Giving up a dog

Sometimes it’s best to re-home a dog

I try to be as compassionate to other people as I am to animals.

There is a lot of negativity around someone who decides to re-home an animal.

“Pets are for life.”

“Why would someone with a pitbull move to a place where pitbulls are not allowed?”

We are quick to judge when we know very little.

My mutt Ace is just one example of a dog who was re-homed.

Ace’s previous owner got him on a whim as a puppy. I think we’ve all heard that story before. She cared for him, gave him shelter and access to veterinary care. She taught him to go to the bathroom outside and to hang out by himself in a kennel. He got to grow up around another dog and also a cat.

His first owner did many things right, and she probably loved him.

But Ace’s first owner knew Ace wasn’t getting the attention or the time he needed in her home. He was probably also a financial burden.

Should she have kept him anyway?

I’m glad she didn’t, because now I have the dog of my life.

Sure, I could’ve found some other dog. And Ace would’ve been just fine living out his life with his first owner. He would do well in most homes. But things are definitely better this way.

Ace’s previous owner is a good person, and I hope she has opened her heart and home to another dog since parting with “Junior.”

What if the dog bites?

My parents – two of the world’s biggest dog lovers – gave up their American water spaniel when I was about 3. They took Abby to the vet to be put down for biting.

Sure, my parents probably did not train or socialize Abby properly. They definitely did not do their research before getting a puppy the way they did.

Did that mean they should keep the dog no matter what?

They didn’t think so.

Did it mean they should never have a dog?

Thankfully, no. They went out and got another puppy a few months later. They’ve had multiple spoiled, happy dogs ever since.

Foster dog Barkley

People have already said things to me about foster dog Barkley’s previous owner.

“Someone gave up on him after just two years?”

“But he’s a Yorkie!”

This is the first time I have taken in a foster dog directly from the original owner. This is very different for me than taking a dog from a pound where I don’t know the dog’s story. It’s easy to put blame on a person you have never met.

I could tell that Barkley’s original owner is a good, caring person.

Sometimes a dog gets to be too much, and it’s nobody’s fault.

In this case, the owner was putting herself and a family member before her dog. This is not something everyone has the courage to do. It’s difficult to give up a dog. It’s difficult to contact a rescue organization and admit you can’t fix a dog, a dog you have raised on your own.

I am dedicated to working with Barkley to help him build confidence and to help him cope with stress. He may be a cute, little Yorkie mix, but he is still a dog.

I don’t hold judgement against his previous owner for raising Barkley a certain way or for obtaining a puppy the way she did. I don’t blame her for letting him go. I hope she is at peace with her decision and that she will get another dog someday.

In the meantime, Barkley will wait for an experienced owner with no children to adopt him. A home with other pets would be just fine. He is a happy, friendly guy 99 percent of the time, but some situations scare him, and he needs some help.

I don’t mean to make Barkley sound like a bad dog. There is no such thing as a bad dog. I always want to remain positive when it comes to my foster dogs, but I also want to be real and honest.

Simply, Barkley is just a dog.

Have you ever given up a dog?

Update: Barkley was adopted!

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133 thoughts on “Giving up a dog”

  1. When we work in rescue and see all the atrocities and hear all the lame excuses, we tend to get jaded. I, personally, would never give up a dog for some of the above listed reasons…but that’s me and this is not a post to start a debate on. We recently got a new foster dog. An 8 year old Great Dane. When I got the call telling me he was “dumped” at a local shelter, I was angry. I hate to see the old guys get dumped because they aren’t fun anymore or because they’ve started having medical issues that people don’t want to deal with.

    However, Buddy’s story was quite different. He’d been with these folks his entire life. They were elderly and having to move into assisted living…no pets allowed. They left Buddy where they thought best…and did so tearfully. It’s really quite a story and I have posted about it all on my blog at Buddy is not a foster any longer but a member of our family. I don’t think his poor broken heart could survive being “given up” again.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      People bring dogs to shelters for all kinds of reasons. I know many of these former owners have some pretty lame excuses and should not have had dogs in the first place. At the same time, most people really are doing the best they can. There is always a human side to the story, and just as we often don’t know the dog’s story, we also do not know the human’s story. Your example is a good one.

      1. We have to give up our dog after trying to train her for eight months because she tries to bite my brother and runs away and is aggressive towards other dogs. I am sad about it but we are giving her back to her foster family and sometimes things happen for a reason. Is this wrong? We tried for eight full months nad she still growls at us and bites and hates us all.

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          No, I think you need to do what’s best for your situation. It sounds like giving up the dog is the right choice.

  2. “Simply, Barkley is just a dog.”

    This is the first time I’ve seen someone involved in rescue say that, and not shockingly, I have to disagree. A plant is just a plant. A rock is just a rock. Dogs *are* for life. If you can’t be bothered to take care of a dog for 10-15 years (which, in the grand scheme of things, is such a short time) then you probably shouldn’t own a dog. Dogs are not disposable, and that’s what it feels like you’re saying here. When the going gets rough — don’t bother to take the time and effort to train or take care of your dog. Just dump him off at your local shelter and hopefully someone will want him. What do you think these families are teaching their kids about responsibility by doing this?

    I have had fosters that came into rescue because their people entered a seniors residence and could not take them, and in those cases I can’t fault them — that would be foolish. But when someone moves and their apartment doesn’t allow dogs, or they had a child and they don’t have time for the dog — those are the cases that make me angry. If you don’t have enough love or compassion to take care of your dog for life and you think that deserting your dog is okay because “they’re just a dog”, then there’s something missing.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      “Barkley is just a dog” was actually meant as a compliment to Barkley. I was referring to his reactive tendencies. He can’t rationalize what he does. He is “just a dog” – not good or bad. Just a dog.

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          I can see why you thought otherwise, especially since we tend to disagree a lot. But I always appreciate your comments.

  3. Good luck with Barkley! It sounds like he is just about the perfect Foster you could have.

    Both of ours someone gave up. And while being upset with the people who gave them up I am also thankful that I have the dogs I have.

    D.O.G. was given up at 10 weeks so CV could train him pretty much how he wanted. Though for the first year and even since, CV doesn’t trust him not to chew something up in the truck!

    Belle was another story. At almost 2 years old she was given up after 2 months because she got in the trash and scratched up a 9 year old boy. Well needless to say after 2 years I’ve thought about calling those people and saying thank you. I love my dog and I’m glad now that they gave her up.

    Yes it’s sad to see so many dogs end up at shelters but at the same time, hopefully they are going to find a better life!

  4. I really hate it when I see people adopt puppy’s because they are cute and then want to get rid of them once they are all grown up and not as cute anymore. Adopting a dog is a commitment that should require a lot of thought. If you don’t think you can commit to 12 or more years of having a dog then you probably should not take on the responsibility of adopting a dog. It is that simple! If you have a dog with behavioral problems you should do everything possible to get your dog help before giving up on him. There are amazing dog trainers that can work wonders.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I understand what you are saying, but I disagree. I do not believe someone should hang onto a dog just because dogs are a 12-year commitment. Life surprises us all the time. No, I don’t think “new baby in house” is a good reason to get rid of the dog. But what if the kid is too rough with the dog and the dog really is miserable? Or what if the dog is aggressive to the child? Or what if the child has bad allergies? These are just a few of so many endless possibilities.

      I really believe you have to put yourself and your family before a dog, and there are all kinds of extreme situations where it is best to re-home an animal.

  5. I’m very offended by how quick people are to judge others on this one.

    So someone moves to an apartment (or a state/province!) that doesn’t allow pit bulls — is it that people think that these people chose a floor plan over a dog? Because yeah, that would suck. But it might also be that the only places within a reasonable commute / in a safe area / that they can afford *and* have vacancies are places that don’t allow pits…. There are so many factors, and we don’t even know.

    And I think that people have to remember that people don’t always reveal the truth — if someone’s come on hard times, how comfortable do you think they feel divulging this to a rescue organization, a total stranger? Some people might, but I know I wouldn’t.

    Also, find me a new parent that isn’t completely overwhelmed with parenthood, and I’ll show you a liar. I have a dog, and I don’t yet have any kids. I got the dog at this time of my life thinking that (a) I’ll have time to train the dog before the kid comes, and (b) my personality and my marriage are such that we’ll be able to handle a dog and a new baby. I sincerely believe that, and I know many people handle being a new parent well enough to hold on to their dog, so I have that hope. But I *could* be wrong — as Lindsay said, life surprises us all the time. It is possible that I will be just too overwhelmed, and that the stress of the situation could threaten my physical health, my mental health or just the general well-being of the family, dog included. And if that does happen, then I hope I will have the clarity of thought — and I can swallow my pride enough — to know when the dog would be happier elsewhere, and to do whatever I can to find him a new home.

    Finally, suppose someone does get a dog, completely ignorant of what it takes, realizes it’s too much, and then gives the dog up, even though it’s completely their fault that the dog isn’t well behaved. For those of us who’ve researched dog ownership, this is the “unforgivable” case. It’s easy once you really know what it takes, and you know how to do it, to shake your head in disbelief at someone’s ignorance. But that’s true of any expertise, and the deal with expertise is that it’s expertise in virtue of the fact that it’s not common knowledge. There needs to be a more concerted effort on the part of dog “experts” (and I use that term loosely) to reach out to the “average” potential and actual pet owners, helpfully, kindly and non-judgmentally. If we don’t educate people (as opposed to simply rant amongst ourselves), then we are partially to blame.

    Sorry to get biblical, but I’m pretty sure this has all been said more succinctly:

    Judge not, lest ye be judged.

  6. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks so much for your comment, Christina. Very well said. I’m glad you can admit there may be some circumstances where you would give up your dog. I’m the same. Although I can’t possibly imagine giving up Ace or Scout (Beamer is another story!), I know there are all kinds of scenarios where I may face some difficult decisions.

    Good point that many times the real reason for giving up an animal is money. That is not always something you can plan ahead for. Family medical emergencies happen. People lose jobs. People lose spouses. These things are unfortunate and very sad, but they do happen. Sometimes it is not possible to continue caring for a pet.

    Another common problem is aggression. There is only so much a person can tolerate for their own safety, the safety of others and even legally.

    1. Thanks for the post! Sometimes I think you should change your blog name to “Keeping it sane…” or something like that.

      I too can’t ever imagine giving Tarski up, but I also can’t imagine what it would be like to *truly* go through really, really hard times.

      And yes, aggression is another issue that can change the game entirely.

    2. Thank you for your attitude toward this very touchy subject. I love animals very much and never thought I would have to give up one of my dogs, but then the worst thing happened. My chi/terrier mix who is aggressive & has bitten others in the past, attacked my 12 month old daughter (I am not using “attacked” lightly) biting her face and requiring stitches on her sweet little face. Now I am broken hearted. My heart breaks to look at my child who did nothing to provoke the attack (besides crawl) & my heart breaks for the dog that I have loved and defended for 8 years. To be honest many people warned me about my dog and suggested that I re-home her, but I tried so hard to prevent her biting, and it just didn’t work out. I struggle to get the image of the attack/incident out of my head, and I feel so guilty. I hate that it happened but I don’t want to put my sweet girl at any more unnecessary risk over a sharp dog that bites. Today is a sad day for me 🙁 I honestly don’t know if this dog can be re-homed?!? 🙁

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        I am very sorry to hear about your situation. I wish I knew what to say that could help you. Thank you for sharing your comment here with the rest of us.

      2. I’m really sorry for what you’re going through right now with your family. It must be heartbreaking. If it’s not too late, I encourage you to check out some of the training videos at . Somebody else mentioned them in this discussion, too. “Establishing Pack Structure With the Family Pet” and “Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs” could be helpful. The information might enable you to keep your dog and not compromise your child’s safety. I have their video on Pack Structure and it was a real eye-opener! I’m not affiliated with Leerburg, I just think their videos are excellent.

        Hope this helps.

  7. I am always surprised that people who have so much love for animals, have so little for people. I own a dog and he’s one of the best things in my life. He’s in my life because his former owner had the good sense to recognize that things had changed in her life in such a way that Bear would no longer be as happy as she thought he deserved to be. When she came to that realization, she looked very hard to find Bear his new and wonderful home – and she did. Recently I fostered another dog – and I hope that I can keep her forever but there are moments when I’m not really sure that my home is the best place for her. She needs a boatload of attention and she’s really just not able to get that in my house. I feel guilty when re-homing her even enters my mind, but I also feel guilty when I see her struggle and demand the every second of attention that Bear gets. Maybe she needs to really be in a one dog home? Maybe I’m not the person who can heal the wounds of her past. What if I lose my job? if I get sick and have to move? what if , what if? Do those folks that judge others so hard have no ability to look back on their lives and remember the awful what if times?

    You’re right about the just a dog part too. Even Bear, my beloved Bear, is just a dog. I’m really grateful that someone actually said that out loud. Thanks.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. Every time I foster an animal, I know it’s best to re-home that animal. I always think, well … maybe I should just keep this dog. Maybe I really am the best home for him. But in reality, I have always known there is someone out there who will love that dog more than I do. And like you, I want to make sure I am not putting too much stress on my other animals – a dog and two cats – who I have already committed to. The foster animal always comes second to my own animals, even though the foster animal typically needs more attention and more help.

