Hard decisions

My heart is heavy.

As I said before, I love dogs. Love love love them. It's been a lifelong dream of mine to have one or two of my own. Josh knows this, and has always been supportive. We had talked and talked about different breeds, whether to get a puppy or an older dog, what sort of fence to build, and what sort of activities we could do with our dog- obedience, agility, frisbee, camping. Oh, the dreams.

I was patient. I waited through college- my roommate had pets, but I did not. I got my "dog fix" tagging along to do therapy dog work with a friend and her dogs at a nursing home. After college, I was patient. We knew a one-bedroom apartment wouldn't be the best atmosphere for a young dog. He needed room to run, not to mention I couldn't imagine house-training a puppy from a third floor apartment. I waited. And then we were house-hunting! We prioritized a large yard for a variety of reasons, but one of those was so someday we could have a fenced-in area for children & a dog to play. And then we got a house on an acre! A great, large yard with plenty of room to run. Initially, moving in and settling down was hectic, so we said we would start looking for a dog after the beginning of the year, maybe towards spring, maybe we'd wait till we had a fence. And then! On craigslist! A young dog, the breed we wanted, up for adoption! I was giddy. We went for it.

We brought him home two weeks ago. I think he's great. He's gorgeous, loves to play, loves to run outside, loves to romp in the snow. I'm getting WAY more exercise, and that's good for me. He's totally house-trained and doesn't chew things that aren't his. But all is not well. He's needy & demanding, for sure- I can't get much done without throwing a toy for him to catch every few minutes or else put up with incessant whines. He's started grabbing his food bowl and bringing it into the living room when he wants more food. He's not crate trained at all. He's defiant- if I tell him to do something he doesn't want to, he stands there and barks at me as if to say "No! I will not! And you can't make me!" He jumps on us and on guests. We've tried to read up on advice for how to deal with these things- with suggestions that range from posture correction to voice inflection to proper exercise. Honestly, these things I could and would gladly deal with- and I think could be remedied after obedience classes.

But, there's more. This is how he acts with me. With Josh, on the other hand, he is even more defiant. He's more frantic. He bites the leash and pulls on it when Josh walks him. He'll slip out of his collar while he's outside. He doesn't just bark at Josh when he's defiant, he growls, and he's nipped him, twice now. (I hate to use the word "bite," because it has such an awful connotation. He hasn't broken skin or torn clothes or anything, but it doesn't sound like it was accidental, either.) Really, the "biting" was the decision maker. We can't have a pet that's dangerous (and seemingly getting worse) towards someone in the household, period. I have this feeling he doesn't like men, perhaps from a past experience.

I've cried a lot this week. I see this as the death of a dream of mine- I love dogs and I love my dream, but I love my husband more, and this is something I'm going to have to give up for the sake of my marriage- since we got Casey, Josh has been so stressed, and totally not himself. I have to make this sacrifice.

I'm not mad at my husband- none of this is his fault. I'm not mad at the dog- the poor thing didn't have proper socialization & training as a puppy. I'm just sad because I'm mourning the loss of something I've hoped for for so long. When we give Casey up, we won't go out and get another dog- maybe never- and I'm mourning that reality- the death of a childhood dream.

Since making the decision, a burden seems to be lifted off of Josh's shoulders and he's much more himself. I told him I'd rather have my husband back than have a dog, and I mean it. I love him, and I loved him first, and I need him around and unstressed. I'm so glad to have him smiling again. As for Casey, I contacted an Aussie rescue group, because they would both appreciate his beauty and know how to deal with the particular quirks of his breed. They'll be willing to work with him and they'll find a well-screened home for him, I'm sure of it. So far they've been very responsive, and I'm glad Casey will end up in a stable home that is more prepared to deal with him than us first-time dog owners.

This totally, completely breaks my heart to write. I hate that I've failed this dog- even though I know I haven't, we just happened to pick the wrong dog. I know we gave him a better home that the one he came from (or the one before that) and we would have kept him in our home if he wasn't a danger to a member of the household. As it is, he'll be going to a good home who will appreciate him and work with him, and he'll be a great pet someday! I'm still sad, but better. Casey will be with us until a foster home is found for him & I'm trying to enjoy every minute of it.


Beth@TheNaturalMommy said...

:-( You made the right decision, no matter how much it hurts right now.

I pray God blesses you with the dog of your dreams through this selfless, painful act.


ashley @ twentysixcats said...

Wow! What a tough decision! I've been there, to a certain extent. I am glad you'll be able to find a nice home for Casey.

I'm a little confused as to why you won't ever be able to get a dog again. Is it because of Josh's allergies?

Marie said...

Before you get another dog, you may want to rent/buy "Dog Whisperer" DVDs. Besides being really informative, they are so entertaining! I don't particularly like dogs, but I love those DVDs. I have learned so much from them. We have a Jack Russell terrier, and oh my sweet niblets, he needed a lot of training.

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Anonymous said...

We are sorry for your loss.
When you do decide to get another dog, I do recommend a puppy. Al has his quirks and potty training is not fun, but boy it's your first reality check into the smallest time committment a child will require of you. Adding anyone into your household really changes how you spend your time and where your focus lies. I'm sure there is a puppy out there for both of you when you are ready to take the leap again.


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