Rescue coordinator: Linda Grisley
Fostered in British Columbia
In September of 2013, I received the following email:
It is with regret that my wife and I find it necessary to request a rescue for our nearly 8-yr. old spayed KBT female Ciara. Ciara requires rescue because of our declining health and some behavioural issues. Ciara was obtained from a breeder in New Brunswick - Bangor KBT / Kissing Bridge Kennel in 2005. I have her registration papers, should they be required.
My wife and I are in our mid-sixties. I am currently recovering from a colon cancer operation. Sharon is suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI). As you may be aware, this normally develops into Alzheimer' s Disease.
Ciara has some separation anxiety problems and is also extremely over-protective of my wife. Ciara has bitten me on 3 occasions ( the last was about a year ago, when I was passing a page of paper to my wife). She has also bitten three visitors. Whenever we have family or friends over, I feel it necessary to keep Ciara on a short lead to avoid any problems. Her reputation has preceded her now, and we receive very few visitors. Ciara also dislikes me being physically close to my wife. We have to hide from Ciara in order to hug, kiss, or even hold hands.
We have tried to rehabilitate Ciara with the help of a local veterinarian. However, my wife's declining memory renders her unable to follow through on the training. And without the two of us being consistent, rehab was an unfortunate failure.
Ciara has recently developed a few lipomas? / subaceous cysts? which have not yet required treatment, but otherwise she's a healthy happy dog.
The Ottawa Humane Society has declined to take Ciara, due to the biting issue.
Please help, we have nowhere else to turn.
After interviewing the owners, I thought the problem with Ciara was based on the circumstances in the home. Ciara was guarding the wife of failing health, to the detriment of the relationship. Her breeder refused to take her back. I agreed to take her into the Foundation's care.
A foster home available in British Columbia wrote the following:
This is certainly a challenging situation. I can foster Ciara in a safe one on one environment and know that we will be fine together. I would certainly be willing to use a muzzle if there is a danger of getting bitten. Ciara will have to be muzzled whenever she is out of the condo until she earns trust. That may be a very long time. I can assess and will be patient with her - lots of reward and reassurance for good behaviour. She has plenty of bad manners too; but am glad to help to give her better ones.
The owners very kindly paid for her air transport to B.C.
After a month of care with the foster home (a single woman), the following report was received:
Ciara is very adaptable and adoptable. She could only be a one-person dog; her focus is singularly on the person she trusts. I think in a household with a good income, and best in a single female household and definitely with no kids. She will probably(?) ignore the husband if she were placed in a household with both husband and wife. She has had three separate aggressive run ins with elderly ladies, so advise against adoption by infirm or elderly. She does do well with smaller dogs and very patient with them all; would do fine in a household with other small dogs and would find her place amongst the crew. I don't know about cats, but think she is smart enough at this stage in her life to ignore them.
She is getting to the stage in her life where old age issues emerge. A household income that can cover possible vet bills is really necessary-- as we are now starting to discover. She has a great appetite for anything she is fed, and very food motivated for reward.
Ciara is very accepting of any handling, treatment (except using stream type eye-flushing - she growls and is very uncooperative///but loves and accepts gentle eye cleansing to remove the gookies) She has no objections to any of her ablutions; including a 1x daily wiping of her vulva to keep it clean.
Ciara has an amazing happy spirit when she is out free to run -- I have found a field that has nobody around for miles and she absolutely dances when she has space to kick up her heels. She is very easy to live with in this condo; no bathroom accidents except the one on her first night. She adores her walks but must be steered towards me and away from trouble if she gets intense with the sight of approaching dogs/dog walkers. Dogs the same size or larger are all sized up and communicated to by intense growls, while on-leash. If off-leash and approached by an off-leash dog, she allows the approaching dog to sniff her. Now that she is on estrogen hormones, she will be even more aware of approaching dogs.
She would do well on a large property with room to roam and sniff every corner and be happy. But wouldn't we all!
Dr. Mann just called with her blood panel report, and all is good, there are no abnormalities with liver or kidneys.
Ciara may or may not need more medicine to help her functionality. I will keep you posted in seven days after she does this 3-pill trial on estrogen.
Unfortunately, one week later, I received notice that she had bitten a visitor to the foster home. The visitor forgave Ciara and the foster mum. Further discussion was held to amend the control mechanisms in the home: muzzle use, and gating, as well as management techniques when visitors come. Ciara responded well, but we were very concerned that she was not adoptable unless with a VERY experienced dog owner, so we did not place her on the web site under adoptable dogs.
Christmas 2013 the following email was received from the foster mum:
Ciara is 9 years old and extremely protective of whomever is her guardian. Currently it is myself. I live alone, and do not receive visitors often. One on one with me, she is very gentle, behaves and does whatever is asked of her. She just wants to please.
Her eyesight is starting to fail her, and she becomes extremely distrusting of anything approaching, especially when daylight is fading. Many dog owners walk their dogs off leash in this area, ignoring the signs that are posted that these are all on leash areas.
The problem is that here in the city, there are very few off leash areas. I take her in the car, every day, to an off leash trail and give her a good hour walk. (I can hand feed chickadees at a spot that we both stop at on the trail and she sits quietly beside me for the duration -- which is an amazing feat for any dog.) The moment she sees another dog coming whether that dog is on or off the leash she becomes anxious. No matter how far I take her away from this perceived "danger" she becomes uncontrollable until that danger is passed.
My sister is arriving for Christmas this Friday and is staying with me for 13 days. I have all the necessary equipment to contain her should she not accept sister Leslie: pen, muzzle, kennel, sonic egg.
I am going to use whatever means necessary to contain her should she exhibit aggressiveness with my sister. She trusts me implicitly, and any level of anxiety that she perceives will be reflected back to me: essentially, any failure to prevent a biting incident is my failure and I fully understand this responsibility.
Hard to write this as she lays quietly beside my chair, waiting for our well established and very much loved daily walk.
Thanks for your understanding and all the best,\\ I would very much appreciate being kept in the loop as I have put a lot of work into keeping her with me since her arrival in October.
After the New Year, the following message was received:
Hoping your Christmas holidays were good to you all. Ciara did very well: she accepted sister Leslie without need for any restraints by Day 2. All went peacefully for the remainder of Leslie's two week visit.
Now we know that this dog is settling into this home well, and is respecting the boundaries set by the foster mum. However, we are now concerned that moving her to another home will set her back again. Plus, I am concerned to place a known biting dog into any other home and the liabilities involved. On January 20, 2014, I received the adoption contract from the foster mum. We are very pleased to know that Ciara is in the best possible home, with the boundaries and training and management required of a girl with a rough first half to her life.