoil. The records from the shelter indicated we were his fourth home and we got him when he was 2.5 years old. 3.5 years later, we’ve come to the conclusion that he was a cute puppy somebody paid for, ignored him when he wasn’t a puppy anymore, got rid of him when he was unruly, and then was abused (likely by a man with a bat) and eventually dumped a couple more times before landed in the shelter where we got him.
We had three other Labs and Ca$h took an immediate hatred to the oldest one- Garcia. There were fights, and blood, and stitches, and pieces of ears bitten off, bald spots on his nose from the muzzle, cones, and all the vet bills that go with that type of thing. On the plus side- Ca$h was completely devoted to me and would walk through fire just to be with me- or if I asked him to. But on the minus side Ca$h was unpredictable, rarely settled- pacing, licking, reacting- and then things got worse.
We hired a behaviorist-paid her a ton of money for a written plan-fumigated the house with DAP, put Ca$h on Prozac – found DockDogs (he couldn’t swim when we got him and wouldn’t go in the pool for almost his whole first summer with us) for him to release his energy. Things were a little better for a bit- but resentment was growing amongst the humans due to how Ca$h treated others and how he should be treated. ….and things got worse.
We learned he couldn’t be trusted around other dogs- at all. At that point we had two dog letter outters quit- one of them telling me that the only option was to have Ca$h destroyed because he was so damaged (well that one quit before I could fire her). While I hated her for it- her argument was not totally out of the blue- Ca$h bit my husband a couple times and would growl at him and corner him. I believe that he picked up on the fear and then felt there was something to be afraid of and acted fearfully. Our son (middle schooler) didn’t have that problem because he didn’t show fear- although he clearly didn’t like Ca$h. But, he could handle himself well. However I couldn’t rely on the hope that Ca$h would never bite him- and I couldn’t deal with the heartbreaking consequences if he did.
We were fast approaching a “It’s me or the dog situation”…. And it could have gone either way. There were endless talks and tears and then finally the words “I will never forgive you if you make me destroy something I love so deeply because you can’t fully engage in a training program”. So with the stakes as high as they could be- we hired a trainer and worked the program. Daniel was 100% honest with us and held us accountable for getting out of our own way to make things better with Ca$h- and pointed out that my husband needed do move forward and that Ca$h and I needed a little separation to reduce our dependency on each other. While the sessions were more expensive that many other options, they were totally worth it. We all had a part in it and we are all thankful we can live in the same house without fear of each other.
These days- Ca$h and Garcia are NEVER together without a barrier between them. He is ok with dogs that have very calm energy. He takes a lot from our two lady Labs Rachy and now Penny. He’s not one to seek out a fight- but won’t back down. I’ve taken him to basic obedience class for the socialization aspect and now rather than getting nervous and reacting badly- he looks to me to tell him what to do. The “look at me” command means- Mom is in control-we got this- no worries.
Seeing him engage in play with our puppy Penny was such a big deal. Seeing my husband being happy about it and not scooping up Penny and hiding her from Ca$h to protect her is such a big deal. All in a good way. We are a work in progress. He’s not perfect and he will probably always be a “Ca$hole”- but he’s my Ca$hole- with a heart bigger than the universe, soulful sweet eyes deeper than the deepest ocean, and a resilient spirit that has been my privilege to help heal.
I doubt any of this would have been possible without Daniel at Loudoun K9