Saving Spencer’s Life

Training Program:  Canine Behavior Training Program (CBT)
Hometown:  Johnston, RI

Spencer, a five-and-a-half-year-old boxer beagle rescue, had been living with us for over three years. About 99% of the time, he had the sweetest, loving nature. But the random 1% of the time was bad and over the past couple of years, he would randomly demonstrate aggressive behaviors.

He and our other boxer beagle mix, Chuck, had gotten into fights, growing in both frequency and in severity, in recent months. Spencer had even bit me twice, both times when startled awake, one of the times requiring stitches. He had snapped at guests before too, and so the more time passed, the more we chose to separate him from others.

We grew more and more anxious in our house, fearing that things would get worse, and they sure did.

During the Fourth of July weekend, after becoming extremely anxious due to hours of fireworks at several of our neighbor’s homes, Spencer had an episode in which he bit my husband several times.

We didn’t think we had any options left but to try to relocate him somewhere that may rehabilitate him, and find him another home. We did a lot of research, and we looked to our vet for support on relocation, but we continuously received the same response – everyone was recommending euthanasia.

We were heartbroken. We love Spencer so much, despite the pain we were experiencing and we experienced so much doubt as we tried to find the shelter that was least likely to resort to euthanasia.

Three difficult days later, we were waiting for a return call from a location that we believed we would surrender Spencer to the next morning. Instead, we got another call from a trainer who pointed us in a direction that led to Canine Behavioral Services.

By the end of that day, we were in touch with Brian, who was more than willing to help us all out. After all, we knew that Spencer had behaviors that needed correcting, but we knew that, as his owners, we absolutely did as well.

We brought Spencer to CBS in mid-July. At the start, the hope was to have him rehabilitated within seven weeks. However, by week four, it was determined that he was not making the progress that was hoped for.

After meeting with a vet upon Brian’s recommendation, Spencer began to take an SSRI medication called Fluoxetine (Prozac).  This was to help with his anxieties and fearful, unsure nature. His stay at CBS was extended an additional four weeks, giving Brian and his team the appropriate amount of time to rehabilitate Spencer as his medication kicked in. The entire time, Brian kept us informed about Spencer’s progress via email and regular Facebook updates.

At the end of September, Brian brought Spencer home and worked with us for a few hours.

Spencer was clearly a more relaxed, self-confident dog looking to us for leadership.  Brian took the time to demonstrate how to communicate with Spencer, and how to understand what his body language communicates to us. 

It was clear that the biggest obstacle we needed to overcome was letting go of our own fear.  The last incident was so frightening to us, but we had to let it go if we were to build mutual trust with Spencer.

If we continued to attempt leadership while displaying anxiety, Spencer would regress and feed off of our anxieties… then what would the point of sending him to training have been?

So we let it go. We have been working hard at being calm, confident leaders for Spencer.

Brian returned for a Follow-Up Session three weeks after Spencer came home, and advised us to allow Spencer more time to socialize with Chuck, while continuing to build on our socialization with him at a slow but steadily increasing rate.

Spencer has now been home for seven weeks, and has been flourishing in what has become a comfortable environment. 

Brian continues to be available to us for anything we need and happily had both of our dogs stay at CBS for boarding purposes during a recent vacation.

Knowing we can board Spencer at the facility that trained him and will continue to focus on his well-being brings us such peace of mind.

We know that Spencer is not the typical social dog.  He is not perfect, and may never be 100% balanced.  But we know that as we continue, every single day, to use the practices and wisdom that Brian gave us, we are helping him to be a calm, well behaved dog with whom we are very comfortable living. 

Four months ago, we were on the brink of losing a dog we loved so dearly.

Brian Manning saved our dog, and gave us a much brighter future!

Thank you Canine Behavioral Services.

Eileen & Dino Pacelli
Johnston, RI