I had been thinking for a while about how maybe we should get a dog. It hurts my heart to hear Damien tell me how lonely he is. Plus, Scott liked the idea of having a companion in the home for when Damien is in school and I’m at work. I did tons of reading and research. Our circumstances had changed so it felt like the right time. We had a fenced backyard for once. I was working less hours in the office and Damien was almost out of school for the summer so there would be more time for bonding and training. Damien was older and better able to help out. So Scott and I put in an application with a local animal rescue on the hunt for our new family member. Having dealt with rehoming pets in the past, I was determined to do it right this time. I had learned from all of our past mistakes. We were looking for a friendly, non-puppy, non-senior dog who liked to play, but that didn’t need hours a day of exercise. Oh and he/she must be house-trained.
The rescue recommended a 1 year old male black lab mix named Frank. He came to the rescue from the Williston pound and had been at the foster home for about a month. We all went to meet him and decided that he seemed great and decided to adopt him.
Frank had a lot of amazing qualities. He was friendly. He didn’t ever show one ounce of aggression. He rarely barked. He would very gently take treats from your hand and never tried to take food from you. He didn’t rip up his toys. He could entertain himself. He didn’t lick you/give you kisses. After only a few days of corrections, he stayed off of the couch and didn’t go into the kitchen.
The first week was an expectantly rough adjustment period and I was prepared for that. Frank had diarrhea for the first few days and had a few accidents in the house. It’s common for house-trained dogs to have accidents when adopted. It’s stressful! We spent a lot of time outside due to the bathroom issues and it felt like he peed every 1-1.5 hours, sometimes even twice within a few minutes of each other. We took him to the vet for a check-up and everything came back great. We had a healthy dog!
The second week was significantly better. Frank knew the routine better. He went to his crate at night without being asked. No more accidents in the house. He figured out that ringing the bells would mean we’d let him outside and he only needed to go out every few hours. He showed a lot more personality and showed a lot of signs that he was comfortable. He LOVED to be pet and just be around you.
Now onto the downside…I’ll say first off that Damien did much better with this than I expected. He never complained once about the dog. He was happy to do anything that needed to be done. He wanted to feed him, take him outside, do training with him, etc. It was great to know how dedicated he was. I was really proud of him. But it did feel like there was some jealousy with having to spend so much time dealing with Frank. Damien even started acting like a dog to try to get the same treatment and attention.
And that really was an issue. It was two weeks completely focused on Frank. This probably sounds confusing because I just spoke so highly of him. Well, it’s kind of hard to explain. I spent the most time with him overall so I think we bonded the most. In fact, he did seem to act up when I wasn’t there. Maybe a coincidence? But he just didn’t want to play with anyone. You’d be lucky to get even 5 minutes of play with him a day. We’d be so excited when he was finally active and then he’d just stop after a few minutes. I know that Damien was disappointed even though he didn’t say anything. