Help Me Please! What Is The Right Thing To Do?Okay, this is going to be VERY long, and I am sorry for that. I just hope that someone can help me, give me some advice. Tell me what I need to do.
I have a 3 year old pitbull-boxer mix. Until 6 months ago, he "belonged" to a family member. He was a backyard dog. Always fed, had water and shelter - but little-to-no attention and training. He was never socialized and spent his entire life in that yard.
This family member was preparing to move from the house she was renting and was talking about calling animal control to remove this unruly animal - as he had never been trained to walk on a leash or ride in a car - she knew she would be unable to get him out of the yard. I have known this dog since he was a puppy, so unlike most people, he was pretty comfortable with me. I agreed to work with him and take over his care. I lived with him at the rental from November - March 1st, when the lease was up.
I worked with him several times a day - getting him used to being touched, played with. Teaching him to wear a collar, then walk on a leash. To get into a car. Everything was new to this dog and I knew I had a long road, but was willing to do the work. We bonded. I moved him at the beginning of March, to our new house. He is allowed in doors, listens pretty well unless distracted - he's making some progress.
My concern is his aggression. He is not aggressive with me - quite the opposite. I have earned his trust and love and he seems pretty content with me. However, he is aggressive with EVERYONE else, except for the two other people he's known since he was a puppy. He barks and growls and snarls anytime a stranger approaches the fenced yard. It's a very serious, threatening bark too - not a "come-play-with-me" bark. He lunges at the chain link, smashes his face into like he wants to bite whoever it is. Even with people I have given him time to get used to (15-20 visits), like my family members. He doesn't show the same aggression - but he won't allow them to touch him. Sometimes he sits 10 feet away and stares, growling low and quiet.
So, I can't have people at my house because I am afraid this dog may hurt someone. I could almost live with that. Except, since we moved he has developed a raging case of separation anxiety. I am afraid to leave him. He has chewed through the door to the sunroom, two la
He has not seen a vet in years, and I know he needs to, but I don't know how to get him to allow a vet to examine him. And, I'm afraid I won't be able to get him in the door! He walks on a leash really well when he WANTS to go somewhere, but, if he's scared or distracted he plants his butt on the ground and there isn't much I can do. He is very strong.
I have had more than one person suggest I euthanize this dog because he is, honestly, ruining my life. I need to go back to work, I'm supposed to return to school in the fall. Right now, I can't even go to the store or visit a friend. I would be more than happy to pay a dog walker or even take him to doggy-day-care to keep him from getting lonely when I'm away, but I don't see these being options. He can be animal aggressive too.
Is euthanizing him the right thing to do? I just don't know if I could live with myself. He loves me. I have earned his trust and I now feel responsible for his well-being. Just the thought makes me cry. I will not take him to a shelter and abandon him, as that seems more cruel to me. He would be terrified and alone for 72 hours, and then euthanized anyway. I know he won't pass an aggression test with anyone other than me.
I am crying as I type this because I feel so guilty. I have tried so hard, but, I feel like I have failed this dog. I really thought I could help him, but now, I'm not so sure. He is so sweet with me and I adore him when it's just the two of us - but, I can't spend 24 hours a day with this dog and never allow anyone else into my life or home.
I need honest opinions - DOG LOVERS ONLY! What would you do? What should I do? I have read every book and watched every video I can find trying to help him overcome this fear-aggression, but I feel like I am getting nowhere. I'll try anything, I swear I will!
I do know that despite truly loving this dog, I am starting to resent him and I am so stressed out, I feel miserable most of the time. I feel like a prisoner. Even when I do leave the house I'm constantly worrying he has escaped. I moved 7 weeks ago, and I still haven't been able to buy furniture because that would take more than an hour.
I just don't know what to do. I don't know what the RIGHT thing is to do. I took on the responsibility of this dog, does that mean I should deal with and live with whatever issues he has - forever? I feel like it's my responsibility. If so, how? I am uncertain whether he is truly a danger to people - he acts pretty dangerous sometimes. He has never actually bit or nipped anyone, but he's also never really had the chance. Do I wait until he has bitten someone to make this decision? I think the guilt of that would kill me too. I do not believe this dog is a danger to ME, he's seems to trust me implicitly, and he is protective of me.
What do I do? What should I do? Do I protect my neighbors and friends from this dog who is potentially dangerous - but hasn't actually committed the crime? Or do I protect this dog? Help me… I don't know, what is the right thing to do? I truly love this dog and want so much to help him and fix him, but, I'm not sure if I can anymore.