Thursday, October 25, 2012
A Tough Lesson Learned
I've been debating with myself about how to write this post. Actually, I haven't wanted to say anything but felt I couldn't leave you all just hanging, wondering what had happened. It's been a tough two weeks trying to adjust to having a new puppy in our home. I thought I could do it but it turns out that I couldn't. Auggie has a new home now.
Here are some tough lessons that I learned through this process:
1. You can never expect a new dog to replace a dog that you've lost. I have desperately missed Fresca the Wonder Dog who was my constant companion for almost 15 years. I thought that a new puppy would fill that gap and take up where she left off. Auggie will make his new owner a wonderful companion but he will never be Fresca. It was unrealistic to expect that and unfair to him to put that expectation on him.
2. Consider your lifestyle long and hard before committing to a pet. I've known this but somehow that went out the window in the excitement of the moment. I'm a sedentary person. I thrive on HOURS spent at the computer or in a recliner curled up with a book or my knitting. This is hardly the personality of a person who is a good match for an energetic little puppy.
3. Be honest about your personality needs. I have never been a person who has a lot of patience. The only time I am patient is when I'm engrossed in a clerical task. When I was raising my children, it was the Commander who would step in when I was becoming unraveled. He is a very steady person. He'd take over and give me a chance to regroup and calm down and then I'd be back in the thick of things. With a new dog or puppy, you need a lot of patience. I thought by being home all day, I'd have an easier time training a puppy. Instead I had more time to be frustrated. I also need LOTS of structure/order to my day. I can't handle chaos or a bunch of things happening at once. I have to assess one thing at a time, deal with it, and then go on to the next item of business. When I'm rushed or stressed, I fall apart. I don't think puppies read that manual. They are, by definition, chaos with a tail. I've been in a perpetual state of stress since Auggie came home.
4. Do you have other demands for your time? Do you work all day? Getting a dog is going to be tough. You'll need to make arrangements for a dog walker or someone to come over during the day. In my case, I'm called down to Texas frequently to help out with the grandchildren. I knew this beforehand but had blithely told the Commander that I'd just take the dog with me. Reality hit home when I saw Auggie in action and realized that it would be some time before I could comfortably take this little guy down to a house of toddlers. For one, he'd eat most of their toys. Two, he'd chew up their house. Three, he'd probably pee all over it. And four, he was firmly in the nipping stage and they were too young to understand being careful around sharp, little puppy teeth. With time and training, these behaviors would disappear but I don't have time. My next Texas trip is December.
5. Do you have a support network? I've often been envious over the years of friends who have family living near them who can "pet sit" for them when they travel. I've never had that luxury since we've been a military family living far from family. Luckily, with Fresca, I had friends with a dog who was Fresca's best friend. We ended up trading dogsitting duties with each other when we'd go on vacations. I certainly couldn't ask them to watch a puppy who wasn't housebroken and still had a puppy's destructive behavior patterns for 2-3 weeks at a stretch.
To make a long story short, I was fast reaching the point where I was exhausted and almost starting to hate this little puppy. I felt like I couldn't let my guard down more than 1-2 minutes at a time and then I'd have to rush him outdoors or rush to clean up after another mistake. I knew that I'd made a terrible mistake and I didn't want sweet little Auggie to suffer from my lack of good judgement. Luckily, I have a terrific friend. She had one of his littermates and she stepped in to take him until she could find him a good home.
Auggie now has a new mom. He has gone to live with a lady who is a widow who had also lost her dog awhile ago. This lady is experienced with puppies. Indeed, she fostered six Labrador puppies not too long ago. She understands the challenges. She also lives on acreage so he'll have room to romp and run. His new mom has a friend who is a dog trainer and has offered to be available to help if she encounters any special challenges. She has grown children nearby who love dogs and quite a few grandchildren who adore Auggie. I'm so happy for him.
I will admit that I'm still very emotional over the whole thing. I've cried many a tear over this decision but I know that it is for the best for all of us. I'm not used to failing at things and I do feel like I failed Auggie but yet, in my heart, I know I made the right decision. Hopefully by being honest about this difficult time, those of you who are considering adding a dog or puppy to your home can learn from my errors.