Are Some Wheatons Holy Terrorists?


A while back I treated Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier who developed what I called “unilateral aggression,” aggression to one person in the household, the husband of a husband-and-wife couple. You can read all about Ruckus’ story on the website:  http://adoptruckus.org/html/puppy.html  You will note that the url includes the words “adopt Ruckus.” That’s how bad it the situation has become. Because Ruckus was so aggressive to the male owner – lungeing at him from behind the windows when the man was outside mowing his own lawn, for example, he has to be physically restrained from attacking him at all times. One time Ruckus was tied to a stout post in the yard when the male owner entered his field of vision.  So violent were Ruckus’s attempts to get at the man that he pulled the stake out of the ground and ran at him in full aggressive mode trailing the post behind him. Disaster was narrowly averted when the man’s wife rugby-tackled the post and slowed Ruckus’s charge.  On another occasion the man was not so lucky and, as he sat in the emergency department having his wounds irrigated via drainage tubes, began to think that maybe he and Ruckus were incompatible. This story is ongoing as the couple try to find a home for Ruckus, a dog who apparently hates men (or at least, ones with whom he cohabits). As I was brooding over Ruckus’s explosive aggression toward his male owner, aggression that did not respond for long to any treatment tried, I was approached by another Wheaten owner, one who I wrote about in an earlier blog for Dog Star Daily. This Wheaten dog went ballistic on seeing any other dog. Both this dog and Ruckus were orders of magnitude more explosive than any dog I had seen before and bothtruned out to be refractory to behavior modification or pharmcotherapy. Basically, nothing worked.Licking my wounds, I logged onto the veterinary behaviorists’ “list serve” to find other behavioristssimultaneously lamenting highly aggressive and refractory-to-treat Wheatens.  It started with someone writing “Has anyone encountered violent, uncontrollable aggression in Wheatens?” to a bunch of “metoo”-type responses.  The conclusion – I paraphrase it – was than some lines of Wheatens seem to have a screw loose.  But what kind of screw could it be?  It’s not a seizure-type screw; I already explored that possibility. It does not seem to be a serotonin deficiency. I went there, too.  What else could it be, I wonder. I did once see a Boxer who, through earlier abuse, I surmised, developed sensitized vasopression (ADH) receptors. That dog became incredibly aggressive when his diabetes insipidus was treated with synthetic ADH. You could argue that Ruckus did not have the greatest start in life and may have had a similar problem, but the Boxer responded to the known antidote for this situation, a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (Prozac).  Ruckus did not. I am left guessing. If anyone out there in Dog Star Daily Land can shed some light on this situation in general and some Wheatens’ orneriness, I would appreciate it.