12/5/13

Loyalty. We owe them.

There are a select few fans of Tad who know the extent of his behavior. Less than 10 of those select few have literally SEEN the 'other side' he becomes. He is not Tad. He is not the big goof who is surprised by his own farts and pees on his front legs. He becomes a terrifying creature. A monster...a beast who, in any other hand, would be put down.

It is a constant battle, a struggle...a never ending war. I am not perfect and sometimes I fail. Sometimes things are beyond my control and out of my grasp...I am only human.

Sometimes, these mistakes...in the blink of an eye become catastrophes...they become tragedies. I take blame...I feel extreme guilt. The public criticizes, they condemn, they spread untruths and rumor. They know best, obviously, they were right here experiencing it, too. They were right beside me. They would have done this and that and everything would be brownies and cupcakes, you know.

I learned my lesson and I stopped sharing. Things were hidden and as you may have noticed, Tad and I became a lot more private. I have not updated Tad's blog in over a year because of this.

It was better this way...for a long, long time.

Lately, in my news feed and private messages...dogs are being threatened with euthanasia, new homes, and other 'alternatives' due to their aggressive behavior. The dog bit this guy, the dog growled at the grandmother, the dog snapped at the husband, he attacked a dog, or any other variation that could be considered normal dog reaction.

I feel rage inside reading these posts. I feel anger. It is not for the dog...I feel complete and utter sorrow for the dog...the victim. He is misunderstood...he is singled out and labeled for a normal reaction to a perceived threat. But, Granny isn't threatening...nor is my baby...well, yes...actually, both of those two are absolutely terrifying to the right dog.

I want to tell you all a few things...a few things about Tad and I. I want to delve deep into the secrets that never grace your Facebook because the 'public' can't handle it. These are things that have come and gone and they have taught Tad and I things we didn't know about each other and things we needed to know.

Every single moment of your life is a lesson. It may not always be clear to you right away, but just know that there is something to be learned with every passing second. I try to remember this when tragedy strikes. I try to remember that even though we have stumbled, we are going to get up and keep marching on. Such is our way.

It is dedication. It is a dedication that I never knew I had. It is a fight that I may never win, but I will never surrender. I have been around dogs my whole life. I have worked hands-on with dogs for nearly 10 years. These past few with Tad...not even three years...I have learned so much. I don't know it all...and I definitely don't know enough. But, I am always learning...always trying.

When I stopped on Calvary Road in March 2011, I didn't know what I was getting into. At that point, I felt that all dogs were grateful to be rescued. They were forgiving and loving. Up until Tad, I have apparently been blessed with angels. I've never had a 'bad' dog...until Tad.

I was...horrified when Tad started to come out of his shell. My tried and true methods of training were not working. The dog was becoming more and more aggressive despite 'positive reinforcement' and 'treats'. I would come to find out  that I was 'reinforcing' those aggressive tendencies and I was helping to create the monster.

The thing about dog behavior is that everyone thinks they 'know it all'. It seems everyone is selling themselves as a dog trainer because they know this and that about dogs. Let me tell you something, there is not one method that works for every dog. Tad's trainer, Michael Baugh, and I kept having to back track. We would learn a method and apply it only to have it backfire.

I became so frustrated and defeated. I was nearing the end of the rope.

By this time, Tad had left a small puppy with staples across her forehead, he had bitten a good number people, he had broken teeth in fights, he had viciously attacked numerous dogs and cats, he lunged at people regularly, he charged full speed across a parking lot to surround a terrified man, he had needed stitches multiple times, and he even assisted other dogs in leaving a cat in intensive care and requiring bone surgery.

I considered euthanasia. I was done. I could do no more.

Sure, it'd bring me some relief...it'd save a lot of time and trouble...but, could I live with myself? I saved this dog's life just to kill him off in the end?

I battled for days and I spoke to no one. Maybe I'm stubborn, or maybe my subconscious knew someone would talk me into it and that's not what I truly, deep down, in my heart wanted.

Tad and I took a hard fall around that time. He and I had always had a very tight bond. It was gone. It had dissipated. Disappeared into nothing and felt like it never existed.

I started watching all of Tad's original videos. I saw us and I saw what we had. He believed in me. For the first time, I bawled at his condition...I was heartbroken. I felt sick. I felt anger. All those feelings you all felt back then, I was feeling. It was too much. I couldn't handle it.

Here is this dog who believes I hung the moon and I want to kill him off because I just 'can't handle' his behavior. Excuse my French, but what the fuck?!

I couldn't do it. I just couldn't.

So, I paid more attention to detail. I took more time to just watch. If I was going to fight back, I needed weapons. I needed to find his triggers and I needed to catch them before he fired.

I think this is where most people fall short with these dogs. They only see the 'response' and not the trigger. The bite is not a trigger, the bite is the LAST fail-safe. If you're at the bite, you've been oblivious for too long. Is that harsh, maybe...but the truth hurts. It killed me, I know.

