This was a really hard post for me to write. Please keep that in mind as you read.
I think Kepler must have been abused sometime in his past.
Or something else horrible. He is such a sweet, obedient dog most of the time at home, but when he sees strangers he becomes this crazy dog that will not listen, he's a totally different dog. He becomes so frightened that he lashes out. He has bitten three people in the two months we've had him. That shocks me. We are careful pet owners, we haven't put him in situations where you would expect that to happen. We walk him with a caution harness, we keep him on a tight leash, we don't have people over to the house if we can help it, and when we do we keep him confined.
The first bite was my mom, and that one could have been avoided if we had known about his stranger anxiety. She was the first stranger he met after coming to our house, and he lashed out at her in a way we did not in any way expect. Okay, we thought, we can work on that, it won't happen again.
But it did. He escaped one time and bit my sister-in-law. And another time he was trying to escape from my grip to get to a stranger and got me.
There are other problems that we've discovered: separation anxiety (vomiting, pooping and peeing, trying to escape from the crate or the room he's in), and he's also started trying to run away from home when either my husband or I has left the house - that is, he tries to follow us. He's gotten out of the fenced yard once (6-foot privacy fence, newly installed, we're not sure how he managed it), and he has bolted through the front door on several occasions when the kids opened it to go out to play.
If we had known he had this stranger aggression, we would not have brought him into our house, because we have three young children, and a dog with aggression issues would be a better fit for another family. But the lady we "rescued" him from (that's how she framed it, she said she was a dog trainer and rescued dogs from the shelter and rehomed them... but I have my doubts now) did not disclose any of his issues to us. We asked about behavior problems, we were trying to be responsible. And when we discovered the problems, we started trying to work on it rather than give up on the poor dog.
But at some point we have to realize that as much as we love this sweet, adorable, overly anxious dog, our family is a really, really bad fit for him. There's no way we would have adopted him if we had known about these issues. Our children like to have friends over to the house. That is impossible with Kepler, but that's hard for a six-year-old to understand. We also used to have relatives over at our house, and we used to host church events here. We cannot do that with a dog who cannot be confined easily and who will act aggressively towards our guests. With three children, we are a very busy family. That means that while we do devote time every day to dog training, we just don't have the time it is going to take to help him overcome this stranger anxiety. Short of sending him to one of those boarding dog training boot camp things, I cannot see how we can make this work long-term.
This is really painful for me to write. I feel like a failure, like I'm giving up on him. Does that make me a really horrible pet owner? It certainly feels like it.
But I want what is best not just for our family, but also for him. And I feel like we are not the right home for him. Does that make sense? Kind of like we were the foster home who took him from the shelter and dewormed him, neutered him, groomed him, and loved him and now it's time to find the forever home that's right for him.
We're not going to dump him at a shelter. We're not going to foist him on some unexpecting family like the "rescue" lady we got him from. If we cannot make this work, we're going to rehome him in the most responsible way we can. And we're going to take good care of him and love him and rearrange our normal family life for his sake until that happens.
But it doesn't make me feel any better about it.