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This is a hard post to write, and likely a hard post to read. But I perhaps our story will provide some consolation to other who walk similarly difficult paths.

Readers of these forums will know we struggled from the get go with our Darcy. Certainly a part of the issue was that we were new dog owners and needed to learn about setting the right limits on both humans and dogs. But when Darcy's nipping and high arousal began to escalate, we sought the help of a behavioralist and a trainer (who had worked with thousands of border collies over the years). They both agreed that Darcy's high arousal was very unusual. We started fluoxetine, and then clonidine. This helped a fair bit and we were able to get some traction with training and make some progress with counter conditioning stimuli like noises in the house and cars on the streets. 

However, in my last post I mentioned we were still struggling with resource guarding. Despite a lot of patient work with trading and building trust, the resource guarding became worse and worse and less and less predictable. He lunged and bit my oldest child just for holding his hand out to see if he wanted a pet (at the time, Darcy was just laying on the floor--he did not even have any resources other than his space). I bent down to pick up his leash one day and he lunged and bit me several times. It became clear he was not safe in the house with our children (let alone anyone else's children). 

It is possible that all of this could have been managed. But since his anxiety and resulting aggression were getting worse and less predictable, we felt he could not be safely managed in our home. Because he was so young and getting worse despite medication, management, and patient and loving training it was the opinion of the trainer and behavioralist that he could not be safely re-homed. The breeder would take him back, but who knows what he would have experienced there? The breeder, despite being well intentioned and a pleasant person, had given us Darcy way too early (less than 7 weeks--which I now realize is crazy) and I knew she used aversive techniques in her training (even with puppies). I have since learned that multiple dogs from our breeder have had these sorts of problems.

After consultation with our family, our trainer, and our behavioralist, it was decided the most humane thing to do was to put Darcy to sleep. Our trainer and a veterinarian came to our home and he was put to sleep in our living room surrounded by familiar loving faces. 

We are crushed. Putting my children's puppy and my companion to sleep was devastating. I would love another Border Collie some day, but at the moment it is hard to see the way from Here to There.

Thank you to each of you who helped us along the way.

-Eric

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What a terrible decision you had to make!  But you made it after careful thought and advice from experts who knew Darcy best.  There are some genetic and neurological behavior problems that cannot be fixed.  And you needed to protect your family.

Don't grieve longer than you need to.  There are so many wonderful dogs who need the kind of home you can give them.

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Wow. I'm so very sorry to read this, Erikor. I know you tried and it sounds like there really weren't any other good options for you. You made the right - and probably in the long run, the kindest - decision you could make for Darcy under the circumstances.

From what you say it sounds like this may have had a genetic component. While we know now that it's in a puppy's best interest to stay with his mother and litter longer, it used to be quite normal for puppies to be taken from their litters at 6 weeks. And in those days I had several at that age with absolutely nothing remotely similar to this. Aversive handling at that young age may have contributed, but again, too many puppies from horrible beginnings have gone on to become lovely, well adjusted adult dogs. A few years ago I adopted a border collie rescue puppy that had to be put down at a similar age as your Darcy because of unpredictable, intractable and dangerous outbursts of aggression that kept getting worse the older he became. Sometimes the wires get crossed and there's nothing else to be done. The fault lies with "breeders" who continue to produce puppies like this when they see it in others of the line.

My heart goes out to you and your family for what you've been through. I hope you'll be able to hold onto all the things you loved about Darcy. And I hope when you've had time to heal that you'll be able to open your hearts to another dog, maybe even another border collie. Things like this are rare; it's unlikely you'd find yourself in the same situation again - especially if you were to get to know a breeder's lines (or adopt an adult rescue with a set and observable personality) before committing to the dog.

Dogspeed, Darcy. And peace and comfort to you and your family.

roxanne

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I am very sorry to hear this, as I know it is heartbreaking. Take what Gentle Lake says to heart. You did your best for and with this dog and your best is all you can ever do.   Under the circumstances, and especially knowing now that this (bad) breeder has produced dogs with similar problems I think you made the only reasonable decision. I am so sorry.

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I am so sorry you had to make this tough decision. Having followed your threads on here, I know you’ve done everything you could for this dog and I am very sorry it had to end this way. 
I hope that with time you will be able to open your heart again for another dog, because I think that dog will be lucky to have you.

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4 hours ago, Flora & Molly said:

...I hope that with time you will be able to open your heart again for another dog, because I think that dog will be lucky to have you.

I just want to add that despite the unhappy ending, Darcy was lucky to have had you. He could have ended up in a series of inappropriate homes before ending up being euthanized in an unfamiliar shelter. You gave him the gift of an easy transition surrounded by the people he loved and who loved him.

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Thank you to all for your supportive and very kind comments. 
 

And I should add that we are so grateful for our brief time with Darcy. He taught us a lot about dogs and ourselves. And although he struggled, his love for us was clear. 
 

And to GentleLake’s point, for a while I thought we were “unlucky” and wished we had gotten a different dog. But then it occurred to me that Darcy was going to end up somewhere and I am so thankful he ended up with us where he was loved and patiently cared for to the end. 

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I agree with GL.....Darcy was lucky to have you. And as you say you learned a lot, even though this is not something you'd ever have chosen. He loved and was loved, and although his life was short that's really what matters. You handled your whole time with Darcy with love and courage, and I wish for you to find peace and solace in that.

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