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The aftermath

July 27, 2015

It’s been a week.

I am reeling from all the support I am getting from strangers far and wide. I wish I could respond to each and every one of you, and I hope that those whom shared their own stories can feel my big, virtual hug.

I didn’t write my story to share it, I wrote it for myself. Catharsis. And it was cathartic. But then I got to thinking, despite the sensitive topic, perhaps there are others who have gone through the struggle, who are going through the struggle, who may have to go through the struggle. I had no idea so many people put their dogs down for reasons similar to mine. And some people were forced after a final harrowing incident. People have been sued. People spent thousands of dollars digging themselves out from the aftermath of their dog’s actions. Dogs have been taken away by animal control and euthanized by the authorities (my biggest fear).

I was playing Russian Roulette. But with a big red dog.

I am also reeling from some of the cruel and hurtful comments. I know I opened myself up by posting my story on a public forum. I was actually a bit wary as I clicked the ‘publish’ button on the WordPress site. I voluntarily made myself vulnerable to the rude, cruel, condescending, judgmental, holier-than-thou people that I know are lurking about. But still, my open wounds started to bleed.

To the people who asked why I didn’t just buy a house with a big yard: What a nice idea. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country. Buying a house with a nice big yard for Sutter would cost at least a million and a half dollars. Even if I could afford that, in a practical sense, a nice big yard is not all that a dog needs. When I was married, I had a nice big yard. Sutter never went out there unless he had to go potty. He would rather hang out on the couch inside.

To those that asked why I waited so long to put him down: The situation was not as cut and dried as it seemed. Sutter did make contact with multiple people and dogs, but the incidents were always spaced apart by months or even years. After each incident, I tried new remedies like a muzzle, medication, a new trainer, better management.  I admit I was in denial, and I admit that I let my guard down. He seemed to be calming down and getting much better. During the last incident with the old lady, Sutter was seemingly ignoring her altogether. He was sniffing something off the path, and she was walking by on the other side. Sutter lunged and jumped after her as she had already walked by. He was lightening fast and there was zero warning. I regret that this happened with all my heart. And I am so lucky that the lady was okay even though she fell on her face. That was the wake up call. The thought of Sutter being taken away by animal control, and the recollection of all the past incidents, and the recommendations of several trainers, behaviorists, the vet, my attorney, family and friends, led me to the conclusion that enough was enough. I had already moved once, and I recently bought my condo. I loved Sutter with all my heart, but the realization that someone could be hurt very badly, I could be sued, I could lose everything, was a dark cloud hanging over my head.

Why was he allowed so close to people? Why did we let him come into contact with anyone on the walks? As someone stated, it is impossible to control the world. Do you realize how many off-leash dogs are around all the time? And how many toddlers run around wild, not listening to their parents’ calls to come back?

To the people who said we should just keep him inside at all times: Sutter loved his walks. He would stand at the door, wag his tail and smile, waiting for his walks. I walked him. A lot. At 8 years old he did not need as much stimulation and exercise as he did as a young dog. But I walked him a lot to keep his energy down. I got up at 5am every morning and took him out for 45 minutes, rain or shine. Then after work, I took him for 3-5 miles. Every day. Sutter would no longer thrive had he been on house arrest. And he still needed the exercise.

What about a muzzle? For a dog like Sutter, quality life would surely suffer. He was a highly sensitive dog, and a muzzle bothered him to the point of catatonia.

And yes, I know that cattle dogs are not for everyone. And yes, I know that cattle dogs need free space to run and play. They are working dogs and need to be kept busy. Sutter was abandoned in a box mere days old. I had no idea what his breed was when I adopted him. He had a short nose and floppy ears. At about 4 or 5 months old, his ears popped up and his nose got long. Even if I knew he was a cattle dog, I could not predict that I would get divorced and be forced to move out of my home. Things happen to people. And I did everything I could to keep him with me, even when he bit the apartment manager and got evicted.

What about medication? Sutter had blood work done and medical exams and there was nothing ‘wrong’ that the vet could detect. We tried anti-anxiety medication which did absolutely nothing. We tried sedatives which did nothing until the dose got high enough for him to be a zombie. Neither were good solutions.

What about finding a home with lots of land or a no-kill shelter? I wonder if any of the people saying I should have just found a new home would have taken on a 60 lbs, high energy, unpredictable dog who lunges and bites dogs and kids and people without warning. And as for ‘no-kill’ shelters…very few of those really exist. Even ‘no-kill’ shelters kill. They kill when a dog is sick or aggressive, to make room for others. A sensitive dog like Sutter, scared of loud noises, not happy around other dogs and strangers – what would his life be like locked in a cage like that? I honestly don’t think just being alive is enough. Doesn’t one also have to experience joy?

I was accused of not spending enough time with him. I was told that he needed to be with me 100% of the day, every day. How dare I leave him at home when I work. I was berated and told that I was the cause of his anxiety and violence. People hoped that I didn’t have children, and said I should be sterilized. I need a “kick up the backside”. I saw comments like ‘every dog can be trained’, ‘you didn’t try hard enough’ and that I have just given permission to the world to kill healthy dogs. Someone told me that they hope I see his face every day and suffer. I lied to my dog, gave him a great day, then killed him. I am a piece of shit. I am an asshole. I am useless and worthless. I will go to hell. The dogsnobs blog dedicated a whole blog post to me, my bad decision, the mismanagement of my dog, and what an idiot I am. Selfish, evil bitch. I should go fuck myself.  And my favorite, from dear Star Mitchell: I should go kill myself.

So yes, I am grateful for all the support, but I am a human being with feelings and the desire for people to respect and be kind to me. Of course, with the events of last Monday, I am grieving, regretting, questioning, wishing I could go back in time. So for now, I am going to lick my wounds, and take a walk to the coast, where my Sutter Puppy and I walked every day.

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79 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2015 3:10 PM

    Oh my goodness!! People are so insensitive!! I read your story and cried as I imagine you saying goodbye to your dearly loved pet. Having to make that most painful of decisions is not something others should second-guess nor judge. I thought you explained incredibly clearly how you came to that decision and why it was necessary. I’m so sorry for your loss and also for the cruelty of faceless strangers on the internet. Wishing you some peace and hugs. . . .

