Monday, October 25, 2010

This is Going to be a Tough One

I've decided to give Toby away.

Admittedly, it's a thought I'd been visiting and shoving aside for the better part of this year. Even though I was freelancing and had "more time" to dedicate to him, I didn't. I spent my days at home, but my nights were frequently spent running around the city with friends and a new boyfriend who made it clear from the get-go that he did not like dogs. I'd hoped he'd come around to Toby or that Toby would grow on him, but 10 months later it's still a sore spot with me.

Meanwhile, Toby has been growing more and more unruly due to his pent-up energy. After I was laid off, I thought my new schedule would be great for him. "Now he won't be home along during the day," I figured. Yeah, actually it made him more needy. More me meant more playtime - time that I'd rather spend zoning out in front of the computer or working on a story. Awful, I know, but it only gets worse. His barking increased, my patience lessened, my escapes became more frequent. And still I couldn't admit that I was neglecting my responsibilities in favor of my new free-wheeling life. So I rationalized: even though someone else had my nights, Toby still has me during the day. Thing is just your mere presence isn't enough for a dog. I knew that once a new job popped into my life, something had to change.

I've already cried about my decision several times. Now whenever I take him out through our usual path - past the two bus stops, into the park, onto the dry patchy grass he loves so much and along the tree-lined residential street - or even think about the situation, I choke up. I know I won't be able to walk that route without wishing he were still pulling me along, pouncing on every leaf with more exuberance than I could ever muster. "What are you always so damn excited about?" I silently wonder and it takes all he has to sit still for a moment, tail wagging furiously, and stare back at me as if to say, "Life, silly!"

As soon as I hung up with the girl who will take him on Thursday (and hopefully keep him), I fell onto A.'s bed in a heap of tears. Even though I know he'll be better off with someone who will give him the attention he deserves, a piece of me still wants to be selfish about it, still wants to keep him just so I can stop feeling this guilty. "Does this mean I'll be terrible parent??" I asked as if failing as a pet owner means failing at being human.

But at the end of the day, this is the solution. Is it ideal? Of course not, but I've questioned it so many times and made sure that this decision is mine and mine alone. I'd only grow to resent A. for it and though I'm reluctant to put it out there, you just never know where exactly a relationship might lead. As for those who've given me guilt trips over the situation, I guess it's easy to pipe in when they only see the little fur-ball every few months. I'd probably want him to stay too...if someone else had to care for him. I love the little monster so if that means I need to push my ego aside and admit that this is what's best for the both of us, then I just hope things work out just so.

Toby, thanks for pulling me out of 2008's sadness and through 2009's discoveries. This apartment is going to be much too quiet without you. Please be good.


  1. I have been where you are. I hated it, cried a LOT. I felt like a failure too, like I wasn't holding up to my end of the deal. I suppose I wasn't....but if it makes you feel better, I've had kids since then and kept them alive. For YEARS. I'm amazed, truly. :)

    You'll be okay. So will Toby. Just select the home with care and take your time. Maybe write a clause that you can retrieve him after a two week trial period if you don't think they're a good match.

  2. Thanks, Toojie. It sucks cause I know what I could do to make the situation better, but I'm not ready/willing to make the necessary sacrifices right now. That sounds ugly doesn't it?

    A friend's cousin is taking him in Thursday night and keeping for a few days while I'm down in D.C. If he gets along with them and her two other dogs, then he'll stay. Otherwise, he's back in my care and the search continues.

    I hope it works out since dogs have been in their family for ages and they have much more space than I could ever afford (yard included) so we'll see how this turns out :/

  3. This post makes me sad. It reminds me of how horrible of a parent I may be. Something I honestly can't owne up to. I have no time for Lynx and his unruly behavior upsets me, though I know it's probably all my fault. Unfortunately, the thought of giving him up - no me cabe en la cabeza.

