I hope this
account of Zeus's too short life, will help educate people to not make the same
mistakes that we...I did. And save them some future mind numbing heartache in
the end. Although this account seems rather long, it is actually the short
version of our struggle together, I assure you.
is a hole in my soul, that does not seem, will ever go away. I'm crying right
now as I write this.
journey with Zeus was filled with so many mixed emotions. Unwavering love and
devotion, determination, heartache, fear and many, many tears. Even through it
all, I would not have given him up for the world. I would go through it all
again, just to know and love him once more.
medical problems, and aggression was
not all who he was. It was a very small part of his personality. The Zeus I knew
was a wonderful bouncy puppy, who became my best friend. I'll miss him forever.
And if this horrible ache in the pit of my stomach ever goes away, I'm
determined to only remember the good in him and totally wipe the bad from my
oh so true story, begins back in December of 1998, when we decided to get our
daughter Tamara a puppy. As her sisters all had pets of their own, and Pepsi was
just not in the mood for playing anymore at the then age of 11.
to be responsible and thoroughly research the breed of dog we were going to
choose. We looked in our breed book......sigh, and after a few months of
thought, decided to look into the
beautiful white Great Pyrenees further. We are a big dog family at heart, and
have never had small dogs. I grew up with two saints, and understood what
it meant to own the giant breeds.
the time I did not have the internet so I had to rely on the sources at hand. I
bought all the Pyr books I could find in the pet shops and book stores; went to
the library and took out the breed books; talked to my vet and others who had
owned or knew the breed. I familiarized myself with the breed traits and we were
more than accepting of them all......so eight months later when I saw that ad in
the paper advertising Pyrenees puppies for sale, I thought we were ready to add
one to our family.
the time they were only six weeks old and would not be ready for another two
weeks. Tamara and I drove the 4 hours to the kennel......actually I can't say it
was a kennel, as this was a loving family with two dogs and a small sheep herd.
wanted to meet the pups and their parents before making our decision.
were a few red flags on our first visit, such as the mother of the pups had to
be locked away......but it was explained that she was upset with these strangers
milling around her pups.....sounded reasonable, I guess. The father of the pups
was there though, and he was an absolute joy! He was so calm and patient with
our hugging and patting......and that face!
people were very nice, and seemed very concerned about where their pups were
going. They had alot of questions for their potential puppy owners. They had
turned down two people while we were there. One because they did not like his
answer about how he disciplines dogs.
maintain to this day, that they were not bad people, just well meaning people
who did not understand genetics and how they play a roll in future puppies.
pups were all raised in a kennel built inside of the sheep pen. They were all
milling around our feet, and after seeing those fluffy adorable faces nothing
was one pup in particular who caught my attention, this pup was shaking in the
corner and looked so scared. The man picked him up by the scruff, and because
this is a practice that has always given me the shivers, I took the pup from
He was a
beautiful pure white pup, with wonderful pigment, and he was the second largest
pup in the litter.
whole while that Tamara was playing around with the pups, in total bliss, I held
this puppy. I rubbed behind his ears and felt him soften to my touch. I even put
him down once, while I checked out the other puppies and listened to the owner
talk about his dogs. He would not leave my side, and looked up longingly at me.
I picked him up and never let him go for the rest of the visit. I was hooked....as
far as Tamara was concerned, it did not matter which pup she got, her main
concern was having to wait TWO MORE WEEKS?
day we picked up Zeus was I'm sure the happiest day of her life.
puppy hood was quite a happy one. For him and me. He was such a quite puppy and
was incredibly easy to house train...I thought I was in heaven. No
chewing, no wrestling with the kids (which I thought would be a problem)
was though, excessively shy.....I knew the importance of early socialization, so we took
him everywhere. He would always find some place to hide, where he felt safe. But
all in all he was a wonderful loving pet in the safety of his own home.
he mmatured he was rather submissive, unusual for a
Pyr, and his fear of the unknown bothered me.
as he approached puberty I noticed a change in him, that made me uneasy. He was
always fearful of loud noises, but before would turn and run...now he seemed to
confront the offending object defensively.
example he would lunge and bark at the lawnmower, or turn and chase the tractor,
all the while with a look of terror in his face. He was also looking at people
in a different way as well. That scared me. He had an eerie, untrusting
look that screamed...I'm watching you. Yet it was usually unknown to them, but I
could see it.
know that it is a Pyr trait to be aloof or wary of strangers, but these were
people he knew all his life and were here all the time.....like my father. He
was also starting to guard his food, the garbage bag, the dishwasher....anything
he felt was his and surrounded food, and would warn Pepsi to stay away.
decided that he was going to be neutered immediately. I thought that puberty was
causing this new behaviour.
of his new found attitude, I no longer trusted him alone with my kids. Until
he was neutered, and I saw a change. If I was not around they were to be separated.
