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Poor Lucy!


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Hi everyone, I'm new to the site. I've actually never even been on a message board.

I feel like this is maybe trivial compared to what some of you are going through, but it is still quite traumatic to me.

My husband and I bought a beautiful German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix puppy at a pet store on Halloween (yes, 10 days ago). Normally I feel icky about pet stores but this time I couldn't help myself, we both totally fell in love with her. We brought her home and named her Lucy.

From the first night it was apparent that we had made a mistake. We were clearly not up to dealing with the rigors of a new puppy, and to make matters worse, my husband left town on business the very next day and I had to care for Lucy and our traumatized kitty all by myself.

I felt so stupid for buying her. We had discussed whether or not the dog would live inside and decided that she would be an outside dog with kitchen priveleges, but then I felt awful since I grew up with doggies inside. Add to that the fact that we just bought our home and spent SO much money decorating and making it look nice in here, and neither of us were too excited to let a puppy chew and pee on things.

Finally we decided to find Lucy a new home where someone could better care for her and love her. I returned her to the sister store of the pet store where we got her. I have been crying ever since and I feel horrible, like I broke my puppy's heart.

I am no stranger to pain and loss, but this feels like it should be different since it was so temporary and she's still alive!

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My dear Rachael,

Yours is such a sad story, for so many reasons, and I appreciate your sharing it here so that you and others who may read this might gain something positive from your experience.

It’s unfortunate that you and your husband weren’t better prepared for the realities of bringing a young pup into your lives before you actually brought Lucy home – but certainly you are not the first couple to have made that mistake. I am not here to pass judgment on what you did or failed to do in this situation. I am here to offer information, comfort and support, and that is the spirit in which I am writing this response.

Since you’ve already relinquished your pup, some of what I’m about to say may come too late for you, but I’m offering it in hopes that it will help you identify and sort through what happened here, discover what you might have done differently, and better understand why you’re feeling so upset about it now.

What you may not know is that nowadays there are dozens of magazine articles, books and Web sites about selecting and training the “right” puppy for you (see, for example, "Are You Pet Ready?" in Marty Becker's wonderful book, The Healing Power of Pets, 2002, ISBN# 0786868082), as well as helpful hints on how to set up your home for a pet that is not yet house- and obedience-trained. (I’ve had pets all my life, but before we got our current dog, my husband and I attended a Puppy Preparation class at a local veterinary clinic, and I learned some fantastic helpful hints that I had never known about before, and never would have discovered on my own. For us, it turned getting and training an adorable eight-week-old puppy into the joyful experience it ought to be.)

It’s also important to know that today there are specialists in animal behavior and/or obedience training, who can offer you some alternatives in dealing with any dog's troublesome behavior.

You and your husband know better than I how attached you became to Lucy, what resources you have and how much time you were willing and able to invest in seeking alternative solutions, and only you and your husband are in a position to decide these matters. I just want to be sure you are aware that you do, in fact, have some alternatives. Relinquishment is always a choice a pet owner can make, once you have tried other measures first. I am not an expert in animal behavior, and I don't know how attached you were to Lucy, but if this were my pup I would want an outside, professional and objective opinion before I'd resort to giving up my dog permanently because of a behavior problem.

I will share with you that, after ten years without a dog, my husband and I had completely forgotten how much work a puppy can be, what with housebreaking, all that energetic puppy-behavior, and the constant chewing until those scissor-sharp baby teeth are lost and the permanent ones come in. Like you, we'd finally moved into a lovely home and had it decorated and furnished the way I'd always dreamed it would be, and I wanted it to stay that way. Until our now beloved Beringer got through the first two years of his rambunctious early life, I wasn't sure we would make it, either -- all during that doggy adolescent period he was like a whirling dirvish and a mischievous little thief, stealing everything he could find: underwear or newspapers, shoes, kitchen towels, even my eyeglasses -- and running out the doggy door with them for a game of chase. In Puppy Class we learned the benefits of placing his dog-crate up against a doggy door that led to an outdoor fenced-in protective area with access to fresh water, so when we were away during the day or when we went to bed, we could leave him alone in air-conditioned comfort, but without access to the rest of the house, and yet he could go outside whenever he needed to. We took him to puppy obedience training, which helped a lot -- and we had him neutered, too, which also settled him down considerably. Today he is the good and loyal companion I'd always hoped he would be, and I cannot imagine our lives without him.

