When people sign up for lifetime commitments, they intend on keeping their promises. They intend on living it out, a perfect happily ever after, until death do us part. Marriage, parenting, animals – all of those are supposed to be lifetime commitments, and the sad truth is that a lot of the time…they aren’t.
They can’t be.
For whatever the reason, they just simply can’t be a forever thing. With marriage, maybe one person changes. Maybe they both change, but one thing remains the same: they are no longer happy together, and if it’s beyond fixing…then it’s understandable to make that break. For parenting, and damn this is a tough one…sometimes your children get taken away from you before you are ready. Hell, nobody is ready for that, but surely you know what I mean. Before you expect it, before you can brace for it. It’s heartbreaking, and there is no other pain like that. I know that and I don’t even know that, you know? But anyone who has kids can imagine, and it’s gutting.
But nobody imagines when they willingly sign up for these commitments that there is a time stamp on them, an impending end date.
We adopted Ivy over a year ago. When we adopted her, we honestly thought this is forever, she is a part of our family forever. We didn’t intend to picture a future without her.
Ivy has always been a high-strung, stubborn dog. She has anxiety and she’s insecure and she requires a lot of guidance. She’s never been great with other dogs – a little too dominating, a little too much for a lot of them. Nothing I couldn’t handle, or so I thought. But within the last eight months she has changed from a high-strung, stubborn dog to a dog with moderate to severe aggression with other dogs, and I realized a sad, scary truth: I was no longer able to handle her, if I ever even was.
She sees other dogs as the enemy, no matter how submissive they are. She goes into “the red zone”. She lunges and snaps and acts like something out of Resident Evil. I can’t control her when she’s in this state, she is stronger than me.
Ivy’s particular breed requires a 1 hour walk in the morning and a 1 hour walk at night, plus at least 2 hours of drills during the weekdays. On weekends, she requires at least a 3 hour long hike.
We’ve tried working with her over the last few months, upping how long the walks are as much as I can and trying to bring more structure into her life, but we have constants in our life that cannot change, constants that do not mesh with what she requires. The chaos makes her anxious, she needs a calm environment and anybody with kids knows calm isn’t exactly in their vocabulary. She requires way more exercise than Bane, exercise that I physically have a very hard time providing – between my disability, the kids and their disabilities, and Matt’s intense work schedule. And she needs a strong leader. I’m strong, but I’m not that strong. She physically overpowers me and I could never figure out how to get her to respect me enough to listen to me. I’m an anxious person myself, and my anxiety coupled with her anxiety created an environment that wasn’t good for anybody, especially not her. It had her acting out in ways that weren’t good, with Bane taking the blunt of her aggression.
I have known for a while now that she needs more than we can give her.
So we came to the very painful decision to rehome her. Coming to this discussion was difficult and heartbreaking. We didn’t want to feel like we’d “given up on her”, because that’s not it. She’d just do a hell of a lot better in a different environment, an environment we simply can’t provide for her. Between our actual [anxious] personalities, the kids and our other dog, we can’t get the calm steadiness she needs. She can’t have the 100% focus that she requires. I physically cannot give her the immense amount of physical exercise she needs. When I go for my next surgery in a couple of months, our situation with Ivy will only worsen. She’ll get even less of the attention and exercise that she desperately needs to stay calm and relaxed.
I didn’t want to tell anybody, because I was ashamed. Ashamed that we’d “failed” in saving a dog.
But you know what? We haven’t failed. We tried to give her the best life imaginable. We tried to make sure she fit into our family, but the bottom line is that we weren’t good for her and she wasn’t good for us and when we realized that, we did the second best thing we could do for her; we found someone who could help her in all the ways she needs and deserves. We found someone who will be able to get her to a point where she’s in a calm state of mind all the time.
Nadine from Good Doggy came forward to help us. She has Ivy for a week long assessment and then will be fostering her while we look for a new home for Ivy, the right home. I am so thankful for Nadine, I honestly don’t know what we would have done without her and I am now confident that Ivy is in wonderful, capable hands and will go to a fantastic home.
Ivy is not without hope. She’s a fantastic dog, her quirks aside. She’s sweet and loyal and lovable and curious. She needs a home with a strong leader, someone who can exercise her and keep her working and moving. More details on what Ivy needs from an owner will come forth after Nadine finishes her assessment.
I’ve struggled with writing this post, because I know how it is in the dog community; it’s rather cut-throat. People advocate wholeheartedly for dogs, and that’s okay…but sometimes they let their passion cloud their judgment. They don’t want to see dogs in shelters and I agree (which is why we didn’t even consider placing Ivy in a shelter), but they also don’t want to see things from the aural view. They don’t want to see that some dogs and some people aren’t good for each other, that some dogs require more work and a different environment than that owner can give.
It’s like this post I wrote about adulting and judgments and the rumor mill. Ultimately, this passage is why I decided to come forth with honesty about our situation with Ivy:
This is why I cringe any time I need to make a difficult decision, for the greater good of my little family. A decision that I know people won’t agree with. They will find out regardless, because that’s how this age works. Even if you’ve managed to keep something off your social media accounts, someone else you’ve told might accidentally let something slip and then suddenly it’s gone through the gossip mill and been twisted beyond recognition, and everyone is judging and pointing fingers and it’s ugly.
I love that dog, and I want what’s best for not only her but us too. Now, I’m confident that she’s going to get it.