Evidently I can be a little bit tenacious. I still felt not quite finished in pursuing adopting Cooper the Dog. I went back to the shelter yesterday and gave them a pitch for letting us introduce Cooper to our golden retriever, Daisy, under different circumstances with a different handler on the other end of Cooper’s leash. I just about had the lady there talked into it when the guy who’d turned us down on Sunday came out. I smiled at him and said I was wanting to try to introduce the dogs again, but under different circumstances, maybe while out on a walk. He said very firmly, “No. It isn’t going to work out.” I started tearing up and said, “Can’t we just try?” and he repeated, “No, it won’t work.” So I told Cooper goodbye again, and walked out sobbing. I was devastated, because I just couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t even be willing to give it one more chance.
Today I talked to a friend at work who volunteers for the Humane Society, and she strongly encouraged me to find out who exactly the guy was at the shelter who told us twice that we shouldn’t consider adopting Cooper because of he and Daisy having conflicted at their first meeting.
So I called the IHS and talked to their animal behavior specialist. My primary purpose was to get a referral from them to a dog trainer so that we can try to get Daisy’s sometime aggression issues fixed. But then I asked her if there was anything we could have done differently to make Daisy and Cooper’s first meeting go better. I told her about the whole situation, and she said in reference to the guy who’d crushed my dreams, “He’s only been working here a month. I don’t think he’s experienced enough to make that call.” And I said to myself, “HA!” She said what I really should do was talk to their trainer who leads the training program where the shelter sends pound dogs out to the nearby prison and the inmate training program puts a whole lot of manners into them.
I got in touch with the trainer this afternoon and explained the deal. He gave me some interesting information. He said that it is his experience that first impressions with dogs really do tend to carry forward. He gave me some more information about terriers as a breed, which Cooper certainly is as a pit bull mix. I’ve been aware that terriers are known for their spunk and tenacity, and he pointed out that if Cooper didn’t back down on the first conflict, he was never going to back down at all. That means that as long as Daisy pushed conflict and wouldn’t submit, she and Cooper would continue to clash. I have never seen Daisy submit to any dog; she doesn’t clash with every dog, but in a situation where she wasn’t the strong dominant immediately, there has been trouble. A dog like Cooper would not back down from fighting her. And you know, even the pit bull I grew up with, Muffin, would not back down from a conflict with a dog. I can see the truth of that.
This guy was really helpful. He mentioned that he’s trained champion show and field trial dogs, family pets and the inmate program dogs. He’s been working with dogs as a professional for over 45 years, and he seemed glad to spend 40 minutes on the phone with me answering my questions. He said he would be absolutely glad to meet me at the shelter tomorrow afternoon and ensure that Cooper and Daisy had a good introduction. But he pointed out that no matter how well that introduction went, Cooper and Daisy would still have to determine which of them was dominant, and if that occurred at our home without the trainer there (as it almost certainly would), there was a good chance that one or both of the dogs would get hurt.
The fact is…I’m not willing to take that risk. I don’t want either Cooper or Daisy to get hurt. I feel like we need to work to fix Daisy’s problems with a really good trainer for her own safety and for other dogs that she could potentially have issues with. It would be a selfish decision to ignore the really good information he gave me because my heart had control over my head.
So there it is: Cooper will become someone else’s dog, and I do feel like I have closure on the matter. I haven’t felt like that up until now. Thank you all for your support with this–I definitely took it all very, very hard, but I do finally now feel like we’ve made the right decision.