Thoughts on Our Dog, Inner Angst, Guilt and Such

3543 3543_ () 3543 3543 I am thinking way too much about it, but I am struggling with this whole “having a dog” aspect of my life. It’s one of those things, a detail you hear about someone else and you don’t give it much thought. “They have a dog,” you might think, “how nice.” And that’s the extent of it.

And then you get a dog. Maybe because you see all the other people who have dogs. Maybe because (in theory) it seems like something good. Maybe you want to teach your children responsibility (the WORST possible reason to get a dog) maybe because you want companionship (which is generally true of some folks but not of someone with six children, I am not really looking for more entities upon which to spread and share my love).

So that is the first question in your guilt-ridden mind: why did we get a dog? What was I thinking?

Here is the truth: I’m not really sure.

Last December, I was in the midst of Christmas and life and travel, a big trip to Boston to film The Gist. And this magazine comes in the mail, Garden and Gun (my favorite!). And somewhere in the magazine is a picture of past covers and it has this puppy on one cover and this puppy is just gorgeous.

“STOP. IT.” I can hear you saying this. “You did not seriously get a dog because you saw a cute dog on the cover of a magazine? Are you KIDDING ME?” Wow, you sound a lot like ME when you talk to me that way. Or maybe that’s me? Taking me to task?

So yes, I got it in my mind that this dog, this puppy, was just so cute and we needed this puppy in our life. Mind you, no other person in our household had any interest in a dog. Not at this point. Not before I introduced the whole idea to everyone. “Wouldn’t it be great,” I would say, “if we got a DOG?!” Um, sure, they would reply, before heading back out (again) to the basketball court. Or the backyard soccer field. Or out on their bikes to roam the neighborhood.

And then I’d go back to this vision of my sons with their dog, them sitting around in the backyard singing Kumbaya with Ethan on lead guitar, one of the boys petting the dog, everyone else seated around the dog just waiting their turn to pet the dog and love up on the dog and wait until the dog’s next feeding to be the person to measure out the kibble and feed the dog.

Wow! What a vision it was. I had an agenda — we NEED A DOG — and basically there was no convincing me otherwise.

Deep down I must have known how crazy I was. I hid my dog-searching ways from close friends, people who I knew would talk me out of it (or try to. HA HA! There would be none of that!). Because they knew my history and my clean-freak ways and also my inability to cope with chaos. That last one I don’t think is true and I don’t think they think that, but I do think for someone with five boys I have an amazingly limited ability to handle madness. I can handle five boys and a toddler girl. A dog? Not so much.

My history with dogs in our family is long and complicated and I thought “this time” would be different. I was going about this from a different angle, you see. That would be all the difference.

A brief recap: our first puppy ended very traumatically. I didn’t want to end on that note so I found another dog to take the first dog’s place. That ended badly because we basically got a feral dog. Then we got another dog (a few years later) that was not a good fit. Ironically I kept that third dog after it was the cause of Henry’s broken femur and seven weeks in a Spica cast — mostly because I was the root cause of that because I was the one who threw the ball that launched the dog that yanked the tether that broke Henry’s leg.

So all of that behind us, and this, THIS would be the time it all worked out. Right?

Except, here we are, six months in and I feel like I’m pulling my hair out.

And the worst part is: this dog? He is perfect. Like, if ever a family was going to have a dog, this would be the dog.

He is sweet and kind, he just wants to be with us. He thinks he IS us. In his mind he’s one of the children, just wanting to eat his food off a plate like everyone else. He wants to sit on the couch and watch How It’s Made like everyone else. He wants to get in the bathtub at bath time like everyone else.

And it’s driving me nuts.

Because here’s the truth, the deep dark secret dog lovers know but don’t tell you because honestly it just doesn’t bother them: a dog is like a child who will never grow up.

Today when Paul and I were hashing all this out on the phone, I told him, “Honey, it’s just that I am realizing this dog will Β never learn to scoop out his own food or open his own kennel or open the door to go outside when he has to pee.”

Why do people get dogs? Because they love them. And I’m ashamed to admit that while I love dogs in theory, the practical side of owning a dog just doesn’t agree with me. It just doesn’t. You should see the look on my face as I type that. I am squishing up my mouth because the guilt and shame? It’s overwhelming.

What kind of a person doesn’t like having a dog? A selfish perfectionist, right? A non-fun-loving Mommy Dearest right? A tired-out overwhelmed woman with a bunch of kids?