    • July 27, 2015 10:14 PM

      Thank you, Amy

      • July 28, 2015 6:53 AM

        You don’t need to explain yourself. Many of us have had to contend with the same and many of us have had to reach the same end. We try, maybe try too hard, is all that we are guilty of. Just think of his life without you. What would it have been? I rarely comment on these blogs but I posted your original on my page because I feel it has a strong message. You may have waited too long, but don’t we all in hope.

    • August 1, 2015 3:07 AM

      So very true Amy. Easy to judge for some, unless you have had one of these types of dogs before. It just isn’t talked about unless an article such as this comes along to make those of us who have also had to do the same feel like we weren’t such a monster after all and there are others out there who have had to. I have never spoke about it to anyone until now, because I felt like a failure. I have had many dogs, but then came Karma, who I ultimately deemed the dog from hell. Our vet had never seen such an aggressive dog in her practice. She was a 9 mos.old, 95 lb Cane Corso that we got at 6 weeks. She listened to only me. Other than that she wanted to tear my husband, our 8 yr old grandson and our Shar-pei apart. We got a behaviorist, private trainer, medication, you name it we tried it. Nothing worked on this girl. Our vet insisted that she had to have screw loose, the first nut dog she had ever seen. She tore the house apart if left alone, couldn’t be crated, ripped the cage apart to get out. I felt like a prisoner with this dog. The very last straw was when she ripped our Shar-pei’s neck open so bad that he needed surgery to save his life. I wasn’t home but she attacked him while he was sleeping. That was the last straw. So we took her and had her euthanized. Our vet told us it was the first time she highly recommended such a decision on a dog. As I said above, really easy to type hateful words unless you have had to deal with one of these unstable type of dogs. I hope you never have to. It was a horrible thing to have to do and the decision was not made lightly, as it appears with the author of this article. It took me a very long time to get through it. I was going to say over but, I still often think of Karma, so over isn’t the correct word. I just know in my heart we had no other choice.

  2. July 27, 2015 3:20 PM

    Indrani. You were right in making that tough decision. Sutter is safer now. Other people have no idea what you went through. I’m sorry that you were hurt by so many unkind comments that only added to your grief. Pam

  3. Donnie permalink
    July 27, 2015 3:21 PM

    No one has ever walked in your shoes and I am so sorry to hear the criticism you are receiving. Try to be comforted by the friends who support you and know how much you love (not loved) Sutter and the giving person you are who has gone the extra mile to help save countless dogs (including Sutter). Hugs to you!

  4. July 27, 2015 3:55 PM

    Please know that there are people who truly understand and are not evil and selfish, as it seems many are by some of the comments you wrote about. My heart breaks for you as I sobbed reading both your posts. I truly feel that your decision was no different then mine when we tried every possible option to keep our Great Dane alive with cancer. You try everything just to get some good days until you realize that you are not really helping them. Your dog had an illness and you tried everything within your power to help but in the end there was nothing more you could do. Words hurt but I guarantee that those asses would not have done half of what you did. My thoughts are with you!

  5. Allana Linn permalink
    July 27, 2015 4:06 PM

    I literally never, ever bother to comment on blogs. Ever. But I had to reach out to you to offer my condolences and support. Someone who has never been in your situation has absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. You spent 8 full years trying to make it work for Sutter and giving him the life he deserved. That’s 8 years more than he would have had, had a less dedicated person rescued him in the first place. My dad has a dog that he adopted from a couple of college kids. We have no idea what they put that dog through, but she is hyper aggressive towards other dogs, to the point that she jumped out of a moving vehicle one time to go after a dog. My dad has dedicated the past 4 years to helping her get better. And she has gotten better. But she still can’t be around other dogs. Thankfully, she has never been aggressive towards people. Thankfully, my dad did have the means to buy a house with plenty of space away from other homes. But he has still struggled with this decision and been on the verge of making the same choice you did. And there is nothing wrong with that. You can’t save everyone, human or animal, all you can do is do your best. My dad’s dog was hit by a car several months ago. She survived but it was touch and go for about a week. I told my dad what I just told you, even if she didn’t make it, he gave her four more years than anyone else would have, and they were four happy years. I can promise there isn’t another person around for miles who would have dedicated the time and energy to that dog like my dad did, just like I can promise the same thing for you and Sutter. Hang on to the eight years you gave him and know that you held on to him longer than most would have. Remember that the people who have said cruel things are just naive and ignorant, and as difficult as it may be, try to be happy for those naive and ignorant people that they have never had to try to help a dog exactly like Sutter. They may think they know best, but they don’t realize that they’re blessed to have never been faced with the decision you had to make, even if they don’t realize that. In an incredibly twisted and terrible way, their cruelty comes from a place of misunderstanding, yet love for your animal and animals in general. If only they could find it in their hearts to have the same love for their fellow human and show compassion to someone who just had to make what must have been the hardest decision of her life. I know I’m only one voice among many, but I fully support your decision. For what it’s worth, I came across your blog on a Facebook post, and for every negative, judgemental, self righteous comment, there were at least six more people defending you. I understand that it was a heart wrenching and difficult decision you made, and that in addition to the grief of losing a loved one you’re also probably dealing with feelings of guilt and wondering if you did the right thing. Sutter knew that you loved him, and he left this world feeling your love, and that’s all that matters. I’m praying for peace for you and sending happy and peaceful thoughts your way. I think you’re incredibly brave for sharing this story, and I can promise that you’ve helped a lot of people that have struggled and are still struggling with this same issue just by being open about your story.

  6. July 27, 2015 4:11 PM

    I feel as if the people who are asking, “Why didn’t you [insert “obvious” and “very easy” solution here]?” are close relatives, if not the same people, who see unpleasant things happen and declare, “SOMEBODY needs to do something,” while having a million excuses as to why they can’t be that somebody.

