Adoptive mother: Broken hearts

This past weekend I crushed my 7 year old’s heart…and my husband’s…and mine too while I was at it. It was quite the productive weekend.

This heart bashing event was the grand finale of my son’s begging for a dog which went on for months and intensified as the weeks passed by. I felt massive guilt with this dog begging because I knew a pet would be good for my son as he’s an only child – it would be a sibling for him. However, I really did not want a dog. I know dogs are cute and sweet and you get attached to them and I hear you learn to ignore the mess and inconvenience but frankly I didn’t want to deal with the walks, the poop, the mess in the house, the scrapes on doors and furniture and basically all of the added responsibility and expense that dog ownership brings. I was finally gaining some freedom back in my life from years of raising a young child and I want the ability to be able to just go somewhere when I want to go and not have to come back to let the dog out or arrange for a dog sitter. And unfortunately cats and any other dander producing, furry friends which might be less impacting are not an option for us due to my allergies.

So weeks and weeks of my son’s begging finally caused me to cave and I said I’d be open to a dog under the stipulation that the dog was a smaller, non-shedding dog. And we began our dog hunt.

The whole dog search experience brought back memories of our adoption search for our son. I know this sounds crazy but it’s really not that dissimilar a process although on a much less expensive and shorter time scale. Like adopting a child, adopting a pet is an overwhelming process for a new pet owner as there is so much to learn and decide. First you need to research breeds of dogs you want which isn’t much different from deciding the race of your child. There is also much to learn about the differences between shelters and other rescue organizations you choose to work with much like differences I found in organizations in adopting a child. You feel good about certain organizations and not so good about others. How the organization operates is super important as well and how they handle placements that don’t work out. Also, after looking around and waiting for awhile your criteria for what you will accept in your animal (or adopted child) begins to change. So after several weeks of looking around for a non-shedding, small dog which are hard to find I realized that perhaps it was more important and cost effective to have a shedding dog with a mellow personality from an organization that we felt good about.

So after picking the organization we liked, which primarily accepted well tempered rescue dogs, we chose to visit their most recent batch of dogs. That’s when we met Luke. Luke was a mixed breed shedding dog and couldn’t have been sweeter. We got to visit with him at a neighborhood home in a peaceful environment and take him for a walk. We all got good feelings about him and liked him very much so we decided to give it a go.

Once we got Luke home it became very clear that having a dog was going to completely change our lives. Our son was no longer the center or our world – now this dog was. We learned right away that Luke must have been cared for at his shelter by a female as he followed me around (the only female in the house) like a shadow. At first it was very cute and endearing but then the reality of what I had just agreed to take on became very overwhelming to me. I began to retreat and I froze up. I felt paralyzed in my own home and this sweet, loving creature somehow made my living space feel very small. I began to wonder if I would get used to things over time but inside my gut was screaming that I didn’t want to get used to this. All the while my son and husband were bonding more and more with this loving new found furry family member.

After one very restless night and after going to church solo the next morning and reflecting on my predicament, I decided I needed to be honest with myself and my family and fess up about my feelings. Telling my son and husband that I didn’t want this dog was quite possibly one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. In just a few short minutes my son’s innocent little heart and dream of having a dog was squelched. I saw visible disappointment from my animal loving husband. I truly felt like the worst person in the world.

After lots of crying from my son, myself and misty eyes from Scott after dropping the dog off at a foster home, we are all recovering from this today. We truly hope that Luke lands in a good loving home where ALL the family members are on board – he deserves nothing but the best.