Friday, April 2, 2010

In Memory Of Hunter

Look at that sweet guy leaning up against John.

Our sweet, sweet dog, Hunter, died today and it was by our decision. We are crushed. We adopted Hunter at age 4 months. He had been found abandoned at 8 weeks old & had spent the next 6 weeks in an animal shelter. He temperament tested very well & we were thrilled with him. He was the softest tempered German Shepherd I had ever worked with. Sweet, sensitive, & kind, with a lot of "goofy" mixed in. I did a lot of training and socialized him well. He passed both his "CGC" (Canine Good Citizen) and his "TDI" (Therapy Dog International) tests just after he turned one. The testers at the dog training club kept asking us where we got this fantastic dog.

At about age two he began showing atypical and un-Hunter-like behavior. He would "see" something dangerous on a spot on the floor where there was absolutely nothing. Then he started to show anxiety in enclosed areas, like in a hallway or a small kitchen. We talked with our vet & got the diagnosis we suspected, but found so bizarre: canine mental illness. People can have mental illness, but animals? Yes! The vet said it wasn't really common but he had seen it before. The theory is that maybe it is caused by irresponsible in-breeding. That could easily be the reason in Hunter's case since we rescued him & don't know about his origins.

So, today, we had to make a horrible decision. We had tried medication.
We had done our work already with his training & socialization.We had prayed. (Some might think it's weird to pray for a dog, but I pray about everything.) Two aggressive incidents happened this past month- so unlike our sweet boy!!!! John & I just decided that we were not willing to risk the safety of our children. We knew it was the right thing but oh the pain... if you're not an animal person you have no idea of the pain.

Today at the vet clinic our sweet, kind, dog growled at the vet. That was NOT our Hunter. That was him very sick. I so HATE mental illness! I HATE it! It is such a robber of joy & life in so many people & even, I have learned, in animals.

I am coming away from this, with even more hatred for this cruel form of illness & with even more compassion for people who suffer from it. I think there is still a lot of ignorance regarding mental illness & that is so sad.

Let's go do it!


Holly said...

Oh this is very very sad! :( We are all so sorry for your loss.


Jen said...

I'm so very sorry Patty...such a difficult, difficult decision to be forced into. I pray for all of you to heal deeply.

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

Oh no, that is so sad, I am sorry to read it. I didn't know mental illness could happen to dogs, but I suppose it makes sense with poor breeding techniques.

Michelle said...

I'm so sorry, Patty. He was a very sweet dog and loved so much by his family. You guys gave him a wonderful, loving home. We're praying for all of you.

The Redfields said...

I'm so sorry! We had to put Brahms down as well for something like this. He was a boxer, and there was likely a brain tumor that was causing his behaviors since he had had a few other cancers removed. I know what you mean by not being the same dog that you knew. Nothing anyone says will remove the pain, but I hope we all can be a little bit of support for you and your guys.

Teri said...

Patty, I just saw the post about Hunter. I am soooooo sorry. I do understand the pain of that decision having just walked it and I feel for you all. I'm praying for you guys. I saw your post after this one too. Praying for you ankle too. Love you guys and so sorry for your loss.

Sarah said...

so sorry. :(