Little did I know this would become a difficult journey. A journey not everyone is willing to take. Some of it included hatred from local Obedience club officials (but that is another story) .
From the moment I met Ryddick at 6 weeks old I knew I had to have him. I did not know what it was about him, but I just had to have "him". I was offered a few other dogs from the litter that seemed a bit more "normal", but I had this feeling about Ryddick that we were destined for each other.
Ryddick 8 weeks
My heart sank when I brought him home and he was horrified of the other dogs. It wasn't your normal fear of meeting other dogs. It was full blown vicious snarling, barking, lunging, he was horrified. I talked to the breeder and she said he did that with one of the older pups she had bought and added to the litter. I was shocked to hear this. The 4 month old she had purchased was added into the kennel with the 6 week old littler of pups and left to "play" with them. Ryddick got the most attention from this pup. Being so young and defenseless he must have tried all he could to get away from this much bigger puppy. This went on for 2 weeks until I picked him up to take home.
As the days went by he got used to Rylie, Raygen and Ryker and he showed more and more of his personality. He loved to snuggle with me and ran around with the other dogs. He still was not able to meet dogs not in my household without going into a severe rage. He also showed more and more sings of fear of human strangers.
9 weeks, first encounter with small children
At 9 weeks old he met his first children, a 4 year old girl and 2 year old boy. I only got to about 10 feet near them before he went into a rage. This got progressively worse as he got older. Since children are unpredictable I am not comfortable exposing him to any of them. In puppy class he was not able to play with the other puppies he was so afraid of them. He would freeze and show his most vicious snarl. I implemented a rigorous training and behavior modification program. At the age of 6 months he was diagnosed with severe Panosteitis in both his rear legs. He was in a lot of pain and this was a huge setback for training and meeting new people and dogs. He would wake up from, what seemed, a deep sleep growling and snarling at his surroundings from fear of being touched. It took months for him to outgrow the Pano. I kept him on pain meds, but they seemed to have little effect. He would wake up in a rage when anyone (people or dogs) would step near him. He was fearful of feet and I had to desensitize him to them. A little cheese-in-a-can goes a long way. Even though he is much more comfortable sleeping around us, he has decided to sleep away from us at night, in the living room. He has the couch all by himself, a dogs dream.
I have trained him in Obedience, Rally, Agility, and was doing some Flyball drills in my yard and next to Flyball practice. I take him to regular herding lessons during the warmer months.
Agility started out to be a lot of fun with him. He was very responsive to my cues and his first runs in the ring were a dream. I remember the trial when he told me he did not want to do it anymore. Thinking he would overcome his decision, I continued to show him in Agility and it all came crashing down.
In July of 2010, I contacted my vet and talked to her about possibly trying some Fluoxetine (Prozac) on him. This was not an easy decision and having tried changing his diet, herbs, flower essences, aroma therapy, DAP, Calming Cap, T-Touch, Massages, training (and what else is there?) I thought it was time to help him with some western medicine.
He has been on it since August 30th and I have noticed some changes. Instead of going into a frenzy when Rylie and Raygen are playing tug of war he lays in the grass and watches them. He has significantly calmed down around any of the dogs doing agility in our yard. Herding has become much more enjoyable and less of a roller coaster of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. My only regret is that I have not put him on the meds sooner.
Ryddick with his friend Chocolate
Ryddick is very sensitive to touch. He quivers when I put his collar on. He refuses to come near me when I have anything that resembles a coat, harness or halti. One time I though putting on his Cool Coat for herding might help with the heat. It became apparent that he hated the coat and let out his frustration at the sheep.
Ryddick thanking DOG for Prozac
Ryddick has also a medical mystery. His epiglottis is always open and he will choke on food when fed in large amounts, August 30th Choking incident. Sometimes his saliva will go down the wrong pipe and he gets very concerned when dogs get near him when he coughs. The vet has not been able to explain why the flap is open. At this time I feel that surgically experimenting on him is not necessary since we have managed to keep his food and water intake without any joking incidents for a few years now.