    I have only had to euthanize animals who were old, infirm, and already on death’s doorstep. It was gut and heart wrenching even then, so I can sympathize with how you must feel about an animal who was physically healthy but, for his own reasons, had reduced quality of life. You went, in my opinion, above and beyond. You sought the help of various trainers, tried the paraphernalia that has helped to calm other dogs but to no avail in your particular situation, altered your own behavior and patterns. I’m sorry that it didn’t help. I hope that you are able to find peace within your heart and come to realize that you did the best that you could.

    • July 27, 2015 10:17 PM

      I miss him terribly but every day gets easier. I hope that my sharing my story helped someone out there… That’s why I did it. Soothing one person would make it worth it. Thank you for your kind words and support.

      • July 27, 2015 10:49 PM

        It helped me, I have an aggressive cat. She’s sometimes nice, but many times she has clawed me, bitten me, broken skin, and does not like any other person, or any other animals. I’ve gone the route of anxiety meds and natural remedies like rescue remedy and keep calm. Nothing so far. We will be trying a behaviourist next. I have been trying to reconcile that euthanasia may be needed. Outside of my extreme guilt for saving an animal then feeling like I failed her, there’s the amount of backlash I may receive from fellow rescuers for making that kind of decision. Knowing that it’s not just me facing these kinds of choices, and that it can be painful but necessary helps. Thank you.

  7. Jacj permalink
    July 27, 2015 4:14 PM

    Best blessings. May you find peace and comfort. God bless. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Jen permalink
    July 27, 2015 4:33 PM

    Hugz

  9. Tricia permalink
    July 27, 2015 4:54 PM

    People are amazingly cruel and naive, and so many think that quality of life means nothing. Life at any cost is no way to think. I am so sorry that such a thoughtful and caring person, who tried harder than most would, has been so maligned. We are all going to experience the end of life, and to deny it reveals so much fear. You did an amazing job with your dog.

  10. Veniessa Kiddey permalink
    July 27, 2015 5:07 PM

    I commend you for your bravery and selfless act. I thankyou from the bottom of my heart for not placing him in a ‘no kill’ shelter to live out his days wondering where you are and why you left him… But most of all I just want to give you a virtual hug and say, he is at peace, amongst everything great that dwells beyond us.
    If you believe in angels you have a very special one that walks where you walk:) so go to the beach and smile, you are not alone
    RIP Sutter xo
    Truly ; Veniessa

  11. Andrea permalink
    July 27, 2015 5:07 PM

    God bless you. Stay strong in your beliefs and know that no matter what anyone else says, they will never know what it was like to be in your position and have no right to judge you for the decision you made. Rest assured that your Sutter knew he was loved and went peacefully in the arms of the only being he knew as Mom. I pray for your healing heart and hope one day you are able to open it to another puppy in need.

    Numbers 6: 24-26

  12. Laurie Tyler permalink
    July 27, 2015 5:09 PM

    I would never belittle you! Your decision was yours and I respect that and I am so very sorry for your loss.
    I have a beautiful 4 yr old purebred, solid black, German Shepherd named Charley! He is the sweetest little baby boy … unfortunately he, too has bitten more than I’d lIke to admit, 3 I believe! I installed an underground fence, so he won’t chase joggers, bicyclists or people just on a walk, and he is very respectful of it, I live in a very remote area with loads of room.and seclusion! I go day to day with ‘my situation’ ..
    I read your post and felt so inclined to write, Thankfully my situation hasn’t reached the level that you have experienced! … thank you for posting!

    • Liz permalink
      July 28, 2015 12:08 AM

      Laurie, are you happy with the underground fence? I have a 23 month old GSD who would love to chase walkers, joggers, cyclists, etc. It’s scary to think of what would happen. If you don’t mind, please email me at Tulipcityquilt at aol dot com

      Thanks!

      • Deb Zullo permalink
        July 30, 2015 4:50 AM

        One word of caution on the invisible fence. I have a hound mix and he will go after fox, rabbit, woodchucks, etc. and his instincts are so strong, that he “took the hit” has we put it by making a running start through electric fence and choosing the shock. He’d even yelp when he ran through. So we had to put up a very large amount of real fence (did it ourselves since we have no money!).. but some will crash the fence so be aware of that. This whole story has me in a spin… I can’t even imagine what I would do. I have a biting herder that was dropped on me, but he’s much easier to control being 40 lbs and not quite has aggressive.. I walk him and my other 2 every day and some days are better than others. But I don’t think I could control an 80 lb dog that goes crazy like this one does. It’s so hard. I could never judge what this poor woman went through…

  13. July 27, 2015 5:17 PM

    I admire you for LOVING Sutter SO MUCH! You tried EVERYTHING you could try & anyone who says otherwise is HEARTLESS!!! Just know that you gave him the BEST life he could have ever had here on earth & that he is waiting over the Bridge for you to come play some day & he will be PERFECT & BEHAVED! NO other dog will ever fill the void Sutter has left, but one day you will love again. My heart aches for you.

  14. July 27, 2015 5:20 PM

    I am so sorry to hear about all those haters. Please know they are not the majority. The same ones would bash you if you didn’t and Sutter bit someone badly and put them in the hospital. I know it is human nature to listen to the bad, but know that most kind people love and support you. We all make decisions every day, whether right or wrong, easy or difficult, or disastrous. You made a very difficult decision and should not second guess yourself. You know how much you loved Sutter and you know you made the best decision for him that you could. I cannot begin to understand what you are going through but know that my heart goes out to you. God bless you and your family during this tough time.
    And in the words of Taylor Swift, “haters gonna hate…. shake it off!”.
    🙂

  15. Lisa permalink
    July 27, 2015 5:22 PM

    wow…wow…wow….people are so heartless. I can’t even imagine the grief and judging of yourself that you are going thru now. I believe you did all that you could short of killing yourself first. Euthanasia is NEVER easy and no one will ever stand by your decisions, unless it is a true friend that has had a dog.
    That is what the internet has done – taken the ‘feelings’ out. They strike without a scratch, say things that you can’t defend, accuse without walking in your shoes. Shame on them for their ignorance and shame on you for letting them get to you. You did what a true dog lover would have done, what is best for your friend. No one has to like it, but out of respect for your loss, they should offer condolences not hatred.
    My most deepest and sincere condolences to you – you have great memories of your buddy Sutter and that is the way it should be.

