Wednesday, December 02, 2009

literally and figuratively stinks

It's easy for me to blog about the things that are funny or annoying, frustrating or interesting. The stuff that really hurts, though, I always find myself holding back. It isn't a conscious thing, I'll just realize that days have gone by without me posting, and I know it is because I don't want to talk about the giant big (Gabe's favorite phrase) elephant in the room.

In this case, it's the dogs.

It just isn't working.

I kept telling myself that our problems with the dogs would be resolved once we were done moving and packing and selling the house, and our frustrations would magically disappear. I called the behavioral consultant, I tried walking them more often, playing with them a bit more, giving them their own private space, locking them out of our way for a while every day, letting them outside more often. I have yelled at Gabe more times than I'd like to remember for harassing them or chasing them or kicking them. I've cleaned up so many messes in the old house and the new house without saying a word to Josh because his frustration level is 3 times mine with regard to the dogs.

But still, things just stink.

As soon as we moved into the new house, despite taking them out several times a day, the accidents began happening right away. In one night, 4 pee accidents on the dining room rug. In one afternoon, poop in the kitchen, the living room, the front hallway, and the dining room. The dogs dislike the kids, but won't stay away from them, so I end up yelling at everyone because the dogs snap at the kids, the kids won't leave them alone, and the dogs won't leave the room.

Worst of all, the dogs seem anxious and sad. I know what they want- they want the life they had before we had kids, when I came home from work and played with them for a couple of hours, cooked their food, took them everywhere with us, slept with them in our room, but I can't give them that life anymore. The truth is the kids are here and I'm doing my best, and nobody is happy with the way things are going.

Josh is the most frustrated of all, and we regularly have arguments because I'm clinging to the idea that it will get better, and he is far beyond that point. A family friend would love to take the dogs, a middle-aged couple with no kids, and he thinks that is the best place for them. It kills me, though, and I'm drowning with guilt. I've probably cried every day for a week, anytime the subject comes up, and I simply cannot fathom not having Tango and Murray anymore. They were my babies! I pampered them in a totally insane, ridiculously extravagant way. I used to cry at the thought of them growing old. I have heaps of dog toys and sweaters and leashes and accessories. I love them, I do. I feel like I'm holding on to this life, though, while everyone else around me is unhappy.

Just tonight, about 10 minutes after they went out, the dogs pooped once in the living room and twice in the kitchen. I ended up stepping in the poop and tracked it throughout the house. Then I discovered that Josie had crawled through another area of poop and had it all over her hands and knees. I finally found it caked into one of Gabe's toys, smeared all over the cloth wheels and side of one of his favorite school buses.

I can't live like this, and the dogs shouldn't have to live locked in the kitchen or the bathroom or the basement, or wherever else I lock them when I just can't do it anymore.

Maybe this makes me a shitty dog owner, and trust me when I tell you, I'm consumed with enough guilt for all of us. Maybe, though, if I meet this couple, if I let Josh bring them in, maybe the dogs will be happier, maybe I'll be less stressed, maybe Josh will yell less, maybe we'll argue less over this.

I'm at the end of my rope on this, and I wish someone would just tell me the right thing to do.


Bobbie said...

Can you try giving the dogs to your friend for a trial period? See how the dogs do; see if your stress level goes down.

It sounds like you still be able to visit them?

If they're snapping at the kids, how long is it before they actually bite them?

Good luck.

Meika said...

You are NOT a shitty dog owner. NOT AT ALL. You are a good dog owner and a good parent who is trying to balance two real loves.

It sounds like you know your answer. :(

Stacy said...

I agree with you that this is not working and no one is happy.
You are not a shitty dog owner by any means.
You have done everything in your power to try to make it work.
I think that it is time for you to let them go, and by them going to someone you know or family, you will still be able to see them.
you the kids and the dogs will all be much happier!

Chatty Cricket said...

You are NOT a shitty dog owner. I'll repeat what I said when we talked about this:

You are a very good dog owner. You are recognizing that they are not happy, you recognize that you can't give them the life you know they want. It's sad, it's very very sad, and my heart breaks for you, but I really believe the dogs will be happy.

I agree 1,000% with Meika.

I think the very best thing you can do for the four legged bebes is to give them the life you know will make them the happiest.

(you KNOW I would not tell you this if I didn't believe it)

Anonymous said...

I can speak to this from a different angle, maybe. We were the lucky people on the receiving end, who got a cat who had to be given up when a child developed horrible allergies to the animal. She came with her own blanket, brush, etc etc and had clearly been truly loved where she was. But, then we were able to have the blessing of having her in our lives too, when the situation she had been in meant she would have been confined to a room where the child couldn't go.

I have *never* thought of that person who gave her up as being a bad pet owner, but instead respected that person for realizing that the situation wasn't working, and for trying to find one that would for her cat. And I have always felt immense gratitude for all the love she gave to the little cat who eventually blessed our home.

Good luck with your decision!

--Neighbor Lady

Summer said...

I know this is breaking your heart to think about giving up the dogs, but it truly sounds like you have a perfect solution. Take Tango and Murray to visit the couple who would like to adopt them. See if they're comfortable there, if they respond warmly to the couple. You have the chance to give the dogs the peaceful life they miss, and to give this couple the joy of living with happy dogs.

Finding the dogs a loving, safe, comfortable home is the act of a truly devoted dog owner.

This isn't the end of your life with dogs, I promise. If you find you miss having a dog in your life, when the kids get a little older you can find a dog who enjoys living with children.

I'm sorry you have to go through this! Just stay strong... you will be making a lot of lives happier if you can find the dogs the right home.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, one more thought.

We have friends with small children who adopted a dog recently, but it didn't work out because the dog just didn't have the right temperament to be around kids. Was otherwise a fantastic dog. They agonized over it, consulted specialists, etc. who didn't offer much hope that the behavior would improve as much as they wanted.

They ended up returning him to the adoption program, and tried again. Now they have a dog who is GREAT with kids, and everyone is happy.

I think that some dogs just don't have the temperament to be around kids, which doesn't have anything to do with you or the kids, or anything.

I agree with the above commenter who suggested that eventually you might find a dog who will fit happily into your family.
But sorry that this is so stressful!

All the best,
Neighbor Lady

Sugar & Spice said...

Speaking from experience you are not a bad pet owner if you decide to give them up. You are doing what's best for your kids and for the dogs.

Tania said...

Or, maybe a family friend just wants the kids? They might be happier in a different situation too, sans the dogs . . . :)

jo said...

I've been quietly following along and I was here BK (before kids) so I know they were your sun and moon. But I have to agree, let them move into the other home, visit them when you miss them and let them enjoy being the sun and the moon for someone else for a bit. Everyone will feel happier in the end. I, believe me here, know this is not easy. But I think in the end it would make them better dogs and you a better Mom.

liz said...

I agree. Time to let them go to a child-free home.

Anonymous said...

You're right. You are a shitty dog owner. You trained them to be your "babies," not dogs. Then you replaced them with two-legged babies. Do everyone a favor and let them go where they'll be a source of joy, not aggravation. Don't visit them - let them go.