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Just John

In late March, we made the difficult decision to rehome one of our Old English Sheepdog puppies. We had enthusiastically and ambitiously chosen to embrace littermates -- brother and sister -- last July when they were seven-weeks-old. In hindsight, a precious, educational, and exhausting experience. With sadness, regret, and feeling defeated, my family and I unanimously waved the white flag after eight months. Taking on two puppies was more work than we had anticipated. In the end, we simply didn't have the time -- even collectively -- to care for each dog properly.

Birdie, the high-energy, intelligent female required a lot of physical and mental exercise. She also dominated our 8-year-old son, Redmond. Her eyes locked on him when he entered a room, and she frequently lunged and grabbed his arm with her mouth when he walked near her, sometimes with a growl (not a vicious bite, but the potential for disaster was there, especially as she grew larger). Redmond was an Inspector Clouseau to Birdie's Cato Fong, minus the manservant part.

A trainer tried to help Redmond and Birdie redefine their relationship. Things improved, but we still needed to remain hyper-vigilant when Birdie -- who now outweighed Redmond -- was in the same space as our youngest boy. Again, we don't believe she was an aggressive dog, but she was the boss of Redmond, and he was afraid of her.

John, Birdie's larger, low-energy, not-so-bright brother, was easier to manage. It appeared he was trained because he often sat when we said, "Sit." I maintain it was, and remains, a coincidence. He likes to sit more than he likes to move.

The two dogs together weren't twice the work; they were ten times the work especially as they grew. Focused on each other and desiring to play ALL THE TIME, our home often resembled a post-party fraternity house. Our hardwood floors look like we gave the kids butter knifes and said, "Draw!"

We decided that if we were going to whittle our pack by one, Birdie was the one to go. Big dumb John would be easy to care for and he didn't try to dominate anyone.

A local business that we had used for training and dog daycare agreed to assist us. They're not a shelter, but have occasionally helped families like us. Birdie went to a familiar facility with caring people she had known for months. She was comfortable, played with other dogs, and received more training. The owner and head trainer personally interviewed potential adopters. It took a month, but Birdie was finally rehomed with a young couple. I'm told they have no other pets, no children, are active, and most importantly, that they fell instantly in love with Birdie.

We miss our girl, but are shifting the angsty energy to love and attention for John. He seems happy and unfazed.

Happy and UnfazedAs I struggled through the process, crying frequently, feeling guilty, losing sleep, etc., an experienced dog trainer advised me to stop applying human psychology to dogs. She said that, yes, some dogs are more sensitive and grieve a rehoming, but that Birdie adapted seamlessly (not exactly sure how people know for certain what an animal is experiencing, but I digress). Birdie's strong, independent, bouncy personality, combined with her healthy young age, comforted me. She would be fine.

So, we sadly say farewell to Birdie, knowing we did the right thing for her and our family, and thankful that she landed in the arms of a couple who feel like they hit the lottery. And as I type this, I look at John -- 100 pounds of stupid and handsome -- lying on the floor beside me, and I say, "Get off my foot, John."

Just John


Reader Comments (12)

You guys are the best. What a hard decision -- don't we all think we can handle WHATEVER comes our way -- but so the right thing to do. (And I write this with Archie's head on my foot, listening to Zelda bark non-stop at the construction folks next door.) xo

June 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

It sounds like your doggie community did a stellar job of transitioning your girl to better place for her. What a great outcome!

June 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterElan Morgan

You left her in good hands when you had to - Heather and the K9 Lifeline team are absolute pros. You made an educated and wise decision, and you all will be happier in the long run, including Birdie and her new family. <3

June 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Chrisy, you and your family are amazing people. And I love love love the way that you share your heart like this. Sometimes the best decisions are the very hardest. You may recall when one of my daughters went through the very painful time of having to relocate her precious Rafiki. He is now happily living with his happy co-mommy, who happens to be my daughter's friend from high school. Circumstances changed again for her, and my daughter has since adopted another brindle dog, Rafiki's brother, Apollo. But it was a very painful process that ultimately ended joyfully. Love you!

My heart goes out to you! But you made the right decision for all!!

June 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Judy, thank you. xo

Elan, you're so positive. I should have skyped you during the process when I needed supportive, objective comments! Thank you. xo

Jennifer, I had full confidence in Heather's ability to find the best home for Birdie. Her travel schedule contributed to uncertainty on my end at first, but everything worked out beautifully. So hard to let go and trust. Thankful...and finally at peace with the situation. Thanks for your compassion.

Cheri, if I'd read about Rafiki, I killed those brain cells. Sorry. But, ohmygosh! That was the twitter star, right? Sounds like things worked out, but I completely sympathize with the agonizing process. And, I love you, too. xo

Stephanie, thank you, dog-loving friend. xo

June 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChrisy Ross

What a good decision for your family. I know it was a wrenching one, but it turned out well.

June 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteranna whiston-donaldson

Birdie is a lucky girl that you cared so much. Loved this post.......but I love all your posts. xoxo

June 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Anna, thank you. xo On another note, can't wait to read your book. There's no doubt it's stunning. xooox

Pam, Birdie's personality reminded me of Mary. Selfishly, I wanted the female energy in the house. :( AND, you should be blogging about those beautiful baby boys!!! XOXO

June 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterchrisy ross

Awwww... Loved Mary. I would blog about the boys if my mind wasn't complete mush! It definitely takes a village to raise twins! I'm going to cry buckets when it's time to leave.....

June 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Just discovered your blog and new book. I too am a Midwest girl (from Iowa) that has found herself living in Utah for 10 years now. My husband is LDS ( just recently decided to return to church) and I am Catholic but have only met one Catholic person here besides myself. I totally get everything you have written. I have gone through this same process of learning and finding comfort. I too feel I must "hide the wine" or must be careful how I dress. I have found friendships and have grown to love love love my neighbors. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

August 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeanna Iverson

I totally get everything you have written. I have gone through this same process of learning and finding comfort. I too feel I must "hide the wine" or must be careful how I dress.

February 10, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercahran

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