On the eve of our meet-and-greet with the behaviorist, I admit I’m not feeling optimistic. I’ve heard from many friends and family who are clearly in favor of us keeping her, and I’ve heard from a large number of people who nearly insist she get the boot. I think that ten years ago this dichotomy of advice would have me pretty frazzled, but I don’t really feel fazed by it now. I know both groups are well-intentioned, but I also know that neither group is living with this dog. We live with this dog. Every day. And it’s been more than 50 days now. So, with that, I’m now lining up with the group that says Gertie needs a different home. I feel somewhat bad about this because I do love her, but part of me also feels bad thinking that we should keep her when I don’t feel we’re addressing her needs. And when I say that, I’m not even talking about the anxiety and the aggression. You see, Gertie has a tremendous amount of super adorable puppy energy that I’d love to help her with. I’d love to go on long walks with her, but they’re so stressful and unpredictable, and for obvious reasons the dog park, which fills me with dread and panic, is not an option. So, for now, we do shorter walks (3/4 of a mile) and encourage her to run around in our backyard. The completion of the fence, I thought, would solve some of my exercise worries, but she really just doesn’t seem to get the concept of running around back there – especially if we’re not out there running around with her. Plus, while the yard isn’t small, it isn’t the field I think she’d thrive in. A.R.G.H.
Ok, so – again – we’re not sending her back just yet, but the list of “CANT’S” as far as what we can and can’t do with her is toppling over. I realize some of these things could change, but they are reality right now.
- go to the dog park;
- send Gertie to day care;
- take walks without precaution and lots of diligence and stress;
- have people over without scary aggression and barking;
- feel like our home isn’t super loud with barking when we’re not home;
- board Gertie;
- have Aaron’s mom watch the dog like we used to;
- have Aaron’s friends, with two small kids and an old small dog, watch the dog like we used to;
- have a vet check-up without muzzling her;
- get her nails trimmed; and
- take her anywhere, really.
On the other hand…
- have a super sweet dog who loves us very much;
- have an adorable dog;
- vacuum all the damn time because – OY – does this dog shed; and
- have a decent – if indiscriminate – watch dog.
I’d say that’s where I am right now. She’s a sweetheart, but I anticipate that she will be more work than we can manage at the moment. And I worry that even if we could get some of her anxiety under control, she needs more attention and space than we can afford her. The bottom line, for me, is this: I adopted the world’s most amazing dog ten years ago and I know lightening rarely strikes twice. That said, this adorable pooch of a smooch is a tremendous amount to add on to the life of two full-time workers who have a two-year old and like to leave the house every once in awhile. I have no doubt that if we have to return her that she will in time – and it might take a bit – find the home for her.
I know this sounds like I’ve made up my decision, but I don’t think I have. I truly want to see what the behaviorist says. If she thinks that we can address Gertie’s issues, without spending 80 hours/week working on her and agree to never take a vacation, then I can certainly be convinced to keep the sweetheart. But, if she says Gertie will probably never be able to be boarded, then I know what the answer has to be. There was a time when we could no longer take Gracie to the kennel, either, because she would go on a hunger and hydration strike and make herself sick. But Gracie loved people and was a manageable size, so friends and family could always look after her. But we can’t rely on friends and family with Gertie because (a) she is simply too big and (b) she’s insane. I just don’t think it’s fair to Aaron & me & Molly to have to give up so much. I think I’m a responsible dog owner, and I remain committed to rescuing a dog, but we may have lost this battle. I hope you, Dear Reader, will be ok with whatever decision we make.