A little while ago there was a blog post floating around Facebook (which I now cannot find) with a whole “judge not lest ye be judged” theme of rehoming ones companion dog. It was a nice post, actually, talking about how sometimes life’s circumstances cause tectonic shifts in personal circumstances that force people to make decisions they might otherwise not make. Truth – life sometimes sucks and we are made to do things that in turn also suck.
The post then went on to talk about people who give up their sport dogs due to injury or age, citing some sappy rhetoric about how the dog “knows” it can’t compete anymore and is heartbroken at being left behind, and it’s “kinder” to rehome the dog with someone who can give the dog lots of love and long walks on the beach or some such thing, and the dog will be better off for it … but don’t judge the competitor who sloughed off that useless canine, because they are doing it “for the dog.”
That’s when I started to get really, really irritated.
I do not understand this concept of giving up your friend because he’s no longer useful to your hobby. Neither does almost-15 year old, can’t do agility anymore and has some difficulty getting on and off the porch sometimes, Tweed.
This blog post was quite timely for me, because two weeks ago, I rehomed Ender.
It was a long time coming, but it was also a decisive, “moment in time” decision where I simply sat down at my desk one morning over coffee and composed a rehoming post on a local Italian Greyhound forum I would sometimes frequent. I tried to be honest – I talked about his good points, and I also outlined the things about him that drove me ’round the bend. I stressed that I was giving him up because I did not like living with him, and that I’d made a mistake in acquiring him, and that it was important to me that he went to a home that KNEW they liked Italian Greyhounds, and not someone like me, who just thought they might like Italian Greyhounds. I did not want him passed around even more than he already had been (six homes in 3 years before mine!), and that if ever it did not work out in his new home, he could – AND WOULD – come back to me.
I expected to be judged. I deserved to be judged. And I was.
And that’s okay, because rehoming ones dog when it is not a life-or-death situation is an activity that should be weighed against its own morality. I judged MYSELF when I made this decision; I made a choice about what I wanted to live with and what I didn’t want to put up with, and Ender came out on the bottom. He wasn’t killing me, or ruining my life. I just didn’t like him very much, and I chose a life that did not include him. That’s not very nice of me, when you get right down to it. I rehomed Ender for me, not for Ender.
Of course, he did drive me BATTY. I would find myself tensing up every evening listening to the ritualistic sounds of Ender getting out of my bed after his post-dinner nap; uncovering himself from my quilt, shaking his tags, thumping from the bed to the chair, the chair to the floor, clickety clicking across the laminate into the living room, and then standing behind my chair and doing his front-feet-off-the-floor hop and saying “arrlwhorlllawwr” in his grumbly way, asking to go outside to pee. Repeat a minimum of 4 times between dinner at 7PM and bed time around 10PM. Why the fuck can’t he just NOT PEE 400 times before bed, like every other god damn dog in the house?
Constantly screaming “ENDERENDERENDER!!” whenever I was out with the dogs, because he was always disappearing from sight. Stomping up the road where I knew I’d find him, waiting to yodel his turkey alarm call at people out for an evening stroll, with or without their dogs. Getting progressively angrier as he ignored me until he spied me, and would then shoot back onto the acreage with a facial expression indicating sheer terror at my advance. Just stop doing it then, stay on the fucking acreage like everyone else, you stupid skinny asshole!
“I hate this one” my landlord would tell me, pointing at Ender.
Never mind the fact that I have to replace the laminate in my bedroom now, because he ruined it by constantly pissing on it. I won’t even talk about how I discovered the mysterious pee smell in my living room was Ender sneak-pissing ON MY GOD DAMN TV STAND, finding pools of stagnant and dried urine under my stereo and PVR. The jumping up and rebounding off my ass and the small of my back while I was preparing every dog meal, ever. Couldn’t even cuddle the damn dog, because he was all elbows and legs and would kick me in the face or decide he’d had enough and spring off my body using my neck or torso as a flyball box. I. HATED. living with him.
So I found him a new home. They live nearby, they have another Italian Greyhound and they – get this – get out of bed every morning at 3AM to take their other IG out to pee on the porch, because she can’t (although I suspect it’s more like WON’T) hold it all night long. They feed raw. They loved Ender on sight, and wanted him right away. So the next evening, I drove Ender and all his pajamas, jackets, belly bands and maxi pads, and favourite blankets over to their house.
He wouldn’t get out of the car when we got there. And when I tried to hand him over to his new dad, he tried to run back to me in mid air. And I sobbed all the way home, and well into the evening. Although they live only 10 minutes away, just 15 minutes after I got home Ender’s new dad sent me a text that had photos of Ender playing with their Lab, and chewing happily on a pork bone I’d sent along with him.
“Just because he didn’t like the moment of change, doesn’t mean the change isn’t a good one,” a friend of mine told me when I described how hard it was to hand him off to someone else.
