a bittersweet new beginning…
All three of my dogs are my sons. They are my babies who help maintain my sanity in times of despair. And even though they all came to me with special needs – I never felt like I was helping them; surely no more than they were helping me.
The most recent edition to my tiny family before Peanut was born, was little Vinny – the crazy Italian greyhound mix with the anxiety and seizures and 8lb physique. He by far has been my most challenging baby; no fault of his own, but because the poor baby came from horrid circumstances. Together, Vinny and I worked on trust, rehabilitation, routine, behavior. Honestly, people said he was ugly, I joked about his unique look as well, but his sweetness and desperation for affection, and eagerness to give you all his love, made him a handsome supermodel in my eyes.
Walter, my oldest and grumpiest dachshund, never took to Vinny. Bullied him; even just a few days ago was blocking his entrance through the dog door. Charles Brown, my chunky mutt, has always been like his namesake – dumpy, quiet, and kind of a loner. There was never a huge bond between the three of them and it has been quite the challenge navigating through a household of three dogs who basically live three individual lives under the same roof.
When I got pregnant everything changed. And when Peanut was born, even more things changed. Any one person or animal are typically naturally adverse to a change in their routine; but dogs with anxiety are even more so. Sadly, my Vinny could not seem to adapt to all of the changes, and he starting backsliding into bad habits and spiraling into anxiety driven behaviors. At times refusing to eat and even refusing to come inside the house (despite cold or rainy weather).
As Peanut started growing and gaining more crucial developmental skills such as walking and grabbing, it became apparent that one full-time working mom in the age of covid was not enough to care for all of these tiny creatures to the level they need and deserve… so, something had to give…
Now, these are my babies and all three of my fur-babies are still my special boys even if they aren’t my human children. Peanut comes first, but the boys come second. Period. No one or thing in between. Being a good mom to my boys means making them a priority; which sometimes mean doing what is best for them even when it’s what’s hard for you. So I did what any loving dog-mom who was struggling emotionally and financially to maintain the lives of her boys to the level of health and comfort in which they deserve would do; I found a much better home for the one who needed it the most because I knew his new parent would be able to give him a far better quality of life than I could.
Currently, due to covid, shelters have been finding pets forever-homes at record rates, making it difficult for a prospective dog-dad to find a companion. I knew one such dog-dad who, after mourning the loss of his last senior boy’s journey over the rainbow bridge, was finally ready to find a new little one to care for. A dog-dad who needed a dog; while my cup runneth over. Also, a dog-dad with a house and a big yard who wanted a young dog to spoil rotten and love unconditionally. I knew he would be the perfect fit but I was scared of letting go.
When Vinny and I went to visit his new dog-dad I was certain that he would be uncomfortable and anxious and nothing would come of it; Vinny would come home and we would forget all about it. But to my surprise, Vinny ran into his new house like he knew the place, and made himself right at home! (And as I type this I can feel my chest tighten up and my eyes fill with tears).
A week later, I packed Vinny’s bags, and put him in his warmest jacket. As he saw me put his crate and bed in the garage he began to panic. He wouldn’t leave my side. He was clearly sad and scared and making sure I knew it. This broke my heart and I must have typed and erased an “I’m sorry, I can’t, don’t hate me,” text to his dog-dad about a dozen times as I waited for his arrival.
When Vinny’s new dog-dad arrived they were both excited! Vinny’s anxiety quickly began to disappear as he got comfortable walking on the leash with his new dad and getting lots of pets and love. So we loaded up all of his things and I reminded Vinny’s new dad of all the concerns and issues. I then continued to ramble — not wanting to let him actually leave with my boy... As I watched them drive away my head and heart filled with guilt and grief.
Vinny has been gone from the House of Peanut for almost a week and I can report that he is thriving; living his best life, as I knew he would be. He has a new house all to himself, he gets tons of lap and love time, and the constant attention of being an only son to a dog-dad who is working from home. And I am so very happy for him, and happy I could bring him into the life of someone who really wanted and needed him. I am happy for both of them. Really.
… But I miss my little guy. He greeted me every morning, waited for me by the garage door to greet me first every time I would come home, he joined my zoom meetings at work… I don’t regret my choice but I miss my special boy.
I also just feel like such a big fucking failure. So much so that no one in my life knew this was going on. I feel failure. I feel shame. And guilt. And grief… so much so that I can’t find it in me to talk to anyone about it; not even my most trusted friends.
I just hope that you, reader, friend, don’t judge me too harshly. I didn’t just give away my dog because it got “too hard”. I didn’t “give up” on my baby Vinny. And I would have never ever surrendered him to a shelter, given him to someone who couldn’t provide him with a better life, or even let him go to someone I do not know – because I need to keep him in my life and ensure that even though he isn’t under my roof, he is under a safe loving roof and is doing okay. So please don’t throw all that “you shouldn’t have adopted him…” hate at me. I’m really devastated by this.