Dougal

I always seem to have some sort of dilemma to think about. At the moment I still haven’t sorted out if I want to study in September, whether to explore dog training, or do something in the field of disability which would be useful for my work and for future employment.
Right now though, our mischievous bundle of fluff, otherwise known as Dougal is causing the problem.

We got Dougal in January 2007, when he was only six weeks old. I felt that he was too young to be taken away from his mother, but the people selling the pups were moving house and wanted to sell them ASAP. I chose him because he was the more confident independent pup, because he liked being handled and didn’t mind being away from his parents or littermate, who was the complete opposite. My nephew Jack and I often wonder how different things might have been if I’d chosen the other pup!!

Dougal was always unbelievably independent and strong-willed. He is friendly and likes to be cuddled, but only on his terms. Pick him up when he doesn’t want to be touched, and he will quickly let you know he’s not happy. He dislikes having his paws touched and can be quite possessive about his toys or his bed. For this reason, I can’t relax with him around children. He is fine with my nephews who know his personality, but you can never be sure.

Dougal is a difficult dog to watch because he was so hard to housetrain. Crate training was the best thing I ever did, but we always have to remember to take him out regularly during the day or there will be accidents. His recall isn’t great, so when he gets outside off-lead if a door has been left open, he will run down the road and try to find something to eat (and this dog eats anything!), resulting in a dirty and often ill dog afterwards.

Dougal has a number of issues that make him difficult to look after, and a lot of it is due to inconsistent training from myself and my family. Its very difficult to convince everyone to treat him the same way that I do, and to put as much work into him as I have. I am concerned that when I move house, things will become much more difficult. He mightn’t get as many walks, or the consistent obedience training and attention he needs, resulting in more disruptive behaviour and my parents becoming frustrated with him. I am unable to keep him with me during the week because I am out during the day and I would be afraid he would bark and annoy the neighbours. I will live beside an extremely busy road, I’ve had one dog knocked down before and I couldn’t go through it again.
Its frustrating for me because when I’m with him on my own he is usually fine, and I know he has the potential to become a great dog. He loves other dogs and is great company for O.J, which I think is a great benefit when we meet other dogs in public because O J is so relaxed and doesn’t really make a big deal out of it. I like him to be able to have free time with other dogs when he is not working, and I think guide dog owners often under-estimate the importance of this.

I need to seriously think whether I will keep Dougal or rehome him. Living without O.J there will be a big adjustment for him, and if he doesn’t have something to occupy his day, then he will become an unhappy, distructive dog. I will know the reason for this and constantly feel guilty.
I have never rehomed a dog before, and swore it was something I would never do. I want to learn more about dog training, and feel like I am failing already if I give up on Dougal. I love the challenge of working with him and trying to shape his behaviour into something more manageable.
On the other hand, I need to think about the future and about when O J retires. My parents always said that they would look after him if I felt that I wasn’t in the position to care for two large dogs, but I’m not sure if they would want two dogs either. Dougal is will be hard enough for them on his own. By that stage my parents will probably have retired and would enjoy having a dog like O J around. By then Dougal will probably be eight or nine years old, and it would be more difficult and stressful to rehome him then.
If I do rehome him, I know its better to do it sooner rather than later. I would have very specific requirements as to the type of people he lives with, but how would I know that they are the right ones? Would I keep in touch with them or would I just be better to rehome him and forget about him? He would be somebody else’s dog then, and not my responsibility anymore.

So, now you can see why my heads spinning. I don’t know what is best, and I really don’t want to regret anything.

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9 thoughts on “Dougal

  1. Oh Jen I had no idea that he was so bad :(. Have you talked to your parents? I take it you're the main person who looks after him?It's a really hard decision.What about maybe taking him to some obedience classes? Don't think about rehoming just yet-the classes might work. Is there no "working" role he could be doing? Like a theropy dog maybe?I would look into it carefully. I would make sure you knew who he was going to be rehomed with if possible. But look at your options first.I hope you come to a decision soon though.Xxx.

  2. Thanks Becky.Torie he definitely couldn't be a therapy dog! If anything, I'd say he needs therapy himself haha.He's my dog so I do all the looking after, most of the walking etc, which I love, and that's what is so frustrating about the whole thing.My parents will leave the final decision up to me, but they are the ones who need to put the work in with him if he is living with them and not me.I would like them to take him to obedience classes to give them a better understanding of how to work with him more effectively, but I doubt they would go haha.

  3. Hi, firstly I don't think you are being fair to say you are a failure or to allow yourself to possibly think that you could be classed as one for not being able to keep him. You are not just wanting to get rid of him. You have stated your concerns as to the challenges that come with trying to look after him and some dogs require far more attention than others. I haven't faced the exact same situation but thoughts like yours where you feel that you could be giving up came into my head when I had to retire Richie years ago. I became very attached to him in spite of all the problems and challenges he put me through. In all the time we worked together I did feel safe even though he certainly did things that could have posed a danger to both of us. I just couldn't fit in with his behaviour. My family could not have handled him as a pet either and our pet dog Toby had a fairly rough time with him also. I had no choice in what I needed to do with him and I did visit him in his new home where it was quite obvious that he was very happy. I am lucky he found the right kind of people to live with and I was happy. You are being very thoughtful about the whole situation. Only you know what is best for Dougal and yes, it would be great for you to be able to see him should you have to make that choice and rehome him. Is his characteristics tipicle for the type of dog he is? Best of luck with whatever you decide.

  4. Oh Jen, that an easy situation at all. The very best of luck with your decision.I do know friends though that have re-homed a dog and it worked out very well for them (they had a new baby in the house and the dog just couldn't cope). They found it incredibly hard to let the dog go (he came long before the baby) but in the end it all worked out for the best. The dog is really happy in his new house (with no kids) and a couple who have lots of time and energy to look after him and devote themselves to him!!Only you know what is best for Dougal and I'm sure you'll make the right decision!Thinking of you!Fioan

  5. Thanks so much everybody for such supportive comments.Nicky the independent characteristic would be typical of his breed, but I think we were hoping he would be more affectionate and trustworthy around children. He sees them often, but I suppose its not the same as living with them. His dominance is partly because he was allowed to get away with it for so long.Sorry if reading this made you Sad, thinking about Richey.

  6. Oh I'm sorry you are having a hard time. Just because you rehome a dog does not mean you have to forget about him-believe me, I've just rehomed three miniature Dachshunds due to my upcoming move to the UK. I think of them often and check in with their new families. I think a lot of people put feelings of shame on rehoming that is unnecessary. Sure it's not the ideal situation, but sometimes we have to do what is best for ourselves and the dog. I'm not saying you should rehome him. That is a tough decision that you will have to make on your own, but if that is your decision do not feel badly about it. I also had to rehome my first guide dog because I knew working another dog in front of her would not have been fair. The selfish part of me wanted to keep her, but I did what was best for her. I have the link here for you for that dog training course I was talking about.http://www.animal-job.co.uk/1-a-dog-behaviourist-course-with-practical.htmlAlso, it sounds like you are doing what is necessary for him to be successful, but if not everyone is on the same page, then training him would be difficult. Good luck and I know you will make the best decision for everyone.

  7. Thanks Jes, I knew, from your experience that you would say something to make me feel a bit better about the whole thing. Thanks 🙂

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