I had to make a tough choice, one I truly didn't want to make. The need to make it came at me full force, unrequested.
The first year I had Gritty he was reserved but I took him everywhere, took him through classes for him, as well as bringing him along while I taught obedience classes, he did great. Then somewhere after a year of age it started, he decided he had trouble sharing me with any other dogs, the more time I spent with him the more he would attack the Collies when we were at home, so we stopped going to class and it got better. Then he started guarding the toys that squeak, the antlers and cow hooves that he so like to chew on. I read volumes of behavior books, I am on my third reading of For the Love of a Dog, understanding Emotion in you and your best friend. I employed techniques of positive reinforcement, heaping the praise on him when he allowed the Collies to come up to me, and I picked up the high value toys and chews, only giving them out when the dogs were in separate rooms and gates up, then slowly as he got better bring them back out and watching, antlers OK, cow hooves not OK.
We seemed to be doing well so I started back to classes with Gritty, we had some small issues but things seemed to be progressing.
Then winter came and he had to move to an ex pen in the kitchen when I was at work, it was just too cold to be outside in the kennel. He had moments when he went out of control with excitement, the oil truck coming, the UPS, the Collies barking at anything outside got him barking, screaming, spinning, biting his tail, when I wasn't here to stop it I would come home to find floors soaked in saliva, and sometimes blood when he bit his tongue, one day he abraded the tissue all around his eye.
I hated coming home, afraid of what he had done to himself, and his screaming would start when he heard my car.
I was ready to try some Prozac. I couldn't see this continuing this way.
While I was at this place I got a call from a friend who is a Tech at my vets office, she had previously called me when she had a special client who she wanted to find a dog for, and I had placed one of my Collies with him, I believe so strongly in the companion animal bond and how very necessary it is, especially for people living alone, to have a companion. I can easily see myself without a dog and know how hard it would be to face each day alone.
She now had another special client who had lost her Collie suddenly and badly needed another dog, one who was obedience and house trained. I visited her and found she had a lovely home in a very dog friendly retirement village, with 138 acres of conservation land and trails maintained year round, a trail that went to an orchard and a trail to the beach, where the residents often got together for dog walks , and the main house set out dog biscuits alongside the coffee pot for residents who stop by.
A dog would have a doting owner who would take him everywhere, including a summer with family on a Maine lake, frequent walks, no other dogs in the home but plenty of others to meet up with outside for play times. An ability to provide excellent care and all the good food and toys necessary. I found a Collie for her and brought my smooth Collie and Gritty to visit her. She really liked Gritty's gentleness, we went for a walk, met her neighbors and their dog, all went well. I let Gritty stay for an overnight, when I picked him up the next day, I thought it was not going to work, Gritty had paced all night, but when she looked at me and told me how she had lit a fire in the fireplace and sat with him on the floor and he put his paw gently on her cheek, I saw how very much she needed him, and it was probable that this is what he needed too. I took him home for a couple days to think about it.
Suffused with guilt, he is so devoted to me it will be really hard for him, we can go on the way we are, spring will come and he will have the kennel again, I had doubled the size to 20 x 20 in November, but my inner voice said, yeah or he could have someone who never left him to go to
work, and always took him along, all the toys he wants all to himself, dogs to play with but not have to share his human with. I hate those voices, because they also said a very lonely woman really wants his company, and needs him.
I took Gritty back for a weekend visit. I got him a new crate, brought his race car bed and cow hoof, and squeaky tennis ball. He settled in, slept on her bed, went on errands, went into stores, went on 6 walks a day, and was eating the food I left for him. I went back with more food and more toys, all his favorites, it was to o hard for him to see me, I had to make the decision. I have to stay away for awhile now, this is the hardest!