Although he had never shown any signs of aggression toward my family.
night before his surgery, Zeus was in the put mudroom, as I had to go upstairs
and clean. I heard a growl and a scream and came barrelling down the stairs. My
youngest daughter was lying on the floor with her face buried in her hands...the
dog was hiding under the kitchen table.
My heart sank....I thought
that under theses wee hands there would be nothing left of her face. I panicked and
ran scooping her up in my arms. Thank God, there were only two small scratches
on her cheek. I cleaned her up and dragged Zeus out to his outside run.
night the talk turned to euthanasia. I could not trust this dog with my
children, and it could have been much, much worse. I was not going to give him
another opportunity. My heart was broken, but my kids safety had to come first.
that did not happen....? I feel it is important to tell the whole story about
that incident as my daughter's told me......
Zeus was whining in the mudroom, Kelsey, only three at the time, felt sorry for
him and let him in the kitchen. Then she and Tamara decided to check out the
cake in the fridge that I had made. Zeus also thought this was a good idea, and
proceeded to put his head in the fridge. The girls tried to get him out, when
that failed, Kelsey decided to wrap her arms around his back legs under his
said he growled twice, then turned and snapped.
next day I phoned the vet crying, and told him that I was bringing him in not to have
him neutered, but to be put to sleep instead. At the vets office, we had a very
long talk about his temperament and the incident. My vet was so understanding
and loving...he really liked Zeus and convinced me to phone a few trainers. He
said he was still so young, that maybe there was hope. Plus after the testosterone
levels in his system went down. That alone might bring about change. We would
check to see if there could be a medical cause.
agreed. He really did not
have to twist my arm too much, as I wanted wholeheartedly to believe that he
could be saved.
he was neutered, I decided not to wait till I saw a change (which never came) I
contacted many trainers, and asked their opinion about what I should
do.....Should I try and save this dog? Or is he too dangerous around my kids and
can't be helped. Some told me to be done with him but from a few, I was given
some very convincing arguments why he should be given a second chance.
he was still young, and the most convincing of all was that he did in fact use
bite inhibition with my daughter.
I was explained that Zeus saw my kids as
littermates, and in a sense corrected, just as he would another puppy who was
hurting him. He gave a warning growl and then a snap. That snap would not have
broken another puppies skin, but he could not be expected to know that a human's
skin was softer. If he had really wanted to hurt Kelsey....at 100lbs he would
have. I was to teach him his proper place in the family. That he was not equal
to the children, but lower on the totem pole.
alot of sense, and I
was determined to save what was quickly becoming MY dog. After all 90% of the
time, he was this big goof of a dog.....oh could he make you laugh!
I subscribed to the internet as I heard that their were many sources of good
information and help out there.
joined many egroups, most about dog aggression and behaviour issues. I also
joined the PyrNetL group, and in that group received alot of help and support....for
which I will never be able to thank them enough.
rigorous training and managing his aggression began. I found out that his major
problem was fear aggression. Armed with that knowledge it made his plight much
more real to me. How on earth could I not help a dog who is going through life
afraid of everything unknown? It became a crusade....it consumed me. I had to
help him, yet keep everyone safe at the same time.
problem was, that his aggression was not a constant and was very unpredictable.
One minute he would be all friendly to someone, then with the slightest movement
could turn on them. His outbursts started to increase in intensity. In
hindsight, these were all symptoms of the tumour that was growing in his brain. I
learned to read his subtle changes in stature and quickly remove him from the
was sent away to Behaviourist for six weeks of in-depth training. But it really
did nothing to help his outbursts. Instead he came home better in some ways
(obedience), but more intense in others. We worked consistently when he came
home, everyday was a training exercise.
Through this a bond so very strong grew
between us. Yes it was alot of work...but work we both enjoyed. He was given
personality tests, and was found to actually have an amiable temperament. Which
would suggest that he really could not help his behaviour. Deep down he would
rather be the dog of his true temperament, but something inside was making that
quickly learned that his problem was genetic and could only be managed, and not
cured. Although he could have been one of the few Pyr's to win an obedience
title, he could never again be trusted alone with my kids, and had to be closely
monitored constantly with anyone out side the family.
the kind help of a new trainer and a host of wonderful supportive new friends, (with their own
dog aggression issues) things seemed almost fine for a while. We both
fell into a comfortable routine.
totally unknown to me that there was a connection, he started to pee in the
house once again. He was chewing everything in site...he was regressing back to puppy hood.
