Friday, August 3, 2007

A Tale of a Dog Named Mia

Tonight I have company at the foot of my bed of our beloved family dog Mia for the last time. Tomorrow we are going on vacation and Mia is going to boarding at Canine College while we continue to look for new owners.

We have had Mia since getting her from a shelter for our kids in December 2002. Mia has been a fantastic dog with our family and our cats. Mia is a great dog, but she is not always a good dog. When Mia is around other dogs she goes crazy.

While I don't know if the origin of Mia's aggression began before we got her, I can say that in the early years we had her, we did not do her any favors. She was never good with dogs, but I did not make enough efforts to socialize her and I have plenty of other theories thanks to Cesar on what I could have done better.

Back in January we moved. While we moved, we sent Mia to Canine College. Mia spent 2 weeks there retraining to lose her aggression towards other dogs. Mia made great progress, but still needed a lot of work to continue to improve.

Later in the spring, two days before a follow up visit, Mia did something she has never done before. While my wife was talking outside with a neighbor, Mia pushed the door open and came out and attacked our new neighbor's dog. While separating the dogs, our neighbor’s 16 year old daughter sustained a few minor cuts. Their dog had an injured right paw that took about a week to heal.

We brought Mia immediately down to Canine College not knowing if we would ever pick her up. 6 weeks later, Mia was almost completely transformed. Mia made such progress that even my skeptical wife thought we could try to make it work at home.

Once home, within a few days, our neighbors confronted us on our decision to bring Mia back into the neighborhood. I was probably too blinded by my desire to make it work to understand their point of view. After many "discussions" with my wife we both agreed to give Mia up. Trust me when I tell you, we both contemplated moving after only three months in our new house. That is how much the family loves Mia.

I have been adamant since the beginning that I would keep Mia until we could find her a good home. Easier said than done, no no kill shelter in the state will take a dog with dog aggression and not all “no kill” shelters are truly no kill shelters. We have been very fortunate to find two outstanding rescue organizations that have provided help and council. I can't possibly thank them enough. Ken at Northeast Border Collie Rescue and Lori at Great Dane Rescue in New Bedford have been supportive beyond the call of duty. Ken also referred us to a behaviorist (from Best Behavior) that visited us and evaluated Mia. She was also extremely helpful and reassuring.

As long as I am thanking people I should also thank my good friend Rob. Rob besides owning a third rate fantasy football team is a first rate guy. He is actively involved with animal shelters. Rob has given us leads and given us advice and has overall been very supportive and reassuring. Thanks Rob.

I would also feel remiss if I did not say something about adopting dogs. People like Lori and Ken have more dogs that they need to find homes for than owners looking for dogs. If you are looking for a dog, look at shelters and rescue organization first. Also, before adopting, I would suggest doing a lot of research before making your selection. A great resource to start is Best Friends. They are an amazing animal society out of Utah that is home to 2000+ dogs. Their website is full of useful info.

We have had a number of people that have come to visit Mia. Most of them have fallen in love with her. They all have decided that Mia was not the best fit for their situation. On Thursday Tracey and the kids drove an hour and a half to meet prospective owners for Mia. They own a farm in Rhode Island and from what Tracey told me they are fantastic with animals. If they take Mia, she will be the dog of the 16 year old daughter. The family refers to the girl as the "animal whisperer" because she is so good with animals. The whole family is very experienced in dog behavior and training. The place is perfect except.....they have 4 other dogs. We are hopeful given how experienced they are with animals that they can handle her. We will know tomorrow. (NOTE: THIS DID NOT WORK OUT)

While we won't really have closure on Mia for a while, tonight will be her last night in this house. Mia has been a better dog than we have been owners I just hope we can repay her by finding her a good home.

Good night Mia! We will miss you.

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