17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Good Mom, Bad Mom

It all started with Oprah...

She HAD to do a story on puppy mills. It got my DH and me curious. We started browsing petfinder for fun. We saw that there were a LOT of dogs out there that needed a home. It sparked a conversation about dogs and brought us back to the dating years of yore. A decade ago we used to dream about getting a weimaraner and calling her Uli (OOH-lee) (an Austrian name DH loved from his mission days). All that talk came flooding back and our hypothetical search for a dog became more and more un-hypothetical.

One afternoon I found a weim who needed rescuing, named Mattie. Her profile has changed since I first saw it, but a few weeks ago there were pix of her emaciated and super skinny and her story was a sad one. We both fell in love with her face. We went through the application process and even spoke with the foster mom a few times. We never heard back so we figured Mattie would not go to us.

As the weeks passed, my DH suddenly became excited about getting a weim pup. I did the research and found a great breeder reasonably nearby. I had long conversations with the breeder, bought the puppy books at the store, tivoed all the Dog Whisperer episodes on NGC, and decided this would work out for our family. We decided to make the plunge to get a puppy.

We drove out on Saturday and met the big Weims that were well-behaved and so soft to the touch and beautiful dogs. The four girls in the litter were frisky, but one came right over to me and then right over to DH and was much more mellow. We decided she would make a great pet and we took her home. She was so good on the ride home and it seemed like it was going to work out really well.

The next morning as we were playing with our new pup, we got the call that our application to rescue Mattie was approved. And I felt bad. After all, Oprah and the puppy mills are what started this all, and Mattie was who I wanted to rescue. Shoot.

After I got over having to say NO to Mattie, reality with pup set in. I started to get a few itchy patches on my skin. I knew I was slightly allergic to dogs, but I am also allergic to everything else and on a lot of medicines to fight it, so I thought, one more thing wouldn't make a dent. The itchy patches were manageable but concerning. I was really diligent about insisting on sitting to earn affection, food, elevator-riding rights (to get outside), and before we crossed the street. We did the crate at night and DH was really great about getting up to take her out and help to settle her back down. The kids loved her.

But she peed a lot....and all the time and she whined and barked and was rough with the kids to where my little one cried often (and she is the MOST dog lover of all of us). I was trying to be so present and so patient, but it just escalated and escalated and I realized that there was no way I could care for this pup the way she needed to be cared for. And so my DH drove her back home last night (2.5 hours each way), and I dried the tears of my older daughter and asked for her forgiveness. I then cleaned the entire house like a madwoman and slept so soundly. There was a little guilt about putting my kids through this, but neither of them has mentioned her this morning, and I am so happy that I am no longer a dog owner.

But she was cute.


  • Oh, she is really cute... I don't blame you for trying!

    We are not dog people, either. DH is a cat person, so we have one cat. Unfortunately, I'm not a cat person (okay, I'm not a pet person, period!), but after 8 years, I'm used to him now.

    I don't think some people realize how hard it can be to take care of dogs --they really are like children. Thus my reason for never getting a dog (ha!), but huge respect for people who not only have dogs, but love 'em.
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 5/13/2008 05:54:00 AM  

  • It is a serious commitment to take care of a dog, let alone a puppy. I applaud you for realizing early that it wasn't going to work out.
    posted by Blogger Azúcar at 5/13/2008 06:50:00 AM  

  • I applaud you for agreeing knowing that you were allergic, even if only slightly. It is probably best that you got her from a breeder so that you could return her guilt free. I think that it would have been much harder to come to & to live with the decision if you would have had the rescued dog. I am a dog lover but I enjoy a dog-free smell in my apartment. I'm sure eventually I will have another dog but in the meantime I'm also enjoying not having the responsibility.
    posted by Blogger Jenn at 5/13/2008 09:01:00 AM  

  • Pathetically enough, this has happened to us THREE times!! Actually four if we're counting other pets besides dogs.

    #1: Dog for a Day "Reggie"-We found the best dog ever from a rescue group, but weren't able to find anyone to keep him for the 20 days until we moved out of our "no pets" apartment. We had him overnight...

    #2: Dog for an Hour "Cody"-Two years later, we got an adorable puppy for the boys for Christmas. The breeders delivered him on Christmas Eve. Our boys were ecstatic and surprised. They played with him and loved him instantly. I felt like I had a new son! During bathtime, we noticed that our youngest had a new rash. He started to swell up and have a hard time breathing. My hubby rushed him to the ER (on Xmas Eve remember), and my in-laws took the puppy back to the breeder for us. We thought that our son was allergic to the dog, but we found out 4 months later that he's actually allergic to nuts, like the cashews he tried on Christmas Eve.

    #3: Dog for a Week "Cappi"- Two years later, after having our youngest around many dogs and confirming that he wasn't allergic, we tried again. This time we got the cutest little Dachscund/Shi Tzu mix. She was partially trained, didn't bark much, and was so fun. We had a good day or two with her, and then my DH, who has some germaphobic issues, started to resent the "dog germs" all over the apartment. He escalated to the point that he was considering staying at his brother's until we got rid of the dog. We found her a great home, but it broke my heart.