  8. Would I consider giving up my dog(s)? I might under one specific circumstance that I hope I will never have to face (or at least not for a long, long time, hopefully well after our girls have passed away): if my husband was to die (let’s face it, we’re at an age where that thought comes to mind once in a while). Why? A few reasons:

    1) He works from home, while I am out of the house for about 12 hours/day with commuting and work.
    2) They each weigh about 70 lbs – too strong for me to handle.
    3) I would most likely move to an apartment – I would not want to stay in a house by myself.

    Believe me, I don’t WANT to think about this, and I hope to come up with other solutions (maybe I’ll be close to retirement age, maybe our mortgage will be paid off and I won’t have to work, maybe I can get a “roommate”, maybe I can keep one of our girls, maybe …)

    My heart hurts just thinking about this, and I hope I will never have to face this.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yeah, it’s terrible to think about. These things could happen to anyone. What if my fiance and I break up and I get sick or injured? Would I be able to physically handle a 70-pound dog? Would I be able to afford a dog and two cats? I hope so, but there are many unknowns. I like to think that certain family members would adopt at least one of my animals, but that is certainly something I can’t count on. There is always the possibility that I would have to find my pets new homes.

  9. I knew someone who had to give up her beloved Rottie. She was getting a divorce and could only afford to rent an apartment or townhome in her area, all of which had restrictions on dog sizes. Could she have looked outside that area? Sure, but that would have meant moving her kids out of their schools and away from their friends, something she wasn’t willing to do as they were also dealing with their parents’ divorce. As much as she loved her dog, she had to put her children first.
    She used craigslist and found a great home for her Rottie. She still keeps in touch with the new owner, who sends her email updates and pictures.
    And, she also has another dog, now. She and her kids all missed having a dog in their lives, so they brought home a little one that met the requirements of their landlord.
    They are excellent owners and love their animals completely. To have barred them from having a dog again because of the circumstances that forced them to give up the first dog would have just been cruel.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yes, I know of a similar situation with my best friend and her great dane. It is not always possible to find a place to rent that will take a large or giant-breed dog. I know that when you commit to getting a large dog, these are things you should be thinking about, but we can’t prepare for everything life throws our way.

      Thank you for sharing such a wonderful example. I’m glad the family eventually got another dog.

  10. THANK-YOU for this post. I think we are all too harsh to judge, and our harshness is perhaps inhibiting surrender of animals to shelters and rescue groups. Why would they want to go experience ridicule for surrendering their dog? They could, instead, dump the dog, or continue for it to live a impoverished existence on a chain. Sometimes, people rehome dogs because it is in the best interest of the dog, too.

    Dogs deserve a home that loves and cares for them and, if someone chooses to rehome their dog into a new home that provides more love and care, kudos to them.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Very good point! I didn’t even think of mentioning that. There are countless people out there facing very difficult times. It is not easy to admit financial defeat. It is not easy to admit you can’t afford to pay for your dog’s food or his vaccinations or a spay or neuter or whatever it might be. And when you have a family, I’m sorry, but the dog does not come before them. As a human, I can understand how it would be much easier for someone to keep a dog on a chain and give it just enough food, shelter and water to get by than to bring it to a shelter.

      One of the most difficult sides of working in animal rescue/sheltering is to be compassionate to the people who come forward with their animals. It’s also important to be very understanding and kind when suggesting to someone that perhaps the dog deserves better. People do not always seek help on their own, and when help is offered, it’s natural for people to respond with resistance.

      1. I just received a nasty email telling me that I shouldn’t taken in my most recent rescue dog (a dog surrendered because it’s owner is sick/dying), and it reminded me of this thread. The email I received pretty much said that I shouldn’t of taken the dog, and the family should’ve done a bunch of things to keep the dog.

        The young person who rang me, with a mother sick and dying, didn’t need me to chastise her for not doing x, y, z – she rang me to see if I could help by taking the dog, and I did. While I wear many hats in rescue, all I had to do to help her family, on that particular day, was take the dog for her.

        I feel quite happy in my decision to take the dog in question, but the attitude of this emailer was odd and… Well, I think I’m just posting here for a sympathetic ear. To me, the family that surrendered this dog did a brave (and probably ‘right’) thing for their circumstances, and no way was I going to scold them for their courage.

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          Ugh … yeah, I hear ya. I think you did the right thing, and I imagine the family knew they were making the right choice.

  11. This is an important topic and I can see it’s generated some good discussion. I was sort of “afraid” to check out the comments as I was the one you mentioned who put a dog down due to its biting issues. I know people are passionate about their dogs. I know people are passionate about their beliefs. But I’m not sure we have the right to always be so judgmental about the actions of others. I like your statement saying there is always a human side to the story too, and the human side always must come first.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I think that is a really good point. There is always human side to each story, and the human side must come first. Those of us who are (let’s face it) a bit nutty about our dogs sometimes have trouble putting the humans first. As much as I love my animals, I want to make sure that I always put my human family members and my human friends and myself before my dog and my cats. This is not always easy for me to do, but I know it is the right thing to do. I do not believe animals are equal to humans.

      1. brooklyn foster

        Saying it’s the right thing to do without any reasoning doesn’t say much.
        And to be honest, I was reading with an open mind until I read you say “I do not believe animals are equal to humans”?

        I am not going to get into a debate about this… clearly I disagree,except that in a way you are right, animals unfortunately don’t have as equal rights as humans….

        Your mentality is not any different than those who once viewed that people of color were not equal to white people or that women were not equal to men. Don’t say that is different, cause it isn’t . You can be sure that if they bit they would have been put down as well without tolerance or accommodation by those like you who believed they were supreme.

  12. Lindsay! Thank you! Holy crap!

    I’m going to go through and read all of the comments and discussion shortly as well, but, OMG, I had to stop for a second just to thank you for writing something so level-headed, so rational, so honest about the reality of surrender!

    I have worked in animal welfare for years, in the field, as an intake coordinator, in adoptions, you name it… And SO OFTEN I hear the most evil, small-minded words come out of the mouths of the kindest, most open-hearted people when talking about pet surrender.

    Thank you for your rational words. I hope we can have such an honest and rational dialog about euthanasia some time as well.

  13. I’ve read the blog and comments and I want to thank you for your rational point of view.

    I adopted a puppy a few weeks ago on a total impulse brought on by the begging of my children. I hadn’t any intention of getting a puppy, yet let my heart convince me otherwise. In the past few weeks I have been reading voraciously on dog training. I’ve spent, between adoption and supplies (and 3 different training books) over $400. I have rearranged my busy schedule to try really hard to be a good owner and make plenty of time for the pup. I’ve even gone home every day (difficult for me to do in my job) and walked Poppy. I get up willingly every night to let him out. My children and I have been trying so hard to love him and train him.

    Simply put: It’s not going well. Poppy thinks we are his chew toys. He’s not just chewing on stuff in the house, he is biting us. I have a feeling he is trying to play, but it hurts! I can sit or walk in my house while he is out of his crate without being attacked. He grabs my pants, robe, dress, socks, body parts…whatever…and will wooly it with his teeth. I’ve followed all the “tips” to try to get mouthing, chewing, biting reduced. It’s not working. My oldest daughter broke down and started crying yesterday because she said, “I’m not ready for a puppy, I guess. I can’t read a book or lie on the floor or do anything relaxing, ever.” My youngest daughter is in love with the dog, although even she is frustrated with him often. I sobbed most of yesterday because I am exhausted, frustrated and feeling like the most horrible person in the world that I would even consider trying to find another home for him. I made a very bad decision getting him and I know it. I work all day and have a lot of obligations, plus my kids are at their dad’s half the week. Their dad had told me he would keep the dog for some upcoming trips and has now backed out, due to the dog’s behavior, leaving me with the only option of boarding him (which I really can’t afford). I’m wondering if he needs to be with owners who don’t work outside the home. I am feeling guilty and defensive and have already field judgemental and condemning emails from people who became aware I was considering re-homing him. I have no intention of abandoning him, but am considering finding him a home that is a better fit. As a dog owner and a mother (my 8 year old will be devastated) I’m feeling miserable. I haven’t made the final decision, but I am increasingly unhappy and feeling like I don’t know what to do. If I had hours everyday to work with him, no doubt his “problems” could be fixed. I just don’t have that sort of time daily. Yes, I should have thought of it. I already know all the condemnations. I want my children and I to have a reasonably happy life and the pup is adding a lot of stress. I can deal with the potty training. I can deal with puppy proofing. I can deal with getting up in the night to take him out. I can’t deal with getting zero peace and always being attacked.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Well I know you’ve read a lot on training advice, so I won’t get after you too much on training. What I would definitely consider is finding a group obedience class to take him to once a week. I know you don’t have tons of extra money sitting around, but if you can swing it this would help considerably. My town has a nonprofit dog obedience club and the classes are $50 total for eight weeks. I think that is very reasonable. I know you may not have something like that, but look into it.

      And what this dog really needs is exercise. All that biting and bothering you guys is due to pent-up energy. Play some serious tug of war with him and take him for much longer walks or at least run around with him in a yard.

      Now, all that being said, you know what is best for you. Thank you for your honesty. I think others need to hear it. Yeah, you made a mistake. It was a bad choice to get a puppy. But you know what? Your life is still more important than this dog. I’ve taken in foster dogs (knowing they would be temporary), but I still returned them after a few weeks or day sometimes because they were not a good fit for me and were causing everyone in my house too much stress. So I know where you are coming from.

      If you do decide to re-home this dog, it shouldn’t be too hard because most people want young dogs or puppies. What you may want to consider in the future is adopting an adult dog that is already trained and is much less energy. Or perhaps you could get a cat if you don’t have one already. There are so many kitties out there that need homes. I don’t want you to feel like a failure or that you should never have a pet again.

      Best of luck.

      1. brooklyn foster

        Yeah- having read this reply it just makes sense that you would write this post- you are clearly confused and here trying to legitimize your actions and seeking approval from people who have given up their dogs because “your life is more important”.

        I hope the lady with the puppy didn’t give up her dog just because it is biting- chances are once it learns not to do that they will have a wonderful companion for a decade and they just don’t know that yet. When you have a baby it cries all night and doesn’t let you sleep but you don’t return them somewhere do you?

  14. I agree that there are sometimes very valid reasons for giving up a dog. Life happens and sometimes there is no other choice but to give up on a beloved family pet. However…I believe that the dogs that end up in shelters due to those situations are fewer than those who end up in the shelter for ignorance or apathy on the part of the owner. There are the people who fall in love with the way a breed looks without ever bothering to research the breed and end up giving their dog up because it behaved the way that particular breed behaves. There are people who, like you mentioned, fall in love with a puppy and when that little puppy turns into a big dog, they move on. There are people who get dogs ‘on a whim’ who know nothing about socialization, training, dog behavior and end up with a dog they can’t control. There are people who get dogs without the whole family on board and then they end up having to give up the dog. I could go on and on with the different reasons dogs end up in shelters…the point is, all of them could’ve easily been prevented with a little information and a little research on the owner’s part before getting a dog.

    My fiance and I got our dog (well, it’s really his dog…), a Doberman, after 2 years of research. Reading any dog book we could get our hands on whether it was specifically about the breed, about training, breeders, puppies, dog behavior…We looked online, researched dog training in the area…researched breeders in the area and met with many of them to weed out ‘backyard breeders’ before finally deciding on one and getting our girl. I also joined some online Doberman forums and definitely referred to them on multiple occasions to discuss issues we had with our dog. Even going to a breeder vs. a rescue or a shelter was a thought-out decision on both our parts. Neither one of us have ever had a dog before (he grew up with dogs but he never took part in raising them…I had never had a dog) and Dobermans are not recommended for first time dog owners. Knowing that, and knowing that we both had wanted a Doberman from when we were kids (what a coincidence), we decided to go ahead with getting one anyhow. That’s why we went to a breeder instead of a rescue or a shelter. With a good breeder, we had experienced Dobe owners who could help us when we needed help, who would always be there to answer our questions and we would have a dog that we knew the complete history of. We would know what training went into her, what socialization went into her and any mistakes we made along the way, we could look back and recognize. And…if we found ourselves unable to handle her, we had a family who would take her back. We were wary of getting a rescue dog because, to be honest, we were afraid we would mess up and have to give it back. Could we have gotten a perfectly well-adjusted, wonderful Doberman from a rescue or a shelter? Sure. But we could also have gotten one who had some minor issues (or even big issues), that as beginners, we didn’t know if we could handle. At that point, we were complete newbies to the dog-owning world. We were a little overly-cautious going into this whole thing but I’d rather be overly-cautious than ignorantly confident. Ignorant confidence is what, in my opinion, gets many dogs a place in a shelter.