  16. Kris permalink
    July 27, 2015 6:15 PM

    I am sorry that people are mean. You did the right thing and there are so many of us that understand and support your decision. Goliath was the love of my life and I too made this same decision for the exact same reasons and I did everything I possibly could. I gave him the love he deserved even if his life was short and I can tell in everything you write that Sutter was loved!!!

  17. July 27, 2015 6:44 PM

    dont be so hard n yourself there sre people out there who would have put him in the pound and not taken a second thought about what they did
    u loved sutter and did what was the best and safest thing to do for him he had you for 8 glorious years with a ton of love
    u were right to do what you did for his safety the haters are jealous that you had that time with him and did what you his parent thought was best as you were the only one who could make that decision
    i lost a dog 10 yrs ago that i had to have put down because he bit somebody and they forced me to put him down or i would lose all my animals and he was only 2 yrs old and protecting me his mommy from somebody walking on our property out in the country swinging a large stick
    thank god u didnt have to endure that
    i feel your pain i really do chin up hun it does get better but u never forget and dont regret what you did because you did it out of love and nothing else

  18. Dawn permalink
    July 27, 2015 7:09 PM

    I read every comment. Those that brought up Cesar Milan are laughable. Maybe he could have helped. However, how many other thousands of people are screened for his help that have just as severe issues, yet how many actual red flag dogs are shown on his episodes? Not very many, and I bet there are many more than the few I’ve seen where he has said flat out that he cannot help. If those that brought up Cesar think that he has never told the owners to put down a dog? They are flat out wrong because it’s happened.

    There was one other thing in your original blog that sent me a red flag…the part that your Sutter was bottlefed. I know many that raise orphans, whether puppies, cats, foals. Some make it through it okay; however, I also know of just as many if not more who are never quite right in the head. If we want to anthropomorphize animals (which I typically do not, but since it was brought up in the original blog), factually proven is there are many orphans that go through trauma of losing their mother so early in life, whether that mother has skin or fur, that grow up with something detached in their brain and they are never right because that initial bond was broken. My ex is adopted. He has absolutely no clue what it’s like to bond with another human even though his adoptive mother loves him unconditionally. There is something broken in him. It’s affected his relationships with people including his own children. Not only that, but his ability to differentiate behaviors that are acceptable and unacceptable. Detachment syndrome. It happens in animals as well as humans.

    What it comes down to is it was YOUR choice to make…not anyone else’s. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • July 27, 2015 8:13 PM

      Yes…detachment disorder is a real thing in humans. I didn’t know about the issue with bottle baby canines when I got Sutter, but I do know now.

  19. toots Navalle permalink
    July 27, 2015 7:22 PM

    Don’t torture yourself. You used common sense. I would have done the same thing only earlier. Sutter showed signs of extreme possessiveness. You cannot correct this. If he was not put down, there would have come a time when he would attack any member of your family that is trying to get near you. I had a dog that acted like this when I was younger. His possessivenes of my mom came about after he was two. He bit me and my other sister while we were trying to get to my mom. My mom had him put down. She bawled because she loved that dog but we are her priority. I would much rather have my dog die in my arms peacefully (I’m sure he was snoring while you guys were waiting for the vet to come in) than see him get shot or beaten to a bloody pulp because he bit/killed somebody or another animal. Please be at peace with it.

  20. Dee permalink
    July 27, 2015 7:37 PM

    YOU DID THE RIGHT THING!!!! As the director of one of those “no kill” rescues I will tell anyone who thought that it was a viable option A) I would have never accepted a dog with that history into my rescue and B) if I ended up with a dog in my rescue who acted like that, we would have euthanized him too. Being “no kill” means we do not euthanize for space, nor do we euthanize any animal considered adoptable. This dog was NOT adoptable. Being a no-kill doesn’t absolve me of liability and a dog with a multiple incident background is NOT safe. Any other reputable “no kill” would have done the same. Sure, there are questionable places who would have kept him warehoused in a kennel with little-to-no human interaction but any of you who think that is preferable to euthanasia have LOST YOUR HUMANITY. If you think it was as simple as buying a new house or “more training” next time you should step up to adopt a dog like this who was just BROKEN BEYOND REPAIR. His issues likely stemmed from being removed from his mom and siblings too young which seems to be backed up by the author’s history of finding him in a box at an age where he should have developmentally been with his mom/siblings for AT LEAST 3-5 more weeks (a huge amount of time and a crucial period developmentally for a dog). Nothing could have fixed this.

    • July 27, 2015 10:57 PM

      Thank you! I do rescue too, and would basically say everything you just said. I have to respond to a surrender request today for someone who wants to give us her aggressive dog, he fights with her one other dog. We are a foster based rescue, all our foster have an average of 5 dogs in their home. If we take her aggressive dog, we’re not just putting our current dogs at risk, but in all likelihood her dog will become more aggressive from being over stimulated and because of being removed from the only home he has known.

      The “someone do somethings” of this world can’t see the whole picture, no matter how well its explained to them.

  21. Michelle permalink
    July 27, 2015 7:45 PM

    You were right. You are a good person with a great compassionate heart. I worked animal rescue and animal shelters for 15+ years. I know the likes of all the people who said hateful things to you- I worked with them, loved them, fought them, challenged them, respected their desires and hopes and disliked their mindset. Many are misled by good intentions, some just seem to need a reason to hate their fellow man. I will tell you that their perception of reality is always skewed. It is them that there is something wrong with, not you. Do not let the words of the ignorant and blind that speak of things they cannot truly understand or see be of concern to you. Thank you for being a responsible pet owner to the very end. You did what was right for him and for others and didn’t leave it for someone else to do. For that you are to be applauded.
    You love your dog and did right by your dog. You truly love him, gave him an amazing life and saved him from himself at just the right time.
    I wish more people had your heart!

