His name is Milo. He’s a lab “mix”. Turns out “mix”, in this case, was code for hound. D wanted a dog. Really, really, really, really wanted a dog. He wanted a friend. Someone to talk to and to cuddle with. A dog to train of his own, one that would follow him around and be his best friend.
15 months ago D was chaotic. He was having tantrums and rages and melt downs. He was doing terrible in school. We thought that maybe giving him a dog, something to be responsible for, something he can focus on, maybe this will help. Maybe this will help him make the hurdle into being more responsible. He earned and saved money for 4 months, and finally had enough. We visited the shelter every weekend. He wanted a puppy. We encouraged him to at least meet a few older dogs, but he wanted a puppy.
The shelter called us and said they had a puppy…do we want it? I said yes. I drove home, picked up our older dog and D and we went to the shelter to meet the puppy.
Summer liked him ok, and D fell in love. Of course.
That night we brought his new puppy home, and within 2 hours of him being there he peed and pooped on the floor, was biting and scratching, and D was in tears “I DON’T WANT THIS DOG!” Seriously? I told him “This is what puppies do, D. This is what you’re supposed to work on training them not to do. Its your job to make him into a good dog. This is what you’ve been telling us you wanted to do for the last 4 months.”
The ensuing weeks D would not take the dog out to use the bathroom with any consistency. We set the timer, we reminded him. We took away all electronics. We made a trail in the woods for him to run with the dog… But, he was cleaning up dog poop and pee all over the place, he would play with him until he got bit or scratched, then he was done. The dog wasn’t housebroken. It was getting old. No matter how many ultimatums I’d make, none of it mattered. D wouldn’t take care of the dog. When I talked about taking him back to the shelter, D would cry and say no no, he would do better. I was sad to think of this awful little puppy in a cage all alone and scared….We decided D needed to start puppy classes.
Milo learned Sit. Down. Wait. D learned raising and training a puppy is more work than he cares to deal with.
At the 3 month mark, I took over housebreaking. Within a month, he was fully housebroken, asking to go out when he needed to.
At the 7 month mark we talked again about taking Milo back to the shelter. Jumping, barking, biting, scratching, chewing….how much is really normal? D couldn’t have friends over, this dog was just too much. He was barking at everyone and every thing. He was jumping on us, the kids, everyone.
We found out that D has ADHD and THAT is why he can’t possibly raise a dog. He doesn’t have the skills…how could I have not seen this before? And holy lord, I think Milo has ADHD too!
Husband and I decide to take Milo on as our own dog. We decide to remove D from any and all responsibility relating to Milo. Clearly, he can’t handle it, and its just confusing the dog to not have consistency. We’d take him for walks when we could. We tried to get him as much exercise as we could. We both work full time…there is only so much time in the day.
At the 8 month mark we took him to a dog trainer, the same guy who did our puppy classes. He gave us suggestions. We tried them all. We were consistent. This dog is stubborn. And bossy. He needs a leader. The amount of time I am home is not enough to establish myself as the leader. He’s still jumping, he’s still chewing, he’s still biting and scratching…There isn’t enough time in my day to get him the exercise he needs. We hope it’ll get better. We hope he’ll form some kind of attachment to us, or that we will to him.
Yesterday, after just short of 12 months, I took him back to the shelter. He sniffed the lady who gave him a new collar and lead, and happily followed her down the hall.He didn’t even look back.
I am sad. I feel like a failure. I should have known D couldn’t handle this. I should have taken him back that night when he said he didn’t want this dog. I should have done better at the beginning…
Fortunately, the shelter in our area is a no kill shelter. I’m certain he’ll be adopted very soon. He’s only 1 year old. He’s a lab mix. He’s fixed. He’s handsome. I’m sure that someone will make him their very own best friend. But, I still feel like a pretty terrible person.
I know this will be better for Milo. He’ll find a home better equipped to handle him than we were. We were keeping him because we felt guilty.
For some reason, laying awake and thinking about this last night, this has brought up a lot of crap about my first marriage and my divorce. I stayed because I felt guilty. I ignored all the signs that told me this was a bad situation and I hung on longer than I should have. I tried every avenue possible to lessen the pain, trauma, bullshit, transition, hurt, discomfort that I could (also known as banging my head off of the wall)…and still managing to avoid doing the hard thing.
Then the day came. I was out of things to try. I had to do the hard thing so that things would eventually be better. I know Milo getting a new home is for the best. I also know the calm in our house will be for the best for us too. But for some reason its still hard.