by Barb McNinch

I have trained dogs all my life. Starting in 4-H and moving along to becoming a 4-H dog obedience instructor, then on to training dogs owned by friends. I started training professionally in the late 80s.
My personal dogs were my obedience show dogs and I owned mostly German Shepherd dogs and Rottweilers. I trained pet dogs with a local facility for many years, then helped open a another facility with a friend. I was known for my behavior training and worked with veterinarians in my area with "bad" dogs.
The years rolled by and as I "matured" I scaled back on competition and training professionally.

Enter Wyatt

Just before the pandemic descended upon us, I decided if I wanted one more working type dog I better do it soon because I wasn't getting any younger. I found a working line GSD pup that seemed just right. Wyatt joined our family and then the pandemic hit!
Puppies need a certain amount of exposure to the outside world when they are young and Wyatt did not get that. As a trainer, and because he was well bred, I felt like I would be ok and got him out as much as possible but it wasn't enough.

As time went on, I realized Wyatt was a very active and slightly reactive boy.
He was very emotionally attached to our house and to us and even the car. He would scream and howl if left in his crate, and hated going to dog day care.


As a trainer, I started trying to "fix" the behaviors that were holding us back. I tried more exercise, more training , more trips out. I knew the things to do, but they weren't working.
I felt more and more tense and worried each time I worked with him, despite knowing that I needed to not respond to his reactivity and his behaviors. It became very obvious to me that he and I had the same reactive/anxious/emotional responses going on. He was not getting what he needed.
Added to this was the fact that I had to face: I was no spring chicken, I had other things I needed to attend to and neither the time or the motivation to train as much as he needed.

Wyatt needs a job

He needed a true job. Tracking, detection work, agility... things I could not give him.
I am very lucky that I have a vast network of trainers to talk to. And I did.
They all agreed that Wyatt and I were not meant for each other. Things were getting worse and it was time to try to find something better for him.

Decision Time

I say that now as if it were an easy decision. IT WAS NOT. It took weeks for me to come to grips with what I needed to do.
Once I made that decision though, it became my mission.
An old training/Rottweiler friend of mine happened to have moved only a couple of hours from me. I told her everything. She came and evaluated him and agreed we were at cross purposes.

I decided to send him with her to her place for boarding and training so she could work with him and show him around to working GSD people. After about 2 weeks,she put him up on her Facebook page.

A New Beginning

After a few inquiries that did not work out, a woman who did Search and Rescue in VT contacted my friend. She already had a female working SAR but wanted to train another dog for SAR and Cadaver work. She drove hours to meet Wyatt and have him meet her female. And, he was a hit with both of them. She took him home with her that very day.
I have never felt such sadness and relief at the same time. I knew I was doing the right thing, but I also missed the big goof.

Staying in Touch

Luckily, his new owner is also keeping me up to date on Wyatt and his training and how he is doing. He is doing so well and she loves him so much. He has already been on multiple road trips to clinics and even went with her and her female to a real SAR . She said he just acts as if he's always done this. He meets and greets people, gets in a boat, swims, plays with kids, and other dogs. Soon he will begin training and certification for his first level of HRD. (Human Remains Detection). He is HOME!

Doing the Right Thing

I hope that this story shows that sometimes owners and dogs clash. Sometimes we have the wrong dog. Sometimes circumstances of the household, finances or behavior of the dog is overwhelming for owners and dogs. It's ok. You are not a failure. Your dog doesn't blame you if you have to do the right thing and find the right home. Yes, you will feel guilty. Yes, you will feel sad. But when you see the difference in your dog in his new life and the difference in the household once the decision is made it will be worth it.

UPDATE: Wyatt has certified in level 1 Human remains Detection on Land!

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Aug 24, 2023
Difficult Decision
by: Suzanne

Great to see Wyatt happy and well!

Doing the right thing for your dog isn't always easy. I am so glad that you were willing prioritize Wyatt's welfare and that he is now doing work that fulfills his needs.

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