Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Roscoe: A Sad Ending

I told a little fib.  Actually… some folks might call my deception kind of a whopper.  Sorry.  Whether my reasons are ultimately judged as good or bad, there was a reason for keeping it a secret.

A few weeks ago I talked about a Pit Bull puppy getting adopted from the Fulton County Animal Shelter.  That part is true.  But I purposely mislead everyone about where Jerry aka Tiger and more recently aka Gizmo actually lives.  Let me come clean:  Gizmo is ours.  And he is a joy!  A complete cuddle puppy who loves nothing more than naptime wrapped in my arms… and licking peanutbutter off a spoon.  That's pretty awesome stuff, too!  Gizmo should be the poster puppy for why you would consider a shelter adoption!!

The shelter's intake photo for Tycoon/Roscoe
taken appx August 10, 2013.
The same day we brought him home, we brought home another dog… a smallish 2-3 year old Rottweiler the shelter tagged as Tycoon.  Tycoon, or whatever his real name is, had an entire lifetime that was filled with mistreatment from all that we pieced together.  He was starved – you could lay fingers between his ribs – and had small open sores on his face and front paws.  We know he had broken toes at some point because his nails stick up in rather odd directions.  He was in such bad shape that the shelter’s vet wouldn't neuter him, a requirement for adoption, because she didn't feel like he would survive the anesthesia from the surgery so Tycoon came home with us as a foster dog to get healthy first.

For the first 3-4 days, I wanted nothing more than to send him back!  He velcroed himself to my leg and just made me crazy.  I couldn't take a step without tripping over him.  Literally!!  He was like a stone attached tightly to my ankle.  He just stoically sat there unwilling to even blink and completely oblivious to the danger he was putting both of us in if I fell!  He wouldn't take an independent step away from me unless… he saw an opportunity to hump the puppy… or poop on the floor.

Roscoe the evening of September 11, 2013
We were grateful that it seemed like his behavior mellowed as he observed and interacted with the other dogs.  It was almost like he watched them to learn how to be a dog.  He played very (almost uncomfortably) intensely but thinking lack of testosterone would make him a bit more docile, we started calling him Roscoe and made plans to complete the adoption following his surgery on September 12.  He'd put on enough weight, got a real shine to his coat and you could even see the beginnings of muscles rippling over his chest.  All in all - a pretty dramatic turn-around!

Sadly, however, Roscoe isn't going to remain part of family.

He came home from the neutering intent that he, and only he, could be the center of ALL attention and he was ready to violently enforce his new ‘rule.’  Within 24 hours, he'd been in several altercations with Thunder… and initially we thought Thunder was the instigator because of his posturing for dominance in the past... but the bloody gashes on Thunder looked more like defensive wounds and he was the one left crying.  Then he attacked Gizmo, unprovoked, while we watched.  A little bit later, he lunged and bit my arm as I reached past him to give one of the other dogs a treat - a near nightly custom on our way up to bed.  And then while Derek was getting everyone calmed down again…  Derek sat on the next to bottom step of the stairs and was petting Roscoe’s head and speaking to him softly.  Thunder walked up, sniffed at Roscoe from behind and sat down on Derek’s other side to get petted, too.  As soon as Derek reached to pat Thunder’s head with his other hand, Roscoe went crazy.  He was snarling, slobbering, and snapping in a frightful display... Somehow Derek got Thunder behind him and into the hall bathroom while pushing Roscoe back with his foot.  He got bit.  A nasty looking puncture on the bottom/side of his foot that we're still watching for infection.
My left forearm the evening of 9/13... my 'reward' for giving treats and a bit of band-aid
scum (1 of my 2 allergies - I will get a nasty weepy rash if I leave it on longer).
The main gash is fairly deep and bled steady for almost 12 hours.

Once Roscoe was leashed outside and the wounds were all cleaned and bandaged, we sat down to talk and made the very difficult decision to surrender Roscoe back to the shelter.  He presented a greater danger than we are prepared to take on...  It isn't fair for the other dogs to live in fear of when he's going to snap and attack them.  It isn't fair that we worry about coming home to a wounded, or dead, dog every time we leave the house.  It isn't fair to wonder when we are going to have an issue with animal control thinking our dogs are being abused because of his attacks.  It isn't fair to worry about him escaping the yard and hurting a neighbor's pet - or worse, their child.  And it surely isn't fair to live with the pain of being bitten repeatedly and not knowing when his bite would do significant damage to one of our own limbs.

With broken hearts and many tears we took him back to the shelter on Saturday morning.  We told them everything.  We told them about his initial behavior issues, his growing intensity as he got healthier, our hopes that neutering would calm him down, about his violence on returning home...  It just felt like the day couldn't get any worse.  And then a staff member at the shelter gave us a lecture saying that his behavior was all our fault; that we'd cared for him wrong and broke a commitment to give him a forever home no matter what.  Basically, she said we were terrible, horrible, evil people who had no business ever owning a pet.

Wow!  That hurts.

Even knowing it's absolutely not true, it still hurts.  I know what happened in my home.  I know how he was treated, loved and wanted.  But I guess offering the same treatment and a good measure of safety to our other pets and ourselves isn't enough in their eyes.  I'm sure when I get past being stunned, I'll get angry and complain to their director and whatever part of county government oversees the animal shelters in Atlanta.  But right now, I'm just grieving.

Will we try again for a 4th dog?  Oh yes... Derek has already searched out a breeder with a black and tan Doberman puppy, the last of the litter and available for a bargain price to free up their breeding pen.  May the Good Lord help me!!  Another puppy to potty train...

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