  4. aye dorkys, that's why i don't want a dog. i love them when it's just a temporary thing, but i am too selfish to have a pet that has to be walked (really early in the morning when all i can do is roll over to turn off the alarm). i have my cockatiel because she isn't that needy. she chirps in the morning to uncover her, when i come home, and at night when she wants to be covered. i give her attention when i am home, but if i am out late i don't come home to any surprises as she is content being in her cage. you made the right choice.

  5. Been there myself. Oh, how it hurts. But it does come down to "what is best for him?"

    Remember this: you are not a bad pet parent. You made the best decisions based on the situation at hand. He received love. He received cuddles and play time. He received treats and walks. And now, in this new environment, he will have other pets to play with and work out some of that energy. :)

    Best part know where he is so if you need a "Toby Fix" you can visit!

  6. Aw, Dorkys you've made the right choice, despite all the guilt.

    It really does come down to what's best for him and you're strong for realizing that you;re lifestyles just don't mix! You are not a bad pet parent, you are one of the best because you chose to put Toby first instead of your own feelings.

    Wish I could give you a big hug Little One!

    Drive on,
    - M.

  7. Awww...what a tough decision to make. Giving up a pet can't be easy. I hope you will be able to find Toby a new home as nice as the one you have given him.

  8. Oh boy, this is an emotionally overloaded issue - and there is no easy way out.

    If I know you - you are beating yourself up over this. For having made a decision that seemed very right in 2008... and is perhaps in highsight "not so right" now.

    Highsight is easy... its foresight that is hard.

    While no life is "disposable", and so many pet owners seem to think so - and just shove the "unwanted" ones out the door along a highway somewhere - you know that - and you are doing the next best thing you can do - and that is finding him a good/better home.

    The feelings of being selfish and having made a "bad" descision and losing a part of your family hard ones to deal with.

    Just remember a couple things:

    1) No one looks out for you - that's your job, take care of number 1.

    2) Do the best you can when making descisions and learn from highsight - but don't feel like you've failed (in anyway) if you can honestly say, "I made the best decision I could at the time with what I knew." There are no working crystal balls that tell the future -

    I'm sure you'll do the best you can for Toby. One that best addresses both your needs and his.


    If push comes to shove... I might be able to find a room for him...

  9. Oh, this just breaks my heart for you!

    I know you didn't come to this decision lightly and I know you're doing what you feel is necessary. Take comfort in knowing that you ARE being responsible by giving him the best situation you can.

  10. I've been where you are. For different reasons, but I've still been there. I'm sure that doesn't help, because I know it wouldn't really have helped me if someone said that to me. But I wanted to let you know that I understand. Also, that I think you're doing the right tthing. It shows how much he means to you that you can find the strength to see that giving him to someone who has more time for him is the best thing to do. And, for the record, I personally think that makes you a potential great parent. Because it means you love your baby enough to know when it's time to let go. Enjoy the time you have left with him, and remember that only you really know what the right thing to do is!

  11. You know, I know what you're going through. Giving up Missy was hard, but turning Jake over was extremley hard, and Layla. Theres is nothing that can be said that can ease the pain of wat has to be done, and i wish I could say time makes it better, but I still cry about my pets. They hold special places in our hearts that cannot be filled in any other way. Although it is very, very painful these little lights deserve the best. Being alone all the time is not that. Hopefully Toby will find his forever home. Know that you can call to talk, vent or cry anytime.

  12. I am in the same position right now and it is breaking my heart. My family just does not have the schedule to care for my dog of 11 years who know needs every 4 hour attenion due to health problems. No one can run home from work every 4 hours to care for her but right now, we are finding a way AND it is killing us. I tried to break the news to my son last night that Millie may have to go and live with someone else and he was NOT having it. But by the end of the year, I need to make a final decision.
    Thanks for sharing!

