Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Dog Dilemma

About two months ago or so, I had expressed the desire to eventually add a dog to our lives. I feel it's important for kids to learn to live with animals and experience poop scooping, feeding, loving etc.... something that needs these things.  We had two dogs growing up, Sparky a cocker spaniel (who eventually ran away) and Brittany, a brittany spaniel who lived a very long and happy life. They were outside dogs but very much a part of our family life. We also had a menagerie of kittens a couple of rabbits and at some point a parakeet named Rodger. Then as a grown-up I had Bubba the Chinchilla. 

So, when I came across a picture of a little brown fluff ball on Craigslist I sent it to Chris at work, not to convince him to get the dog but to share the cuteness. All of a sudden we were talking about really getting a dog! Chris felt like maybe we weren't quite ready but I figured that now was as good a time as any and why not? 

Chris pointed out the difficulties I agreed with him and then we contacted the owner to meet the puppy. I took Anders to the local dog park that is right up the street from us. She was precious, actually that was her name. She was good natured, cute and most importantly wasn't a shaky scared little thing like I thought she might be. She was a long haired Chihuahua mixed with something else. Most likely Pomeranian. Chris and I both prefer bigger dogs but we had to admit she was the cutest puppy we had ever seen! Chris said that we would never have a dog named "precious" so we started referring to her as "Bitsy".  

The owner wanted 250$ for her. We knew that we would have expenses with a new puppy so I asked for 150$. I figured that if she said 'no' then that would be the end of the story and we would move on.  But, she said 'yes' and we set up a time to meet and pick up the dog. Friday was the day and as the day dragged on and the owner called with various excuses for not bringing the dog at the specified time I became more doubtful. Eventually she called and said she could bring Bitsy over. It was about 7:30 in the evening by then. The original time had been 1:00 pm at the dog park. 

So, Bitsy came into our lives that evening. We had a crate for her to sleep in. Some cozy blankets and the puppy formula that the owners had brought with her. She fell asleep around 10:30 and slept until 1 in the morning. At that point I had to take her outside to go potty. It was FREEZING outside and I was sooo tired. I was already starting to feel a bit overwelmed with her presence and was feeling a little sick about the coming commitments. That night she slept in our bed and it made for an uncomfortable sleeping arrangement as we tried not to roll over on her.

 The next morning, I got up with the puppy and fed her, took her outside and played with her until Anders got up. Then I had to get ready for my Saturday at the salon. I had to hurry because I had been busy since early caring for the puppy and for Anders.  All day I had a sick, feeling of dread. I realized that at this point in time a puppy was WAY too much work. To make matters worse, Bitsy began pooping what looked like spaghetti that morning and now we had to deal with worms! Yuck. I know that this is a normal part of puppy life but it just made matters worse. 

That afternoon I took her to the vet for a deworming treatment and a check-up. Of course the vet commented on what a great puppy she was and how healthy and happy she seemed. (besides the worms.)
I couldn't shake that feeling of dread. It made me nauseous and slightly panicky. Something I have never felt before. It was so strange to feel so bad about a decision that I've made! I had never felt that way about a pet. Chris offered to pray for me which did help the feeling of dread immensely.  I still felt really uneasy in my spirit but it was less so.

 That night we let Bitsy sleep in the bathroom with her kennel and a bunch of newspapers down and we all slept well. The next morning was Sunday and we were pretty late to church due to wrangling the puppy and Anders. 
By this time I had made up my mind that by no means could we keep this puppy no matter how cute and sweet she was. Oh, yeah, to add to the stress wherever she had licked me on my neck or face I had nice big red spots. (that didn't help!) 
Anyways, to make a long story short, we spent a nice long day at the park with the dog and Anders. Went home and hunkered down to more puppy care and carpet cleaning.

The next day the old owner called to see how it was going and I asked her if there had been anyone else that had wanted Bitsy. Yes there was and she was fine re-homing her. Oh thank goodness!!! 
Now I have my house back, I'm able to concentrate on being a mom again and getting the funky smell out of the bathroom! Chris also promised a professional carpet cleaning in the near future!
After this experience we will be VERY CAREFUL about getting a pet again and we will make sure that we can fully commit to caring for a needy little being. It was a messy and complicated lesson. 
Anders and Chris were a bit sad about saying goodbye to Bitsy. I on the other hand have felt fairly exhilarated about getting the house ready for Chris' mom and other Christmas frivolities!


Mike said...

What a story, Gretchen. I had a similar situation with a sweet Irish setter. After 9 months, we "rehomed" old Ben and he did much better than barely surviving in our tiny yard. It's good that this happened so quickly because you got so attached to find that you were getting overwhelmed by the pooch.

Ariana said...

Sounds like a mentally rough weekend! At least you knew right away, and it didn't slowly dawn on you over several weeks (or months!) I wonder how long Anders will keep talking about Bitsy-- I'm sure it was still a good experience for him!

Heidi Jo said...

The first couple weeks of having Lucy in our home I thought I would go CRAZY! She turned everything upside down in a way I was thoroughly unprepared for. She has since calmed down and we're in the training stage, and she's become totally fun. However, I dont' know how in the world I would have managed a new puppy in my home AND a toddler. The first couple weeks of puppy training is definitely a full time job, emotionally, physically and mentally. I do hope one day you'll be able to do it though, once they're potty trained and stop barking at everything, they really can be a joy!

Anonymous said...

Gretchen, had God meant itsy-bitsy Bitsy to be a big part of your family, then you would have felt great about it from the get go... It's true, puppies (and old dogs) are a lot of messy work & time consuming, and are most definitely a significant change in life style.... At least now you won’t be wondering if you should have brought her home, AND none of those little lessons God teaches us are insignificant.

My oldest brother's dog, a purebred Chihuahua, a nervously shaky dog that was often sick, died of old age recently. So my brother went to a local dog shelter, and found a 2-year-old terrier mix that reminded him of a childhood dog, took him home, and the dog has been more low maintenance & better behaved than he could have ever imagined, and with zero messes on the carpet!

As an alternative to getting a puppy (just a friendly suggestion here), dog shelters have lots of low maintenance, young adult dogs that are already house broken, especially with so many people losing their homes, and some even let potential adopters do take home try outs. In addition, some dog shelters have volunteer programs where people can come in and spend some time with sheltered dogs, and even take them for walks----without having to bring them home....

And as an additional pet alternative, rabbits can make really cool indoor pets if the cage is set-up for it and cleaned everyday (only takes a few minutes with a good set-up) and with no in the middle of the night outdoor emergency bathroom breaks. My youngest sister had a rabbit that lived for 14 years! And she took it for walks outside using a leash!

Momzuki said...

Oh, how overwhelming! If you didn't feel ok with it, it was a good decision to let the puppy go to another home, I think. For the future, if you get another puppy, you might want to read about crate training. It made a big difference for us. After the first puppy we had grew up a bit, I got an adult dog as a companion for him. No more puppies until the kids are old enough to do most of the "puppy work." Adult dogs have their own baggage but I found it much easier than another puppy. - Lisa