Thursday, January 1, 2009

Goodbye 2008, Goodbye Sherman

An excerpt from our Christmas letter:

As the year began we were planning for the arrival of our new German Shepherd puppy Sherman. When he came, everything changed.

After a few weeks of adjusting to life with us, he took to a life of sleeping, playing and of training with Merrie. We started going to Fiesta Island every other day for an hour off-leash romp and beach time. These were wonderful moments of pure dog joy, as Sophie and Sherman chased each other at full speed and played in Mission Bay.

Sherman was incredibly smart, affectionate and exuberant, but from the beginning we noticed something was wrong. He was very anxious and would easily become fearful. We thought with time that he’d grow out of it, but instead he got worse. We worked for months with a professional dog trainer, but Sherman would still lapse into extreme anxiety, which began manifesting in snarling and snapping at strange people and dogs.

After some agonizing conversation, we decided we had to give him up. And, unfortunately, once a dog exhibits aggressive behavior, he is considered unadoptable. In December we met with a professional at the San Diego Humane Society and came to the sad conclusion that our only option was euthanasia.

There is no shortage of second-guessing a decision like this, by us or anyone else. There's a long list of "maybe if's." Maybe if we'd used a different training method. Maybe if Sherman had been socialized better as a very young puppy. Maybe if his mother hadn't been traumatized in the October fire. And on and on. I always come back to Jon Katz's experience with his dog Orson. Sometimes there's simply nothing else you can responsibly do, and no one knows that, or will know it, but you.

Happy California 2009

The leading state in the union has, as usual, a number of new laws in the new year. They are summarized here.