I learned something about myself and others recently. Last October, I decided to place Dan with an acquaintance. I was not using him to help me with sheep, as I was not going to trial him; he did not seem to like it. So, off he went. She has her own small flock and a couple kids and is married. The kids are teenagers. It seemed all okay, she shared pictures, and even though in the house, in the pictures showed a concerned Dan, the outside shots showed a typically happy Dan.
I never heard anything negative about Dan, though a friend of mine mentioned that the people had contacted her with questions, which I was dubious about; why wouldn't she contact me?
Anyway, I kept in touch and about six weeks ago I re-iterated to her that if for any reason things were not working, that he needed to come back to me. Two weeks later I got a message stating that Dan had to come back, that something happened at the house- he was aggressive to the father in law. Dan is not an aggressive dog. Dan never was an aggressive dog his whole life with me. Within minutes of that message, she was on the road to bring him back (a 5 hour trip). She arrived to my house at 9 pm. Dan got out of the car and was absolutely whacked out. He left my house to go with her, a happy dog, he hopped into her truck, tail wagging. He came back to my house, and put his paws on me and growled at me, but it was not an aggressive growl; more like a I am totally freaked out growl. He then went near her and growled. Maybe the other males at my house having peed on the front bushes made him feel intimidated, I have no idea. It was very strange. The most telling part of all of it though, was when she went to leave and get in her car, he never once looked back at her, he only looked at my door, clearly, this is where he belonged.
Dan's coat was extremely thick, not sure he had been brushed since she had him and he had gotten a bit fat. His coat was also brown and he had black on his neck hair, I presume from being tied out. All of these things told me about his last 8 mos. It took a couple of days for Dan to relax near me.. he was still quite nervous.
He gradually came back to himself and we play ball every day, which he adores. I put him on sheep and he did great. I had someone come to look at Dan to re home him with. She was outside my fenced yard and when I brought Dan out he saw her, barked and then came back around me. The whole thing was very telling. He in no way was leaving. He went to her, and then he went to me and put his paws on me and whined and then he went up to the back door and lay there, wanting to go inside. I have never seen Dan like this, never. It was then and there that I knew that Dan would be going no where, that he was my boy, and what was I thinking of re homing him again. I felt so badly that I could not send him with this very nice woman, but he was so clear, that I should not betray him again. And, yes, I feel like I did betray him. I sent him off thinking it would be better than what he had, but I have learned, dogs don't need a lot. They need their pack and stability in that pack. They need good care and love. That's all. No more.
I had fallen into that shifting of dogs mentality that many do, and many are successful, but not me. I am not judging anyone, but for me, and my life, the dogs are my family. I just had to put my beloved Kylie down due to heart failure last week, and I would give anything for her to be healthy again and with me.
Every one's situation is different, and if you can't take good care of a dog, by all means, re-home it. But, if you just don't want to be bothered, think of your self as you age. Your home and family are your rock. Being up heaved from them is not easy. Especially not in an older dog.
There is no reason Dan can't stay with me, none at all. I am even going to run him in some arena trials. We are playing ball with the chuck-it every day, and he and Lucy get along well enough to be loose together (she is a not dog friendly dog with every dog BUT Dan).
I learned a lot about me this past week. First, don't think you know someone because you read what they write on the Internet. Second, dogs don't lie, and their actions speak louder than any words. Third, sit back and think about what dogs really want. What they *really* want. It probably is not what you think. It's a familiar pack and home and good care. The rest of it does not matter.