Thursday, August 30, 2007

A new home for Daphne

I'm hoping y'all can help JP and I find a new home for our wonderful female lab-mutt Daphne.

As some of you may recall, JP and I adopted a black lab last November. She'd been hit by a car and the woman who rescued her from the road paid for
the surgery to have her back right femur repaired (it was broken clear in half). When we adopted Daphne, we thought her leg was healed, but then found out it wasn't and that she'd have to have the leg amputated. However, we were able to find an orthopedic vet surgeon in South Carolina who fixed her leg -- today you would have no clue at all that she was so so close to having her leg amputated. She loves to run around and is super fast!

Unfortunately, it turns out that her leg was not the only damage from the car
accident. After visiting a few vets, we ended up going to a vet neurologist (yes, my dog has a neurologist) and learned that she has brain damage from the accident. Because of some of the symptoms of this brain damage, JP and I have made the incredibly difficult decision to find a new and better home for Daphne. It breaks our hearts to do this, but we find it a much better alternative than putting her to sleep, which some professionals have recommended.

I'm pasting JP's letter to various shelters below in the hopes that maybe one of y'all will be able to help, even if it's just in passing this info along (we initially found out about Daphne from a long email chain). I know
most of y'all live far away, but if it means finding the best home for Daphne, JP and I are willing to do what it takes to get her where she needs to go. Please feel free to email me at any time at Quitclaim [at] gmail.com. Thanks!


My girlfriend Carrie and I adopted a little black lab with a broken leg, who we named Daphne, back in November and December of last year. As much as it pains me to do so, I'm writing now to ask for your help in finding a new home for Daphne.

What no one knew when we adopted Daphne, or could have known, is that she suffered significant brain damage when she was struck by a car last October. We have since realized that much of her gentle behavior during the time she was with her rescuer was probably due to the intense pain she was under from her broken leg. We saw indications of her problems while she was healing, but ascribed it all to her being caged constantly. Unfortunately, we have come to realize that this wasn't entirely the case. We tried to train her with some of the best trainers in the area, but with poor results. Ultimately, we took her to a neurologist who confirmed that her problems are physiological in nature and unlikely to be cured. Because of her special problems, Daphne needs a very special home that can take good care of her.

The perfect home for Daphne would be someone who lives in a rural area, who is athletic and capable of wearing her out, and who can put in some serious training time on a daily basis. She is very affectionate and craves human contact, but has difficulty figuring out what "appropriate" is. She is spayed and in great health, weighs about 45 lbs and is two years old (we think). Anyone who takes her needs to be aware that she is "special needs" and be prepared to deal with it, which is one reason we are asking for your help in looking for a new home.

Daphne's brain damage has two major effects (and many bizarre and interesting minor ones): First, she gets agitated very easily by any kind of stimulus (from loud noises to human presence), and when she does, she obsessively spins in circles. These spins can vary from large loops around the yard to incredibly tight circles and wild barking when she gets extremely excited. Second, and far more problematic, she is essentially untrainable. She knows how to sit, but we believe she may have learned this before the accident. Beyond that, she can only learn any kind of behavior with an extraordinary amount of effort, and anything learned is quickly forgotten, whether in hours, or days, regardless of how well she is reinforced. She simply can't retain anything. This is especially problematic because Daphne has a very strong impulse to play-bite. While we've managed to lower the frequency of these bites, we have been unable to get rid of them entirely, and you can never be sure when she'll do it. For that reason, she would not be good with children.

Daphne is a sweet and loving dog, but her inability to learn coupled with her high excitability makes her very difficult to handle. That said, I believe she can be trained to behave herself, and possibly even beyond-- at one point she learned to heel for nearly a week-- but it will take a lot of attention and patience, and acceptance of the fact that one day she may wake up and everything she's learned will just be gone and need to be relearned from scratch. Also, we have taken her to the mountains on several occasions, and she gets along much better in that environment. One of the reasons we have decided to give her away is because we believe the city (suburbs) is just too high-anxiety for her. In a rural, low-distraction environment with a lot of attention, I believe she could be a very good dog.

Please let me know if you know of anywhere we can look to find a place for Daphne. What she really needs is someone who has experience in dealing with brain-damage in an animal, and we simply don't know where to begin to look. Both doctors and trainers have suggested putting her down because of the difficulty in dealing with her, but we are convinced that she could be very happy in the right environment. We will keep her and care for her until we can find another home, because we love her very much, but I think she would be much better off away from the city and with owners who can devote substantially more time to her than we can. Let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions that might help.

Sincerely,
JP and Carrie

2 comments:

Nancy K. said...

Carrie--I could repost JP's letter in my LJ. I don't have many online friends from nearby, but a couple are from Georgia and are involved in things with animals.

Maybe the perfect solution for all problems would be to give Daphne to the guy who wants to keep the Katrina dog (and the Katrina dog back to its original owner).

Lenora Bell said...

Aww...that is so sad. You were so sweet to give her a home and so much love and medical attention. I understand how difficult this must be for you. Best of luck finding a good home for Daphne.