Kix relaxing on the king-sized bed in his new home!

Below is the letter I sent out to friends, people at my training club, and fellow agility competitors. I decided to put it up on the website to possibly help others who might find themselves in the same type of position. When I puppy tested Kix, I ignored my gut feeling that something was a little ‘off’. It wasn’t anything I could clearly put my finger on, but there was something. I convinced myself that he was going to be fine, especially because he was the sex & color I wanted in a Sheltie (and bi-black boys are hard to come by).

I’m not saying that Kix isn’t a great dog. He is, in the right home. Unfortunately, the right place wasn’t with me…..


I have spent the last few weeks on an emotional roller coaster. Last week I finally made the decision to place Kix in a pet home. I have had him since last August (he was 9 weeks old). Kix is my first Sheltie and I was so excited to find a male in the color that I adore (bi-black). I had great hopes for him as a companion and an agility dog. But over the last 5 months I realized that the life I lead is not the life he needs.

Kix is fun, smart, loves dogs & people, and is just an all-around good boy. He had a solid training foundation and was doing well with beginning agility. He’s very handsome and structurally great. Unfortunately, I saw signs of major problems starting around 7 months. He had some fear issues in new places. I expected a fear period, but this continued, and got worse and worse. I felt so bad for him. He just could not seem to handle being in dog show and seminar settings. He would panic and go into an emotional state where I couldn’t reach him. He was in his own private hell and couldn’t find his way out. He only felt safe in his crate or in the car. By the fourth day of the Memorial Day weekend show, he was completely unable to function. Rather than getting used to the situation and getting better, he just kept getting worse.

I did all the ‘right’ things over the past 5 months. I’ve worked with many dogs with fear problems, but this was different. I did more research to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. Some dogs have an inability to process incoming information accurately (this is more common in herding breeds), especially in chaotic or busy situations. This seems to be the case with Kix. Even familiar objects and people seem strange and suspicious to him in those types of environments. Unfortunately, everything I read confirmed that I could not change this type of reaction. And I realized that it was not fair to keep putting Kix into stressful situations over and over.

I would never ‘get rid’ of a dog because he couldn’t do agility. When I take a dog or puppy I assume he/she will be with me forever. Luna is unable to compete due to her luxating patella, but she still enjoys going to shows, the activity, and the socializing. For Kix, being at shows and seminars was horribly unpleasant. He would switch into ‘panic mode’ for no apparent reason, and could not shake it off.

Once I made the decision that I needed to find him a home where he wouldn’t be put into these kinds of overwhelming situations, an amazing thing happened. The right home practically came to me. I was having lunch with one of my oldest friends and telling her about this. Lee and I were roommates in graduate school, and she got me the job at Kent State that brought me here. She listened for a few minutes and then she suggested that she and her husband take him. They wanted another dog (they have 2 terriers), but didn’t want all the work of a puppy. They are a wonderful pet home; their lives revolve around their dogs. They can give him everything he needs (and lots of things he just wants too). They have a very stable routine (which he really needs) and they fell in love with him the first day he was there for a trial period. It took less than an hour for him to just slip into their lives as if he’d been there forever. He plays constantly with their Wire-Fox Terrier, and there was an instant liking between him and their Scottie. Of course, they are thrilled to have a dog with all the training he has had. I went back 2 days later to visit and he was so relaxed and comfortable there that I knew it was the right place for him.

The best part of this is that I will get daily ‘Kix reports’. Lee’s office is right across the hall from mine. I will also be able to see him anytime I want and he’ll come to stay with me when they go on vacation and such.

I know it’s the best thing for him to lead a stable and routine life, rather than being carted all around the country with me. But it still breaks my heart to let him go. I feel sorry for myself, and very disappointed that my plans for the two of us just won’t happen. I had such high hopes and was having so much fun with him. You put so much of your heart and soul into forming a relationship with a dog, into laying a foundation for a performance career, it’s hard to say goodbye and let those dreams go, even if it’s the right thing to do…


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