    I don’t expect every new dog owner to spend 2 years researching before getting a dog. We did that because we knew that Dobermans aren’t recommended for first time dog owners and since we wanted to go ahead with getting one anyhow, we felt like we needed to arm ourselves with information. However, people have access to the internet these days and there is no reason for someone to not do even a little bit of research before getting their dog. I think if more people bothered to do a little homework before getting their dog, there would be fewer dogs being surrendered by owners in over their heads.

    Also…while I definitely do judge people based on their reasons for giving up an animal, it’s not like I see them as bad people. It’s just that they did something, that in my opinion, is ‘bad’. There’s a big difference between thinking what someone did is bad and thinking that person is bad That, coupled with the sadness I feel for their animal, is where the judgement comes from. And like I said…it depends on their reasons…there are certain situations where it really can’t be helped and it’s just an awful situation that couldn’t have been prevented. Many of those situations have been mentioned above in the comments.

    There are many situations where I think people just don’t take enough personal responsibility. We come up with excuses but they’re just that…excuses. The thing with excuses, though, is that they’re usually very reasonable. That’s the problem with them…we start believing our own excuses and we slowly give up our own control over situations and our own control over our lives because it’s easier to believe in our excuses instead…it’s easier to play the victim. We could’ve decided we wanted a Doberman, found the cheapest puppy available, got it and then been totally over our heads. Even with the decisions we made, the research we did and the help we had, there were certainly hurdles to get over. I can’t even imagine how frazzled someone would be if they decided, on a whim, that they wanted a Dobe puppy and got one from a backyard breeder without ever learning about the breed beforehand. Having a destructive dog who is ‘aggressive’ at everyone, who has too much energy, who is too big to handle…those are all reasons to give up a dog but they are also (in many cases) fixable or preventable with socialization, training, and education.

    There are plenty of dogs who do fine with owners who really don’t know much about dogs other than they love them. There are also plenty of dogs who don’t do fine in those situations.

    Also, something another commenter, LeeAnn mentioned in her first sentence is interesting to me. “I am always surprised that people who have so much love for animals, have so little for people.” I guess my reason behind that is because I hold people to much higher standards than I hold animals. I expect people to know better because they are capable of knowing better. An animal, as smart as they are, can never know the human world like we do and can never learn as much as we can. I tend to hold myself to a high standard (one that admittedly I don’t always meet – although I try) and so I hold those around me to a similar standard. I do have more leeway for others than I do for myself but I still hold other people to a far higher standard than I have for animals…

    Sorry I wrote a book. Being concise and to the point is not one of my strengths…clearly… 😛

  15. Lindsay Stordahl

    Haha! I had to laugh at your last paragraph. That’s OK that you are not concise.

    Interesting points about going to a breeder for a Doberman. My fiance and I would love a “powerful” breed such as a Doberman or a Rottie. Although I want to get a dog from a shelter or pound or perhaps an individual re-homing their pet, Josh would like to get a puppy from a breeder because he believes we would have more control on shaping the pup into the dog we want. I agree with him, and even though we are experienced dog owners it is still appealing to go to a breeder for a well-bred, purebred dog vs. a rescue. I totally understand your decision.

  16. My husband and I found an abandoned German Shepard mix at a gas station, on a very remote part of town. He was thin, and weak and had no ID on of any sort. We made a decision to bring him home, and make him part of our family. We promptly took him into the vet, and started him on all of his immunizations as well as de-worming and making sure he was in overall good health. He was a great puppy, he was obedient and was doing fantastically with “potty training”. He was being both crate trained, but also had an exercise pen in the middle of our living room. After his last parvo immunization, we were told by the technician that we were now allowed to take him to dog parks, and allow him to interact w/ other dogs. We were excited about this, as we figured that socialization was another healthy aspect of raising a dog and wanted to give him all we could. His first trip to the park was amazing! He had fun, and ran around being the 8 month old puppy that he was.

    Two days later, he was lethargic, vomiting, and NOT his usual self. 1 day after being ill and when he stopped wanting to eat his food, we took him into an emergency pet hospital, being that his vet couldn’t get him in for another day. They did exams, and labs and discovered that he did in fact have parvo. We were given quotes for both inpatient, and homehealth care options. We were not able to pay for hospitalization, so instead we took home with all the IV bags, and medicine required. We woke up around the clock, mopping up vomit and diarrhea, and infusing him with fluids and medications for almost a week. He wasn’t improving, but he wasn’t worsening either.. Soon after, we were contacted by the animal hospital with fantastic news. Because there was proper documentation of the parvo series being completed, the manufacturer of the immunizations was willing to pay for his hospital stay! His chances of survival were increasing, and we were ecstatic that he would get the care he deserved and needed.

    After 3 days in the hospital, he came home. The same dog was given to us physically, but he was not.. himself. He forgot all training, and started to become extremely destructive and somewhat aggressive with our 10 year old son. He started to disrespect boundaries that we had worked so hard to establish with him. We were very saddened and frustrated with him. We spoke to our vet about his change in behavior, and she said that we should continue to train him as we had when he was younger. So we tried. And tried, and tried… Because I returned to school to complete my nursing degree, my husband is the only one working, and after attempting to get quotes on obedience training, we realized that it was not in our means to do that. 🙁 We moved soon after, to a new home with a yard that he LOVED! A few weeks later, lights in our home starting flickering (chewed through electrical wires), he dug up and busted a water pipe, and destroyed everything he could get his paws on. I downloaded PDF files from the local humane society on how to correct this behavior and decided to make him and inside ONLY dog from now on. All the while, implementing play time, and walks… During dinner one evening we put him on the patio so we could relax while eating and to give him some time to do his business as well. For the 15 minutes that he was out there, and after 2 kong balls full of treats to keep him “busy”, he chewed through our cable T.V. wires. Now, all these wires and pipes are not on the ground left for any one to step on or anything like that. They are posted against the wall securely with staples.

    My husband and I decided that it was time to start looking for a new home for him. And we tried., but we had to be honest about his behavior, and that in itself made him a difficult candidate. After yet another round of getting into electrical wires, we called and made an appointment to relinquish him. It was an extremely difficult decision but after exhausting our options, we didnt know what else to do.

    There are people in our lives who are extremely angry with us, and other who understand. I am tired, of feeling judged and guilty for a decision, that while I feel horribly about, I feel I had to do. I felt defeated and began to resent the dog. I want better for him, and I just dont have it in me anymore. If that makes me a bad person, then so be it.. I just want some feedback, from someone who is a WIFE, MOM, student, and pet owner (..maybe in THAT order..? if possible?? ;()

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Well I am not a wife, mom or student. I live with my fiance and we have a dog and two cats. I can’t tell you if you made the right decision or not, but it sounds like you know you made the right decision for you, your family and the dog. It’s difficult for people to understand the circumstances of others.

      Personally, I will always put my fiance as well as other family members and friends before a dog. Our dog has never caused any major problems, however we have had several foster dogs that we needed to return to the shelter because they were not a good fit for our home. All of the foster dogs we returned were due to destructive behavior when left alone, so I do understand where you are coming from. Sometimes enough is enough.

      One thing I hope you will keep in mind is that there are millions of dogs out there in need of homes. Surely there is one that would be a good fit for you and your family. I hope you will consider adopting a dog or buying a puppy in the future.

      And thank you for giving that German shepherd a chance. It sounds like you saved his life at least twice.

    2. I am a wife and mom and I understand your position.

      My husband and I have always had dogs-separately in our single lives and together. Our last older dog died last winter at 15 years old. We currently have a basset hound, Stumps, who is almost 10 months old now.

      After dog-sitting for several friends’ dogs (all different breeds, sizes, ages) and seeing how much Stumps enjoyed the company, we decided to get another dog. We knew that we wanted a dog, not a puppy. Stumps is about as puppy as we wanted to go. We both work and while we have different days off and someone is home 4 days a week, we didn’t want to start again with puppy training and all it entails.

      We’ve had purebreds and mixes, small and large dogs so we were familiar with all kinds. Stumps is a purebred and we decided that this time, we would give a shelter dog a home. We knew it was going to take some time to find the right dog because we not only had to consider us, our work schedules, the kids schedules, etc., we had to consider Stumps. He has a very submissive personality (especially for a basset) and we didn’t want a dog that would bully him or run roughshod over him. We also did our research into acclimating shelter dogs into an existing family with dogs. We have a cat as well but the cat isn’t really a “hang out with the dogs” cat so I wasn’t as concerned about meshing personalities there.

      We spent over a month looking for a dog. We brought Stumps to visit several different dogs at several shelters, Humane Societies, Animal Care and Controls and pet store adoptions. We found the dog we adopted, Briggs, at a pet supply store adoption fair. My daughter saw him first and she and I went over to see him. He was a really sweet 7 year old Rottie mix. Most of the other dogs were barking and jumping and Briggs just looked around. We brought Stumpy over to meet him and after the initial sniffing, they seemed to get along fine. He was the first dog Stump hadn’t seemed cowed by. We stayed at the adoption event for over 2 hours with Briggs and walked him around with Stump, took him into the pet supply store and had him tested with several of their cats. He was great with the cats-actually, he ignored them.

      The problem has been him and Briggs. Since he’s been here, Briggs’ submissive personality has gone from submissive to cowed. We followed all the training directions for introducing two dogs for everything from feeding them to separate toys, separate spaces and separate eating…gradually blending them together. It doesn’t seem to matter. Stumps has cut back on eating and every time we bring them together, Briggs growls and snarls and Stumps cowers back. We’ve been working on continual training- with Briggs and with Stumps. Nothing seems to be working and I’m watching our Stumps regress by the day. He’s had accidents (and while Bassets are notoriously hard to train, he potty trained like a dream), he avoids going into rooms where Briggs is, even if he’s across the room, even while we’re there.

      I don’t want to Stumps traumatized in what was his home first. I’m considering trying to re-home Briggs to a home where he’s the only dog. I know that he’s older so will have a harder time and he’s a mix of breed that sometimes gets a bad rap. We really thought it would go well since they did so well at the adoption fair and He’s a sweet dog, but it just isn’t getting any better.

      I understand doing the best you can, putting time and thought into it and not having it work out, despite all your best intentions.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        What it comes down to is you know the dogs better than anyone, and you know what is best for yourself, your family and the dogs. Thank you for giving Briggs a home, and I know you will make the right choice, whatever that may be. I know it’s not easy.

  17. As much as I would like to imagine having another dog here, it’s something that will never be an option again, or at least until I retire and children have left the home and etc. There is someone very close to our family, that has been extremely hurtful and has made me feel as though we don’t deserve to ever care for a dog (or any animal for that matter) again. I know it sounds extreme, but then again so were her response/words to us giving up the dog.

    Anyhow, I appreciate the response. It feels nice to know that someone understands and can give us some positive reinforcement of some sort. Thank you for creating this blog. I couldn’t find anything like it.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Sorry to hear about the hurtful comments. I’m glad you found my blog. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  18. A little while ago we adopted a dog from the animal shelter. I grew up with dogs and was so happy and excited to get my own. Our four legged friend however has some very severe separation anxiety. We’ve been working at building up the amount of time we leave him, but the problem is both of us have to work. We can’t stay home with him all day…and I don’t have the $75-$175 extra a week for a dog sitter or doggie daycare. We really have worked with him a lot, done tons of training as well. I’ve spoken with a trainer about this issue too. We just went to the vet and after I honestly explained everything we’ve done so far she prescribed meds. I hope it works, but I’m still not sure that our home is the best for him. We live in a smaller apartment and he loves LOVES being outside. Not to even run around in but to just be outside. He spends 95% of his time while we’re at home outside on our patio (which is safe for when we’re home but wouldn’t be safe for him to be left there all day). We’ll go for walks and he’ll walk around, sniff, etc but then towards the end of our walk he’ll just lay down. He loves the grass. It’s also just my boyfriend and I in the apartment. And our dog gets so excited to see little kids. He’s gentle with them and ALWAYS wants to go see them. He is a people and a dog lover. I feel awful about the thought of having to bring him back to the shelter (when we adopted from this shelter they ask if you have to give the dog up you bring him/her back to the shelter for the microchip, safety, etc). He’s adorable and I’ve actually had many people tell me they wish he could be theirs. I still can’t help feeling sick about having to bring him back. I’m just questioning whether our home is right. I love him and I know he loves me. And this is extremely confusing for me. I’m concerned for his safety, (before the meds he dug so far into our floor he cut himself), one time we left him out in the apartment briefly to see how he did…and he climbed behind furniture (which took effort) and found power cords. He chewed them and I came home to sparking wires. His safety’s my biggest concern…but I just can’t help but feel I haven’t done enough. (Even though I have done countless hours of research on this).

    1. brooklyn foster

      When you leave him alone you can leave him in a crate, also try star of bethlehem and other remedies for separation anxiety. You would need to research who might be good as there are as many fake ones out there, but a lot of people swear by animal communicators.

    2. Lindsay Stordahl

      Emily, thank you for your comment. I’m sorry you have to make such a difficult decision. What did you end up doing? I think you ultimately are the only one who knows what the right decision is for yourself and the dog. If you have to bring him back to the shelter, they should be able to match him up with a family able to help him through his separation issues such as a family where someone works from home. And don’t feel like you are a bad dog owner or that you shouldn’t have a dog again. There are millions of dogs in need of homes. There is a perfect dog for you somewhere out there if this dog doesn’t work out.

