The Most Painful Choice

A Dog Owner’s Story of Behavioral Euthanasia


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About the Book

When Champ, a German Shepherd, was adopted from a local breed rescue, his family hoped and expected to spend many fun-filled years with him. However, Champ suffered physically and mentally from neglect and trauma from his first years of life. Despite numerous treatments, Champ was never able to overcome that trauma to become a “normal” dog, and his family made the painful decision to give him peace through behavior euthanasia.
This work serves not only as an account of Champ’s life and his family’s attempts to help him, but also as a resource on behavior euthanasia, which is a compassionate choice for unmanageable aggression, reactivity, bites or severe anxiety. Investigating the potential causes of these issues, chapters examine scientific research on dog behavior and emotions.

About the Author(s)

Beth Miller is a writer and editor in St. Louis, Missouri. She has worked for weekly and daily newspapers and has been a writer and editor at Washington University in St. Louis since 2006. She is a member of the National Association of Science Writers; is a longtime runner, cyclist, triathlete, and duathlete; and enjoys training her golden retriever, Mack.

Brian Patrick Duggan is a canine historian and author of several books and numerous articles about dogs in history. He is a retired university technology educator and an American Kennel Club judge.

Bibliographic Details

Beth Miller. Series Editor Brian Patrick Duggan
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 190
Bibliographic Info: 18 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9019-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4878-1
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Dogs in Our World

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii

Preface 1

Introduction 3

 1. Bringing Champ Home 5

 2. Treating Champ 34

 3. Anxiety and ­Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Dogs 48

 4. Nature vs. Nurture 58

 5. Communicating with Champ 72

 6. Making the Decision 80

 7. Grief 94

 8. Moving Forward 107

 9. Behavioral Euthanasia: What It Is and What It Is Not 116

10. Dogs and Emotions 126

11. Behavior Problems and the Owners’ Well-Being 146

Conclusion 153

Chapter Notes 157

Bibliography 169

Index 179