I don’t know. The point of all this is not necessarily that we’re not keeping the dog. It’s that I have to make peace with my list of Pro’s and Con’s of Having a Dog. The one that looks like this

Con’s

  • hair in house
  • mud on outdoor cushions
  • barking
  • whimpering
  • wants to get out of kennel the minute he hears me up in the morning
  • follows me around everywhere
  • we can’t eat dinner because he’s trying to jump on table
  • yes, we can train him but that takes work
  • I’d rather spend that time reading a book or painting my back door
  • the back door he shredded because he is always trying to come inside
  • and the list goes on

Pro’s

  • Two of the boys really like having a dog
  • Isabel tolerates the dog
  • I can save face by not getting rid of the dog

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Comments

  1. RebeccaK says:

    Haha, no guilt coming at you from here. We are so not dog people, and this is exactly why. Dogs tend to be just plain annoying! And often smelly. Every once in a while I’ll feel a tiny bit of guilt since my 6yo son wants one, but I banish the guilt right quick.

  2. LOL! Your sad dog history sounds scarily similar to ours. Kids are SOOOO much easier and more wonderful than any puppy. I have vowed to never repeat these mistakes but well… there is a decent chance it is gonna happen again, because I refuse to learn my lesson. WHY, WHY, oh WHY, do we do this to ourselves????

  3. In a state of grief over our recently deceased bunny four years ago, I stupidly allowed my husband to convince me to take a look at some puppies. The end result of this serious lapse of judgement was we got a puppy less than forty eight hours after our previous pet died. BIGGEST. MISTAKE. EVER. My husband and the kids all love this animal while I’m just anxiously awaiting his death. He smells, he sheds, he pees on my carpet [which used to be new and free of stains], he barks and just plain annoys me. Two days after we got him I told my husband I wanted to get rid of him, but he’s a firm believer in keeping a pet forever once you get it. I have come to realize that I like other people’s dogs, but not mine.

  4. I always say “puppies are worse than babies”. With each child my ability to tolerate pets dwindles. It is just more work…

  5. Oh girl. I should write a copy-cat post of this except I don’t need more guilt upon the already existing guilt. I grew up with dogs. Lots and lots of dogs- tiny ones with tiny poop (why my parents were unsuccessful at housetraining a dog until I moved out, I’ll never know) and traumatic deaths (think horror movie x 2). Fast forward to falling in love with a boy who was in love with a dog. That dog who shredded my first big post grad school purchase, a free people sweater. That beast o burden died a terrible death this fall and it was awful. And my reason for getting another dog a month later? I wanted someone to clean up MK’s high chair mess. I missed my canine mop. So I have another mop. I also have a vacuum that fills 3 cannisters of hair in an 1100 square foot house in one cleaning. And drool that is warping my hardwoods. If my husband didn’t need a dog like I need oxygen and if my kid wasn’t in total love, I’d be sending Mack to Augusta. **Ask Fr. Tim about the time Ross and I came to visit him in Ross’s two seater car with the ADULT golden retriever ON MY LAP.** Oy.

  6. Natasha Mazerolle says:

    Oh Rachel, do I ever feel you on this one! We got our dog, a sweet chocolate brown labrador retriever, when our first son was six years old. I realized that I love the “new puppy stage”, but hate the “big puppy stage”, when they are the size of an adult but still think they are a puppy (hopping on furniture, nipping and tugging – at 60 lbs it’s a lot to handle!) And my dog was this way for the first four years of her life! I had three babies in those years, remember with so much guilt how I treated this stupid animal that was just one more demand that I didn’t have time for (like the Mom in Marley and Me? That was me.) But now, oh my goodness she is just perfect! She never wants for anything, she plays with the kids in the yard, they can feed her and let her out. and she is an irreplaceable part of our family. Looking back I would do it all again for the pet she is now, and has been for the past four years. The puppy stage does pass, take heart! If your dog is only six months old, this is the worst of it. He won’t be like this forever. And there will be a day when you realize what an enriching part of your life he has been. Thank goodness puppies grow up! Now if I only I could be at so much peace with my children growing (I’m working on it!)

  7. oh man….i could have written this post! i have 4 boys and last easter thought “we need a dog!”. We’ll we got a rescue dog from the shelter…and 6 months in to having the dog (who hated me, btw….) i found out I was expecting again and i thought I can NOT do this anymore. I can’t do 4 boys + dog + be pregnant sick. I spoke with 2 of my friends who had also had dogs but had to get rid of them and they encouraged me…. So i got rid of the dog. Found another home for it. My boys didn’t notice for 4 DAYS!!!!!. when they did they were upset. but they got over it. i still feel terrible about it. I still think the IDEA of a dog is great, but i can’t tell you the amount of stress that was instantly lifted from my shoulders as I watched our dog drive away. I still think we may get another dog someday…but it’ won’t be when I have little ones who still need me most of the time….so it’s several years away. at least.

