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Bouvier
stories

From: John and Barbara Meyer
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999

 

Temperament
An Owner's Perspective
Sarah's Story


[...] I could write a book on the subject of how devastating it is to live with a dog with unsound temperment but I will try to keep this post short.

You see, just last week I had to put my beautiful two year old Bouvier, Sarah, to sleep because I couldn't trust her not to hurt my friends and my family. 

Sarah was shy from the start. She was not equable or stable in temperment. There was no stopping point between barking and biting. She didn't put herself between me and what she perceived as danger, she just lunged and pinched.

At six months her first obedience teacher warned the class about dogs like Sarah. She said "this is a shy dog, you have to watch out for them as they can turn into fear biters." After that comment I asked the woman I had
purchased her from (at age 4.5 months) who was not the breeder if Sarah's litter had been temperment tested. Like a good dog owner I had read "The Art of Raising a Puppy". She said that while she had temperment tested her litter of bouviers that the breeder of this pup didn't do temperment testing.

We live on a cul-de-sac in a neighborhood full of kids. I have kids. Our house is a busy place. In the two years that we had Sarah she never learned to accept anyone that wasn't in the family. It was always, bark, bark, lunge, lunge. We went to obedience classes, I talked to people and we trained and trained and trained. Nothing worked. We put her away in a back room when people came in so she couldn't hurt them. Once they were in we could let her out and she could meet and greet people just fine but we had to but her away before  they left or she would chase them along the front windows barking and snarling.

Don't get me wrong, there were periods where she was fine but those periods became shorter and shorter and you can't always have your friends make appointments before they stop by. Twice when I wasn't in the room when an  unexpected guest came she lunged and pinched and bruised men in the crotch. In both cases my husband had her by the collar. Both men were people she had known for two years, we had gone camping and socialized with them. That's when we started private lessons with a canine trainer.

One day she turned on me. I had just let her out of her dog run after being in there for an hour (I couldn't take her in the car anymore because she went so nuts). She ran out the kennel, turned and growled at me in a tone that can only be described as a mad dog growl from the scariest of horror stories. Two days there was an unprovoked pinch/bruise to the groin of another mail friend that we met after a walk in the woods. No warning,
nothing.

I called the canine trainer and the handler/groomer that I had bought her from. They agreed that I had not only done all I could but that I had done more that the average dog owner would have. I called her breeder to tell her what was happening and to ask if she wanted to take her back. The answer was "no, I can't have a dog that bites here" and "it's been two years, I would be a stranger to her" There was and is no acceptance that she had bred a dog with poor temperment. I took her to the vet to see if he could find something chemically wrong with her. There wasn't. My handler/groomer friend tried to place her for me. The canine trainer who does all breed rescue said there was no hope for her and that she should be put down. 

My groomer/handler friend agreed. So after many tears and "but what if's" I took my beautiful girl and sent her to the rainbow bridge. 

My girl has one sister that is untrainable. I hear reports that her other sisters come out of their kennels at shows like wild animals, even more so that Sarah did. The breeder admits there are situations she can't put the mother in without fear of being bitten. The breeder is still planning to breed Sarah's sister. Her brother's owners are planning to breed him to an OFA fair bitch that bit through the arm of the handler/groomer that I bought Sarah  from. Oh, and by the way, Sarah's x-ray's showed mild hip dysplasia.

My point? Temperment has to be the first thing that is considered when breeding a dog. If breeders keep bringing Bouviers like Sarah into the world then Bouviers will become as feared as Rottweilers and Pit Bulls. No one should have to go through what we went through with a beloved family pet. 

I'm sorry that this has been so long and that I have probably rambled. It has been a very difficult letter to write but I really hope the breeders [...] will take their blinders off and take another look at their dogs every single time they breed. [...]

Barbara


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