And the hair! He was loosing far too much....too quickly. Not you average
coat blowing! A friend suggested I have his Thyroid checked. It came back fine.
was starting to get that look again. He out and out attacked Pepsi our Sheppardx,
for no apparent reason. He did not break the skin, but she was shaken up pretty
bad. A few more intense unprovoked reactions and the intense training began
again, but this time to no avail. Within a week he went from seemingly content
to allow me to handle any situation, right back to where we started...but with
even more frequency and intensity.
night before he died, I was getting into bed, and Zeus was laying at my
feet....he suddenly jumped up growling and snapping. I had to grab his mouth and
hold it shut. He was starring right through me as if I did not exist. Like he
was in a trance. My husband and I put him in his crate, with me still holding
his mouth shut. I was so shaken
up.....the one thing I could count on was that he had never challenged me. He
would never try to bite me and I could diffuse any situation that arose. How
could I protect everyone else if this had now changed? I stayed up the whole
minutes after the incident, Zeus was all happy again, he seemed confused as to
why he was in his crate, and mom would not come near him. In the morning I had
Ron take him out to his run, I was still quite shaken.
went out to feed him later, and his eye had turned all bloodshot, more like
severe pink eye. I took him to the vets, and found out that his eye was already
"fixed" and there was alot of blood behind it. The vet said that a tumour
had ruptured, and there was no helping him.
said that this tumour had most likely been there since his behaviour first started
to change from fear to aggression. As it is at puberty when alot
of tumours can develop, and there is nothing anyone can do to
With that knowledge, I am even more proud of all he accomplished with his
training. It had to be remarkably hard to trust me and fight the affects the
tumour was having on his mind.
cried and held him, told him I loved him, that I was so sorry that I could not
save him. I promised to see him at the bridge, and let him go to God.
know he his much happier there, finally safe from fears, and his own mind. I am so happy
for him that he is finally free. I just pray the pain of loosing him and my loneliness
without my best friend will ease with time.
now has herself a new puppy...Freckles. She is thrilled with her. And I believe,
she has filled a void that should never have to be in a little girls heart.....
But even now, I will still catch her crying alone. When asked, she says she
misses her Zeusy, and wishes he'd come back.
if you are considering getting a puppy of any breed, save yourself and your
family this horrible pain, and only seek out one from a responsible breeder. Do
your homework, and let your head guide you in your choices and not your heart.
Although Zeus's tumor was not a
genetic issue, his shyness and fear behavior as a puppy certainly was.
Sariena and Tamara Foley
the proud mom's of Zeus, Great Pyrenees
I Only Wanted You
They say memories are
well maybe that is true.
I never wanted memories,
I only wanted you.
A million times I needed
a million times I cried.
If love alone could have
you never would have died.
In life I loved you dearly,
In death I love you still.
In my heart you hold a
no one could ever fill.
If tears could build a
and heartache make a lane,
I'd walk the path to heaven
and bring you back again.
Our family chain is broken,
and nothing seems the same.
But as God calls us one by
the chain will link again.
If you too are
struggling with dog aggression, before you start your search for a "cure" or
contact a trainer, I highly recommend that you read through this site:
From the site:
Before you hire a
Most dog owners would do
anything to help their aggressive dog become a safe and happy pet.
Unfortunately, the willingness to "do anything" is what opportunists in the
professional dog training industry count on.
You won't find a miracle cure
for aggression on this site, but you will find information that will steer you
away from training pitfalls and give you the ability to find REAL help for your
For support from
people who have been there, done that....join:
k9aggression support group:
To subscribe: send
blank email to:
Dealing with dog aggression
can be stressful. This is a support group for owners dealing with their
aggressive dogs. Many groups talk about training, but the extent of your effort
and compliance to a good treatment program is the most critical factor
determining the success in treating your dog's aggression.
How do you find good and
reputable help when there are so many scam artists and incompetent people who
say they can fix aggression in your dog? How can you stay committed when things
get difficult? How can guilt or denial hold you back?
We invite you to share your
experiences dealing with your dog; with aggressive episodes or with good or bad
trainers, behaviorists and consultants. Sometimes an encouraging word is enough
to give you the strength you need to help your dog. Sharing your aggressive dog
experiences can relieve the burden and helps others.
We do not accept judgments on
this list. We aim to keep this list a safe place. Any flamers will be banned -
no explanation. Any trainer self-promotion will not be tolerated.
We wish you luck in