  8. I grew up a dog lover. We always had dogs and I knew I would someday have one. I married a dog-hater. We were married and lived in apartment after apartment, so we couldn’t get a dog. Finally, in a house of our own we resist the purchase. Why? I, too, love the idea of a dog but not the work of a dog.

    So, my parents got us some chickens. Yep. So, when you’re thinking about all the work you cute puppy is, be thankful you don’t have chickens. They’re ugly. Sometimes they’re mean. And the scare the heck outta me. I’d rather have a dog… =]

  9. My husband & I bought a dog BEFORE we had kids. Then we adopted our now 6 year old son and then was blessed with our now 2 year old daughter nine months later. Two kids in less than a year took a tole on our dog. He went from being the center of attention to being the cause of all my problems. Now my son is best friends with the dog and my daughter loves to torment the dog. The dog takes it all in stride and loves being part of the family. Even though he is a big chocolate lab, he is loveable and loyal and the kids love him. You are exactly right, it’s like having a kid who never grows out of this stage. The dog is only five years old, but it is a known fact: when the dog dies, that’s it. We. Will. Never. Have. Another. Pet. Again. EVER.

  10. I can’t tell you how glad I am to hear you say this. Not that I’m happy about the suffering you’re going through, it’s just that the kids have been begging me for a pet and I have stood firm on, “NO!” I realize full well the whole child that never grows up and I don’t need one of those. I also do not have a fenced in yard so guess who would do the walking. Honestly though, it’s the messes I can’t bear to think about. Sitiing on my own couch and getting hair all over me…so not for me.

    So feel better, if nothing else you’ve convinced me I am right in my decision. Thank you…and good luck!

  11. Um…and I would be sitting on the couch, not sitiing:-)

  12. Been there and done that. We got rid of our dog we had for 6 years in October-November of 2011. We got a dog after I was talked into it by my husband when I KNEW I would be the one taking care of it even though he said otherwise. We had 4 kids then and after my last, we had 6…someone had to go…and even though I may have considered the children, the dog won (or lost depending on how you look at it). I could no longer give the dog the attention she deserved and everything she did got on my nerves and I was SO SICK of finding dog hair EVERY where. Kids were upset and still ask about her and say they are sad. I really felt bad and I do miss her, but just not having the dog hair everywhere makes me feel good enough with the decision. Like your dog, ours was the BEST family dog ever. Kids could sit on her or whatever and she didn’t care at. all. She was the best, but our family is too big and our house is too small and we are too busy of a family. We won’t be getting another dog…I will just adore dogs from a distance from now on…no more in this house.

  13. Hang in there. As someone who was a dog hater, I got my first dog at age 50+ while busy with teenagers, a full time job working from home, young adults moving back home, having cancer, etc. (For some reason I just decided I should have a dog before I die.) Got the second dog at age 52. In the 18 month age +/- both dogs settled down so they now have house privileges. The pluses outweigh the minuses. We are willing to crate them at night and EVERY TIME I leave the house. And they only come in from outside on my schedule. (Like kids, they’ll push your buttons scratching at the door until you quit letting them in on demand.) Best thing we did was have a trainer come give us a “private lesson” on dog behavior and expectations. You might give that a try. There’s probably stuff you are doing that’s counter productive and things you could do to help the puppy mature. We did a little training with the first, but not much. Also, partly because of their nature, both 20 pound dogs are on leashes even in the house, so if I have to grab them, it’s easy. And when they were little I used the leashes and they did chores with me, or lay at my feet, etc. – kept them entertained and didn’t really get in my way. Good luck! Your puppy can be a joy even when he is insane. But in the end if he needs to be elsewhere, it’s a dog and your sanity comes first.

  14. I could have written this one. In fact, it pretty much mimics the conversation my husband and I had over breakfast this morning. As we were deciding whether it was worth the time it would take to fix the back door he has shredded. We will not be getting rid of the dog, I am sure, but the pro/con list looks remarkably similar….