    We've come to accept that having an inside pet is just not going to work for us. Sigh... I keep telling the boys (and myself) that we'll get an outside dog when we get a house.

    BTW, the fourth pet was actually multiple fish. We got them after the puppy Cody fiasco. The boys and I loved them, but once again DH's quirky aversion to germs made him unable to be in the same room with them after a while. He put up with it for a few weeks, but eventually told me he wanted to sell the fish tank at our neighborhood garage sale. :(
    posted by Blogger Mother of the Wild Boys at 5/13/2008 09:10:00 AM  

  • Here's another thing for you and other readers to remember - the first 2/3 weeks owning a dog are the hardest. It is those awful sleepless nights of puppy crying and peeing on rugs that make most people give up, but as a dog owner many times over I know that all those things absolutely go away. In your situation, it may have been a case of not knowing what you were getting yourself into in the first place. Like someone said, it's almost like having another child. When you hear they are a lot of work it's not an exageration! But puppies learn, and they WILL learn to play nicely with your children, not cry at night, and not pee on the floor (if you are a good parent to them!), it just takes getting over that 2 week hump. Allergies though, are one thing that may never go away so since you have them, Kage, it was probably best to not keep the dog. I just don't want to advocate people giving away a dog after a few days when they made a commitment to care for that little soul. If you really think it through, it should be like any other commitment - may not be fun ALL the time, but the benefits you will reap will be numerous! I do not want you to feel bad for giving Uli back, but I think the right message to spread is to KNOW exactly what you are getting into before you get into it, and once you make the commitment try and stick it out through that "hump" period.
    posted by Anonymous Tracie at 5/13/2008 09:53:00 AM  

  • I had a coworker who got a couple weimaraners from a rescue, and the rules for having them were strict. Like, they couldn't give the dogs away to someone else unless the rescue approved of the new owners.

    I always figured if we ever got a dog I'd want to get one from a rescue because you can know it's personality better than you would with a puppy.
    posted by Blogger Susan M at 5/13/2008 11:04:00 AM  

  • This happened to us too! I did all the research and begged my husband to buy me a golden retriever. Begged. Right after he arrived from the breeder, I got pregnant. I got pregnant and VERY sick. I could not take care of Rio anymore. He was outside all the time by himself, and I felt so guilty.

    I ended up giving him to my mom. We might get him back someday now that I am not pregnant or sick. But taking care of a puppy was HARD. I never realized how much work was involved in it. I like my cats a lot better, even if they are troublemakers.

    I think I just like the idea of having a dog better than I like actually owning one.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 5/13/2008 11:09:00 AM  

  • I am glad that you found a responsible breeder that was willing to take your pup back. As already stated, the first few weeks of puppy ownership are the worst, the time when most pounds get them because people underestimate the time and commitment. Also, for those thinking of getting an "outside dog." There is no such thing. Dogs that are left outside are more likely to become aggressive due to lack of stimulation, exercise and socialization. If you are going to have a pet, please treat it as a cherished family member and don't relegate it to the outside where it will likely become ignored after the honeymoon phase. JMHO as a dog lover!
    posted by Anonymous shannon at 5/13/2008 11:28:00 AM  

  • when i was a kid, we had a beagle for a few months that never would stop peeing in the house and a weim for a week that bit my baby brother. Both went back to the breeders and both were good moves! It made me not want a dog as an adult but I married a dog lover so I'm going to have to face that someday! good for your girls for dealing with it so well so far!
    posted by Blogger Liz&Meg at 5/13/2008 01:18:00 PM  

  • I think you did the right thing. Raising a puppy in the city and with your schedule (plus not being a dog-person) is exponentially harder than all other hard puppy raising experiences. She sure was cute.

    And as a dog owner, I would love it if a family asked if they could babysit our dogs once in a while. In fact, we are going out of town this weekend and have to board them. They would have much more fun with another family.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 5/13/2008 04:16:00 PM  

  • oh, and to the anonymous threadjack (which I deleted) check out this post from the archives. Hopefully you find it helpful:

    Do garments ever get better?

    Also for future reference, you can always submit questions and guest posts to our email: talesfromthecrib (at) gmail (dot) com
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 5/13/2008 04:18:00 PM  

  • We got a poodle pup about a month ago. I want to give it back about 69% of the time....but things are improving and I am hopeful. We're in an apartment so you know how that goes. Sorry it didn't work out. I have 2 young kids and I can't help but think this would be a much better experience if they were a bit older and could help out more...and we had a backyard. Ah well.
    posted by Blogger citymama1 at 5/13/2008 05:48:00 PM  

  • I have to agree with Shannon. My first thought on reading the comment about getting "an outside dog" was the same as Shannon. There is no such thing as an outside dog. Dogs are pack animals and crave companionship, and denying them companionship is cruelty.

