I gave away my dog today. I’m glad to say I’ve found the most perfect home for her. Today I packed up her treats, toys, medicine, leashes, food and bed and watched her drive away in the front seat of my friend's SUV. I think she was sad, she looked sad and lost to me, but maybe I'm just hoping this is true to get over my own self guilt of giving my dog away?
It's a bit weird in my house right now . . . weird for me the most because our dog, well, she was my son's dog, but really, she was my dog, because she basically lived in my shoes. But I didn't really like her that much. The dog hair, the slobber, the drool. It's not her fault, I didn't know I wasn't a dog person until after we had her for about six months or so. But I couldn't give up on her. We had made a commitment to this puppy and I was going to stick it out. I thought I could fall in love with her eventually.
I fell slightly out of love with her when she continued to freak out whenever we had visitors. When she would escape out the front door whenever anyone came over and it would take me 10 minute to get her back in the house. I fell out of love with her when she would puke on my floor and then eat it (GROSS). I fell out of love with her when she would chew a stray pencil and my husband would let me have it for leaving a pencil on the floor and then berate the dog until she cowered and shook for at least 30 minutes. I fell out of love with her when every time I tried to pee she would stand and stare at me. I fell out of love with her when I would finally be able to relax at night and she would come to me for some scraps of attention.
While the canine Mia has always had a number of idiosyncrasies that I’ve found irritating, my all-encompassing annoyance with her basically came to fruition about a year and a half ago. I mean, who has time do deal with a dog, her silly antics, and needs when you’re up all night with children who don't sleep, a husband who snores like a bear and a toddler that’s been attached to you all day. I know lots of people are able to "do it all" (as in, raise children, cope with dog antics, clean their house and take a shower) with success and happiness, but I’m not sure I’m one of them.
Thus, we talked about giving away our dog. We investigated shelters, but that just did not seem like the right thing to do. I asked a couple of people if they knew anyone but we never found any serious takers. So we waited. Until now.
My friend called me to let me know they were seriously interested. GAH! I needed to decide if we wanted to part with our Mia that we’ve raised from puppyhood through the ripe old age of 4.3. Rather, I needed to decide if I am ready to permanently part with her, because dear husband just told me that it’s all up to ME to make this decision, since I’m the one who has to deal with her at home all day, and I’m the one who gets sufficiently annoyed by her on a regular basis (although husband does agree she’s annoying).
Will I regret this decision? Will I feel liberated? Did I make the right decision? Will Mia be depressed or filled with anxiety for a long period now? I know a lot of people are judging me right now, thinking about what a cold-hearted biotch I am for just up and giving away my dog, a ‘member of the family.’ I can handle the judgments. I can deal with any negative things people think about me, because I know deep down the decision was right for us. And I guess I’m using this blog post to sort some things out in my head. So before you answer my questions, please take a moment to consider the following information.
Mia, some basic information: Breed- Yellow Labrador. Age-4.3. Temperament-spirited, high-energy. LOVES exercise and attention and games and fun. But will also get sleepy in the evening and hang out if everything is low-key. We got Mia six years into our marriage. My son and my husband wanted a dog, I didn’t really want one, but eventually was worn down by the constant pestering of the men in my life. We met Mia when she 8 weeks old and brought her right home with us. My son slept with her for 5 day straight on the sofa. She then went right into a crate for the next two years. She was easy going and mellow from day one. She took to her crate like a champ. She LOVED to be LOVED. Boy oh boy did the children love on her. We all did, because you know, puppies are so darn cute. She rarely barked or ran off and she never once nipped at any of the children . . . not once! She loves running around outside, retrieving tennis balls and frisbees. She simply adores to play tug of war. And if you get on the floor with her (Something I have never done) she will cover you in slobber with all her excitement.