  15. I am mirroring your feelings, as we too recently got a puppy. I’m laughing a little because shortly after reading your post about your new puppy, I decided to give in and get one too. I thought if she can do it, so could I. We are a family of five children with number six on the way. I grew up with dogs and loved it. Although, I had no reality of having a dog as an adult. We found a wonderful rescue puppy, crate-trained and almost house broken. My sister gave me great advise. It will be more work than two of your children. Your house will never really be clean-always having dog hair to sweep, and I needed to be financially committed to owning a dog. In the end, it was crazy for us to get a puppy. However, more life is good-even in the shedding, digging, chewing puppy form. As chaotic as it is, I know my children will benefit from the experience of having a dog.

  16. Maureen says:

    I loved this post (okay, admittedly I love most of your posts). Thanks for your honesty. I am a die hard dog person. When my parents (read: my dad) got us a dog for Christmas when I was 11 or 12, it was one of the greatest moments of my life. But it was NOT awesome for my mom, who hated the dog for many years. Too many kids to appreciate the dog. And certainly didn’t appreciate the “presents” under the tree that first few weeks and the crazy puppyhood. But for me, a 12 year old in need of a project, Holly was a game changer. I trained Holly. I took her seriously. In fact, during some turbulent adolescent years, Holly was the reason I didn’t run away from home- I was sure no one else would remember to feed her! And it just wouldn’t be fair to run away and leave her to fend for herself! (God uses whatever it takes to convince a hormonal teenage girl to stick around). I am still a dog person and have two dogs, no hubby or kids (yet, God willing). Puppyhood is really really hard. I got my first dog at 8 months, house trained, abused, but basically untrained. Lots of work ensued. My second dog I got at 8 weeks. I blame me for her oddities, but she is a wonderful dog. So worth the years of puppyhood and the hard work training her. I’ve also learned that a tired dog is a good dog– so send those boys on a mission to wear this dog out. You might be surprised at how much better behaved he is when totally exhausted (I have black labs and we LOVE our K9 Cruiser attachment for the bike– works like a charm every time). However, I also recognize with so many other people who take priority, dogs sometimes aren’t the right decision. I’ve been known to advise people against getting a dog b/c they ARE a lot of work (especially if you want them to be pleasant animals) and there ARE a lot of little people who DO deserve you more. Even from a dog person, no judgement if you have to give up the dog. Woah, this was too long. πŸ™‚

  17. We only got a dog because :
    1) my kids had been BEGGING me for two years (including the 14 yr old boy)
    2) said 14 year old boy and siblings said they would care for the dog.
    The 14 year old was in charge of house training, etc. and I made sure the puppy (and taught the kids how to follow through) learned basic obedience: sit, down, stay. I also trimmed a toenail, cleaned an ear and brushed her teeth early and often. AND we got an easy going, willing to please breed. Why would you, as a parent, want to care for an animal with a houseful of kids to care for (I have 5 kids)? I love dogs, but it is TOO much to do if the kids aren’t the leaders in the dog’s care. I would suggest you find the dog a home where he/she is adored.

  18. Melissa Z says:

    Rachel, I love this!! I love your honesty and I even went through the same thing a few months ago (“see? even Rachel Balducci the Testosterhome lady whose blog I read is getting a dog and THEY have SIX kids”) and I feel the exact same way. I think my dog desire was probably picture induced too. Or maybe it was a dog clip on Animal Planet or something. But I just can’t drum up that dog-love-need that some people seem to be born with. We did have a dog that was awesome – we got him from the shelter for $50 – but we moved and he kept running back. So the people wanted him and we just gave him to them and he’s very happy. And am I terrible that I don’t even miss him?!

  19. We have a dog now , too, but I got one that doesn’t shed AT ALL (labradoodle). That was my only requirement. Given that very few of your children actually really like the dog, I would vote for finding the dog a home where people REALLY want a dog. If you can’t bring yourself to give the dog away, I highly recommend finding a dog training school that will take for dog for you for several weeks of boarding and training. It will be the BEST money you ever spent. You will have a little vacation from said dog, and when you get the dog back, it will actually be all trained for you, and you just learn the commands from the trainer. I promise.

  20. Michelle Ross says:

    Rachel, dogs are definitely a lot of work…and unlike kids, they don’t grow up and go to college…but maybe that’s part of their charm, too? We have four kids and two young border collies (guess I like even numbers) and the pups were definitely a challenge. The animation and chaos they bring to the family is just something I’ve accepted, I guess, and the way they are laying at my feet while I type this when the house is quiet…it’s a blessing. Maybe think of this as another way to be open to life and a servant heart? Even while vacuuming…again…(grin)

  21. I don’t feel guilty for not considering owning a dog.

    My husband wheezes within one hour of being in the same room with a dog.