    I also think it was a good move to give the dog back. I only wish more thought was put into getting the dog in the first place, and realizing that it IS going to be hard some of the time.

    I really don't want you to feel guilty, but I can't help thinking about the lesson the kids get from this. We wanted it, it's cute, it's hard, let's give it back. (keep in mind my perspective is of a hard-core dog lover with no kids, so . . . )
    posted by Blogger Kathi D at 5/13/2008 06:15:00 PM  

  • I want to start by saying I am so proud of you Kage for realizing quickly that your friends were right all along. :) Just kidding!

    You absolutely did the right thing and even though you act like you aren't a dog person, I think deep down you sort of are, and I know that little sweet pea of yours is, so someday you may be in a better place for a dog, not a puppy!!! Puppies are a whole different experience. I really am so happy the breeder agreed to take her back and she will find a good home, I believe that. You learned a very valuable lesson!!! Now you know!!!

    As for the commenters, I am soooooo happy to hear that there are truly responsible and animal loving people that read this blog. It takes a very big person to recognize that a dog or animal is not right for their family. I have a VERY hard time with people who get an animal against their gut and the animal suffers, sometimes terribly. I have been known to lose sleep at night worrying about the welfare of others dogs. UGH~

    I am going to have to be devils advocate though and say that the puppy stage lasts a little longer than two weeks though?? :)
    posted by Blogger Zinone at 5/13/2008 07:28:00 PM  

  • I had to read back to catch the 2-3 weeks hard puppy time comment. I agree with your Zinone. I think it's longer than that too. Pee accidents will keep happening for a while, chewing will begin and soon you don't have a small dog with a puppy brain, you have a large dog with a puppy brain which brings on an new sets of struggles.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 5/13/2008 08:50:00 PM  

  • "Hard puppy time" will vary with the individual dog, but it's definitely more than 2-3 weeks. Our male pup chewed everything in sight if he got the chance, so he was crated when we were out of the house for a whole year.

    Speaking of crates, with our first dog we didn't use one because I thought they were "mean" but I learned that they are a great tool when used properly.
    posted by Blogger Kathi D at 5/13/2008 09:50:00 PM  

  • Sorry about the pup!! My hubby and I have had a dog since we were married and I would say the first YEAR is rough. It's like a little baby human, they don't totally have control over their bodies and they bark alot, pee alot, and start to chew and destroy almost anything they can get a hold of. The best helper to raising a puppy is having a good crate so they can be confined for a portion of the day. It really helps to potty train them. She's now 7 years old, a sweet dog and never has accidents. She still can be hyper when we have friends over though.
    I've heard weimerainers are notoriously tricky puppies to raise.....
    posted by Blogger Amelia at 5/14/2008 05:55:00 AM  

  • I looked back at my first comment and it came across harsher than I meant it to. I really do applaud you for having the courage to take the puppy back as soon as you realized it wasn't the right thing for your family.

    I am known for being the "pet Nazi" among my child-rearing friends, because I have talked most of them out of getting pets for the young kids who beg for them. The truth is that no matter how much the kid SWEARS he or she will totally take care of the pet, the mom is going to get the duty 99% of the time, and if Mom isn't prepared to do that, it should be a no-go.
    posted by Blogger Kathi D at 5/14/2008 10:01:00 AM  

  • oh man, kathi d retracted before I could come to Kage's defense. Knowing Kage as well as I do, she would never give up easily on anything. I wouldn't worry too much about her children.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 5/14/2008 08:14:00 PM  

  • Yep, it was one of those "it sounded better in my head than it looked in print" moments for me!
    posted by Blogger Kathi D at 5/14/2008 09:57:00 PM  

  • kathi d, yeah, it did come across as harsh, but I often come across as harsh when I write, so I let it go. I also know what thought and prep I put in this decision, and you don't, so your comment did not affect my self esteem or cause any guilt.

    TFTC, thanks for coming to my defense. It's true, I am a pretty sticktoit person, but this was a much better decision than the decision to adopt pup. Seriously, I think my brain is still healing!!! Impaired judgement for sure.

    As for the kids, we all experienced the same challenges together. This was a team effort and none of us were happy and full of joy. Pup was taking too much attention away from the child-rearing and the kids could sense that. They didn't even mention her the morning after she left, and have yet too.....so I think it's all good.

    On another note, I think many of us are conditioned to be "YES" women. We take on too much (I am guilty of this)....and so I saw the lesson for my children as one of recognizing that I am a human being with limits and making a very difficult decision (money and time loss, emotions etc.) to self and family-care and get us back to a level of responsibilities that we can successfully achieve...so in a million years when they find a picture of themselves and a dog and say: "What's up with this?" I will explain it to them that way. And, the allergies were also great argument to take pup home....
    posted by Blogger Kage at 5/15/2008 05:45:00 AM  

  • Thanks, Kage. (for not hating me!)

    I have the luxury of knowing

    Absolutely Everything There Is To Know About Childrearing

    because I never had any.
    posted by Blogger Kathi D at 5/15/2008 12:35:00 PM  

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