  19. Thank you for this posting. Just having someone post this compassionate, thoughtful position has been incredibly helpful for me and for friends I’ve passed this on to who have struggled with their own dogs. Our dog was not an impulse adoption. He’s a pit mix, and we’ve had them before. We don’t have kids, so his desire to wrestle small children wasn’t a problem (though we’re working to train this out of him). We thought he would be a good addition to our home, and as a strong 2-yr old pup he would have fewer options. We didn’t anticipate his separation anxiety, his allergies, his fixation with crows, or how quickly he’d overheat on long hikes. Some of these things we can work on in training and maybe he’ll grow out of them, but others are unlikely to change.

    That means that with us, he’s not a cheap dog what with the meds and the training and extra dog walking while we’re at work. And he’s also not the backcountry companion we were looking for. The perfect home for him would have several dogs and an owner who worked at home, throwing the ball for him at lunch. Musicians and woodworkers welcome, because he can sleep through the loudest noises. It used to make my incredibly guilty to even think about finding him a new home, but now I feel a little more kindness about imagining re-homing him. We’re committed to him as long as we can keep him, but if our jobs changed, or if a kind-hearted drummer with a pack of dogs showed up in the neighborhood, I might have to think about what’s better for the dog. Thanks for the space to think freely.

  20. Thank you for posting this…I got a dog 1 year ago and my circumstances have changed so much recently. I had a more flexible job at the time where I could get home and take care of him. Since getting a new job, I have to travel out of town more frequently and have been clocking 11 and 12 hour days. With travel time, my dog is home alone for about 13 hours each day. As much as I love him and don’t want to give him up, I know that this is probably best for him. And I’m literally crying as I’m typing this because it’s killing me that I can’t take care of him the way that I know he should be taken care of. I contacted a rescue agency to help find him a good home, but it still breaks my heart every time I think about it. Sometimes, I feel like a bad person for doing this to him and I try to rationalize it by knowing he will be better taken care of, but it still hurts.

  21. What a great post and discussion. Everyone has their own opinion, but I do think that you should at least try to find out all the facts and circumstances before forming one. And also try to have an open mind. Every situation, dog, person, family is different, who are we as outsiders to say what is right and wrong (apart from breaking laws, animal cruelty, etc.).

    In my opinion, the “issue” stems from people taking in a pet without the proper knowledge and research about raising an animal. In an ideal world, proper checks and balances would be put in place before allowing someone to adopt a pet. Many rescue groups, shelters, and breeders do thorough checks and home visits to ensure their animals are going to good homes. However there are still pet store pets, puppy mills, backyard breeders… where unfortunately making a buck or two is more important than the well-being of their animals. Business is business, and unfortunately, as long as these outlets exist we will always be dealing with irresponsible pet ownership.

    I don’t think that someone who no longer wants their pet, regardless of what decisions they made (good or bad) that led them to have their pet, should be expected to keep their pet, or guilt-tripped into keeping their pet just to avoid being judged. If someone no longer wants their dog, then that dog is not in a good home and should go to a better one where it will be loved and taken care of. Sure, maybe that person shouldn’t have gotten the dog in the first place, maybe that person is taking the easy way out. But in the end, it’s about the dog and finding it a better home. We can’t stop people from rehoming their pets. But we can help the pets find better homes.

  22. Stumbled across this blog and needed to share. I got my Cody last fall just before Christmas. I was single with a great job and free time and have always loved dogs. He was awesome and we were instantly best friends. Fortunately and unfortunately however, I was about to meet the love of my life. I am late 20s and looking to settle down and so when I met my girl I knew she was the one and in fact we now live together. Only problem – she has a young border collie. Try as we might we could not get the two of them to be calm together and consequently our house was being destroyed and our nerves frazzled. Probably if we both had oodles of free time for training it could be done, but we are both professionals with 50 hr workweeks. So today I gave my Cody up. To a retired farmer whose dog passed away this last spring. I am told this fellow will bring Cody everywhere in his truck and have nothing but time for him, and I am so happy he will have a wonderful life. Still, I feel a hole in my heart. I will always love and remember my Cody. Giving him up was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. Having been in this position I will never judge another on doing the same as they are probably feeling as badly as I do. Thanks for listening.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl


      So sorry you had to part with your dog, but look at the wonderful life you gave him. He will be very happy and loved. I appreciate how you shared your comment here.

  23. Thank you for the post!
    I could’t trust our family to the commitment of owning a pet for the next 15 years. So I decided to foster instead and love it! The funny thing is some people give me looks when I say I will not adopt our foster dog. As if I were a bad guy abandoning her. ???

    1. Great idea to foster! Glad it is going so well. If you don’t adopt her, then you will be able to more easily foster another dog once the first one gets adopted.

  24. I’ve just found this thread and want to say thank you for your compassionate views ( with the exception of one poster who seems determined to blame the owners for not trying hard enough). We had a dog for 3 years and wanted a companion for him. We thought about it carefully, took advice etc. We took on a dog from a family member who was unloved and in bad shape. After 5 months he is in great physical shape again but we will not be keeping him. He barks and chases our cats and has low separation anxiety. I was made redundant and thankfully found a new job. I now work 20 miles away full time and we want to move into town to be close to the train station to reduce costs. Our new house will not hold 2 dogs and will be attached to a neighbour so a barking dog is unfair. I hate the fact that people will judge me as giving up. Like others I see our home life is stressful rather than calm due to a dog who is lovely but not quite the right fit. He’s not relaxed and is getting anxious. I think he needs to be in a house with no other pets. I’d love to think you understood me with kindness because I feel stupid having made what, with the passing of time and a rapid change in circumstances, was clearly a bad decision.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hey, you did the right thing for that dog at the right time. He needed to get out of the situation he was in. Now you can help him find the right home. If your home isn’t the right home, you are helping the dog by admitting that. Don’t feel guilty. You’ve done a very good thing.

  25. Thank you so much for that. Our dog walker who rescues dogs herself said the same thing to me today. I just feel bad about it. She said a lot of people rehome dogs but tend to keep quiet about it because of the haters. She herself has rehomed two dogs because of various reasons. Thank you for being so kind.

  26. I brought a Chion home from a local shelter. The dog is 1 1/2 yrs. old and I have no info on his history. He bonded with my daughter and growled and snapped when I tried to take him from her and even when I went near her personal items. She returned to Fla. and I thought things would be better. Later he growled and bared his teeth when I tried to clean him and really gave me a scare when I tried to pick up a bowl I had let him lick. Other times he would be sweet and loving. I took him to my vet for booster shots and she told me I should return him to the shelter and tell them about the behavior. I did so and feel very guilty – have always had good pets and taken good care of them. This little guy, although adorable scares me and I cannot afford to hire a special trainer. The shelter will not put him down and told me they would try to find a good home for him. I have learned a good lesson. I did not do my homework and never thought I would run into behavior problems because he seemed so sweet at the shelter. There are so many people with their different opinions. My vet kept telling me I was not a bad person for returning him because she knew I was upset but I can’t help feeling bad. Just want to say, it’s a good idea to do your homework when it comes to adopting from a shelter.

  27. I have just had to say goodbye to my gorgeous, loving, beautiful boy Duke, a black Labrador. My heart is breaking and I’m not sure this is something I will ever come to terms with. My husband and I already had 2 Labs when we added Duke to the family. We’d been trying for a baby for more than 10 years and finally we accepted that as a child would not be in our lives and we felt our family was complete with Duke. Just months later, a miracle occurred and I fell pregnant. We were convinced we could cope, there was no way we wouldn’t, we love dogs, they’re part of the family and that was that. Soon after my son was born it became apparent that coping was all we were doing. The dogs took a back seat and walking them all with a baby was impossible. Our family walks now became an argument over who was going to ‘get the dogs out’ whilst the other watched the baby and Duke never had grasped the idea of gentle lead walking, which made the walk more stressful than it might have been. 3 weeks ago, whilst my husband was out with the dogs, they were approached and attacked by a Japeneese Mastiff. Duke had his ear ripped apart and one of the others was bitten badly on his neck. My husband, trying to hold back 3 dogs and kick out with his foot to make the Mastiff release his grip, just couldn’t get control of the situation. After numerous visits to the vets, all dogs are now healing well, but it brought home to us, that 3 is just too many for one person to control. My husband is also due to go abroad next year for a tour (he is in the Army) leaving me home alone, I know there is no way I could cope alone. After a lot of soul searching and tears, I finally admitted to myself that Duke needs more, he needs more attention, better training and a safer environment to be trained in. My Uncle loves dogs, he lives in the country has a huge lake in his back garden and is an experienced dog owner who has just lost his Lab to old age. It was agreed to let Duke take a ‘holiday’ there for a couple of weeks. The holiday went well and today my husband took him to stay forever. Duke is still part of the family, but I know I will miss him so much. I am not an irresponsible dog owner, Duke was not an accident or a whim, our situation changed and I had to consider his needs ahead of my own selfish love for him. My eyes are red raw from crying for the past 4 days and as I sit here, I am trying to put on a smile for my baby son, but all I can think about is Duke and pray that he doesn’t wonder what he did wrong or miss us too much. Today is without doubt the hardest, most emotional and gut wrenching day of my life so far.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Sorry to hear about this, but I know you did the right thing for Duke. Sounds like he will be very happy and loved, and that’s all he could ever ask for. Thanks for making the right decision, even though it was so hard. Know that dogs are very adaptable, and they do not hold these types of decisions against us. Duke is getting plenty of hugs and playtime, and I’m sure he will thrive.

  28. i have recently given up my puppy, because I’m moving.. I’m only 14 and i was wondering what all you people have to say about me wanting to go visit her? Her new owner says i can whenever i want, but I’m not sure if it will be a good idea, i don’t want her to think I’m coming back to take her home, but i really really really want to see her… :'( i cry nearly everyday, its been 3 weeks :'( she’s like my baby :'(
    please help?

  29. Lindsay Stordahl

    I think it’s OK to go see the dog. Dogs adapt well, and I’m sure your dog is happy in her new home. At the same time, she will also be happy to see you. Try not to make a big deal when you initially see her. I know it will be hard, but try to just ignore her for the first five minutes until she calms down a bit. Then you can pet her all you want. And when you leave, don’t make a big deal then either. Don’t even say goodbye. Just go.

    Those types of actions will help your dog feel more comfortable in her new home.

  30. Thank you for the blog and all the comments. Last spring I had to rehome my standard poodle. He went to the perfect home for him that has another hyperactive standard poodle to run with and a very active family. Previously we had researched the breed that we wanted and found him on Craigslist needing a new home “because of being beaten up by a bigger dog”. Having obedience trained a Great Dane and Rottie in the past, this didn’t seem to be too much even though I had trouble with my right hand but had been getting better after surgery. Once we got home, everything we had been told about him became highly suspect. He was much more difficult than either the Dane or Rott. My hand got worse and he terrorized my elderly Aussie. After consulting 2 “behaviorists” and taking him thru an obedience course, we decided that he needed more than we were physically able to give. So we rehomed him – very successfully. He’s doing great.
    I had to have more surgery on my hand. It’s getting better but is still not back to normal. Then my Aussie starting showing signs of getting worse. She was 12 yrs old and had been with us 11 of those years after we rescued her. I couldn’t bear to see her so distressed. Her liver enzymes were high and the liver was terribly enlarged. As a nurse, I knew what she was suffering through and could see the pain in her eyes. We let her sleep peacefully. It’s always a very hard decision but one that was made out of love for our dog.
    The next week I saw an ad for another Standard Poodle that was said to be less active, already housebroken, walked well on leash, and had started obedience training. We met and brought him home. He is as we were lead to believe and is my shadow. I look forward to many years of growing old with him by my side.
    It was very hurtful to see the reactive words of some people including the new home of our first Standard Poodle although she says she is happy that he’s there. There are much worse things than rehoming a dog. We have rescued a Pit/Sharpei cross that someone just left at a campsite who turned out to be a wonderful therapy dog, one that when brought to the vet was so big a mat that the sex couldn’t be determined who turned out to be a loving little schnauzer cross and is loved and pampered to this day, and a seizure prone yorkie who only had a long life because of love and care of multiple physical problems.
    Am I the perfect pet owner? No- not by a long shot. If a dog of mine would be better off with someone else, I will not be so stubborn, possessive, self-righteous or afraid of rebuke that I will not seek what is best for the dog and for my family.
    Thank you for letting me vent. We don’t all have to agree. We do have to live with the decisions we make and those that are thrust upon us.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your Aussie. Thank you for sharing some of your stories with us. People can be very cruel to one another. All we can do is trust our own hearts to do what we know is right.

  31. Ok, I really love my dog Koda. He only seems to like my mother and I (I’m 14). My little brother is a year old and Koda is always snapping at him and my little sister who is 11. Also, whenever I walk him he try’s to attack pedestrians and other animals. I’m so upset right now because my mom is giving him up and he’s going to a foster family for 6 months until he finds a permanent home. I am in tears because I truly love him and this is the last time I’ll ever see him again. I wish I was old enough to keep him on my own. Hopefully he will find a loving family that loves him for him. I love you Koda.

