I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever done this weekend. And I’m still sadder than I really thought I’d be about it more than 24 hours later. The post will be more therapeutic for me than anything else, so feel free to briefly scroll through this one. Late yesterday, I returned Abby.
After the destruction in my bathroom, I really wasn’t sure what to do. But the larger crate seemed to be doing the trick. She didn’t seem to hate being in there, through she wasn’t a fan of voluntarily hanging out there. But she wasn’t having accidents in the house. She was as sweet as can be, and all she wanted to do was curl on with me on the ground and chew her bone/get scratched/lick my face. I took her with me to softball on Monday night and she was great! She wanted attention from everyone in the dugout, particularly me, but she wasn’t bad at all. She barked at a little dog in a sweater that walked by, but nothing aggressive or really bad.
Tuesday I took her with me to kickball. Angel and Sam’s dog Maya was there and they were both in the dug out, but spaced out appropriately so they didn’t accidentally strangle one another on their leashes. Between the other team and neighborhood dogs being walked, there were 6ish dogs being walked around the park. Some were off and some were on leash. But between all the dogs, and us being in and out of the dugout, I think it she was over stimulated. She started barking at a few dogs, and in an aggressive and not-nice way. When we got home and before bed, we went on our nightly last-walk so she could do her business and sniff around. We ran into the Pitbull who lived below us and another dog. Abby growled and snapped back. I attributed it to being over-stimulated, but still broke down into a sobbing mess over how badly the evening went as a whole. For the first time, I seriously questioned if we were the right fit for one another.
Wednesday night came and per what had become our usual schedule, we went for a nice long 20+ minute walk, I fed her, and we went about our night. On Wednesday night I worked. She chewed her bone, slept on her blanket, and we snuggled on and off throughout the evening as we went through our daily training. She could sit, lay down, and roll over on command. We were working on shake and we were working on going into her kennel on command. She was such a smart dog and picked it up very quickly I really thought Tuesday was just a bad day, I was being ridiculous and not giving it enough time, and that we could do this.
Thursday came around. We went on our walks and ate dinner like we had been all week. She still wasn’t really at all interested in other dogs. She wanted to go up, sniff and introduce herself, but when she was done being around them it was VERY evident she was done. I had the late softball game that night, and I thought about bringing her with me, but decided since I would only be gone an hour it wouldn’t be worth it. It turned out to be the good decision, there were 6 dogs around the field and they were all bigger than Abby. She would have HATED it. I debated further whether this was going to be the right choice. Our post-work-walk was .. challenging. We walked by several dogs and she was downright unfriendly.
Friday was pretty chill, agency was closed and I spent the day at home with Abby. I worked and actually was tied to my computer most of the day. But even at the end of the day we went for a long walk before dinner like we usually did. Late Friday night I met up with Brian, Lexi, and Greggo. We went on our usual walk before I left, but getting her both into the apartment and back into the kennel was hard. Even on the walk, one of the little puppies Abby frequently saw she wasn’t thrilled with. I talked to my friends that night, but this was hard and not going well. I tried to be frank about it, but I’m sure I sugar-coated what I was feeling.
Of course every time I walked through the door, I was so happy to see that sweet little face. I’d get all kinds of kisses and snuggles and the sweet girl would be nothing but a bundle of joy. She was such a sweetheart and love love loved people. Saturday morning between our walks (which we took 2 long ones before I met friends for lunch!), on both walks she was increasingly aggressive with the other dogs we walked past. She would sniff and wag her tail, but then when she was done with the other dog she would snap. My dad called late that morning to inquire about my bathroom damage and see how he could help. When he asked about how Abby was doing, he called out my hesitancy. I confessed the uncertainty and unpredictability around other dogs. This is when the conversation got serious.
I was and am responsible for her. Both physically and legally. If she ever were to bite another dog, or another person trying to break up a fight between her and another dog, that’s all on me. Which is laughable! I literally have nothing were suing for. But I am still responsible. Over the course of the 9 days I had her, if I was to be completely honest with myself, she was increasingly more and more aggressive on the leash and out and about on within my complex. This wasn’t a good fit for her, but she was so sweet, and so sweet with and around me and my friends. I wanted to give her the best chance possible. I didn’t want to give up too soon. But after talking to my dad and once again dissolving into tears, I let myself really understand the reality.
My dad met me later that afternoon to survey the destruction. We sat on the floor with Abby cuddling and chewing between us, and I said the words out loud for the first time. “I think I need to take her back.” My sweet father agreed with me, told me why he thought it was the right decision, and offered to go with me. I didn’t feel like dealing with it that day, but appreciated the offer. He also pointed out the longer I wait, the harder it would be on both me and the dog. The more connected we would be to each other, when in the long run it wasn’t necessarily a good match. After he left, I just sat and bawled big crocodile tears and petted and scratched my sweet girl. I figured I’d enjoy the rest of the weekend and give her another day kennel-free. But out on the walk she snarled and got after 2 dogs that came near us. It needed to happen. I put her tags back on the collar from the kennel, tucked her sweet embroidered one I bought her with my name and phone number into the drawer, and took her back to shelter.
Process-wise it was shockingly easy to surrender her. I walked in, they weighed her and asked why I was surrendering her. I told her she wasn’t good with other dogs and should go into a single dog home, but that she was fabulous with people and (for the 1000x time that day) I started crying. After 2-3 minutes they told me I was all set. I reached over and gave her a quick scratch and apologized for taking her back and walked towards the door. I looked back from the door and saw her staring at me and looking really confused and I walked out. I swear her little face will haunt me for a long time. I sat in my car just bawling for several minutes and become a snotty mess. Once I calmed down enough to start driving, I headed home. I had calmed down enough by the time I pulled into my parking lot, but when I walked in and saw her empty kennel. Saw the bone she was chewing on that afternoon, and could still smell her sweet doggie smell on the little bed I’d made her, I lost it again. It absolutely kills me to think of her being back in a cage full time
She was mine. She was so sweet, and so smart. She responded well to being taught tricks and to becoming house trained. She loved being scratched and was extra-cuddly during and right when she was waking up from her naps. She was thoroughly unpredictable around other dogs. My parents have 3 dogs. My cousin has one, Sam and Angel have one, and my sister and Doug have one. The dogs are usually all present for family functions. I guess I could have kept her separate and secluded, but that means increased time alone for her. That’s more time in my apartment or in her kennel. Yes it’s a better alternative than being put down, but by being with me and without access to a potential forever home, she was being deprived of a lasting home and I was being selfish. It wasn’t fair for either of us, but especially not to her. I was able to give the shelter some details about her so that the next person that asks about her will know a little about her and be better able to place her.
It wasn’t right and it didn’t work out. I definitely have more of an appreciation for the amount of work it is to have a dog when you are the only care-giver and the amount of work when you live in an apartment. But still, as I sit here and write this, I’m crying (again!) and defeated about the entire situation. Going through this and acknowledging this was one of the harder things I’ve ever had to do. I feel like a failure, and like I did this poor dog wrong by teasing her with the taste of a happy, loving life only to pull it away. She did nothing wrong, other than not want to be around other 4-legged canine creatures. It just wasn’t a good fit for my family, or what-would-have-been our lifestyle. She would have been ok, but never the greatest fit for her.
To my sweet, face-kissing, belly-rub-loving, smart, happy girl… I miss you and I am praying and keeping my fingers crossed a wonderfully family comes along and does nothing but spoil you rotten and cuddle when you on the floor while you nap. You do deserve the best and I’m really ever-so-sorry I couldn’t give it to you