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Home / Articles / Columnists / Dog World with Tina /  That Little Varmint
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Saturday, June 2,2018

That Little Varmint

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  

Gota call from a friend of a friend. She needed to surrender her intact, small male dog. “Harry* is making our family’s life miserable,” she said. Two years old, under 10 pounds, this mix ruled the roost. He was possessive of food, treats, toys, marking (and worse) all over the house. He bared his teeth when corrected and nipped anyone who didn’t give him what he wanted. Harry was relentless and taunted their large, calm dog. He claimed another victory when the big dog was sent to live outside, in the fenced yard. “I was too afraid to leave them in the house alone,” the woman confessed. “He is my little baby and I carry him everywhere,” she added. 

*Name changed to protect his identity “From whom, where and when did you get him?” I asked. Her cousin’s dog had an accidental litter. She took one of the puppies at six weeks old. Everything she had told me was a red flag. I asked why she had not gotten him neutered. “Just never got around to it, and it is so expensive,” she answered. I remained calm, focusing on helping the dog. It was not easy.

In the nicest way possible, I let her know that she was responsible for Harry’s lack of control and bad behavior. He is like a two-year-old on a tantrum rampage. It began when you took him from his mom and littermates way too early. You deprived Harry of learning how to be a dog or play nice with others. It is illegal to take a puppy from a nursing mom dog until it is at least eight weeks old. Better to leave them with their furry family up to 12 weeks old, incorporating socialization and exposure to people/experiences. Tempting as it may be, don’t expose a puppy to other dogs until it has proper vet care/immunizations. She bowed in to all his bad behavior and he just gained more power and influence. Every member in the family was afraid of him. I ended the conversation with, “I won’t help you until he is neutered and updated.”

Months went by, I assisted several dogs… and then I get a call. “Harry is fixed and ready to go!” Wait. What? I needed to secure a foster and a reputable rescue to place him. Funny how when someone decides to surrender a pet, it is all about their timeline and needs. The vast majority of us are volunteers. We have careers, families, pets of our own and interests. We are not waiting around for your call, to hear, “Come now! This dog has to go! I’m moving this afternoon.” I asked for pictures, vet records and said I would get back to her. Within 24 hours, a reputable rescue stepped up to take Harry. More good news, the foster home was experienced with “brats.”

Through no fault of his own, Harry was removed from the only human family he had ever known. Scared, he acts out by growling. Things are looking up. He is in a new place, with a kind foster teaching him all the lessons he was denied. When they are confident he can be a good dog, the best home will be found for him.

Dogs rely on us for benevolent leadership, care and guidance. Allow them to properly develop and become a valued member of your family. This takes time, money, knowledge, experience, a desire to do the best for them – not what YOU WANT, or fun or easy. Best wishes on the next phase in your life, Harry.


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