Quick? check…. Painless? Absolutely not.
They say that losing a pet is like losing a child… Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but having lost my childhood dog when I was 22, I can say it is pretty high up there. But what about relinquishing your rights as the parent of your pet? Now having lived through that, I’m sad to say, it’s up there with the loss of one.
Painful details aside, last night we finally did what was best for our 4 year old pomeranian Ruby and gave her up to a VERY nice gay couple who were looking for a pomeranian to complete their family of 4 dogs and 2 horses. (side note, it seems pomeranians are the dog of choice for gay families… my gay dentist/ Ruby’s grandfather also had a pomeranian and is looking to get another one). This has been a long time coming; it has been obvious that Ruby has been unhappy for some time, and we are entirely to blame for that, which makes this even harder.
When you get a pet, you have such high hopes that it will be one of your family. You’ll do everything you can to make sure they’re fed, exercised, and loved, and hope for the same love in return. That is where we let Ruby down, yet she continued to give us all of her love, no matter how bad her life got. For the first year of her life, she had it made. An “only child” who could pretty much do whatever she wanted and had our full attention. Fast forward 4 years, 2 additional GINORMOUS dogs, and one baby later, and poor Ruby seems to have been left on the sidelines.
Our other two dogs are much bigger than Ruby, and can happily play outside with eachother all day without any attention from us. Not that we don’t give them attention, but they can keep themselves occupied and exercised all day. They torment her on a daily basis and play entirely too rough for her 12 lb body. Then, here comes baby. All of the extra attention Ruby was getting because she was left out by the other dogs quickly dwindled to just allowing her to be upstairs with me when I was home, but she could not come close to Owen because she would accidentally (or intentionally, who knows) jump on him, or lick his face too much, etc.
We’ve seen her become more and more withdrawn from us since right before Owen was born, and started pulling her hair out. The vet was sure it was fleas. We knew it was not (we’ve seen fleas, and we would definitely know if they were back). After confirming that she did not have fleas, the vet was baffled. I am convinced it’s psycological. We let this neglect go on too long, and went back and forth trying to figure out if we should give her up to a family who would give her everything she needs, or just find a way to make it work.
In the back of our minds, we always knew what the right decision was, but how do you give up on someone and just hand them off after loving them so much for 4 years? I felt like I had failed her, and myself, and couldn’t come to terms with the fact that the right decision was to let her go. What kind of a mother can do that? And that is what I considered myself, her mother. She looked to me to provide everything she needed for life, including love, and now I had failed.
Enter TED: The sweetest, most giving animal (pomeranian) lover I’ve met. We are so lucky that he happened to be adopting a horse that my mother in law was fostering. He mentioned he was looking for a pomeranian to complete their family because his youngest pom had no young friend to play with. How coincidental was it that he was looking for a FOUR year old POMERANIAN? It must have been meant to be. We still had to think about it, as I was still convinced there was SOMETHING we could to do make her life better. I stayed awake at night thinking about both sides. Would she be happier with us because she knows us? Would she be devastated to be somewhere else? Would she eventually lose the will to live if she stayed with us so unhappy? So many questions, and really, no way to come up with an answer. We had to make the decision, and what’s best for her might not be the decision we want to make because I wanted to be the one who loves her and I wanted to be the one she loves most.
Again, I feel like a failure, but how could I, her mother who loves her the most, NOT give her to a family that would provide her with EVERYTHING that I hoped that we could? EVERYTHING that we were lacking in giving her was going to be given to her by this amazing couple, with land and animals, and money to pamper her. I was being selfish keeping her, and just because I would feel like a failure does not mean that I should continue to lack in what she deserves.
Strangely, in my 30 years, this was the hardest decision I’ve had to make. I’ve been married, bought 2 houses, gone to two colleges, and decided to have a baby… yet, THIS was the hardest decision I’ve made. It was extremely gut wrenching. But quick. Ted came last night and stood at the door while we cried and said goodbye. It’s so sad to think she had no idea what was coming, and there was no way to explain it to her. How could I tell her how much I love her and that this was the right thing? I couldn’t. I just had to trust that she would quickly see how much she enjoyed this new pampered life, and forget about the bad months she’s had with us. Once she was gone, Dave and I cried and over-acted with Owen to make him laugh, which in turn makes us laugh. I don’t know what I would have done if Owen was not there to keep me smiling and occupied.
On a good note, I did receive an email from Ted this morning telling me how much fun she’s having and the countless hours she’s already played with her new brother Theo and Ted’s boyfriend Joe. I know we have made the right decision, and no matter how much I question whether I should have done it, there’s no telling what the future would have been if we had kept her and whether she could have been happy again, so for now, I’ll take what little comfort I can in that she’s happy for now, and whether she remembers us or not, I was her mummy for 4 wonderful years of my life.