Two days ago, my husband and I did something we swore up and down we would never do. No, I am not talking about a cliché pre-parenting thing such as let our kids watch TV or eat sweets.
We rehomed one of our beloved dogs.
It was a gut-wrenching decision that we went back and forth on for a year. Yes, an entire year. Our reason was one that I scoffed at when we first got our dogs – back when they were my only babies. We simply did not have enough time for her. This rationale used to make me cringe. “Those people clearly did not understand what the responsibility of a pet entails and should have never gotten a dog.” That is what would go through my mind. “How do you not know how much time a dog will take?”
The thing is, we knew how much time a dog would take. What we did not fully comprehend was how much less time we would have when we had a child. Much less TWO children.
Both of our dogs did well when we brought our oldest home from the hospital. They gave a few confused glances toward him and went about their business like nothing had changed. We did everything a good dog parent would do – everything the internet would tell you to do. I was determined we could all cohabitate.
As the months went on, I went back to work and Josie, our beagle, started acting differently. She craved more attention from us than she had ever craved before. She also regressed on potty training. When the baby grew into a toddler, she wasn’t thrilled. When he began chasing and crawling all over her, but she simply got up and walked away.
Then the second baby came home. She craved even more attention from us. We grew more irritated with her. Over time, her behavior got worse and worse and we handled it worse and worse. Instead of recognizing it and taking steps to correct it, we just grew frustrated with her. It pains me to admit, but we often resorted to yelling and kenneling her instead of giving her what she needed, which was boundaries and consistency. Our priority was always our kids and when a baby needs attention at the same time that a dog needs consistency, you choose the baby.
Making the Decision
My husband and I have always said “dogs are family for life.” Rehoming her was not on our radar until about a year ago. When our youngest was five months old, we both saw that Josie’s needs weren’t being met. My husband committed to taking her for daily walks. He would take both kids along with Josie and it would give me a chance to get dinner ready right after work. Perfect, full proof plan…that never happened. Not once.
Finally, I said to him something neither of us wanted to admit. At what point are we being self-righteous and not fair to Josie? It was not fair of us to kennel her for 10 hours/day and then expect to her to sit still and be good at the end of the day.
Social Media Help
We halfheartedly put some feelers out on social media to see if we could find her a new home. We had a few people interested, but we weren’t ready. Finally, while vacuuming my son’s room, I came across multiple pee spots – her number one form of revenge when we weren’t giving her what she needed. In addition to this, she had been growing increasingly impatient with two boys chasing her around. We were feeling less comfortable with her being around them.
I posted her on my Facebook page and within an hour an old friend reached out with what turned out to be the ideal situation. I talked to her new dog mom on Sunday. Then, I prayed very hard until Wednesday when she texted me to tell me they wanted to give her a new home. I cried happy tears when I got the text at work. It was a situation where I marveled at God’s timing because it was perfect on all fronts.
A few tips if rehoming your pet is something you are faced with:
1. Charge a fee.
To detour people who weren’t serious or looking for a dog for a dog fighting ring (sadly, it happens), I said there would be a $150 rehoming fee. In the end, I told her new family I didn’t want one, but they gave us a check anyway and we are donating it to a local pet rescue.
2. Be clear on your requirements.
I had a list of things including a fenced in yard as well as no kids or chance of kids being in the house. This pretty much ruled out young couples, but I did not want her in the same situation again.
3. Require an interview.
We did ours over the phone. By the end of the call, I knew I had not only found her a new home, but I gained a new friend. When her new family arrived to pick her up, her new dog mom and I hugged, even though it was the first time we met.
4. Listen to your gut.
This is your dog. You don’t have to let them go to the first person who expresses the slightest interest.
5. Talk to your kids.
When it came to the kids, we chose to be honest with our three-year-old and talk terms he could understand. We told him Josie needed to go to a new family who had more time to play with her than mommy and daddy did. We told him that all loved her very much, which was why it was best for her to go to a new home. He was present when her new family came and I have shown him the pictures her new family has sent.
Two days ago, we bid our beloved Josie farewell. Her new dog mom has sent me multiple pictures and updates, which I am so grateful for. If she could, I know Josie would thank us someday.
It still doesn’t seem real – I still think I hear her whining from time to time. The house is so quiet without her. Our one-year-old looks around if we mention her name and our three-year-old has told us a few times he is sad she is gone. But, I have peace knowing she is with a good, loving family who will give her what we couldn’t.
Do you have experience rehoming a beloved pet?
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