Tuesday, July 12, 2016

When everything you can do is still not enough

The original title of this post was Marshal's Recovery Diary, and it was going to be a hopeful post about how much TTouch seemed to be helping Marshal. 

It was helping him, I could see how the little circles in his muzzle made him finally relax some of the tension and tightness he always carried around. 

Then yesterday, Marshal and Fozzie got into a terrible fight--redirected aggression again, when they both saw something outside my yard, got excited about it, and lay into each other. I tried to pull them apart, and Marshal just nailed my arm. All the way through the subcutaneous fatty tissue, into the muscle. I called 911, and animal control and an ambulance came. I went to the ER and got 5 stitches, and Marshal went to animal control. 

I have never given up on an animal. Lars bit Florian and was tense with Lamar for many months before he found a fantastic forever family. Star figured out how to open my gate and beat the hell out of a neighbors dog; she is now winning trophies in obedience class with her beloved adopter.

I truly have never believed that any dog couldn't be rehabilitated. I was incredibly stubborn in that belief, and it was the reason why I could never work in a shelter. So I was going to keep Marshal here and work with him, train and TTouch and desensitize, keep him separate from Fozzie and hopefully defuse the anxiety that has seemed to only get worse and worse since I've known him. Even though I could no longer walk him with my dogs, and the anxiety was definitely worse than it was at first, I thought he could still get better.

At first it went so well that I thought I could just keep him. He was such a sweetie and Dahlia and he got along so well. 

Then one fence fight with Fozzie happened, and it was like something switched in him. The fights became more frequent. I still thought he was a good dog who just needed the right place, so I posted him every place I could think of. 

But as you might imagine, no rescue groups would take him and no adopters came forward.

It was an impossible situation and I literally didn't know what I would do. I still couldn't conceive of giving up on him, because that is not something I do. 

Only when I saw Marshal's teeth sink into my arm, and watched Fozzie trying to get away from him, and knew at that moment that it would be impossible and irresponsible to adopt him to another person did that stubborn part of me die. 

I suppose it was an evolution that needed to happen, for me to fully understand and embrace the full spectrum of what it means to be a rescuer.

It sucks though that Marshal didn't have a chance. It sucks that I couldn't set him up for success, and it sucks how mysteriously, things shifted for him somewhere along the way and it just became too difficult. 

We had some really good times and I hope Marshal will bring those memories with him wherever he goes now. It will be a while before I foster again but I have to remember all the animals I did set up for success, all the ones I did save.

Bless your little heart Marshal, I wish I could have saved you.


  1. I am sorry for this turn of events. You really did all you could and more and I am sure Marshall knows this. He taught you valuable lessons that hopefully will make a difference in another difficult dog. For Marshall it was just too late.
    Heal well.
    Love Noodles

  2. Will animal control euthanize him right away? I always wondered what happened to these cases. Sometimes the best thing to do to help them is the worst thing. I hope you have a speedy recovery, and... hugs...

    Monty, Harlow and Ramble

  3. I'm very sorry this is happening to you. You are facing the hardest thing any pet owner could face and doing it bravely. I agree adopting him out would not be right in this situation. I'm sure that 99.99999 percent of digs can be rehabilitated. But there are those that can't. Even Patricia McConnell wrote about a dog in a similar situation. You did save Marshall you lived him and helped him even when it was hard hugs

  4. So sorry to hear about Marshall. I wish I had great words of wisdom, but I am feeling kind of stunned. Like you may be now. The whole situation sounds heartbreaking and my thoughts and prayers go out to you and Marshall. Unfortunately, for some dogs the damage is just too much to recover from. I hope you find peace in your heart with this decision. I know full well what it means to never give up, especially when I had Brut and his aggression.

    And while it might not look like it on the outside, Marshall is a better dog for knowing you and all the love and care you gave him.

    Please don't be too hard on yourself. Marshall wouldn't want that. :)

  5. Okay Kirsten, here's the thing, As I wrote yesterday, you (1) need to do what is best for your other kids (dogs) and your household, (2) you need to keep him during the search for his ideal home and person. Well, if you look at things objectively, you did keep Marshal with you because you knew that it would not be a good thing to foster him somewhere else or to send him to somewhere else. But then clause (1) kicks in and then you need to do what is best for the other kids and your household. And because Marshal became a danger to you and to Fozzie and perhaps the other kids, you needed to act and do whatever was necessary to protect and ensure their safety. So sending Marshal to animal control was the only real option that was viable. I realize that you feel badly but, it's not your fault. You have a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of your other family members as well as yourself. Like you, we regret what has happened but really, you did what was needed to restore your family's level of comfort and reduce the level of stress and tension that everyone, including yourself were carrying. We know that you cared about Marshal and we're hopeful that things will be better for Marshal somehow. Perhaps Spock said it the best, "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few". We're sorry that things didn't work out. You're a "good cookie" Kirsten. Your friend Sam.

  6. Oh Kirsten, I'm so incredibly sorry. I know how much this hurts your beautiful and gentle heart, I hope you can find comfort in knowing that you gave Marshall love, regardless of where he ends up.

    I think everyone that rescues has that idea that they can save any dog, but the reality (as harsh as it is) is some dogs, for whatever reason, cannot be reached. That is in no way a reflection on you or anything you did.

    I'm sending you hugs, healing energy for that arm and prayers that you will be gentle with yourself. xoxo

  7. Oh Kristin! YOu've been such a gentle and warm heart for so many difficult dogs. I salute your bravery to write about this as well as the love you and Florian have given to SO many "difficult" dogs. We all meet our matches. Sending love and rottie kisses to Fonzie and Dahlia.

    -Otto and mom

  8. PeeeS Otto is faaaarrr from the perfect rescue!

  9. My rather long internet look up has at the end of the day been compensated with pleasant insight to talk about with my family and friends.
    Fairfax Dog Training


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