I cannot take the place of an accurate behaviorist/trainer. I can however offer advice through experience. I can tell you that there is no overnight fix. There is no cure. You will always have a reactive dog. This is one of the hardest lessons for Tad and I to learn. This behavior...it doesn't go away.

You must remain in control and on top at all times. If you cannot do that, then you must avoid it. No half-ways. One or the other.

If a service person comes to my house, Tad and I meet them somewhere away from my house first...somewhere that Tad has never been. If that is not possible, Tad is removed from the property and 'hidden'. It's out of sight, out of mind, for him. Tad does NOT go in public without me. Ever. He is never 'left' with anyone, or under the supervision of someone else that has not worked exclusively with him. He does not go out with 'the pack'. He does not run free at the clinic. He is given pheromones to 'chill out' and he is constantly under surveillance. I do these things because I know these are what work. I know that these steps avoid and/or bypass his triggers.

Is this crazy? Over the top? Ridiculous? You can label it however you want.

I call it dedication. I call it loyalty. I owe this to him.

If you are struggling and suffering as I have with Tad, I offer you this parting advice. I don't care about his past and I don't care about where he came from. Right now is important; right now is what matters. You can't live in the past, you can't feel pity for 'what was', all the time. Pay attention, CLOSE attention...find those triggers. Learn them, tattoo them on your forearm, I don't care. Once you have them, things are going to be a lot easier for you. If you can't control the 'trigger', avoid it. No ifs, ands, buts, or maybes...either control or avoid. Only then will you get ahead.

Control or avoid. You owe this to him.


...a very, very special thanks to Michael Baugh who, despite butting heads with me a few times, has never given up on us. He continues to offer advice and motivate me. He has given me the tools I need to help Tad, and inspiration and guidance that I can never repay. Thank you, Michael. Thank you.

27 comments:

  1. You're doing a great job with Tad! Don't let ANYONE ever tell you otherwise!!

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  2. We, as Tad's fans, want everything to be perfect. You saved Tad's life - brought him back from the brink of death. How can things not be perfect? Dogs, like people have different personalities and different traits. I understand why you hid things from us. Thank you for shedding light. Thank you for saving Tad and for continuing to save him on a daily basis. You, Tiffany, are an awesome person.

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  3. Bless you heart for fighting the good fight. I have a cat right now causing me some troubles, but I won't giver her up...she has already been thru to much. So I understand a tiny bit of what you are saying. I so wish, for people like you, that I had millions of dollars to be able to help them. Since I don't, all I can say, is good job, and keep your chin up. Tad loves you and he knows that you are fighting for him, even though it may not always seem like it. Thank you for being one of God's Angels on Earth who cares enough to help and fight for animals.

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  4. Little did you know that saving Tad was just the beginning. Not all dogs are 'easy'. I understand this because I have one too. It's work. You have to be smarter than them 24x7. Even though I have never met you and Tad, I knew about the problem and understood your silence and your struggle. I applaud you for doing the right thing even when it wasn't the easy thing. My difficult dog has gotten better as he aged. I hope the same for Tad. I haven't forgotten your role in Chance's life either. You are a special person. Very wise for one so young!

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  5. I sensed there was more going on than met the eye.... My Dave is reactive towards other dogs and now I also have Max the 9 lber who is SUPREMELY resource guarding of me... and my poor little Chico is his target.... I have learned to see the signals and cues that each exhibits and this allows me to maintain control over the situation..... MOST of the time... bless you Tiffany and may you be granted the energy and serenity and wisdom to continue on this journey with your Taddy-Boy....

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  6. Oh... and know this, Tiffany.... those of us who have a real understanding of dogs and their many quirks do not criticize your choices and stand behind you in your travels.....

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  7. This made me cry. I love and miss Tad. Ever since day 1 of getting Tad you have been and always will be a hero to me.

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  8. Tiffany, this is touching and disturbing. Disturbing, because we as humans want everything to be perfect. After all you did to save Tad, we want you to have the perfect life with him. Not happening, huh? One thing that keeps coming back to me is that you saved Tad once, and now you are saving him again. Tad didn't choose to be reactive, people and life made him that way. And you haven't given up!! It sounds like there are days where you are sad and overwhelmed, but you aren't giving up on Tad. That Tad suffers from "reactiveness" is sad in itself. But I can't stay sad because a beautiful person is doing everything in her power to make Tad's life the best life possible. I salute you Tiffany. What you are doing is hard, but beyond beautiful. Bless you. ♥

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  9. Tiffany, thank you for your honesty. I am sorry you had such struggles to go through and still are.I hope you never loose sight of what you did for Tad! You are his hero in every way! You are such a wonderful person and it takes more than just courage to go the road you chose to go with Tad. I wish you all the best and most of all that the special bond you had with Tad will be reestablished!