  32. Lindsay Stordahl

    I am very sorry to hear about your situation. I wish Koda the best. It must be very hard for you, and I hope you hang on to all your good memories of him.

  33. I am faced with having to rehome 3 of my 5 dogs because the rules of how many dogs I can have, have changed.I have two dogs that are resource aggressive with other dogs, but not humans.I just cant chance a child getting between them and another dog.So I will keep them.One is a 13 year old lhasa aphso that several health conditions that will make him not suitable for adoption so ive made the decison to have him euthanized at home.How could i expect a total stranger to take on an 13 year old dog that has chronic ear infections in one ear as a result of being attack by another dog years ago and suffers from skin allergies so much so that he chews himself raw and requires costly grooming and medications.Other two are suitable for adoption.I had already decided that as my 5 dogs passed away I would not get anymore dogs before this rule was changed.Sadly I in a situation where I cant move and even if I could other places only allow one dog.At least I can keep two dogs where I presently live.I have contacted several rescues and I have lined up several homes for two of my sweet dogs and seeing which ones would be a good fit.Plus requiring they supply references and fill out adoption paperwork and submit to home visits.If I cant keep them the best most loving thing I can do is find them good new forever homes.

  34. Lindsay Stordahl

    Sorry to hear you must give up two of your dogs. That must be hard. I am sure you will find them wonderful homes.

  35. Once you have given up a dog yourself, you will hesitate to judge another for doing so! I adopted a young lab/pit mix who seemed sweet, healthy and well-adjusted in the shelter, but had one incident of reactivity to another dog. The shelter agreed to let me take the dog to a behaviorist for evaluation of this issue, and return him if the eval was negative.

    I went to pick him up the next day after his neuter surgery to take him to the eval, but found he had not had the surgery because he developed kennel cough. I knew it would be hard for him to get well in that cold, damp, medieval shelter with stressed, barking pit bulls all around him, and I just could not leave him there to possibly be put down, so I took him home to get well. However, I could not take him to the behaviorist for evaluation until he was neutered, and he could not be neutered till he got well! My vet found he also had worms and demodex mange, a highly depressed immune system and poor digestion, so I was racking up expenses quickly. At home he had separation anxiety, and he took forever to housebreak, despite my constant efforts – if he wasn’t in his crate or on a leash attached to my wrist he had accidents all over the house.

    The behaviorist and I concluded that he had probably lived only in a backyard and not been socialized, because he had tremendous leash reactivity to other dogs (called a “spazz” by one onlooker) – but who could blame him- whenever we went walking, some off leash dog would miraculously appear and, without any warning or provocation, jump on him and attack him! I suspect they sensed his weakness, but it made everything worse. My nerves were constantly on edge, not the best thing for him. Still, he was a very sweet, if undersocialized, dog, and extremely endearing towards people. When he was finally well, I took him to the shelter’s vet for his neuter surgery, but had to take him to my own vet later because the incision was very badly done and got infected, so it took 2 weeks to heal! Still not housebroken, still terrible separation anxiety, and still no dog-to-dog evaluation by the behaviorist, a month after bringing him home.

    When he was well and finally had the eval, he was deemed not truly dog aggressive, and I went into intensive training work with him for the leash reactivity, as well as continuing housetraining and working with dedication on the separation anxiety. Soon after that, we had a long-scheduled weekend with friends and their friendly male Lab in a rental cabin at Tahoe. We had plans to introduce the dogs a week earlier, but a storm came up which prevented that. Then we tried to introduce them on a walk outside the cabin the way the behaviorist had instructed me, but a loose neighborhood dog got involved and turned it into a shambles! Was this whole thing star-crossed, or what? Indoors, the goofy, lovable-but-dumb-as-a-rock Lab kept pestering my dog – Bucky – to play, and (much smaller) Bucky just wanted to find some peace, but the Lab just wouldn’t leave him alone, even though he meant well.

    Finally, Bucky growled at him, and then the Lab’s owner – my friend(!?) whacked Bucky on the head because he had growled at her Lab!(and yes, we had a long confrontation about this later) At that point, poor Bucky crawled under the dining table to find some peace (I thought he was safe there), and was doing ok until the Lab brought over a toy and dropped it right under Bucky’s nose, like a gift, then backed away. I was worried about this, so I reached down with a sudden movement to pick up the toy and Bucky bit my hand – leaving 2 bleeding tooth holes! He may have tried to grab the toy as I reached for it and gotten me instead, or he may have just been pushed to the breaking point, I’ll never know. I do know that I should have skipped the trip, or given poor Bucky a safe, quiet place to be away from the other dog.

    here was never another incident like that, even though he growled briefly at me one time later, but I never felt fully safe after that – I could never – at bottom -trust him not to bite me, even though he became the sweetest dog and it felt like an irrational fear. It was for me hard to bond fully. I cried buckets with the behaviorist, who worked for a Humane Society, and who suggested that I consider euthanasia. I just could not do it, because I saw so much potential in Bucky and had to give him a chance at a good life, and I knew I could not pass this problem on to anyone else, where a child or other innocent person might get hurt, so I kept him, and invested a fortune of time and money in working with him.

    Over the course of 9 months I succeeded in doing away with the separation anxiety, curing the leash reactivity and teaching him doggie manners with other dogs, getting him to enjoy being with other dogs and vice-versa, and of course – finally reliably housetraining him. I got him through 3 levels of dog-training classes, where he went from being the dog behind all the mobile barriers (so he couldn’t see the other dogs) to the one with the blue ribbons. The behaviorist thought he was a great dog. He knew 20 commands and some tricks. He was eager to please, quick to learn, very cute, a great hiker and retriever, very social. But there was still that one growl later on. And he still could get very excitable sometimes, hard to calm down. The problem was me – I could never fully relax. And I was exhausted from all that I had done, and the management I still sometimes had to do, even though most of it was not necessary any more.

    I am easily stressed, a little high-strung myself, and needed a dog more like my old lab/bullmastiff, who was as grounded and calm as they come, totally reliable, and I didn’t feel like Bucky was the best match for me, even though he seemed to adore me. Still, I would have have kept him forever, even though we were going to be moving out of state to a place I was afraid might set him back, undo my hard work. But our very dog-experienced dog boarder whom we boarded him with whenever we went away (and where he had a pack of wonderful dogs to hang out and go on hikes with, plus a large extended human family), knew our story and my struggle over what was best for him, and for me, and my despair, and offered to adopt him.

    I struggled over this decision for 2 months, crying buckets of tears again, but I could see that this was the last piece in Bucky’s socialization and a great home for him – the chance to really master dog manners and comfort with other dogs, a person he already loved (as well as her teen children who adored him), who took him out on hikes every day, lots of company, a familiar home – she knew all about the bite and his history – and her temperament was calm and grounded, the opposite of me. I thought this would be so much better for him then possibly feeling uprooted and insecure in a new environment that might set him back. I bit the bullet and gave him up to her, along with paying for a year of Pet Insurance, and a notebook I made with all his information and training. It was second only to putting my former dog to sleep, in terms of pain and grief. But I did feel it was the right thing – I kept in touch, visited him a few times, and felt confirmed in my decision, although I missed him and still do to this day.

    My friends all know the true story, and I never heard a judgmental word from anyone, but to this day I still tell new people he was a “9-month foster dog” because I am afraid of their judgment. (I did actually officially foster – successfully – a difficult dog for 2 months before adopting Bucky, and that wore me out, too!)

    Now – 4 years later – I want to adopt another dog, but I feel extremely cautious about it – to the point that I cannot make a decision! I know the pitfalls. I know how rescues can say one thing when the dog is another, or the dog may come out with new behaviors in a new home, and I know I cannot recover from having to give up a dog again, if it came to that.

    As much as I know – and I feel like I earned a PhD in dog behavior, training and rehabilitation – I do not know how to be really sure that the dog I see in the shelter or hear about from the rescue is really as it seems. I have decided to adopt an older dog, and one who is as “bomb-proof” as possible, but I don’t know how to be sure, and would appreciate any advice. I’d love to have the relaxed, happy relationship again that I had with my beloved first dog, and I am simply afraid.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Wow, that is quite the story. It is inspiring. You really did amazing work for Bucky and ultimately did what was best for him. As hard as it was to give him up, you should feel so proud. What a difference you made for him.

      For choosing your next dog, take your time. Visit with multiple rescues and shelters. Speak with the foster owners of the dogs, watch the dogs interact with people and pets. Ask specific questions such as “have you ever seen this dog growl?” or “how does this dog respond if another dog approaches her food?”

      Ask for references from past adopters. Call them up rather than email them. Ask about the adoption process and how helpful the rescue was with the initial adjustment period.

      Also, make sure there is a standard trial period of a week or two so you can make sure the dog is a good fit. Don’t feel bad if you have to return the dog during that time. The trial is there for a reason. You deserve the right dog for you.

      Best of luck, and make sure to enjoy the process!

  36. What great advice! I’ll remember to check this if I venture out again to adopt! Wish I had known all of this earlier. Thanks – this is something everyone who decides to do so should know..

  37. Please do not criticize as this is a very real situation for me.

    We adopted our male dog about a month ago from someone in a large town living on the main street in an apartment… clearly not an ideal situation for a dog. He is a doberman by the way… 7 months old.

    We already have 2 dogs.. Marley, a 2 year old lab mix and Karma, a 1 year old bulldog mix. He gets along with them wonderfully, although Karma is the alpha of the house and is quite bully-ish at some points.

    The situation I am faced with is that my boyfriend and I are a young couple living in a 2 floor apartment..more like a condo. But I plan to go to veterinary college in the fall and for that I will need to relocate 1.5 hours away with my boyfriend. At this time, my boyfriend will be leaving Marley with his mom since it is his dog and she spends half her time with his mom anyway for the 2 year period.. we will probably take her periodically on weekends or something.

    I am now wondering if I will be able to care for 2 dogs on my own while my boyfriend is at work during the day as he has a 2 hour commute to and from work each day so he will not get home until the evening, probably 7ish or so.

    I am worried that I will not be able to care for 2 dogs, or focus on my studies with them playfighting in the background or having to walk them both. Karma is very calm on her own but with another dog around she is very hyper.

    We have had another family come and take a look at him and he was loving them right up.. kisses all over. Yay! Everything was going so smoothly but I would not let them leave with him upon first meeting as I wanted them to make an informed decision about adopting him. They have another dog, 3 children and a house… but no yard. A 30 ft run instead.. which has me worried. Are they going to leave him out in the run all the time with his feces?

    I have been litterally sobbing myself to sleep every night. I am so utterly attached to this dog it is unbelievable..he is so empathetic to my emotions as well. The other night he heard me crying and started crying as well..

    I feel like I am also splitting up the pack and all of this is really upsetting to me. I know Karma enjoys having him around but I also feel that my relationship with her has suffered since he is always demanding my attention and Karma is more of a loner type.

    I do everything possible with my dogs. My life revolves around them. I’m also worried that 3 dogs may be too much in the future when I want to have a baby? I am really trying to make an informed decision here.. i love my dobbie very, very much and am terrified that if I give him up, I will be regretful and depressed.

    HELP! 🙁

    1. Thanks for your comment. I know there are others faced with similar situations, and it will be helpful for them to know they are not alone.

      I personally have never given up a pet, so I can only imagine how difficult it is to think about that possibility. I wish I had some advice for you, but all I can really say is you have to do what is right for you. Only you and your husband know what the right decision is. And once you make the choice, try to accept it knowing you did the right thing. Don’t feel bad.

      If you decide to keep him, think about how you can realistically manage the two dogs. Maybe the spend a little more time in their crates. That’s not such a bad thing. Maybe you hire a dog walker or take them to dog daycare.

      If you do decide to re-home your dobie, just take the time to find him a home you feel good about. I adopted my Lab mix Ace from a woman who wanted to re-home him to someone who could give him a better life. I’m sure she had some worries about re-homing him, but my dog has the best life ever with me!

      Best of luck to you as you make your decision.

  38. I really don’t know what to do about a year old dog I adopted from a rescue a month ago. He barked when I met him, but I thought that was normal. Then he snapped over his food, but that was just one incident. In retrospect, after the first incident I wonder if I should have taken him back to the rescue.

    Then he jumped and snapped at my daughter, who is home from college. It’s sad because over the past month my mother has become attached to him and hates to think what will happen if I return him to the rescue. I’ve emailed the rescue to see if they can take him back depending on what the animal behaviorist says.
    This afternoon have an animal behaviorist coming to evaluate him.

    I just don’t think I can trust this dog – there seems to be something off about him. It’s heartwrenching, and I feel terrible for thinking about it, but I don’t know if I should keep him or not. Right now I have him muzzled.

    Anne, what a story – thank you for sharing that. You did so much for Bucky – more than anyone would.

    Chelsea, so sorry you are going through this. You obviously love your dogs.