What I/we found annoying about Mia: She needs A LOT of exercise. More than we can or are willing at this time of our lives to provide. Yes, I take walks with the children. But Mia likes long walks. My kids do not. The children are zigzagging here and there, stopping every 12 seconds and while Mia is absolutely awesome and patient, I know she's also wondering "where's my walk". In her excitement to walk, she usually ends of pulling me instead of me walking her. She is so awesome that I could let her leash go and she would just coast at her own speed ahead of me. We used to be able to bring her to the parks, which was great because I could semi-walk the dog and the kids could play. But last year dogs in the park were banned in my city. It is really hard to keep a dog entertained and happy while having a three children to take care of. Not everyone may agree with this, but human children take priority over animal children in our household. When people come over, she basically attacks them with wild hopping, slobbering and spazzing. Most people don’t enjoy that, they endure it to be polite, but they don't enjoy it. If little kids are over, they get knocked down. Her drool makes me vomit-literally! She followed me everywhere - EVERYWHERE. Recently we returned from a two-week vacation and Mia decided that my sofa was her new dog bed.
This did not over well with the momma (ME!). Quite frankly, that was the last straw for me. I posted a note on my personal facebook page that I tried to love my dog but couldn't and did anyone want her.
Some good things about Mia: She’s cute. She is a sweet, good, nice dog who LOVES people and will remain loyal to her companions. She doesn't lick. She cleans up all the sloppy food my kids drop all over my house. If anyone ever tried to break into our house I always hoped she would bark really loudly and would scare them away(although I am pretty sure she would have just covered them with kisses and slobber). She knows how to have fun, which is great when you’re also in the mood to have fun (but can get annoying when you just want to sit down and do nothing). She listens REALLY well. She greeted me every morning when I woke up with a smile and a hop. She simply just wants to play and be loved.
Miscellaneous: My husband doesn't let her run all over the yard because it will tear up the grass so she basically has only a small strip of grass to walk on. My kids don't really ever play with her. No one really ever pets her much. My husband expects her to sit on her dog bed whenever he is home (yes, that includes all weekend long). The dog-adopters LOVE dogs. The dog-adopters don't care about dog hair on their clothes. The dog-adopters have two children who are crazy in love with dogs and are therefore able to devote buckets of love and attention onto dogs. They also live next door to dog lovers. The dog-adopters are having a doggy shower for her to welcome her into their home. They are willing to exercise Mia with numerous walks throughout the day. I think they have the potential to be the greatest parents for Mia. On the flip side, Mia was our first puppy. She has also become quite adored by our children. My son LOVES Mia. She makes him giggle, she makes him laugh, she makes him squeal with delight. They play little games together. All the children love to make her sit and lay down for a treat. One of my little one's first words was “dog.” When we get home from being gone Mia was always there to great all of us (ALWAYS).
Okay, so that’s it. I gave my dog away and I'm feeling tons of guilt. I am a bit disoriented in my own home because when I came home this afternoon Mia was not there to greet me at the door. When I was making dinner tonight Mia was not there begging for a bit of something. When we all finished dinner tonight Mia was not there to sniff and lick around the dinner table for any crumbs that had fallen. When I was finally sitting down in my chair to relax Mia was not there laying at my feet keeping them warm. While I sit here and type this post Mia is not here laying beside me.
Mia loves everybody. When dogs are in a healthy environment, they have tremendous love to give to many, many people. I’ve had people say unhelpful things like, “How can you give her up? She loves you!” Of course she loves me! But dogs have the capacity to love many people.
When we confirmed "the gift of the dog" on the phone to my friend, it dawned on me that I am giving a wonderful gift to someone who will honor and appreciate it. It’s clear that this friend “get” what they’re getting with her and realize that it’s a huge gift. Even though I will no longer have the sunshine personality of Mia in my life, someone who appreciates it will and their lives will be richer because of it.
If I can remember these things, the wrenching process of giving my dog away will ease. Yes, I’ll still be an emotional mess, but I will be free of guilt because I know I’ve done a good thing both for my dog and for her new family.