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  10. You are a hero. Thank you for not giving up on Tad.

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  11. You are doing all you can, and yes it will pay off in the end, pray for him too. Thank you for not giving up, even though it is so hard at times. <3

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  12. People have a tendency to ignore the animal behavior part of any creature we have. That includes ourselves because we believe we are civilized. And we are to a point. But the one thing we can't do is to fix all our creatures ills because they still are dogs or cats or whatever animal we've brought into our lives. We cannot override what nature gave them to defend themselves.

    We can however figure it out and avoid those scenarios whenever possible. I have a Parsons Russell Terrier who has a tendency to get snarky, to the point of lashing out, whenever he's scared or feeling cornered. We first saw it when he'd wake up from a dogmare, snapping and growling. This one was the hardest to handle since he sleeps on the bed with us. Once we figured out to comfort him when we first heard the growls, things got bettered.

    The cornering one I don't think will ever go away though we now have an understanding on both sides about it. That one came to a head when he had stolen some clothes that I was going to wear and I went to get it back. It ended with me bloodied and him being disciplined. I didn't give up my stance and he did back down. Now, I handle it differently but to be honest if it hadn't happened the way it did at first, I would have never known how to handle it.

    That type of behavior has never happened to anyone other than my husband but we are always on the lookout for the triggers when others are around. Not once in the 2.5 years he's been on this earth has it happened with another.

    It does happen with other dogs but only when they show aggression first. And he never showed it to another dog until he was attacked by a similar dog. We don't know why it happened but are still dealing with the aftermath.

    I know Tad thanks you but I also want to convey my thanks as well. We don't give up on other people and we shouldn't give up on our dogs, especially when they become part of our family. Frankly, I don't like all my family all the time but I wouldn't give them up for the world. I compensate for them, why wouldn't I for my dog?

    Life with a creature who communicates in different ways is a challenge. Every day is new and different because the situations are never the same, especially for a dog. New smells, new people, new things. All designed for them to interpret quickly and judge whether it is a threat or not.

    Still, you are doing wonderful because it is the best you can do. Now one can ask any more.

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  13. One other thing I forgot to mention. We live in Europe right now and one of the things that is required here is to use a muzzle when your dog is on the trains or any public transit. Now, normally, I would have thrown a fit at doing that...however...it does prevent a lot of issues. A lot. Most of the time when it's on, Harry is more worried about getting it off than anything else.

    Yes, it may seem cruel but it can prevent some of those negative outbursts because the most the dog can do is to smash it into something. The one we have is some type of hard plastic but they have them in metal here as well.

    We have also used it when we've felt there maybe an issue. Like when he lungs at people in the hall of our flat building. For a 20 lb dog, Harry can come on like an Irish Wolfhound and people don't understand that all he's looking for is pets and loves and that he'll get them anyway he can.

    We have also seen that on occasion it does calm him down to use it. But just wanted to pass that on just in case it might work for you sometimes.

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  15. Not every Dog is easy, after 35 years of recuse I know this well........My Best suggestion, get both of you some professional help...many times behavior issues will get worse, not better, if you don't as a human know how to deal, when you get frustrated, so does Tad, He feeds of f your negative energy and reads your heart, your head and your actions, he may be feeling things you don't even know you are putting out there..........Maybe tell yourself & Tad EVERY DAY that TAD STILL stands for TOTALLY AWESOME DOG :) Keep up the good work with an open heart and a level head, perhaps a little help from a professional and the Lord will see you both through..Wishing you both a great 2014

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  16. I've felt your pain and frustration. I admire you in ways that I can hardly begin to express. I shed tears of joy and exasperation and "loss" when I read your story and this post. Loss of the "dream" that we alone could rehabilitate every animal and bring complete perfection and harmony to us all. But just because it doesn't always work out this way, it doesn't mean we can't or won't try. Your dedication is exemplary and I truly admire you. Tad is still just doing the best he can, based on his experiences in this life. And he's no longer alone. Forever he has you. You are his world; you are his companion. You are his personal hero. That'll never change. Bravo to both of you, and continue fighting the good fight!

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  19. Thank you for your dedication and doing what you feel is best. If this resonates for you maybe Eldad from Hope for Paws can be a form of additional support for you, he does animal rescues daily including those that seemed impossible. You can see his rescues on YouTube. This is his FB page https://www.facebook.com/hopeforpawscalifornia

    Much love to you and Tad.

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  21. I am a dog owner and dog lover but certainly no expert by any means. I really admire the work that you do with not just Tad, but other neglected animals as well. I just had a thought - Have you considered getting Tad DNA tested to see exactly what breeds he is made up of? Different breeds have different temperaments. It may help if you know which specific breeds are in his make-up. Thanks for the amazing blog and facebook page for TAD. I love reading about his progress and seeing the awesome photos/videos of him and the other dogs who have found their guardian angel in you. With love from Australia. xo

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