  22. July 27, 2015 9:34 PM

    I actually responded to a couple of these people before I realized that I was wasting precious time on people who don’t merit acknowledgement. Initially, I was appalled at the brutality and cruelty that some of them were spewing and then, I realized that I had seen many of the same characters spewing similar vitriol on other sites about multiple issues. Interestingly, none of them had any heartwarming anecdotes to share about their own successes with similar situations. In these cases, I can only conclude that these are nasty, vile, miserably unhappy and maladjusted humans who have no light in their lives. Rather than ask themselves why they are so unhappy, they spend their time attempting to infect others with hatred. There is nothing that you or I – nor anyone, for that matter – could say that would have any effect on them. There is no passion, no heart and no soul in their words. It’s the internet, it’s anonymous, faceless and without consequence. It is the venue of choice for emotional cowards. It is unfortunate that their comments cut you so badly or even touched you in any way. I wish that I knew how to infuse you with the ability to not feel the sting of words spilled from empty vessels because they are meaningless. The life experience you shared with Sutter is for you and Sutter. As painful as you parting was, that, too, is between you and Sutter. That you were willing to share that is – although you said it was catharsis for you – extremely generous. I don’t believe that I have ever seen one blog draw so many responses. Barring the small percentage of negativity, it served to open dialogue on a topic that is difficult and painful. Perhaps it will inspire someone to pursue medical research and solutions. Sutter’s life mattered. So does yours. Haters deserve nothing from you. Give them only what they deserve. Separate the chaff from the grain, know that you have supporters and grieve unapologetically.
    Godspeed, beautiful Sutter.

  23. July 27, 2015 10:22 PM

    I want to thank you so much for your article, unless someone has walked in your shoes can they understand what it took to do such a truly loving act.. I will never get over the guilt and what ifs I go though . But reading your story let me know I’m not alone, and reassures my decision to say goodbye to my perfectly health Rosco who also was my daughter love of her life. I would never have turned him over to someone else so I could ease my guilt, pretend they could help him. He would go to sleep with the people he loved being the last memory he had, I owed him that.

  24. July 27, 2015 10:41 PM

    I understand the difficulty that comes when deciding an animals quality of life and when it’s time. People always think that it comes down to illness or age. I have 3 pets right now that it’s been on my mind for a year. One dog that does fall into the old age category. However, the two cats, one has serious mental issues and has been aggressive to people and other animals. The other cat has an inoperable brain tumor, and our managing options are dwindling. It’s hard because those moments they are happy seem to outshine the bad ones for a while.

    Also, I currently volunteer for a rescue, I’ve been with a couple different rescues for almost tentirely years. Once we took in an aggressive dog that despite multiple training attempts did not change, I tried to foster him and he tried to attack me, I had to climb on my kitchen counter to escape him. Our board voted euthanization was the kindest option for him. Just because a rescue is no kill does not mean they will not euthanize a dog when it’s necessary, though it is most common when it’s a health issue that is making the dog suffer.

    I also help field emails from people wanting to surrender dogs to our rescue. When we get an email for an aggressive dog, we have to say no. It’s not about if that possible dog can be changed, but we have to consider the safety of dogs we already have and our volunteers, especially sinice we only keep dogs in fosterling homes. I don’t know of a single rescue or sanctuary that would say differently (and I tride to place the dog I mentioned at some of the most high profile sanctuaries in the country). Those people who tried to shame you for not placing him elsewhere have no idea what it’s like for rescuers when people are angry at us for not taking in dogs that have a bite history. In some rescues, the insurance we must carry doesn’t allow us to take any dog with a bite history. I would have been amazed if you had tried to place him and a rescue or no kill shelter said yes.

    It’s controversial to say this, but keeping an animal alive despite its health or behaviour is not always the kindest thing. There seems to be this “as long as they’re alive” or “anything is better than euthanasia” idea that doesn’t consider what kind of life they’re living. If their quality of life is bad, being alive isn’t enough.

    I’m sorry for your loss, and that despite all your efforts and bravery for talking logically about a very taboo topic that others were so cruel.

  25. Liz permalink
    July 28, 2015 12:03 AM

    Thank you for your follow up. Although I don’t know you, I’ve worried about you. I am sorry that there are so many idiotic, ignorant people that cannot see what’s best for a dog like Sutter. I certainly hope that they aren’t ever in this situation.

  26. Gail Christian permalink
    July 28, 2015 12:06 AM

    I am so heartbroken for you, having to make this decision, after trying everything to make Sutter’s life better and safer for others. You obviously loved him SO much to know that he certainly couldn’t be totally happy like he was. Yes, he loved his walks, but being hypervigilant can’t have been a good feeling for him. I’m so sorry you had to make the decision to send him across the Rainbow Bridge, but I feel that he will be happier and I know he will be waiting for you, tail wagging and smiling happily, for you to join him many years from now. God bless you for loving him enough.

  27. Bettina permalink
    July 28, 2015 7:51 AM

    Most people think they know it all and have all to solutions in the world, not knowing what YOU and your dog are going through. People are so incredibly selfish and the only their answer is the solution…NOT. You did what you could within the circumstances. Your Sutter runs free now and he’s with you every day. Think of the good things about Sutter that make YOU happy and forget about everything else. Bless you and Sutter’s soul.

  28. Scout permalink
    July 28, 2015 8:44 AM

    I am so sorry you’ve been attacked. I just read your original piece (a link through Facebook), and I’m sitting year with tears rolling down my eyes, remembering. I, too, had to put down a dog that I loved and raised from a puppy because of aggression. We did all the things you did — puppy class, advanced training, training for problematic dogs, finallym a muzzle whenever he was around anyone other than us. Our dog was a Shar Pei, who are known for being loving and loyal with their families — which ours certainly was — but stand-offish with strangers. He was never, not once, aggressive with my husband or me. But we had many, many near misses — times he snapped at strangers, but didn’t connect.

    Then, one day, a man walked up behind him, while we had him on a leash, and sort of pat/swatted my dog on the head, and my dog reacted by biting him. The bite was so bad, the man was hospitalized. We still didn’t put him down at that point, hoping — that as he was getting older — we could keep him segregated from others, while letting him live his life out.