I don't know whether you'd be willing to try any or all of these things, but I'm just offering them as intermediate steps you might have considered. Dogs are like children -- they do outgrow their childhood and adolescence eventually -- and what's really great is that it all happens within a couple of years! The point is that today we know a lot more about what we can do to make certain that the pup or puppy we've selected will grow into a loving, well adjusted companion.

Nowadays there are many modern, humane training methods to address almost any problem behavior found in dogs. You might visit one of these Web sites for further information:

ABS Directory of Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists

Animal Behavior Network

Karen Pryor Clicker Training

Pet Behavior Problems

Pet Behavior Solutions

Canine Angels Pet Behavior Modification

I realize that you and your husband already went ahead and relinquished Lucy, and only the two of you can decide if you want to stick with that decision. At the very least, I hope you will discuss this thoroughly with each other, so you’re absolutely sure you’re in agreement and comfortable with whatever you’ve decided to do.

I can also tell you that the impact this is having on you now depends on how attached you are to Lucy and on how effectively you identify and work through what you are experiencing, including whatever guilt you may be feeling about all of this. When we are closely bonded with an animal, losing it through relinquishment doesn't feel much different from losing it through death, so I think you will find the articles on the Articles and Books page of my Grief Healing Web site helpful. I think you'll be especially interested in

Am I Crazy to Feel So Sad about This?

Animal Loss: Myths and Realities

Understanding Different Grief Patterns

Loss and the Burden of Guilt

I hope this information proves useful to you, Rachael. I know it must have been hard for you to reach out to us for help, and regardless of whatever you decide to do, I wish you all the best.

Most sincerely,

Marty T

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Hi Marty and thanks for all the advice.

I think it comes down to one thing - my husband wanted the doggy outside and with kitchen priveleges, while I want her inside. I don't know if I could stand having a dog live outside only, the barking, whining, and crying. Also, everything that I've read says that dogs are happier outside. I grew up with dogs inside. I can't fault my husband for wanting her outside - I already said our home is newly decorated and remodeled, and he's never really had the dog-owning experience before. He grew up in a rural community where dogs live outside. I finally made the decision to give her up because of this inside-outside dilemma; I didn't want it to drive a wedge between us. If another family can provide her a better home, I wish them the best.

i was attached to her, but because of all the stress I had the first week the experience of owning her was almost a nightmare. I just feel so bad for her more than miss her, although I do miss her. I was bonded to her because I am such a dog person and she was so sweet and beautiful.

It's just such a bummer because we are out almost $600 due to all the expenses of owning a dog. Both of us are sad, although I am pretty much devastated. This is mostly due to guilt.

Are these the ramblings of a madwoman or what? unsure.gif

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Wanting to acknowledge that pain and the guilt that you are now experinceing. I for one do not think you are a mad woman at all. Just a woman in some pain for sure. It sounds to me that you relinqished Lucy because you felt that someone else may be more prepared to take her on. Sounds like you were trying to put Lucy's needs first and there is nothing wrong with that.

I am sorry for the distress and pain that you are experiencing and I wish you the best of luck as you work it through. Take good care.


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  • 2 months later...

It seems that most of your sadness is thinking about how much Lucy is missing you. That shows how caring you are. You gave her up after ten days. I'm sure she has a lovely family now and is very happy. Your time with her was short. I would be missing her, too, if I'd done the same thing. You're like me, we get attached very quickly.

Don't feel sad for Lucy. I'm sure she is very happy with her new family. Be happy that she now has a new loving home. You know she does, right? Be happy for her.

You made the right decision for all of you.



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