    No dog, Dad breathes. Dog, notsogood on the breathing. Case closed.

    I’m feeling guilty for feeling gleeful about this, however.

  22. Well said. I desperately want a dog but our situation just
    Isn’t right for one right now. I really think having a dog
    Could simplify our place as absolutely crazy as
    That has to
    Sound! I just want to “be”. I want to live simply and stop the constant treadmill. A dog will listen… Maybe? Maybe not!

  23. Toni Freeman says:

    i agree. a dog is a kid who never grows up. lol. i’d rather just have another kid than a dog πŸ™‚

  24. the holly says:

    and this is the reason we do not own a dog. πŸ™‚ it makes me sad that my kids don’t have the same kind of relationship with an animal that my brother scott did…but i’m stretched thin enough with the household! πŸ™‚ you are sooo not alone!

  25. It’s embarrassing for me to admit, but I loved animals until I had kids. It’s not just that they will never grow up, it’s that I don’t have extra love time and attention for something that… I don’t want to offend anybody, but, can’t really love in return. I don’t even mean it has to love me, but I can’t stretch myself thinner for something that’s never going to really love. I do know dog love, but it’s just not the same as “made in the image of God” love.

    I still like animals, but the idea of having a dog or cat now (expecting #7) would drive me crazy. I wouldn’t have the patience to let them be an animal.

    What would you think of having the dog be an outside dog? Or crated/in the garage while you eat?

  26. This is probably going to make me very unpopular with your readers, but Rachel, none of your posts (or anything you’ve ever written, honestly) has ever made me angry. Until now. Not that I don’t have empathy for what you’re feeling. I do. I get that you have six kids. And I get that you have a very busy and active life. And between your family’s and your schedules, you’re probably rarely home. But here’s the gist: That dog did not ask to be brought into your lives and loved. You went and chose him. You brought him home. You gave him a pack, which is what all dogs want (and need). And now, because it’s too hard to train him, and because a messy dog (yes, they can be very messy) doesn’t really mesh with your perfectly cleaned and orderly home and lifestyle – you want to discard him? As quickly as you decided you needed a dog, you rashly decide you don’t? Dogs are the only animals that actively chose to be with humans. They give unconditional love and companionship. But they do take work, just like a kid does, to train properly so that they become the well-mannered companion laying across your feet as you work, so that they become the protector who would give their own life to save yours, so that they become a cherished member of the family. Yes, dogs may forever be four year old children, but they can be trained to be well-mannered 4-yr old children. That being said, you need to realize that dogs are sensitive, and pick up on their humans’ feelings. If you don’t want the dog, don’t fool yourself for a second into believing that your dog doesn’t know that. He does. If you can find a loving and compassionate home for the dog, with humans who will appreciate him and love him, and give him the pack training and structure that he needs, it sounds like that would be the best course of action. No kid wants to be in a family that doesn’t want him. No dog does either.

    • See? Just to show how much of a dog person I am NOT, I had no idea that any of the things I wrote would come across so offensive. You are obviously very upset that I would have these attitudes and I feel really bad about that. It does seem heartless and cruel — IF you are someone who sees dogs and children as being equals. I just don’t. I’m not saying dogs aren’t amazing and wonderful and they are certainly special creatures created by God and they serve a unique and wonderful purpose. But getting a dog is not the same as adopting a child, and me considering not keeping this dog is not like giving up one of my children for adoption. Not in my mind.

      Having said that, I recognize this is a huge deal. Hence my post. I’ve gotten myself in a terrible situation where I’m having to admit that, bottom line, I just don’t like having a dog. There are some of us out there, people who can admire dogs but don’t really enjoy having them in our home. Maybe it’s the mess (but come on, I have five boys, I live with mess, it doesn’t boil down to my pristine environs). But when you talk about having the dog at your feet, etc — see, I’m not motivated by that. I don’t really want the dog at my feet and I know, that makes me a terrible person.

      So the point of all this is I’ve made quite a mess for myself. I got a dog when I had no business getting one. And a few members of my family really love this dog and we should probably keep the dog because they love it so. Even though I’m the one who cares for it and while I’m not cruel or mean (I do pet him and give him attention), I’m in a situation where I’ve taken on a gigantic responsibility that I should not have.