    But then we had a baby . . . brought the baby home from the hospital . . . and our dog came in, went into an aggressive stance when he saw the baby, and began growling . . . and that was it. We put him down the next day. Did we have a choice? Not really. You can’t rehome an aggressive dog. And leaving my older dog at a shelter to live out his days inside a chain link fence, wondering where his family went, would have been cruel. We loved him dearly, and I still miss him nearly 12 years later. But I am absolutely sure we did the right thing . . . as did you.

  29. July 28, 2015 12:26 PM

    Your story brought tears to my eyes AND HOW hard it was for you to make that decision. And even harder living with out him. Please don’t listen to the cruel insensitive judgmental things people say. You need to greieve and in time heal and know what u did u had to and u gave your dog the best life you possible life you could. It’s gonna be some time before your ok which is natural when u loose a family member and dogs are just that. So take a deep breath and exhale and know your boy is with forever in your heart. AND PLEASE KNOW YOUR not evil not a bad person you are human..💖

  30. Ashley permalink
    July 28, 2015 3:16 PM

    We too had a dog like Sutter and we too made the most difficult decision of our life and put her down – or as we and all of the professionals we worked with like to call it – at peace- on June 15th.

    I truly don’t know if the pain, regret, what-ifs, etc. will ever go away – but I do know that our beautiful Jordy Elizabeth is now at peace, she no longer has to live in her constant state of fear and anxiety.

    You will be in my thoughts and prayers as I know how deep this pain can go.

    Best,

    ashley

  31. July 28, 2015 3:32 PM

    We’ve never met, but you know me. Sort of, at least. I’m the mother of the sweet 5 year old with the blonde ponytail and the pink Ariel shirt. She loves animals, but has been raised to give them their space until she gets an ok to make friends. So She’d likely come up within about 8ft away and cock her head as she asks you a barrage of questions about your furry friend. But the dog you describe could be deadly for her, going from calm and disinterested to mauling her pretty face in 2 seconds flat. This mom? I am grateful. I realize you’re hurting, and this has to be one of the hardest decisions you’ve ever made. But you’re saving my baby from at best costly facial reconstructive surgery and likely a fear of dogs that would last a lifetime, to worst case scenario a tiny white coffin and years of bitter litigation. Just something to ponder when the internet trolls get too nasty.

    • Liz permalink
      July 30, 2015 8:58 AM

      Excellent example. Human safety MUST come first.

  32. July 28, 2015 6:47 PM

    You made the right decision! God bless you and your poor mentally challenged dog. No one should ever criticize your kindness!

  33. Stacey permalink
    July 28, 2015 6:52 PM

    I walked in very similar shoes last year and as hard as it is to make that decision, it had to be made. When you have exhausted all options and run out of excuses to tell yourself, you have to trust in your gut that you are doing the right thing, the thing that is best for your dog. Thoughts and positive energy coming your way from NJ.

  34. HoldYourHorses permalink
    July 28, 2015 11:27 PM

    Please open your heart, life, time, and vast knowledge from your experience as a loving owner of a challenged dog, and take in another at-risk dog just as soon as you feel it’s right. Adopting another will be a lifesaving act. Don’t judge yourself to the point of wondering whether owning a dog is the right thing to do. It is. You just proved it.

    • Steven permalink
      August 5, 2015 11:05 PM

      Are you crazy? This lady couldn’t take care of the dog she had…my god people are idiots

  35. Sarah permalink
    July 29, 2015 5:51 PM

    All I can say is that you sound like a deeply caring person who had to make a very difficult choice and that you did it with grace and honesty. I admire your bravery for doing what really, truly needed to be done and for being willing to talk about it so openly and I’m sorry that you’ve been slammed here by people who obviously have their own issues to grapple with.

  36. Pat permalink
    July 30, 2015 7:30 AM

    My heart is breaking for you right now. We have a dog who had a difficult start in life and she suffers from fear based aggression but has never attacked anyone. Not yet at least. We are fortunate to have a full fenced yard and she has no desire to go off on her own, but I do worry. She doesn’t go after anyone, unless they try and approach her, but the fear is always there. We warn anyone who comes to the house not to try and pet her and we don’t have any children that come to the house so we at least have that on our side. It doesn’t sound like you made this decision lightly. Continue on with the knowledge that you game Sutter 8 years that he may not have had if you hadn’t adopted him to begin with.

  37. Chris permalink
    July 30, 2015 7:35 AM

    I just wanted to tell you I had a similiar experience and had to Euthanize my rescue whom I took in and cared for for 5 years. I tried many forms of training dog boot camps but he became more aggressive and had bitten a couple of people now and it was the hardest decision I had to make and I wish I had other options but there was no way to rehome this dog who 90% of the time was a sweet and loving pet. He had been badly abused and before we got him and I developed such a strong bond with him that even after he but me and I went to the Emergency Room I tried training boot camp but the incidents kept happening and more frequently. You did what had to be done and your post has helped me so much reading that someone else has had the same experience and I only hope I can get over the pain I am still feeling over a year later…

    Thank you for writing and Keep your head up you were brave to write about it!

  38. Yan permalink
    July 30, 2015 6:38 PM

    I have a german shepherd with the same protective nature as Sutter. You did everything you needed to do and for so long. Don’t regret your decision. Remember the good life you gave him all these years. Most importantly he was loved and you made his life as precious as any life can be for however long you can. There are always going to be haters no matter what. Another dog is waiting for your love. Go on and do the next good deed. Good luck!

  39. henry permalink
    July 31, 2015 12:20 AM

    people need to shut there pie holes he was your dog you took care of him you knew his history and what was going on you did try to fix him.the rude and nasty comments need to stop.if my dog was like this and i did everythign i could to get him to stopand it didnt work i would of done the same thing, ignore the haters they arent you and they didnt have to go through this to understand what was going on.i pray you can get past this and dont listen or read hate. take care i know sutter will meet you one day at the peraly gates.he dosent hate you you helped him by doing this,.