  13. Thanks for all the support guys. I'm amazed at how many of you have been through this or are going through pet-related issues right now. It really means a lot to hear from people who know what this feels like. No easy task, but...*sigh*

    itsMG, yeah, the patience thing was hard for me too and then I'd feel bad about it. I know that they just need training and that their behavior is a reflection on their owner, but it sure is hard to remember that sometimes. I hope your situation gets better.

    tai, yeah and you've had her for years, haven't you? I think I'm laying off the pets thing for a while after this. I don't think I could go through it all again. I only had fish and plants before Toby and knowing how wonderful I was with them, it's a miracle Toby has made it this long with me. Thanks for the support though *hugs*

    kelley, thanks so much for the positive attitude! You have no idea how much I need it right now. When all I hear are guilty voices in my head, your comment made me feel a bit more hopeful. Things will work out okay.

    miranda, aww I miss you! Yeah, it's a toughie, putting someone/something else before your own feelings, but then there's the whole "Well if you did that before, you wouldn't be in this place to begin with." Blah.

    sugarlens, thanks. You know through all this you and your family have always popped into my head. I really wish I could be as exemplary pet owners as you two are. I'm beyond impressed, slightly envious but mostly in awe of how you juggle a job, a family with a newborn, your first house and always have time to spend with your two dogs. We could all be as awesome and giving. Not to mention super organized. Just know that I looked up to you in that sense.

  14. intense guy, once I decided to give Toby away, you were one of the first people I thought of. Why? Because I know dogs love you and your big heart would offer me that option before I even asked. Thank you so much for this and for the true words. Foresight is incredibly hard. I knew going into this that I didn't have a clue what I'd be getting myself into, but I wanted him. Truth is I wanted to save him in part to save myself. I was lonely and sad and wanted to dedicate my thoughts and love to something else. After the break-up I missed giving my affection to someone and was just wallowing in pity for too long.

    When I saw the conditions he was living in I just had to step in and bring him home with me, where I thought he'd be happier. He was, until my life changed in certain areas and I was no longer dependent on him and staying home depressed night and day. Caring for him helped me immensely...and now that's it? I just pass him up? I dunno...

    I'm just trying to take care of him and me as best I can with what I have right now.

    Karen, not in the least; it's taken me all year to come to this. I'm still choking up just writing these comments. Tomorrow is going to feel like hell, I know it. Thank you for the support though. It makes this a bit easier to deal with.

    toriz, aww thanks. Like I mentioned before, it means a lot to hear from people who've been through this before. To actually hear that letting them go doesn't make us bad. He does mean a lot to me. If I keep him, I feel bad for leaving him alone so much. If I give him away, I feel bad for "abandoning" him. So at least in this way, he'll have a better home and I'll eventually move on and keep pursuing all the new projects and paths my life is now taking.

    mabelita, I meant to call you as I was writing this post because I know of all my friends, you'd understand me best having been through it yourself. Yes, I remember Missy and Layla and how you had to find new homes for them so I thought maybe you could help me through this too. I'm just scared that if I call you, I'm just going to be on the line crying for hours. I've already imagined myself booking up every single evening for weeks after just so I'm not home alone in all that quietness, thinking that this little furry thing is no longer following me from room to room. I don't even want him to enter my thoughts.

    kathy, oy yes. I really feel for you and your family. Sickness is something I didn't even want to imagine because as an unemployed young adult, I wouldn't be financially able to keep caring for him if something were to go wrong. After 11 years your life is just so entwined with this creature's and it must be such a turmoil to think that someone else must care for her now. But I hope you've read others' comments here and know that you're doing right by your dog to put her needs at the top of the list. No matter what, that decision won't be easy when it comes, but I hope your family can heal from it quickly.

  15. Aww Dorkys I know this is hard for you! I would so take him for you if I lived there. He could be a friend for Barks! :)

  16. What a hard decision to make. But you obviously gave it a lot of thought and are doing what is best for everyone. Toby will continued to be loved and you will know you did the right thing. Hang in there.


Say word.