Clinic Stories

Dogs Gone Wild

The background was suspicious from the start. Although no specific warnings were given by the shelter, Toby, a 3 year old terrier, was on his fourth home and was on Prozac. Mrs. D insisted that he was a perfect gentleman through the first months and discontinued his medications. Things continued to go well until I received a call from the office when I was at home in the afternoon. Mrs. D, a neighbor of mine, was trapped upstairs in her house. Toby was guarding the staircase and had already attacked and bitten her twice when she tried to get passed. When I told her I would be right over she said the front door was locked but the garage might be open. Both were locked but Toby ran to the garage when I went there, allowing Mrs. D to unlock the front door and let me in.

She was terrified, rightfully so. Toby was wild eyed and snarling and it took several minutes to corner him and snare him with a rabies pole. By the time he arrived at the office he was manageable. Mrs. D was uncertain what to do. From my perspective there was no choice. One cannot be frightened in their own home and Toby should be euthanized. But Mrs. D was involved emotionally. Surely, she thought, something could be done. Toby stayed at the office for a few days while blood work was evaluated, an evaluation was scheduled with a veterinary behaviorist and Toby was started on medications. Meanwhile, Mrs. D realized that her well intentioned concerns for Toby were not enough to overcome her fears. She contacted the shelter and Toby was once again looking for a home. Many wonderful pets can be found at shelters but some have legitimate problems. This is an unfortunate case that could have been avoided, by the shelter first, and by Mrs. D in selecting a dog with warning signs.

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