What If It's Just All Wrong?

A few weeks ago a call came through from a gentleman who had just bought a Rhodesian Ridgeback pup for his autistic son.  He told me that he had researched the breed and decided it would be the best to train as a therapy dog for his situation. Already my brain was whirling, trying to figure out in which universe he had figured that a RR would be the best dog for his severely autistic child (I love the breed, they're just not usually the first choice for a therapy dog).  He then went on to tell me that he had never owned a dog before and wanted to try and do everything right.  This, of course, was a good sentiment and I hoped it would bode well for the whole situation.
    
So out we went to his home for a "puppy consultation", in which we go over basic doggy knowledge and get started on beginning training exercises.  It was a mismatch.  The puppy was fearful and barking at everything.  This I attributed to the fact that he had been raised until the age of 14 weeks at the breeders out in the country, where he saw nothing but other Rhodesian Ridgebacks and huge fields from his fenced kennel.  The owner, never having owned a dog before, had decided that yelling at the puppy and dragging him on walks was the answer to that, figuring that the pup was just being stubborn.  Housetraining, as is so often the case, was also a forum for lack of knowledge:  the owner "knew" that the puppy was being spiteful when he eliminated on the floor of the house.  To top is all off, the autistic son had no interest at all in the dog and likewise, the pup had no interest in the child either.
    
The owner, as well-intentioned as he was, was high-strung and emotional, he wanted the pup for a therapy dog, and he wanted him to be a therapy dog *right now*.  He couldn't understand why this pup was barking at everyone and everything, why he didn't want to go on walks, why he tried to back away whenever he saw something new.
    
Where to start?  Could there be any hope for this situation?  Imagine if you had to teach someone with no mathematical experience how to solve complicated algorithms in an emergency and only had ten minutes to do so - imagine if you had to teach a goldfish how to understand a grasshopper; that is the equivalent of this scenario.  It can be very emotionally draining for someone who has lots of puppy experience to work with a pup with these issues - it can be extremely difficult to teach someone with no dog experience to work with a well-socialized puppy. The temperament of this owner combined with an unsocialized and fearful puppy made this into nearly an impossible situation.
    
The puppy required good timing and lots of work to help him understand this new world he found himself in.  The owner was partially hysterical because he couldn't make everything right.
    
Usually when I write a blog, things turn out well in the end and it's the journey along that path that makes the story.  However, I felt strongly from the beginning that I wanted this puppy out of this situation!  And in the end, that's what happened.  The owner, after struggling for another week or two, returned the pup to his breeder.  So, you may wonder, what is the moral or reason to this blog?
    
There are two:  as a potential owner looking for a puppy, make sure that you take the time to study a little about what makes up a well-socialized puppy before you buy.  Ask experts if you have special needs, such as wanting a therapy dog.  As a breeder, please educate yourself as to the needs of a growing pup in order to create a dog that will function well in the world, and be careful about who you sell these individuals to - interview them and remember that the responsibility for these puppies lies with you and should be more important than any money you're going to be making off of them.
    
I have to say that I really don't know what will become of that little pup who went back to his breeder.  He's had a difficult start and won't easily make someone a "good pet".  The one thing we know for sure, though, is that it isn't that little pup's fault.