  40. Katie permalink
    July 31, 2015 11:14 AM

    Don’t listen to stupid people on the internet who have no idea what it was like, who haven’t walked in your shoes or who haven’t gone through what you’ve been through. You made the choice you felt was best for you and your friend, and you did it with love. Don’t dwell on your decision or live with regrets; no one truly knows how painful this was except for you.

  41. Dolores permalink
    July 31, 2015 1:32 PM

    Please don’t let the nasty people get the better of you. They have not walked in your shoes, they judge from a comfy chair, a comfortable distance away. You did right by Sutter. You absolutely did. It sucks, it hurts like hell, but you did save him. I belive we form really strong bonds with our pets, and I believe Sutter experienced great relief when he was released from this world. Maybe he didn’t understand why he’d bite another dog or person. Maybe it freaked him out, too. His spirit is with you, it always will be, he is at peace. I hope you find your peace, too. However long it takes.
    You wrote beautifully about your most heart-wrenching experience and had the courage to share it. Thank you.
    Be kind to yourself during your healing and grieving. Sutter would want you to be happy.

  42. Peggy permalink
    July 31, 2015 3:19 PM

    My heart breaks for you, and you are nothing but compassionate.

  43. July 31, 2015 3:39 PM

    So maybe there was no place for Sutter because he only loved you. P.S. I figure he’d prefer to be inside on the couch right now instead of dead, but who knows. Maybe when he got up, drunk and tried to walk- he WASN’T fighting his sudden and unexpected death. Who knows what went through that animals mind when he was quite literally, stabbed in the back. My heart breaks for your mistake.

  44. July 31, 2015 3:52 PM

    Also, FYI directly – I would sob so fucking hard for you if you’d only admit it was a mistake to terminate his existence. Because I can’t imagine how hard that would hit. But until then, I’m saving all my tears for Sutter and his journey. Sorry for the harshness, honestly, but I am frozen cold by this. At least you admitted it.

    • May 27, 2017 6:03 PM

      And what would you be saying to a 3-year-olds parent if this dog had ripped open their child’s face?

      You’d quite rightly be shouting for justice and to have that dog put down. Well, thankfully that can no longer happen to any 3 year old toddler.

      Wake up. This dog had some wires crossed and a comfy couch, a muzzle, and a ten-foot fence were never going to prevent it.

      This lady realised that it was just a matter of time and did something about it. Perhaps a little later than she should have done it but she did it.
      .
      You bleeding-heart, self-riotous, ignorant know it alls want your cake and want to eat it from the comfort of your ivory towers and glass houses.

  45. Tina permalink
    August 1, 2015 12:08 AM

    Just because someone else feels your choice was a mistake doesn’t make it ok for them to be nasty useless humans. Your choice was the best choice. Had someone pushed the issue he would have faced the same fate, something none of these nasty people take in to consideration, only that fate would NOT have been loving. He would have been alone, and straight out killed with no considerations. The ones berating you for your choice are selfish people who care for nothing else the way you care for Sutter. You did in fact do EVERY THING possible to help him… Had their child been one bitten the very first thing they would do is fight for him to be killed in a cold heartless manner and then they would have gotten “sue” happy and caused even more grief. Not one of them offered up another possible choice that could have worked for his specific situation that you didn’t already try. It is easy for people to sit back and put you down and judge you. None of them could have nor would have done what ultimately was the best for him. They would have passed him on to someone else possibly lying to them about the problems thus causing him to end up with the same fate at some point, again only it wouldn’t have been as peaceful or as loving. It is also very obvious they didn’t actually read everything you wrote that you done to help your baby. These are also the same people that would have probably shoved him in a small pen or crate to be completely miserable. Like I said it’s easy for small minded people to sit back and judge others, as they are a lot of the problem with our society today.
    Don’t allow them to get to you, they aren’t worth the time and aggravation nor are they worth the space and air they take up. Keep your head up and take some comfort in knowing you are a good, loving, big hearted person that did in fact make a very hard selfless choice to do what was best… You have far more people on your side than you realize…

    • August 6, 2015 10:16 AM

      How did this person do EVERYTHING? You can clearly see from the pic that Sutter is off leash, unmuzzled and not at arms reach.

      • August 7, 2015 9:00 AM

        Yes, I did say I had let my guard down because he seemed to be getting better and there were zero incidents for a couple years. That day on the beach, nobody was there. Not a soul. We let him off leash to climb the rock for about 5 minutes before calling him back. I’m sorry I did that.

  46. krissy permalink
    August 4, 2015 1:51 AM

    We always feel guilty putting our pets down, no matter what the reason. I hope you also feel relief one day, that Sutter is in doggie heaven and he had a better life than many animals ever have in this world. I believe you did the right thing for you and Sutter, these people with nasty comments have no compassion and NO idea how it tears you apart to have a pet with issues whom you love and what great courage it takes to actually have to make a choice to set your pet free from this life.

  47. Darlene Winslet permalink
    August 4, 2015 8:22 PM

    I am praying for you!

  48. Steven permalink
    August 5, 2015 11:02 PM

    Blah blah blah…I see the words you are writing but they’re just excuses..you failed your dog and humanity in general…please don’t ever adopt another dog…they’re better off euthanized than at the hands of such a loser

    • May 27, 2017 6:18 PM

      No…….she didn’t fail.

      She would have failed if she had allowed her dog to continue. If her dog had of mauled a child. If her dog had killed a child. That is a failure.

      She prevented that from happening.

      She admits that she didn’t take effective control. She isn’t a dog handler.

      She admits that she could have locked him away. She isn’t a prison warden.

      She knows those measures are no guarantee.

      This dog was nuts and had a brain malfunction. It happens. We have no control.

      Steven – Your anonymity speaks volumes. You are a coward. A bully. A troll. A loser with a small penis who likes to intimidate and bully women online.

