Yesterday, I found myself in a position I never expected. I was standing at an animal shelter surrendering a dog. How many times had I wondered how someone could do something like that? Countless. Yet… there I was.
As you may have guessed from the title of this post, our tiny herd is no longer a trio. Instead, it’s now a dynamic duo. (I will, however, still be referring to them as a tiny herd. Old habits – you know, all of two and a half weeks old – die hard.)
How did we end up here? Read on, my friend… though be warned, it’s a long one.
Well, a few weeks ago, I told you how one plus one became three. We tripled the number of dogs in our house one summer afternoon. I shared some videos of the boys playing bitey face, and then I confessed my bout of Post-Puppum Anxiety Disorder. However, even during my anxious period, I didn’t doubt that it would all be fine eventually. The knots in my stomach started to loosen, and I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel (as reflected in some early photos I posted on Facebook). However, you might have noticed that I wasn’t sharing much about the tiny herd after that initial set of posts.
Unfortunately, as the boys began to settle in, that’s when the real trouble began. Despite what Schoolhouse Rock had taught me, three was turning out to be anything but the magic number. Although Tavish and Roscoe had gotten along famously at the shelter, something changed. Roscoe began to get aggressive with Tavish, and fights broke out. (He got aggressive with Bella on occasion too, but his primary target was Tavish.) The fights weren’t just about food or toys (and we made sure to remove food or high-value toys from the equation). We tried to supervise them and prevent fights before they started, but it wasn’t easy. For many of them, we were unable to figure out the cause. I called the shelter’s behavior and advice line, and tried to implement those recommendations as well.
In spite of our best efforts, the fights increased in frequency rather than decreased, and some were a bit scary. As you can imagine, this was a rather stressful situation for everyone involved, dogs and humans alike. I can’t pretend to know what was going on in Roscoe’s head, but for some reason he was not adapting well to his new situation as one of three. He was never able to truly relax, and we were all on edge. In addition, Bella and Tavish were getting along well, often leaving Roscoe as the odd dog out.
To make a long story short, after a great deal of soul-searching and endless conversations (at times, it felt like “what do we do?” was our only topic), we made a very difficult decision. For the safety and happiness of all three dogs, we felt it best to return Roscoe to the no-kill shelter where we adopted him. We did not come to this decision lightly. We agonized over it, wrestled with it, discussed it from every angle… it became all-consuming, honestly.
In addition to what was best for our family, I couldn’t help but wonder how the volunteers and staff at the shelter would react. (Not only did we adopt the boys there, but I also volunteer there myself.) I wondered what other people would think about our decision, and if they would think I was a horrible person. I wondered what you, my blog readers, would think of me. (It’s not as if I don’t wear my judgy pants from time to time, so I could hardly expect that everyone else would leave them in their closet.) I wondered if I would need to change my blog title to “I Apparently Wanted More Puppies Than I Could Handle” or “I Have a Sufficient Number of Puppies.” (Ah, gallows humor. Can’t beat it, right?)
Regardless, after many conversations with my husband (and with several others), it became clear that this was the decision that we needed to make. Once we finally made it on Monday night, I felt confident in it. I was sad, but resolute. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t shed several tears. Roscoe is a wonderful dog, but this was not the situation for him. I’m sure that his forever home is out there, and I desperately hope that he is able to find it sooner rather than later. (I will be featuring him this weekend as a very special adorable adoptable unless – fingers crossed – he gets an application before then.) He’s going to be a fantastic dog for a very lucky person.
So, that’s the story. We dropped Roscoe off yesterday morning – he trotted off with the shelter employee and didn’t even glance back at us. A part of me couldn’t help but be sad that our time together was over, but the rational part of me was relieved that he didn’t seem to be too upset. I hope that his first night back was okay.
I cried on the way home. Quite a bit. However, the afternoon and evening were the most peaceful we’ve had in three weeks. Tavish doesn’t seem fazed by Roscoe’s absence, and Bella seems content. The two of them even engaged in a game of tug – something I’ve never seen Bella do with another dog. (They’ve also been reenacting their own version of the Olive Theory from How I Met Your Mother – Bella loves toys that are meant to contain squeaky eggs, while Tavish is a big fan of the aforementioned eggs.) As I sat watching TV last night, accompanied by two snoozing pups, I felt at peace. I slept better last night than I have in three weeks.
On a positive note, there is a happy ending in addition to the sad one – had I not convinced my husband to adopt Roscoe, we would not have ended up adopting Tavish, our dear little Bonus Dog. He’s really the silver lining to this sad cloud – the hub and I can’t imagine our family without him.
I’d like to say a special thank you to a few people in the dog blogging community who provided advice, a set of willing ears, and moral support as I struggled with this decision: Peggy from Peggy’s Pet Place and Roxanne from Champion of My Heart. You two really helped me through this tough time. (An additional thank you goes to Laurie from Smart Dog and Eryka from Kahuna’s K9s for allowing me to pick their brilliant dog training brains free of charge. I am pretty sure that I owe them a really nice lunch, complete with several cocktails, as payment.)