Sunday, November 29, 2009

Perry Cox

Many of you may know who Perry Cox is.  Perry Cox is awesome, House-like doctor on Scrubs who's infamous for his constant harassment towards J.D. and anyone else who annoyed him (which was practically everyone).  Well, this post has nothing to do with Dr. Perry Cox, but it does have everything to do with a dog who I will call Perry from here on out (you know, for the whole protecting the innocent thing).

Perry, by all rights, should have been a sweet dog.  Breeding-wise he was not predisposed to aggressive behaviors.  He lived with a family who loved him and anything he ever could have wanted or needed was there for him.  Perry, however, was not a sweet dog.  He would bite anyone who approached his food, he lunged over being crated.  Worst of all, he often turned over seemingly random events.  You never knew what would set him off.  I've been working with Perry for the past month, and we finally ended on Friday.

Just like the doctor on Scrubs, Perry had a pretty sweet life.  Also like Dr. Cox, however, Perry's life wasn't always so great.  While he'd been with his owner from a pup, he'd suffered some pretty serious illnesses during his life, and his thought processes had been affected by his time in medical care.  For instance, he was extremely sensitive with his paws because he'd had so many IVs in him.  As his aggression started to escalate, certain people in the household thought that physical punishment would be the best way to deal with it.  When I say physical punishment, I don't just mean a bop on the butt or a rolled up newspaper.  I mean severe, disturbing punishment.  On top of all of that, no one was there to give his owner any really good advice on how to stop his behaviors before they got worse, even though she searched and searched for help (something I fault the dog-training world for and hope we can overcome).    Needless to say, I had a lot to work with.

Perry presented symptoms of dominance aggression, territorial aggression, stimulus aggression, displaced aggression, and many others.  In fact, surprisingly enough, the only thing he wasn't aggressive towards was other dogs.  Still, though, I felt with time and work we could make some progress with him.  I won't even begin to go over what we did for him.  We did give him Prozac, but everything else is too long and detailed to follow.  All I can say is that we did a lot of work.  A LOT OF WORK. 

Here's what I will tell you.  The past four weeks have been hard.  I doubt I'll bring another aggressive dog in to live with me.  I like having a home that is separate from my work.  I learned a lot about myself and about dog training, though, and I think that makes the whole experience worthwhile.  I also think I've done a lot to help this dog, and I pray that his owners are able to continue working with him and follow the plan I laid out.  I definitely learned a lot about Hans, and while I knew that he was a wonderful man, I never expected him to help me to the extent he did.  He wasn't just there for moral support, he stood with me every single step of the way.  If I did it, he did it.  I don't think I'll ever be able to express my gratitude to him for that.  So, thanks Hans.

Now, life is back to normal...kind of.  We're getting ready for Christmas and shows are opening, so life is crazy.  Oh, and there is another dog in the house.  We're fostering / training a hound mix named Merlin.  He's not aggressive at all, and it's taking all my will power to not adopt him.  Lord, help me!  He does need some structure in his life, but that's what we're giving him and he's taking to it quite well.  That being said, anyone want a dog???

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