Wednesday, February 8, 2012

You Can Help Gracie


This beautiful girl is in Breckenridge, Colorado.  She needs a new family.  Please read her story below, and cross-post.  The account below is from her current owners, written to a local rescue.  If you feel you can help Gracie, please email us at or contact Animal Rescue of the Rockies at  I wanted to interject some points about the breed, without censoring any feedback the current owner has about Gracie.  Please see my comments in blue.

In November, while we were living in Houston, we adopted a Great Pyrenees mix female who was surrendered to our vet by her family.   She is approximately 5-6 years old.  Her original owner passed away and the subsequent owners/relatives could not properly provide for her. She had escaped from her home more than once and was found to have a urinary tract infection and heartworms as well as being underweight and dehydrated.  We formally adopted her from our vet.

We have 2 other mixed breed dogs:  a 13 year-old greyhound mix male (about 65 lbs) and a small brown mixed-breed, 6 year-old male (about 35 lbs) Unfortunately, the new dog, Gracie, could not develop a stable relationship with our older dog.  We consulted with our vet and tried techniques to modify her behavior.   In addition we would be certain to never leave them alone in the same room, would never feed them in the same room and always intervened if it appeared that they were uncomfortable with each other. They would get along fairly well but since November, she has attacked our older dog three times with increasing intensity.  The last incident requiring emergency care for our older dog.  For the last week she has been boarded at DNR kennels due to her unpredictable behavior.  She has always gotten along with the younger, smaller dog and has always been very gentle with us.

We have always owned large-breed dogs and, for the most part, adopted dogs.  As recently as 2 years ago , we owned 3 adopted dogs and never had any issues with the dogs getting along or other behavioral issues. We feel a strong commitment to any animal we have adopted including the 3 cats we have owned over the past 14 years.  So it is with great reluctance that we feel we cannot continue to care for Gracie.  I feel she would be a good dog in a one-dog home.  Our vet in Breckenridge said that Great Pyrenees may have problems with other dogs as they are bred to guard sheep and perceive other dogs as a threat.

While Gracie may in fact be best in a one-dog home, as some are, our experience is that it just depends on the dog dynamic you are facing.  Owners are quick to assume that dogs who struggle "getting along" with other dogs in their home need to be homed alone.  While this may be true about some dogs, on the whole our experience has been a "let's let them meet and we shall see" approach.  For many dogs, there is no rhyme or reason to who they like, and yet for others it becomes clearly defined.  The exhaustion of trying to train a dog while managing other dogs in the home can leave an owner feeling like "they need to be the only dog".  But I caution people with this approach.  Just meet them and see.  Her vet said Great Pyrenees have problems with other dogs, due to their breeding.  On the whole, this is untrue.  Her vet was not incorrect per se, but I fear posting this without speaking to it, because I don't want the breed misrepresented.  Great Pyrenees are livestock guardians by trade, and when performing that job won't take well to another random dog wandering into their field and farm.  In a livestock setting, their job is to ensure there are no threats to their flock.  In a home dynamic, things change.  I have no experience owning Pyrs as livestock guardians.  My experience is that Pyrs adapt to understanding who and what their flock *is*.  In a home, they tend to revere their flock as everything in the house.  Your other dogs, children, cats, etc.  They are protective of that collective.  The reputation of Pyrenees as house companions is that of unbridled sensitivity, affection, and acceptance.  Problems within the 'pack' tend to be standard-issue dog dominance issues, and not in any way specific to this breed in a home setting.  Gracie isn't not getting along because she's a Pyr, there is just a group dynamic in her current home that isn't working.

She will have her final heartworm treatment at a veterinary clinic in Denver beginning February 15th.  Until that time, she will continue to be boarded at DNR kennels in  Breckenridge.  After the final treatment (or before) we will surrender her to a rescue group or the shelter in Summit County.  We really hate to have her boarded so long and would be willing to provide any monetary assistance for a foster home.  We are contacting you since, as I mentioned, your group was highly recommended to us by Breckenridge Animal Hospital.

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