      • Rach – Know that you’re not alone in being a Mom that took on more than she wanted. We’ve ALL done that from time to time. Whether a new pet, commitments to family, etc., we get into situations and then, in retrospect, we realize we shouldn’t have.

        You’re not alone, girl!

      • I don’t think you are cruel or mean at all. Just maybe gave into your whims a bit without considering the full impact of the decision. I do admire your honesty and ability to lay your feelings and thoughts out here for the world to see. That is something I certainly could not do. And many people, myself included, have been blessed by your ability to share your life with us. I think that most people, myself included, wouldn’t put a dog on the same level in God’s hierarchy as a human. But – we were given stewardship over the creatures and this earth, and entrusted with their care. And with stewardship comes responsibility for our decisions regarding those creatures, and the earth. That’s really my perspective. I do believe dogs are different than other animals. They are the only ones who choose to be with humans, even choosing humans over other dogs. And I think that makes them special. For those of us who are unable to have children, maybe we feel a bit more strongly about our dog companions than those whom God has blessed with kids. After all, my three dogs are my family. They are all I have, because I have not been blessed with even one child, much less six. I’ll tell you what – if you are unable to find a loving home for your dog, please let me know. It may cost a bit to ship him up here, but we always have room for one more. And he would have two dog sisters and a dog brother to romp and play with. Your post did make me angry, but at the same time, I respect you, your honesty, and the love that you share so willingly with the world, not just here on your blog but in real life with everyone around you.

      • Kathleen says:

        I don’t think you have to at all see dogs and children as being equal to be bothered by parts of this post. I say this as someone who thought this was a clever, insightful, sometimes funny post when I read it a couple of days ago. Then my mom called and said they were going to have to put down the dog they’ve had since I was a teenager – very unexpectedly – and I spent an hour crying at my desk at work, ate a lot of chocolate, broke down every time I passed a dog on the street, and spent the rest of the afternoon being very unproductive – which included reading blogs to take my mind off it, and when I returned to this blog (which was utterly unhelpful at taking my mind off things, but that’s no fault of yours), I no longer found the post clever or funny, just heartbreaking. Obviously, I’m now reading through a lens of extreme bias, but what I wanted to point out was that I spent this morning thinking about the fact that Donna Summer and my dog died on the same day. I would never in a million years suggest that a dog’s life is remotely equivalent to a human’s life – but I didn’t shed a tear for Donna Summer. You can have very strong feelings about animals – particular animals, or animals in general – without equating them with humans at all. There are PLENTY of things that shouldn’t be abandoned – jobs, marriages, dogs, bunny rabbits, commitments, friendships. It doesn’t necessarily mean any of them has the value and dignity of a human life.

  27. And you know how I feel! Except you have more pros on your list than I do. πŸ™‚

  28. Going to bookmark this and review any time I am tempted to give in to the nagging for a pet. And also, I should remember my allergies. Though I grew up with cats and dogs with no issues, when I returned home from my first semester at college, allergies totally kicked in. Thanks for sharing Rachel!

  29. scotch meg says:

    Perhaps a cat person can’t chime in without getting catty πŸ˜‰
    Meow!
    Finding the dog another home is probably the right solution unless the boys who love the dog can pitch in more on dog care.
    Also, be kind to yourself and realize that you are in the busiest possible season of your life right now – all of your children live at home, and most of them are involved in sports and other activities. You are as stretched as you are ever going to be in your life.
    Things will get better.

    • Thanks Meg,

      You don’t know how much I needed to hear that. The issues with the dog were brought on by some other challenges going on in our home right now — nothing bad, just life with big boys and it’s getting really, really hard right now. Thank you for the encouragement. I know the post may have seemed glib, but it’s very much heart felt.

  30. Christine says:

    We also got a puppy right after Christmas. A little white westie. Does not shed. a MUST.

    Growing up I had every pet you could imagine. Dogs, cats, raccoons, horses, hawks, foxes, deer, skunks, squirrels, sparrow hawk, it just goes on…like a weird zoo.

    I get the pains of messes and pains of “extra work”…but I think critters are cool. Just roll with it. My kids have had just boring normal, beta fish, lizards, guinea pigs, rabbits, one kitty, turtles, snakes,…and now one pooch.

    Roll with it. Messes and all.