Ender will be just fine. And so will I. I feel guilty, but not because I rehomed him – I feel guilty because after the initial sadness, all I feel is relief. I have not missed him at all. I did a selfish thing. I don’t know if Ender knew I didn’t like him; dogs are pretty intuitive, so maybe on some level he did, though I tried hard to like him all the time and to demonstrate a fondness for him. I cuddled and patted him regularly, I gave him the best food and veterinary care I could (he certainly was in MUCH better shape when he left me than when he came to me) and I played with him and taught him new tricks and treated him very well. But I also found myself negotiating with myself all the time – today I will acquire the wisdom to accept the things I cannot change about Ender; I will not get angry with him, I will not have expectations of him that exceed his capabilities. I will be a better dog owner. And then I would come home to my jackets all on the floor with the pockets chewed up (because maybe cookies once upon a time in there) and chunks of cat litter and cat poop on the floor from his mid day snack (and once, chunks of cat poop IN MY SHEETS when he decided he wanted to dine in bed that day) because he had no respect for baby gates, and I’d lose my resolve and seethe with hatred for the 17lbs of insidious evil I’d welcomed into my home. I hated him for how he made me feel, and I hated myself for feeling that way, and it was all because I just couldn’t accept Ender for who he was. There is nothing about it that feels good.
Except now I feel good. In the last two weeks I have not found a single sneaky pee in my bedroom or up the the back of my easy chair. The cat litter box remains unmolested. I’m not throwing soiled belly bands into the washing machine with unnecessary force. I’m not burbling with tension on the verge of anger as my van pulls up in front of my house after work. And I am enjoying time outdoors with the dogs again. And there is a marked change in the happiness level of the other dogs in the house. At our first agility practice after Ender left, Spring’s old enthusiasm returned and she was a ROCKET, bootin’ around the course at warp speed. She’s been mopey at practice for a year or so, to the point where I’d almost decided not to enter her in Regionals this June.
She’s playing with Winter again, an activity that had all but ceased over the last year, presumably because Ender would get in there and piss them both off (none of my dogs liked playing with Ender).
The Littles’ play sessions are longer and more joyful, because there is no Ender to get in the middle of them and ruin their fun.
Everyone in the house is a just a helluva lot more relaxed.
But make no mistake – I didn’t do it for them. I didn’t even realize that they were unhappy(ish) with Ender in the house, though it’s a nice side effect of him being gone. I rehomed Ender for me. And as someone who has made a lifetime’s work of advocating for lifetime commitment to ones four legged companions, I can’t pretend I gave Ender away for any reason other than I didn’t want to be his human. And you can judge me for it, it’s okay. Because I don’t think that anyone who passes a dog on to another home should feel anything other than badly about what they’ve done. I’d be a much shittier person if I thought I deserved less than judgment.
Good bye Ender.
In other news…
I have started training Fae in agility, with limited success. She is an up-and-down temperament – gleefully joyful one moment, paranoid and fearful the next. She develops random phobias of a tunnel entrance or a jump directional in the middle of a little sequence. It’s pretty frustrating. So The Sadist said “find a toy she really likes and work on building her drive for that toy.”
I’ve been experimenting with different toys with Fae.
But have found only one thing she consistently likes. Which is a clump of grassy mud.
Because she’s contrary like that. It’s good thing she is so damn adorable!
This morning she tried to crawl up to my chin do her morning greeting (which involves biting me in the nose and scratching at my ears) but had somehow gotten herself between the duvet and the duvet cover, and she had a panic attack until I worked out how to free her. She is a dearly odd little critter (who incidentally has figured out housebreaking all of a sudden, and is 100% reliable in the house now).
This insect makes me ANGRY!
For those of you wondering, Ancient Gemma Bean is still alive and kicking.
I don’t know how much longer she will be around though … Sometimes I wonder how much of a life she really has – she is either eating, sleeping, or scratching/chewing and crying about it. We are trying her on prednisone now, since clearly her itchies are not allergy-related. If this doesn’t help her, I’m not sure what else will, and I think it might be kinder to let her go.
The rest of the gang is doing great, although Wootie seems to feel he has some kind of dietary deficiency that requires him to consume large quantities of dirt, which leaves him resembling a hipster with an ironic mud goatee.
TWooie is still fat, and still rotten to the core ;-)
Rhumba is still with me :( I put an adoption ad for her on the “Women Seeking Women” section of Craigslist, but it got flagged off in a matter of minutes. Some people have NO sense of humour at all. Harumph. She is still looking for a ladies-only home, and she really is such a fun, cool little dog.
Tweed’s doing GREAT. He has started sleeping in “old dog positions” lately, which distresses me, but he still plays fetch twice a day, and chases Dexter all over the damn joint at top speed. I don’t know anyone else with a 15 year old dog that is this spry! Doesn’t look a day over 10 to me.
Piper refused to pose for any photos, because she only wanted to dance around behind me with a stuffie in her mouth. But after years of promises, I finally came through and got her 5 baby Indian Runner Ducks.
When they are big enough, she can work them to her heart’s content. Next I need to set up the duck pen … anyone want to come help me move the duck house to its new location? It’s really fuckin’ heavy!
I’m loving the new camera lens … if only the weather would be more cooperative so I could take more photos!
But now I am on the hunt to purchase a second hand Canon 7D. Anyone got one for sale?