    Lindsay, thanks for the advice. Wish I had thought about that before adopting my current dog.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      What did the behaviorist say?

      I would definitely return him to the rescue if he is not the right dog for you. You have the right to feel safe around your own dog, and there are so many other homeless dogs that could be a better fit.

  39. I have had my fog for a year now, ever since he was 8 weeks old. In a week or so, I am sending him to live with my parents for a while because the hours I work are getting longer and longer. In some ways, I feel as if I am dumping him, but I know it is the best thing for the both of us. When I got him, I was in grad school and had plenty of free time to spend with him, but now that I am beginning my career, my time is limited.

    Reading the comments in this thread, I think people underestimate just how unpredictable life can be. Sometimes it is truly best for the pet to be sent away if the owner can no longer give it the attention it needs. I have a friend who will be giving up her dog to her parents as well because the demands of her job continue to increase. I think pursuing success in your career is another good reason to re-home a pet. For me, it is easier bc I know this will be temporary AND my dog will be with my family, all of whom love him just as much as I do.

  40. I can’t believe I’m actually typing this because I never thought this would cross my mind. I’m 26 with an English bulldog that will turn 1 in February. I’ve had him since he was 4 months. I love him & call him my son even when people laugh at me but I don’t care but that’s truly how I feel. I knew it would be a big responsibility having a puppy but some days I just get over whelmed mentally and financially. My s/o works longer hours that me so I have a majority of the responsibility. I’m not trying to complain because I’m the one that wanted him, but now I think I’m man enough to admit that I wasn’t ready and yes I do blame myself. From the ruined furniture, to the vet bills, to making time for him after a long day of work/not enough sleep, to getting mad at him when he doesn’t listen to a command is just mentally draining.
    In the end I know I’m not gonna give up on him because I cannot imagine living with out him but today was definitely close. I don’t care about the people that “judge” people that give up on their dogs because just like you’re looking down on someone for it, there’s something that you do or can’t do that someone will judge you the same way. It’s my money, time & life that no one is gonna live but me but on Judgement Day the only man I will be answering to is God, not someone on a blog for a decision I’ve made.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thank you for leaving a comment here. I hope things are going better, and I know you will continue to do what is best for you.

  41. I truly understand what you are saying, I have 3 dogs and have mourned 2 sofa sets in the past 4 years, thousands of dollars in vet bills but in the end the puppy or just re-training stage will end and you will be rewarded!

    our pug was a two year old rescue and a little devil, it took consistent commands with her but we conquered! We have never treated her any differently than the big guy. Same rules and commands to keep some consistency “not easily done because she had some really bad habits to break.

    our 4 year old cane corso (who is a massive giant), “well” my hubby brought him home to me as a 6 week old pup (oh yes a puppy “NOT IMPRESSED”)! So much training involved and sooo…much damage – our home was in constant disfunction for two years, it payed off “he stopped a burglar from entering the home. This boy needed serious surgery on both hind legs at such a young age, not cheap (we’re talking over $10,000.00), however he deserved it even though it hurt our bank account!

    and now for our third little beast…we found her at the river on boxing day this year, somebody dumped this poor skinny gal and left. She had frost bite, was terrified and starving, (apparently the campground keeper saw her roaming for a few days). It took us 2 hours to finally catch her, it was an interesting drive home because we knew nothing about this dog except that she’s a dobi. X and is around 8months- to a year old with signs of abuse. I certainly did not want another dog “NO NO NO”, but here she is settling in and yes another couch down “OUCH” so here we go again with training just when I thought it was over!!!

    So my point is you are almost there, I know the patience runs thin (believe me I’m a major hot head), but in the end your pup will settle and you will have no regrets. If you feel that you truly are at the end of your rope just make sure you really screen her new home and do the best you can!

    Good Luck

  42. I am debating giving up a rescued dog that my husband and I adopted from a local shelter a few months ago. She is 7 years old, and was surrendered by her previous owners because of the expense of her upkeep. She is half Border Collie and half Whippet. Her behavior in the context of the shelter was very subdued, and we were assured by the shelter staff that she was a very low-key dog who was friendly with other animals as well as children. The reality was quite the opposite. She is very aggresive towards other dogs and children that are similar in height to her. This is a problem because everyone in our neighborhood has children, and we are about to have a child ourselves. She seems initially like she is very friendly, but when children go to pet her, she snaps at their hands. Sometimes there is little to no warning, not even a change in body language. I understand that this is motivated by fear- she is overwhelmed and so she strikes out. She is also hot-and-cold with our cats. She wants to play with them, but when they get close to her, she snarls and bares her teeth.

    The stick that is breaking my back is that she is now reversing her house training. I am home all day- and I take her to the dog park for an hour or two daily- but she has recently started urinating outside and then defecating as soon as she comes in the door. I stay outside with her and I generally insist that she “potty” and reward her when she goes, and we go out many times a day in addition to her socialization time at the park. She has also developed this half-snarl that she gives me when I give her a command she doesn’t want to do. It’s like she thinks she knows better than I do. I tell her to go potty and she snarls at me, goes into the yard, does a half-hearted lap, fake-pees (you know the gesture- the squat to get me off of her back), and then runs back to the door, goes inside, and promptly poops. I just don’t know…

    We are also realizing that her needs in terms of energetic play are more than we can provide for her as people living in a downtown urban neighborhood. She needs a place with lots of room to run, and someone who has lots of attention to give while she is outside (she has severe separation anxiety). She also needs to be somewhere where she is either the only dog, or with dogs that are willing to be submissive. So, as you can see, we’ve given this alot of thought.

    I am reluctant to relinquish her, because I know she is a sweet dog at heart and is super affectionate when we’re just hanging out, but as much as I love her, I am worried that I doing her a disservice as an owner. Thank you for your post, because I am , in truth, a little disappointed in myself that I can’t seem to provide the home she needs. I hope that once our children get older having a dog will be something that provides joy instead of frustration in our home.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Sorry to hear about your situation. I hope you can find peace with whatever decision you make. Only you and your family know what is best, and I know it has to be hard either way. You should feel good about yourself for giving this dog a chance.

  43. It helps to know that other people have struggled with this issue. I’m wrestling with the decision of whether or not to find a better home for my American Bulldog. She’s a wonderful dog, 3-1/2 years old. She loves every soul she’s ever met, two-legged and four-legged.

    She has her CGC and earned her TT title with a perfect score from the American Temperament Test Society. Now that she’s outgrown her puppy stage she’s finally getting easier to live with. Most of the time she’s asleep on my feet under the desk. I really couldn’t ask for a better dog.

    The problem is my life situation has changed for the worse. People tell me she’s happy and I’m being too hard on myself, but I think she deserves much more than I can give her. She has some basic obedience and really took a shine to Agility. She’d make a great Therapy Dog. I feel guilty for not taking her out to do things like training, agility classes, hiking, outings…

    I have ME/CFS, ruptured disks and arthritis- basically no energy and everything I do is painful. My husband used to do all the household chores and errands; he supported me physically and financially. When we were together, taking care of the dog was no problem at all. But he was killed last year by a distracted driver. Now my family consists of this dog and three dear, aging cats, two of whom are frail and sickly.

    I must ration my energy expenditure. I can take care of the animals every day, but have little energy for anything else. Some days it’s a choice between walking the dog or cooking supper. If I have to go to the store or take out the trash, I can’t walk the dog.

    We live in a mobile home park without a yard. She can relieve herself on the deck as needed, but daily walks are essential for her happiness and well-being. I’ve been hoping that things will get easier as I get over the shock and grief of losing my husband, but if anything my health has gotten worse.

    This dog is so smart, willing and athletic! She could excel at anything, but I don’t have the energy to do anything with her. Walking her should be a pleasure but I come home feeling exhausted, so instead it feels more like a chore. I feel so sorry for her when she doesn’t get her walk. The guilt isn’t doing me any good.

    Finances are an issue, too. I feel like a horrible person even thinking of a member of my family in terms of dollars, but there it is. Premium dog food and pet insurance are expensive, and my income is now next to nothing.

    I’m crying as I write this. I truly believe “Pets are for life!” But I can’t help thinking that my life would be more livable without her, and she would be better off in another home.

    When she boarded at her trainer’s house for a week she didn’t miss me in the slightest; she had a blast! She could probably adapt to a new home without feeling abandoned, but what if I’m wrong? What if a new home doesn’t work out and she ends up in a shelter somewhere? Or something terrible happens to her?

    Am I being selfish to keep her, or to give her away? All I have to do is pick up the phone and call her vet and trainers. They’d help me find her a good home. But I can’t bring myself to do it…

    Sorry to go on so long. Thanks for listening.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      So sorry to hear about your troubles. I wish I could help. Only you know what is best to do here, and I trust you to make the right choice for you and your dog. She loves you no matter what!

      1. Well I tried. Our trainer thought she had found the perfect family for my bulldog- clients of hers: a stay-at-home mother with a 7 year-old boy and 3 year-old twin boys, and an 18 month-old Boxer. Big house, big yard, lots of family for her to love and to love her back. Really lovely, caring people. They wanted a playmate for their Boxer and the husband has long wanted an American Bulldog. It broke my heart, but I gave her to them. I cried for days. We decided to do a week-long trial, then evaluate how everybody was doing before making a final decision.

        I gave her up on Wednesday, which was the 2nd anniversary of my husband getting killed. Loss upon loss… grieving so hard, I felt for the first time like I might not survive. The next two days without her were so much easier for me physically, but so much emptier emotionally. I couldn’t stop crying.

        I kept telling myself it was best for her, and best for me. But I felt both hollowed out inside and like I had a phantom limb. Then on Friday, when I was wondering how much longer this pain could go on, the mother called to tell me the dogs were not getting along. My dog was absolutely wonderful with their children: patient, gentle and kind the way bulldogs are supposed to be. But their boxer was growing more dominant and aggressive by the hour; she was afraid for my dog’s safety. She brought her back to me that morning. My spirits suddenly lifted.

        She came home happy to see me but very subdued. Saturday, for the first time ever she refused to get in the car; she must have feared I was going to leave her again. Today she’s back to normal. We played, we walked, she’s asleep with her head on my feet… and I’m exhausted.

        I’ve decided to accept that we have an imperfect situation and make the best of it, because I can’t survive giving her up again. She’s been taking care of me much more than I realized. And even though she deserves a better life than the one she has with me, she seems contented. I hope I’m not just being selfish.

        Thanks for listening.

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          Well I think you have your answer! I see no reason why you shouldn’t keep your dog. I’m sure you will have your challenges, but now you know it’s best that you two stick together 🙂

  44. About 1 1/2 yrs ago, I adopted a female pomeranian from a local shelter.
    I was told she is 7 yrs old. My friend is a volunteer there & is a passionate animal lover. I have another dog that I raised as a puppy, & I also have a cat that I rescued.
    The problem I seem to be having recently is that the pomeranian starts whining/ crying about 7 AM & doesn’t stop until I get up & take her out. My other dog has always been fine with me getting up later & has never had this problem.

    This behavior has occurred over the last several weeks. Nothing has changed in the environment. The other night she started this behavior at 4AM. I got up & took her outside & ofcourse she peed & then had to take the other one out. I put them back in the kitchen, where sleep in their own beds. I had to have special gates made so that the pomeranian couldn’t jump over them!

    the pomie continued to whine/cry for another 2 hours! until I finally got up again
    because I really couldn’t sleep at all with her crying/whining.. By then I was exhaused & drained.

    She did this again recently, but started at 7AM. I am at my wits end to deal with this, I am a senior citizen who I think bit off more than I could handle I am sorry to say. I asked my volunteer friend if she knew anyone that could take the pomie,
    as I don’t feel I want to continue & I feel so guilty about it. But I also feel miserable
    when I don’t get my rest.

    I also feel that my family will think less of me as will this volunteer friend who I have
    asked for help. All in all I feel really badly & feel that I ought never to have taken in this sweet dog. My friend says that I should give the dog a Benadryl & that would help her. I do love the dog, but I feel very upset about the situation. Do you have any idea why a dog would present with this sporadic behavior?
    I would appreciate any suggestions. Thank you.

  45. I am having unbelievable guilt now after giving up my dog to a shelter over 20 yrs ago. I had beautiful Kuvasz that I had since she was 6 weeks old. I was young at the time eighteen when I adopted her while I was still living in my parents home. I went to college and then got married and could not take her with me as we could not rent a place that would allow dogs. I was upset at the time and use to visit her as much as possible and go over after work to my parents to walk her as much as I could. Eventually my father felt in fairness to the dog we should send her to a no kill shelter hoping someone with a big farm and yard would adopt her. I did not want to give her up but felt I had no choice as my father kept saying this was best. I called the shelter a few days later and they indicated she had in fact been adopted. I just worry about her life, how did she make out and did it work out ok… was she able to adjust and did she live out her life or was she sent back to a shelter. Given her breed, I worry maybe she had trouble adjusting. I know this is crazy 20 plus years later but I feel terrible guilt. She is obviously dead now. I have had other dogs since that I adopted. Now I know more on what it means to be a responsible dog owner…I am angry at myself for not being more of a dog owner then…and I pray she made out ok and everything worked out…It stinks…I had a dream about her I have cried, lost sleep etc since. I currently have wonderful dogs 3 all adopted. Am I being ridiculous ?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I am sorry to hear you had to give up your dog, even though it was a long time ago. I have never given up a dog so I can’t fully understand what it must be like. I hope you can find peace knowing you tried to do the right thing at the time by finding her a more appropriate home.