  31. I too have had similar dog stories until Ray installed a doggy door and I took the time to train the dog to “go outside”. Whenever the dog was pestering me or I just did not want her around, I would point toward the door and command “go outside”. When I wanted her to stay outside I would close the doggy door. I found myself closing the doggy door less and less because once she found out she was free to come and go she would stay outside longer. Our beloved Lucy died, and now we have two smaller dogs who enjoy the doggy door as well. BUT unlike you I’m light years away from having a clean and organized home and I have one child out of two left at home and she is Ethan’s age. Just thought I’d share what finally worked for us. Rachel – do what brings your home peace, if you have that familiar knot in your stomach about giving the dog away then don’t do it. Lots of love and hugs and kisses for the babies.

  32. Bless your heart. I am just not a dog person (and I am not even a perfectionist!) and I often thank God that I married someone who isn’t either. It is not a failure if you need to find your wonderful dog another home. Not for the dog, not for the kids, and not for you.

  33. Amy Northrop says:

    First, when I shared your post-my friends thought I wrote it.
    Second, as a long time reader, I (like others) have always appreciated your honesty. Life isn’t always pretty. You bravely shine a light on reality. If only more of us could do so, maybe there wouldn’t be the question of whether you were Mom enough or dog-loving enough. You would just be enough – good and bad. Again loved your honesty and value your words.

  34. We adopted a”hunting dog” a few years back from a pet rescue agency. They told us it must always be housed indoors, but we didn’t realize that: 1-they meant ALWAYS, even for short periods, like when I ran to the grocery store and pooch was in a kennel attached to the garage
    2-they would check on us and notify us/reclaim the dog if we were in “breach of contract”
    3- this hunting dog was gun shy.
    After 9 months of trying to adapt, and being “checked & warned” multiple times we finally told them that they could have the dog back. She left us on the day we took a 2 week trip to Disney World. The two older kids 9 & 7 couldn’t have cared less, but we were a bit concerned about the 5 yr old. So we didn’t tell him. We had been home for nearly a MONTH before he finally asked, “Hey, where’s Pooch?” “Oh, the people we got her from wanted her back, so she lives there now.” “Oh.”
    End of story. Good luck with yours.

  35. I, too, am just not an animal person. I like them, admire them, think they are amazing creations by God … but I don’t crave owning and caring for them. It feels so unkind to tell my kids “no” to all the animals they want, though. I don’t want to not sacrifice for my animal-loving kids. We have a dog. We got him while I was pregnant with my third. It was horrible trying to train him while fully pregnant. He is the sweetest dog. We all really do like them and we care for him. But I know that I don’t crave owning him. Now that we have a mudroom, the mess is more contained and my fifth is two years old … so my life is relaxing about how much extra stress the dog adds. But anyway, that’s just our story. If we didn’t have a dog, I’d probably want one for my kids … but when I have one, I realize I don’t love having him, vacuuming up after him, finding him when he leaves the yard that has five kids to play with him, finding someone to care for him when we go on trips, seeing the hair just plain fall off him in our van when we have to take him on our trips, … you know.

    I think that animal people don’t always really understand non-animal people. They think they are just unkind or lazy or something. I have spent time feeling guilty over it! But I really do appreciate animal people who don’t equate animals with people. That’s always nice. πŸ™‚ It’s easier to watch them and just see how their thoughts turn to play with the dog or to get the dog wet when it’s hot or to let the dog out for some fun … their thoughts just turn to it and mine don’t.

    To me, the dog is another thing to take care of and I have lots of that already.

    Anyway, we’re keeping our dog. πŸ™‚ I’m just going to deal with it. But I feel okay with understanding that I’m not an animal person.

  36. Rachel,

    I say this with kindness and without judgment or criticism. You need to find a new home for that dog — a home where that dog will be loved unconditionally. You do have a lot on your plate and you’ve chosen that. I don’t think you’d enjoy life any other way. I don’t think a dog is the best fit for your home, especially when you don’t love what a dog brings to a home. You already have unconditional love from your six children, so it makes sense that you might not “need” or “want” a dog like others do. I’ve followed your blog for awhile and remember the experiences with your previous dogs and was honestly surprised you got another one. At this point, it’s not about what anyone else thinks, and that’s not important. You have the opportunity to make a responsible decision by finding the dog a new home — one that’s hopefully a great one. My advice for the future is something you already know — you’re not a dog person and dogs just don’t fit well with the pace of your family life. Just remember that if you think about getting another dog in the future.

    Best wishes for your family and for the dog. Please let us know what you decide.

