A story about a difficult dog

I fell in love in 2015 with who I have found to be the one. There was a packaged deal for the both of us: I had a dog and a cat, he had a dog. The problem was, his dog has a lot of behavioral issues. He is dog aggressive, stranger aggressive, destructive, anxious, high energy.


We worked on our dogs being able to be together for a year before moving in together. We would take my obliviously friendly dog and his dog to an unfamiliar park, walk from opposite ends slowly closer to each other bribing with treats. We got a behavioral consult and got training. He got on medication that helped his anxiety. After months, they could walk beside each other and soon we were able to have them in the same house.

Months after moving in, his dog started to become more aggressive again – we think because he felt more territorial about his “space” in the house. When we tried crating him in a closed room, he would bite the bars and break the bottom of the crate trying to escape.

We came home to blood on the carpet from his gums and chipped teeth. So we gave him his space: the whole upstairs. We got baby gates, kept the dogs separate except on walks. It worked for years. Then my dog, who was about 13, passed away.

I have bipolar disorder and my dog was a huge part of my life – she gave me something to live for, to be good for. She got me out of bed and out of the house, she kept me from going off the rails (well, that and medication). We lost her suddenly and it destroyed me. I had a really hard time coming back from her death, harder than I really thought I would. It has been a year and I still think about her all the time and I miss her so much.

And my partner’s dog, he is still aggressive. He still turns into a demon when he sees other dogs or strangers when we are out for walks. We have to elevate our garbage cans. He still takes daily medication (which has drastically improved his destructive behavior due to separation anxiety). But then there are days like today.

For the past month and a half, I have been in a major depressive episode. I didn’t work yesterday and don’t work today. My partner walked him and fed the cats before leaving the house both days. Yesterday, I spent all day in bed. I got out of bed to walk him midday and then I crawled back in. Today, I tried to do the same thing.

I woke up to him crying again, took him out for a walk. Then, I tried to get back into bed. He wouldn’t let me. He jumped on the bed, punched me with his legs and cried until I got up, and then he ran and got a toy and made me play with him. It is impossible to not smile when you play with a dog. Their energy and happiness is contagious.

We played for a good long time and then we cuddled on the floor together. It is these moments that I realize how good of a dog he is. I didn’t chose him, and it can sometimes be difficult to care for him, but it is never difficult to love him.