Posting from a burner because I am so devastated and ashamed.
I never in a hundred thousand years thought I would be one to give up on an animal. I have raised an "unadoptable" cat, and stuck with him when he was a hissing, pissing, biting, miserable recluse, refusing to let him go even after he destroyed a rental property, until he transformed into the grouchy, but loving, healthy and (finally) happy 10 year old cat he is today. We have been through so, so much together, and it's because of this that I'm even considering what I'm about to do. This is a long story, but please indulge me, I think it'll be good to get it all out on paper, so to speak.
Two weeks ago, I adopted a 10/11 month old deaf Great Pyrenees from a breed specific rescue. I told them that I wanted to bring a dog into the family, but that my cat's safety and happiness were very important to me. They totally got it, and said I would be a perfect fit with Dog [name withheld for anonymity's sake]. We live in a condo with a very small yard, but they said that was a good thing because she would be unsafe living on a farm, etc. due to her deafness. I work from home full-time, so I told them I could take her for long twice-daily walks in addition to some indoor playtime with Kongs, chewies, etc. They were so happy that someone wanted to adopt her in spite of her disability, saying this was a miracle, divinely inspired, etc. I said, no big deal, I don't give up on animals. I had done years of research and prep in anticipation of the day I had the right home and job and finances to raise a happy dog. The time had finally come.
Fast forward to now.
Dog is as kind and silly and loving as a dog can be. Very food-motivated, so she does well with her hand signals and basic obedience (which, considering her notoriously stubborn breed, is pretty darn good!)
But my cat, you guys.
We have kept Dog and my Cat separated so they could get used to each other's presence via smells. However, my partner accidentally left the door ajar on Dog's first evening here, and she bolted away from me and barged right in. (I oscillated between ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, DUDE, YOU LEFT THE SAFETY DOOR OPEN, ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW and Mistakes Happen, Honey for like an hour.)
My cat was... terrified. He was shaking so badly that he fell over into a puddle of his own urine, and my heart broke into 40,000 pieces. Dog was hastily removed, Cat was comforted like crazy, but he was just frozen, staring at the door in shock. That night, whenever she'd bark in her crate, he'd start shaking again, occasionally peeing and pooping himself. Needless to say, I did not sleep a wink.
The rescue said the Dog was fostered with cats, and that she does like to go up to them and sniff them and try to play, but that whenever a cat bops her on the nose, she's "totally submissive" to them, and backs off. This is NOT the case here. Dog has growled at and tried to chase any cat she sees. Of course, Cat and Dog have been absolutely 100% separated since the first incident, but Dog does occasionally sniff and growl under the door. My cat, on the other hand, has gotten better in the sense that he's eating and drinking again, but he has not come out of the bathroom for two weeks. He's even starting to develop ulcers on his lip, which the vet says are from stress. Because Dog is a rambunctious 80 lb puppy, she requires constant supervision, which means that the only time I get to spend with Cat is at night, when Dog is in crate, or for like an hour during the day, when Dog is in crate. Meanwhile, Cat is miserable, scared, and alone.
I told the rescue what happened and they said oh, she's getting settled, she's not an aggressive dog. Things will get better over time, give them both time to adjust.
I will try to go quickly over the next stuff because this post is already getting kind of long, and honestly, I don't think you need a lot of details. Basically, things have been escalating to the point where I am concerned for everyone's safety:
• Dog lunged at and bit me the other night. I gave her a bone to occupy her while I combed through some mats on her legs, and I guess I got too close to it, because she turned around, lunged, and bit my hand. Luckily I was so startled by the lunge that I fell backwards, so her teeth only grazed my finger. She then growled and guarded it from me with her paws and shoulders. She is normally not food aggressive with me or partner, and usually lets us take things in and out of her mouth. This bone, I guess, was just a Big Deal for her.
• Apparently she does have a history of guarding her food and toys from other dogs. My fear is, if she is willing to bite me over a bone, what is to stop her from biting my cat (and killing him, due to her size and strength) over a Kong or bully stick? She has growled at my mother's chihuahua, a yellow lab, and other assorted dogs. The rescue maintains that she's not an aggressive dog, and that she's just getting settled. How do I know if that's true? Also, do I even want to risk my cat's life finding out? Rescue said, "well, if your cat is scared of her, he's probably not going to approach her while she's chewing on something." But I guess I don't want to rely on my cat's terror to protect him from her food aggression?
• She no longer wants to walk on a leash. Dog went from a super great at-your-side-without-prompting walker to putting on the brakes and even lying down in the middle of a busy intersection. We were stranded there for fifteen minutes until I could get someone to come help because I could not physically move her by myself. She brakes in the middle of the street, on people's lawns, in our driveway... and cannot be moved or tempted to move without physically lifting up her back legs like a wheelbarrow. I can't tell if it's due to fear (which is very possible, we live in a city and she was fostered in the country) or the fact that she does not want to return home, as these mostly happen once we turn around and start heading back to the condo. I have tried scattering treats and leftover turkey in the road ahead of us, which worked a couple of times, but she has since gotten wise (I swear) and now just ignores them.
• She pulled me in front of an oncoming car today. I guess putting on the brakes isn't as effective as it used to be since I learned the wheelbarrow technique, so she has taken to suddenly bolting full-force in the opposite direction of where we're going. She did it so quickly and so powerfully that I was yanked off of my feet and into the path of a speeding car. Luckily, it slammed on its brakes before it hit us, and I was able to drag Dog (kicking and whining) back onto the sidewalk. I now no longer feel like it's safe for her or for me to go on walks. Period.
I have written several long emails to the rescue after each incident (save for the car, which just happened) letting them know what's been going on. They have been super kind and attentive, but I get the impression that I am strongly being discouraged from returning her. I was crying on the phone after the "laying down in the intersection" incident, since I felt so scared and powerless, and I cried when I told them she bit me. They probably think I'm a total basketcase, but you know what? I am. I've been getting zero sleep, crying all day, having panic attacks at night, unable to get work done... I no longer feel like I can give her a good home. I no longer feel like I can trust that time will make my cat okay again, or that I can give her the proper exercise and care in a small condo in a big city.
I feel like such a huge fucking failure. Who returns a deaf rescue dog? Who DOES that? Am I heartless for even considering it? I just don't feel like she's safe here, or that my cat is safe here, or (following the biting and the car accident) that I or my partner are safe here. I am going to miss her so much, but just because I love her doesn't mean this is a good home for a dog with her issues. The rescue is offering to pay for us to take her to a local university for hearing and behavioral testing to figure out what's going on, but I just.... I am so ashamed and heartbroken, because I LOVE her, I will be DEVASTATED if she has to go back... but I don't think I can go through with this. They are going to be furious with me, I know it. How do I even tell them? They kept saying I was her miracle. But I'm not equipped for this. Do I just need to suck it up and do for her what I did for my cat? How do I know what the right thing is? How do I know if, even if we go through all of the behavioral testing and the rigorous private training, that she can be safe here? Or if my cat will ever feel comfortable leaving the bathroom? Where does "give it more time" become "well she's really bonded now, it's cruel to give her back"?
What do I do?