How I fell out of love with my dogs

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Before we had kids we had dogs. We got our first dog when we had been together two or three years in 2002 I think. She was our apartment dog. My husband wanted the specific breed (miniature Dachshund), so we found a breeder and got one. We drove three hours to get her. She was pampered and well cared for.

When we bought a house we got another dog in 2004. Dog number one was a few years old at this point. We looked into fosters and rescues but found the volunteers for the ones we looked at flakey. We ended up getting a puppy from a no-kill shelter. We redesigned our yard to accommodate the dogs. He ended up a lot bigger of a dog than we planned on. We did training and obedience classes.

Then we got serious about moving overseas. Of course we were taking the dogs. My husband suggested leaving them, one with his grandparents, ship the other one to his mother. I was determined to keep the dogs with us. I anthropomorphized them to the point that I thought they would be sad if they were not together, sad if they were not with us. So we did the year of expensive veterinary tests, paid for the pet shippers and the month of quarantine and brought them with us in 2008. That was about $7000.

Once we moved we had to live in some substandard places because of the dogs. Finding a rental with dogs is hard. Dog food was really expensive when we first arrived so we looked into making our own. The dogs came to prefer the raw bones, meat and potatoes we made for them.

Then we had a baby in 2010. The dogs had an ok yard, we had a tiny place, and we all got on. We moved to a larger house with a larger yard for the dogs. We kept on making their food. The baby loved watching the dogs, but we kept them separate. The small dog was untrustworthy and the larger dog was boisterous.

Then we had another baby in 2012. The dogs were secondary to everything else we were doing. They got fed but otherwise we paid them very little attention. We were so busy with kids and life. Really, we did not love the dogs like we used to any more. We didn’t emotionally need them. I guess that means we got the dogs for the wrong reasons, but can you know you will fall out of love with a pet as your life changes? They became more of a hassle. Children grow and change, but dogs do not. We no longer had time for making their food, for taking them for walks, or even for regular playing. We could manage one out of those three any given week. Food was the usual choice. The dogs were just a chore.

So we made the decision to look for new homes for them. I felt terrible about it at the time, but I think it ended up being a really good decision. The older smaller dog went to live with a retired lady. The bigger dog went to live with a single guy. We vetted the people before giving the dogs away and still get updates occasionally.  They did not mind at all being split up and by all accounts are very happy in their new homes.

We moved again after giving the dogs away and moved to a no pet house. When we buy a house my husband says maybe we should get a puppy, but I am against the idea. Even though I know the dogs are happy I feel like we failed as dog owners. We didn’t give them forever homes. We fell out of love with them but stayed responsible. I guess at least we didn’t abandon them or even drop them at a shelter. I’ll never wrap my head around that. I mean we did still want the best for them, we just realized that was no longer us. It would have been an act of selfishness to keep them.

Maybe someday we can get an older dog. Or a cat. Or a fish.

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