  37. Adrian G says:

    I have to comment again though I don’t think I have for weeks. I loved your post. It really made me laugh and I’ve been losing my sense of humour lately. My sister with 5 kids has done the same thing and got a dog. We have 5 and a cat. A better choice.
    Just do whatever you think. I agree with scotch meg, God trusts you. If you do need some encouragement, St.John Bosco had a dog companion that seemed to be sent from heaven and saved his life on more than one occasion. I’ve always borne that in mind when tempering my otherwise clear mental division between Our Saviour becoming a man mnnnnnnnnvb (sorry that was the cat on the keyboard, she can’t type) and dogs being very friendly little things. Clearly God wants you to steer yourself, spouse, 6 kids and family and friends to heaven and not get tipped over the edge by a dog’s antics. But what a constant mortification! Maybe you could offer it all up and save western civilisation.

  38. Our cat of 12 years just died recently. We’d adopted her while we were engaged (she lived with me; he paid “child support” =), so she predated the kids by a good bit. We cried, and we miss her. So people think I’ll be running out to get another cat, right? Not on your life. I’ve got 3 kids under the age of 6, and I don’t need another thing peeing and pooping all over my house. When our kids are grown and out of the house, then we’ll need something to cuddle enough that we won’t mind the clean up. Until then, this house is pet free….. =)

  39. Rachel

    I normally love your writing, I just felt this post was so sad, I am at the other end of the parenting spectrum from you, I have grandaughters aged 6 and 3 and we only recently got a dog (my youngest son is 22 and has been pleading for a dog since he was about 3!) and I am overwhelmed how much I like having this dog around. But what you said in your comments “It does seem heartless and cruel β€” IF you are someone who sees dogs and children as being equals. I just don’t.” I found really offensive. I don’t see the lady who was leaving a comment said anything about children and dogs being equal. Actually, I am stunned at this because having read your blog for several years this comment seems so out of character.

    • Please explain what you mean? I think what I was trying to express was the by my considering us NOT keeping our dog, this was not the same as not keeping one of my children. Dogs are wonderful and special, but they aren’t the same as a human child. I’m not trying to be a jerk. I’m just being honest.

      Having said that, the thing I didn’t say was this if we were to give our dog away, I would never just kick it to the curb or send it to the pound. I love this dog and it would only leave here if it were going someplace much, much better than here.

      • I’m trying to be clear here,the way I read your comment it seemed to imply that the person you were responding to had or would put a dog on the same level as a child, which I didn’t see at all and it was the implied criticism that I found offensive

  40. Theresa says:

    Holy Smokes! I’m just catching up after a few weeks off your blog and after reading the most recent post on being dog free, decided I had to come read what you originally posted. I’m in awe! Okay, I’m kind of lost on where I should even start….You write beautifully. You are funny. Nothing in your post insinuated that you didn’t care. People who are having ‘issues’ with what you wrote might have some other ‘issues’ or life sufferings, or whatever, that make them not only anthropomorphize, but also put their own life and life experiences into yours. My only critique is that you are being too hard on yourself. So you made a decision a little quickly and secretly…we all do sometimes. Bad decision does not equal end of world or hateful person or stupid person or whatever. We all make bad decisions fairly regularly, and it is a DOG! Even though I don’t know you, I’d make the assumption that you’d try to find the right home/family for the dog as opposed to …whatever.

    How’s this for guilt…I’m the wife of a veterinarian, and we are so not replacing our dog when she dies…for a long time. You left off your “con” list, occasional barfing. As the mother of 5 sons and 2 daughters, I have NO DESIRE to clean up after an animal. I completely get and agree with your comment something along the lines of you like the idea of it, but the practical application of caring for an animal is so much more. 100% agree. I LOVE animals. Don’t love the care and responsibility of them. Our cat (my surprise gift to my husband one year ago for his birthday…notice “surprise”) just became an outdoor cat after I have struggled with the love/hate of having him indoors. The hair was everywhere. He was spraying randomly (no infections…just a punk). He shredded two chairs. Again, we know how to provide for and care for animals and EVERYONE else in the house loved him enough to put up with these things, but not me. He was also great 99% of the time…I mean really great. Maybe someday, when I have fewer or no children in the home, or when everyone is older I will try it again. That doesn’t make me selfish. And I don’t care how many dogs you have gone through, if YOU and YOUR HUSBAND decide to try it again no matter how in depth the discussions or how far down the road it is, good for you. Animals are here to SERVE us by their life and joy and companionship. Yes, we must be good stewards and take care of them appropriately. No, I’m not advocating just getting rid of them at the drop of a hat and for no reason. I’m not going to over explain and justify everything I’m typing to you. Just know that many, many mothers get it.