  46. My partner and I adopted a rescue mutt one month ago, and we are having this discussion currently — whether it is the right dog for us after a month, and whether we should give her back to the dog rescue organization. We’re really divided on the issue. Mostly, I’m not sure how much effort and time we put in before we determine that the dog is just not a good fit for us, and that we should surrender her. I am surprised at myself and embarrassed that we are in this situation — it was NEVER our intention to give up a dog. We really felt committed for the long-haul of 10+ years, but neither of us had experience with rescue animals and we are coming to realize that our rescue dog is very different than dogs who have been raised in loving, stable homes since puppyhood.

    The dog is about 6 years old, and we have discovered that she has really awful separation anxiety. In 3 weeks, she has chewed through two dog crates (cutting herself in the process), and also escaped the crate on two other occasions. We were told that the dog was housetrained, but she has accidents 3-7 times/week. She never does it when we are watching, so we can’t punish her for it – and she does not seem to signal at all that she needs to go outside. She just gets up, walks out of sight, and then we discover the pee/poop a few minutes later. It’s been going on for a month — we have good days and bad days — but it is taking a huge toll on our stress level. I spend my days worried that I am going to come home to a dog with a bloody muzzle again, and I am really at my wit’s end with cleaning up the messes.

    Furthermore, the dog seems unmotivated when we work on training. We’re using a positive training approach, and we’ve tried so many treats — cheese, freeze-dried liver, and even pieces of chicken — and the dog will only sit/down about 3 times before wandering off and laying back on her bed. When we go to obedience class, she is so distracted by the other dogs and stressed out that she does not focus on us at all, no matter what kind of treat we have. Same thing when I try to run her through a few exercises when we are out on walks.

    In some ways, I am frustrated with the rescue organization that we worked with. The woman had over 30 dogs on her property. She assured us that for 2 people who work full time, this would be an easygoing dog — however, I have realized that the rescue probably does not really have a good sense of each individual dog’s issues, given the large number of animals she is caring for. I don’t’ know if the rescue agency was not aware of the anxiety and housetraining problems, or just mis-represented the dog to us. I have contacted the rescue agency to let them know we are having a hard time, but she is not very responsive.

    The dog has a sweet disposition — has never jumped, shown aggression, etc. but she also does not play at all. She is not interested in toys, and I cannot get her to play with me at all (though she will chase other dogs at the dog park). It seems frivolous, but I find it really disappointing, since playing with dogs is one of my favorite things to do.

    We’re really trying to do right by the dog — we’ve enrolled in obedience school, taken her to the vet, we’re considering doggie Prozac, and we keep her on a very regular schedule with walks, give her a Kong when we leave, turn on the radio, etc. — but we’re concerned that this is a dog who can never really be left at home alone all day. Since we both work full-time, it’s not an option for us to have a dog that can’t be left alone. We can’t really afford to take her to doggie daycare every day. We’re concerned that the dog is not very trainable, given her age and the fact that she does not seem to be treat-motivated.

    We feel like if we are going to surrender this dog, it is better to do it sooner rather than later; however, I keep hearing that it can take 8-9 months for a rescue dog to fully settle in. I’m just not sure how long we wait to make the decision. My partner is convinced that we should give the dog up and adopt another dog that we could work with more easily, maybe a younger one with more energy and playfulness. I am really torn. I love dogs, but life with our new mutt is nothing like what I imagined. There is no balance between the hard stuff (cleaning up messes, dealing with the anxiety, constantly worrying if she is OK while I am at work, etc.) and the fun stuff (playing, walks, companionship, successful training). Sometimes, I think my partner is right – we should give up this dog and let them re-home her into a house with other dogs or people who stay at home all day, and we should get a more trainable puppy who we can work with from an early age to shape into a great dog for us.

    Any thoughts on our situation??

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      So sorry to hear of this stressful situation! I think you know the answer, and I am not saying I do. You have to do what is best for you and your husband.

      Here is how I see it from the outside:

      This dog is causing a ton of stress, not a little stress. This is taking the fun out of owning a dog.

      You did not get the kind of dog, personality-wise, that you asked the rescue for.

      I am assuming there has been a fair amount of property damage.

      It is possible to work through the separation anxiety, but it takes a long time, and some dogs need medication. Also, both partners need to be up for the challenge.

      I have written an ebook on separation anxiety, if it interests you.

      Also, for what it’s worth, I have also returned quite a few foster dogs after I found out they had bad separation anxiety, so I can relate. I felt guilty, but I knew they were more than I could handle, which was hard to admit. No one judged me, though. Here is a post I wrote about returning my foster dog, Morgan:

      I wish I had an easy answer for you. All I can say is you are a great dog owner. If you want to keep trying with this dog, I wish you the best. You have a big heart. On the other hand, everyone deserves the right dog for them, including you. If this dog doesn’t work out, there are so many others available.

  47. I am a parent of two beautiful dogs who I have babied for years. My health has declined tremendously and during multiple hospitalizations, I realized their qualify of life has changed. I love my dogs (one I have had for 7 years, the other a rescue tripod dog for 4 years). I am grieving like I am giving away my child. The 7 year dog is going to live with my daughter so the pain of that dog is lessened with him still being in the family. The tripod dog (who I love so much) is going to a forever home tomorrow with a large year and a new brother (a lab) and they know about my health condition. I hope I can still be a part of his life but it probably is not a good idea. This has been so difficult and I have cried so many tears I am a zombie. Please be companssionate to others who make difficulty decisions….

      1. Thank you. I met my tripod’s (Teddy) new FOREVER HOME and the pet owner works at the VA and had just lost one of her dogs (died). I feel so much better now meeting the new parent. I evaluated my health situation, what my baby needed, and POOF…..he has a new wonderful home. So many tears shed but I feel blessed tonight.

    1. Yea I agree. I am facing a similar situation and I have cried a river over it. Its horrible and people should try to understand

  48. We are thinking of rehoming our 4.5 year old dog.
    I find it interesting that so many people think that having a new baby is ‘not a good reason’ to rehome an animal. Not all situations are black and white.

    We got Ozzie at 13 weeks old. He had been bought along with his sister by a woman for her children but apparently she was in the process of moving house and then couldn’t take them.

    He was a difficult pup, having terrible separation anxiety and toilet training issues. We took him to puppy classes, spent ages training him and things improved. By the time he was 2 he no longer soiled himself when left alone and seemed much happier. I loved him to pieces and never thought I would want to give him up, even when he was up barking at 3am or pooing all over my kitchen every time I went to work.

    However, when I fell pregnant last year he became frantic. He would lie at my feet whining for hours, follow me around constantly so I was tripping over him, would bite his feet and his collar and was anxious and fretful for my whole pregnancy.

    When my daughter was born I was completely unaware of what hormones would do to me. I immediately became incredibly protective of my child. I wouldn’t touch the dog or allow him anywhere near my baby, I couldn’t bring myself to go near him. I felt as though he was an outsider ruining my family unit.

    While the majority of this passed after a month or so, it’s damaged my relationship with him. I don’t have the time to spend playing with him now, my daughter requires a lot of attention and by the time I have seen to her and done my housework etc and eaten myself I have no time. The weather has been terrible and I refuse to take my 5 month old out in howling gales and torrential rain to walk the dog so he only gets a short walk in the morning and evening when my husband is home. I imagine it will be even more difficult when I go back to work.

    Ozzie is a very social animal. He needs alot of attention and is miserable as he isn’t getting it. He’s also become very territorial with the house since my daughter was born and is constantly barking. She is a terrible sleeper and he wakes her constantly barking which leaves me at the end of my rope. He gets under my feet when I’m trying to carry her, resulting in me almost falling several times.

    I feel as though all I do is yell at him and he is miserable. I feel as though he would have a better life with someone who would have more time to spend with him, to cuddle him and to walk him, perhaps a family with older children.

    It’s easy to sit there and judge that having a baby isn’t a reason to give up a dog. It isn’t a reason in itself but all the things that go with it can make the relationship between dog and owner strained and can make an overwhelming situation even more difficult.

    1. I admire you for having the courage to admit your dog might be happier in a different home. This is so hard to accept. Congrats on your new baby, and best of luck to you with everything. You know what is right for you, your family and your dog.

  49. I am having an awful time trying to decide what to do with our eight month old Great Pyrennes-Great Dane mix. She has attacked our 12 year old Wheaten terrier several times. The first couple of times were about food, which we corrected by keeping them apart when feeding. But today she attacked the terrier for no apparent reason. When my son tried to break up the fight, she bit him. I do feel that he shouldn’t have gotten between them, but now our terrier is needing stitches to repair the hole in her leg from the fight. Our vet feels we should find another home for the puppy, as she has strong alpha tendencies and we have small children in the home. She has never been aggressive towards people before. I am heartbroken and trying to find some way to keep her. The folks we got her from said they will take her back and they are very kind people, but I really, really love this dog. I can’t bear to part with her, but I am worried for my children.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      So sorry to hear of the issues you are having with her! How sad that you have to make a hard decision.

  50. I recently had to give up both of my dogs. Had them both since they were born, one for 7 yrs and the other 4. I’m broken. Its been only 4 days, and I cry day and night. I feel so guilty. Just thinking about them being at the shelter laying there in the kennels not knowing what’s going on, wondering where I’m at makes me want to throw up. I feel so guilty. Its so hard to deal with.

  51. I have a 3.5 year old shepherd mix, Ash. We got him as a tiny puppy, neither of us really having any dog raising or training experience. As he’s aged, his appearance, personality and behaviour has made it abundantly clear that he has a great deal of Belgian Malinois in him.
    For those unfamiliar with the breed, Mals are working dogs, most often used by police and military. They are incredibly smart, driven, and generally not considered a house pet. We had no idea what we were getting into. At my worst, I get so angry at the adoption agency, but how could they know? So we have ended up with a beautiful, intelligent, sensitive, high energy dog who has been systematically destroying our house.
    We both work, and Ash must be left home during the day. Our attempts at crate training failed miserably – he escaped from locked crates many, many times. If we ever made the mistake of leaving a window open, he would get out. He has chewed up our entire foyer (where we used to have to create a makeshift enclosure), killed a French door, chewed holes in our carpet dozens of times, and ripped a huge chunk of molding off our bedroom door after he accidentally closed himself in and panicked. Not to mention his occasional decision to shred any papers left out.
    We have increased his exercise, focused in practicing obedience and teaching him tricks, having high energy play times in the evenings and even breaking up the work week by taking him to doggie day care once a week. We can’t afford to take him every day, otherwise he would be there. He still is causing damage, with no rhyme or reason. We suspect there may be a touch of seperation anxiety there, too.
    After one week several months ago when my husband was away, Ash was being excessively destructive every damn day, and we finally broke. Started contacting rescues, Mal breeders for advice, etc. Only one rescue responded, and they had no space. So we sort of went into a holding pattern, keeping the option of rehoming him in our minds but not really actively pursuing it.
    We have tried so hard. Given more chances, tried different things. Finally, this Friday, after another hole in the carpet my husband had just recently patched (we’re now out of extra, and must re-carpet the entire upstairs), we have made the final choice. We will be taking him to our local, not-over-crowded Humane Society on Monday, a day we have both taken off. My husband spoke with a very compassionate woman on the phone, and she was supportive and understanding.
    I am heartbroken and feel so incredibly guilty. I know he will not understand why we aren’t coming to get him, why he has to stay at this cold, impersonal shelter for who knows how long. I love this animal, and he is my responsibility, and I have failed him. But I know that he needs an experienced dog owner, someone who is home most of the day and is keen to take up flyball or agility or something else he will excel at. Perhaps someone who will be there to make sure he doesn’t get into anything that could harm or choke him.
    I am dreading Monday. I don’t think I will be able to stop crying.

  52. I have a 5 pound maltese who will be 7 years old in September, we got him 7 years ago when he was 3 months old. He was my first child, Then I had my first human child 4 years ago and my dog took the back seat, I know have another child who is 1 and a third child on the way in September. I don’t think I can handle a new born a toddler and a 4 year old and the dog too, I want to give the dog to a person who can give him the attention he deserves and use to get before we had kids. One minute when I’m frustrated with the dog ( If he makes in the house, or bites my ankles or barks while the baby is sleeping) I think I have to give him away but then when I think about really doing it, I get to sad and can’t do that to him, myself or my 4 year old who will also be heart broken. I just found a maltese lover from my groomers who wants to take the dog, she said not to rush and I can wait till I have my 3rd child in september, I;m so torn and dont want to make the wrong decision. Do you have any advise?? Tina

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      TIna, what did you end up doing? I think you have to do what you know is best for you and your family. Only you know the answer. I know you love the dog and if you ended up finding him a new home, I know it was a good home.