  49. Cleo permalink
    August 18, 2015 3:04 PM

    I see that you have not posted since “the aftermath” and I know that going public was very painful for you. Why is it that we can receive all kinds of positive feedback but the ones we take to heart are the cruel and insensitive ones. I am where you were. I have tried everything I can think of and have consulted shelter staff, 2 vets, and today one of the most respected and experienced behaviourists in my city. I have come to the same very painful conclusion that you have and today face the fact that I have to let my beloved, but very troubled doggie go. I have been crying all day, and I know I will cry a lot more before I bring myself to finally act. But act I will because it is the right thing to do, it is the responsible and loving thing to do. I love my dog but the steps I would need to take to keep him and everyone around him safe would not result in any kind of quality of life for either my dog or our family. For the next short while I will let him eat as much as he wants, give him lots of treats, let him smell everything and roll around in whatever stinky stuff he wants. We will go hiking in the hills and we will sleep together in the trailer ( which he loves), but in the end I will put him down. He is a danger to himself, to other dogs, to any adult or child that might cross his path and a liability to his owners. We have taken every REASONABLE step to help him, but he is broken. As a rescue we don’t know what may have happened to him to cause his behaviour, but we now know that it cannot be “fixed”. It cannot be helped with medication short of putting him into a semi-comatose state, it cannot be trained away, and we have family members and other pets that are paying too high a price to save this one troubled dog. I love him, I have tried when others wrote him off, but there is a point at which one must consider the bigger picture. Sometimes you are saving the dog at the expense of the other pets, your marriage, other family members – what about their quality of life? I want to thank you for having the courage to post your story as it has helped me tremendously in making my own decision and with the horrible guilt I feel. I’m sure to draw negative comments for this post also, but I am not going to read them. Unless someone qualified is willing to step up and take my troubled dog and love him and give him all of the appropriate attention and training required – and willing to sacrifice their own life and relationships in order to save him, then they have absolutely no right to judge and I have no interest in their Opinions or comments.

  50. Cleo permalink
    August 18, 2015 3:18 PM

    PS and not for posting but I want you to know that I never read blogs and have never before commented in an open forum. Staff at the shelter where I got the dog and who know what I’m going thru forwarded your post to me. It was forwarded by a volunteer who partially manipulated me into taking the dog and has followed him.. I think this woman was a complete bleeding heart – save them all at any cost prior to her more intimate knowledge of what it has cost me and my family. I think my experience has given her new perspective and I don’t think she will be so ready to ruin someone else’s life again because she can’t bare to put down a troubled animal who comes into the shelter….

  51. Leanne permalink
    September 7, 2015 2:39 PM

    I think it’s really sad people are saying such terrible things. I immediately thought of the dog we have now. She’s a special doggie. She is not aggressive with people, she loves people. So it’s a different story all together. But when we rescued our second dog (who was injured), she went from happy puppy to dominant woman. And she doesn’t like any dogs anymore. And if they come near her brother (even though he’s better- he’s still weaker) she will attempt to kick their butt. So she doesn’t go to dog parks. And I’ve- after working with different trainers, my vet, and plenty of reading, figured out how to manage her. And ha know what?! It’s ok! People always have something to say. It’s sad, the judgement issued by people, hiding behind smartphones and computers. Pathetic really. You don’t know what it’s like to be In someone else’s shoes.
    And to dear rescue people, the one’s always with something to say. I got assistance last year with “sharesl” and small donations to rescue a family of pitbulls. God knows what I was thinking of doing. But the minute those dogs were pulled those people all disappeared. I had them for months and months and months. Trying to adopt them. The people that said they would help, share the pups. They talk a lot but when its time to buck up where are they?
    Thankfully the pups I took all got good homes. And I learned, perhaps I was a little over my head. But the rescue world didn’t do anything to help promote finding these pups a home. So I beg to differ with them most of the time. Even tho I do rescue.
    I think you made the decision you needed to make for you and your dog. It made me cry, but I can’t judge you for it. Perhaps something neurological was going on with him. Maybe not. He went to sleep knowning he was loved. That’s how I would like to pass

  52. Kim permalink
    July 23, 2016 6:13 PM

    I had a simular experience. I have worked in rescue, trained dogs for over 20 years. I sought those who specialize in rehabbing fearful, reactive dogs and paid them a ton of money to help me help her. They told me she would be fine..but there was never improvement. Not a bit. She could track, knew all basic commands, tricks, but once triggered, would fight to the death. Her triggers were unpredictable and random and frequent ans escalating at an enormous speed. I tried to find rescues, but none could take her. In good conscious I could not NOT tell them about her and once they met her there was no hiding it. We had other dogs who were in danger, mortal danger. We kept them all away from her until one day someone slipped, just a little and she killed. The person who tried to save our other dog was severly injured. You did the right thing.

  53. May 27, 2017 6:27 PM

    You need to get back on the horse and get this blog back up or start another and keep it going.

    Ignore these bleeding hearts. They clearly don’t value a child’s safety or life enough and prefer to use strawman arguments to justify what they say.

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing for a smart arse who has all those retrospective answers whilst sat in their ivory tower drinking the cool aid and preaching anonymously.

  54. Linda permalink
    July 24, 2017 7:29 PM

    You are compassionate and courageous. No one knows what it was like trying without success to change his behaviors so he could enjoy his life with you. I can’t pass judgement.God is the only one who knows your heat and its intent. Extend grace to yourself and forgive yourself and take comfort knowing . Sutter is running and playing on the other side of the rainbow bridge.

  55. Barbara Deal permalink
    August 10, 2018 11:05 AM

    I had a cocker spaniel that also had a problem. The only person he bit was a groomer, and after that he got muzzled. I would not let anyone touch him on our walks for the fear he might bite someone. I had another dog that was very sweet, and had no problem with biting. I lost Zack, the natural way on Dec 16, 2017, but I never ever thought about putting him to sleep because of his issues. I loved him so much and had him from a puppy. Even back then, he was a little high strung. I just had to be careful of the people he was around. I didn’t have children, so no problem there. My friend in the home never got bit. My mom didnt. I think he just got scared around strangers. I don’t blame anyone who goes this route but I couldn’t do it.

    • August 14, 2018 2:38 PM

      Thank you for your note. Biting a groomer is very common – that is why groomers keep muzzles around. It is stressful for the dog to be on the table, be grabbed, hair pulled, etc. If that was the only time he bit someone, I wouldn’t have been too concerned.

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