  53. i love my dog from a rescue and don’t want to give her up but i have a chronic illness (CFIDS/fibromyalgia) that is getting so severe i have no energy to walk in my house (smal), to brush my teeth, to bathe to grocery shop, and i keep hoping i will get well, but i keep getting worse. i live in az where there are no services or help for people with cfids unless you have a lot of money or no money at all or people to take care of you which i don’t. but i don’t want to give her up. i love her. i am on total disability, totally debilitated.

  54. i forgot to add that i have money to spend on her, have spent money on her but have no help for myself cause i had no children am not married … never expect i would get worse and worse. i hoped i would get better. there is no cure for cfids.

  55. Hi, I have a 7 yr old and a 4 year old daughter who is developmentally delayed so she acts like 2 instead of 4. She is very needy. I just barely got her potty trained a month ago. Now here I am taking on a puppy!!

    I got an 8 week old female Yorkie puppy on the 6th at noon. As soon as we left the house, she started crying non stop. She cried all day and night (actual tears) So I contacted the breeder at 5 am cuz I was at my wits end. She wouldnt take her back. then offered me $100 less to take her back. My husband got mad and said no let’s try keeping her cuz he didn’t want to be out any money plus for the past 7 years I have desperately wanted a puppy. He said ” You begged me for a puppy. Now I got you 1 so DEAL WITH IT”!

    I tried. But I kept thinking she deserves better. I put her up for sale that night. I hadn’t slept, my patience was gone. I found an amazing lady who wanted her but was out of state. I wanted her gone ASAP because I knew I’d fall for her adorable teeny self. Well the lady came down a couple days later and by that time I had fallen and hard. I felt bad for the lady driving so far so I went ahead and gave her the puppy.

    I am the one crying non stop now. I hear and “see” her everywhere. I even miss her pooping and peeing all over the house. I just want her back. My 4 yr old is heartbroken and my husband is mad at me cuz I made him fall in love (his first pet) then gave her away. BUT I also know I did right cuz the lady has an actual house with a deck and fenced yard. She also has another Yorkie puppy and no kids in house. She is also well off money wise… I want the puppy back so badly but I know I would crush the lady’s heart and its super selfish on my part. I can always get another dog. But it wouldn’t be HER.


    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m sorry to hear of your situation, and I wish I could help.

      I hope that at some point you are able to welcome a new dog into your life when you and your family are ready. As hard as it is to let go of your first pup, realize that you did the right thing by finding her a good home. I know that doesn’t make things any easier.

  56. Lindsay, I did give him up yet, holding out till I have the new baby in September and am hoping it won’t be as bad as I think it will, we will see…

  57. Lindsay, I found your site when I was researching separation anxiety as we are hoping to prevent it with our new dog.

    13 years ago, we had to find our maltese-pom a new home, as he had severe separation anxiety. We received a noise complaint, which needed to be resolved with a month, and trained him as per the behaviouralist’ instructions. We also drugged him, put him in doggy daycare and found another puppy companion. It wasn’t working, and it wasn’t fair for him to be so young and increase his dosage.
    I still mourn him. I’m sure he had a fabulous life with a family who was home more often during the week, but my sadness is still there.

    Our second dog was fine.

    We are hoping that we have chosen the right shelter dog and as much as it seems cruel, ignoring, separating and desensitising him (he’s been here less than 24 hours) will make sure that he is here forever,

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m sure it will work out great. So sorry to hear it didn’t work out with your previous dog, but so happy to hear you found him a good home.

      Enjoy your new dog!

  58. Ive had to give up a dog once and it was the hardest decision that i have since regretted. The situation i was in wasnt an easy one my boyfriend whom i lived together had to leave the country because of immigration issues and i didnt earn enough to keep the apartment. I had to move back with my family and my dog was very agressive towards certain people in my family.

    He was a very sweet dog whom i grew up with and learned alot. Looking back i would have worked harder towards keeping my dog and working it out. But i have so much understanding of peoples situations now. I am working into adopting a dog to open my home too since i am more stable and mature now.

    Years after people still ask me about my dog and i just had to explain my situation. It breaks my heart thinking about what i did but i cannot undo my decision and i just have to live with it and make another dogs life better.

  59. I had to give up my chihuahua/terrier mix up today and i feel awful. When i was 6, i got adopted and was returned to foster care when i was 10. I had told myself i would never put any person or animal through that because of how painful it is. But while i was in class and at work, he would bark excessively and neighbors complained to my landlord. My landlord said she would evict me if i didnt get rid of him or fix the problem. I am unable to afford a more expensive apartment so i couldnt get evicted or id be on the streets. I tried everything: i left tv on for background noise, put his favorite blanket and toys in his kennel with him, took him to training classes, and tried one of those collars that squirt dogs with water when they bark. Nothing worked. Finally my landlord said i had only one week to get rid of him so i had to. All i could do was find the best shelter i could. The shelters in my city are all bad so i drove 3 and a half hours away to get him to a good, reputable, no kill shelter in Fort Worth. i feel heartbroken and torn but i had to choose between giving him up or having no home. I already miss him so much.

  60. I’m bracing for this very situation, hoping it does not happen.

    We euthanized a pit bull cross spay for aggression issues earlier this year. There is less guilt in that versus the thought that someday I might get stuck with my stepdad’s Jack Russell terrier should he predecease me and leave Jack behind.

    Jack is a typical terrier, and I’ve already been proven to not know how to cope with terriers. He barks incessantly, but the thing he does that is unforgivable is his potty habits, or lack thereof. To be blunt, he goes anywhere except outside. He’s already ruined a carpet in my mom’s house and is now gleefully ruining a brand-new wood floor. He also pees on my mom and stepdad’s bed. My stepdad has made no attempt at changing this dog’s elimination habits. If I’m dog sitting for the day, I’ll toss him outside and leave him there for at least 3 hours. He cries off an on while outside, wanting to come back in. My stepdad will let Jack back in as soon as he gets home, and he immediately craps or pees on the floor.

    He’s about 5 years old. I sincerely hope he is long gone before my mostly healthy stepdad passes. Because I will take the dog to the pound. I cannot pick up piles of poo and mop up rivers of pee because of a bad back. Can’t have him be an outside only dog because of his incessant barking.

    Until I was faced with the possibility of being stuck with this dog, I was one of those people who was disgusted by surviving family members who jettisoned deceased family members’ pets. My mom’s cats are safe with me, as is her elderly Chi/poodle, Sheba. But Jack… I just can’t.

  61. I’m currently going debating giving up my puppy. He’s a sweet very hyper puppy. The problem is I’m a college student and my parents are very good at taking care of him. So its very hard and painful. I don’t want him to be upset and depressed I’ve heard that happens when dogs are left.

    Are there any suggestions you could give me?

  62. I am also currently dealing with this dilemma. I adopted my ~2 year old dog about 8 months ago. She is everything I have ever wanted in a dog…smart, athletic, snuggly, and beautiful. However, she also has major reactivity issues that the rescue did not prepare me for. I have tried so hard to learn everything I can about dog beahavior to do things right for her. We have tried obedience classes, agility, and reactive dog class, and she only gets increasingly less comfortable. She was recently ill for 3 months with most likely a tick-borne illness, and it took a second opinion and many blood tests before she finally got on antibiotics. When she got better, I spent the last of my money on private lessons with a KPA certified trainer, who I hope can fix the mess left by the other trainers. I am having a flare up of my autoimmune disease and I had hoped to go to my doctor as soon as I have enough money, but the trainer wants me to take my dog to a behaviorist for meds. I was going to wait until after i got my own health taken care of, but my housemate told me today that my dog had nipped hard at two people within the last couple of weeks. I made an appointment with the behaviorist ASAP, but I’m afraid my pup needs more help than I can give financially. I am totally committed to training and exercising her, but I simply cannot afford all the services she requires. The trainer said that she thought we were a good match and that it wasn’t time to think about rehoming yet. I can’t face the thought that I might have failed her, but I don’t know how much more I can give her and if what I’m doing is even helping her 🙁

  63. I’ve been wrestling with emotions of abandonment, failure, and depression since giving up my shelter dog. My husband and I got her very suddenly after a move. She was calm, according to the shelter. I even observed her several times before adopting her. I read all the research, books, and articles. I felt that I knew what was best. When we brought her home, I knew instantly I made a mistake. She was very energetic and full of mischief. Nothing like I was told. My husband and I live very mellow lives, she had the opposite. After a few days and getting as much advice as possible, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. She seemed sad, she wanted what we couldn’t give her. I contacted the shelter about a worker who wanted her before we adopted her. This worker was a vet student who fell in love with her. The shelter passed my number along and it was apparent she wanted and could give our dog a better life. I cried for hours the day we gave her up. That was nearly 3 months ago and i still feel pain. I cry and I have trouble sleeping. I wonder if I made a mistake, if she’s happy, and how life would be with her. The new owner was very supportive and suggested that things happen. She didn’t want me to give away her bed because we deserve to have a dog, when the time is right. I don’t know if I can ever get another dog. I don’t feel deserving and I don’t feel right. I thought I knew what I wanted. I feel like the worst human being that ever existed. I could careless if I’m out $200 dollars, it’s the fact that I failed as a person. I don’t know how to move on. This is impacting me and my relationship with my husband. How did you cope? How should I cope? Please help me!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      So sorry to read your story. That must have been so hard. I can’t possibly know how you’re feeling because I have never been in the exact situation.

      What I can say, though, is that I have fostered several dogs that did not work and I had to find them different foster homes. I too felt like a failure, but the truth is not every dog will work out with every person. Lots and lots of people return shelter or rescue dogs after a few days or a week because it’s just not a good match, and that’s OK! That’s why a lot of organizations offer a two-week trial period and then you can return the dog if it’s just not working out.

      Dogs often act very differently in a home than in a shelter, and the shelter workers and you had no way of predicting how the dog would be in a home setting.

      You did a wonderful thing by finding the dog a new home. I’m sure she is very happy and loved, just as you still love her.

      I hope when you are ready you will consider adopting another dog. There are so many dogs in need of a home, with so many personalities and energy levels. I know there is a “right” dog out there for you, and you sound like a very good dog owner.

      And of course, if you need help for your feelings of depression, don’t hesitate to get the help you need.

  64. Please tell me that I’m doing the right thing. My wife and I have a 4 1/2 year old yorkie poo who is energetic, loving, and has a magnetic personality, but we just can’t keep him anymore. We have tried every avenue to give him the love and attention that he needs, but it just isn’t working. My wife and I had our first child 9 months ago and it has eaten up any and all of the free time that used to be reserved for him. I work full time and am usually away from home for 12 hours a day. My wife works part time and brings the little one to her parents to watch her most days. When we’re home, the baby demands a lot of the attention and we only have a little play time with him and the occassional walk. This leaves our little guy at home, by himself for most of the day every week day and (even though we try) we can’t bring him most places on weekends. This is a far cry from him being the center of attention for most of his life. We celebrated birthdays, went to dog parks, the dog beach; he was a big part of the family. And, not that he isn’t a big part anymore, but his role within our household has changed drastically and he is not doing well with it. His behavior is getting worse because he is no longer the center of attention, constant mischief when he isn’t being paid any attention and when we are home now and want to play with him he seems uninterested and depressed. I have tried really hard to stay up later with him to cuddle, and that has helped a little, but this isn’t the life that we want for our little guy. I’m tearing up as I write this, but I found a family for him that has three kids and other pets. They’ve wanted another dog for so long and through my research of them, they seem like a good fit. I don’t want to let him go, but we have to for his sake. Meeting the new family and watching them interact with my little guy just about killed me and I know it will be hard when I give him up for good. Please no negative comments, this is hurting me just to write this.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hi James. It sounds like you are making the right decision, as hard as it is. While I think you could make it work if you kept your dog, it also seems like you believe you are helping him by finding him a new home. You know your dog best, and I’m sure you’re making the right choice.

      I have never re-homed a dog, so I can’t imagine how hard it is. I adopted my dog directly from his previous owner, though, and it worked out really well. He was loved and cared for in his first home, and I appreciate that. As in your situation, the previous owner just knew she wasn’t spending as much time with him as she would like. My dog adapted just fine to life with me, and he is my world.

  65. I have two Labs, females ,sisters, one black and one brown. Three yrs old, 4 in Dec. my husband dosen’t like them cause they dig holes in the yard. Screams at them. They also eat chickens if they can. I heard of a program where wounded soliders really love having companion dogs. Have you heard of it? I saw it on evening news. I would like to contact the organization. I live in WA. state. thanks, Pat

  66. I work 40 hour weeks and go to school full time. I got my dog at 16 I’m now 20. My dog is becoming too much to handle because I feel he isn’t getting the right attention he needs and he keeps acting out. He has to stay in my bedroom when I’m not home due to my housing arrangements, but lately he has been pooping on my floor, peeing in the floor, peeing on my bed when I’m sleeping or not home, and pooping in my bed. I love this dog and give him all the attention I can when I’m home I mean I share my bed with my baby, but this is becoming too much to handle and I don’t know what to do.

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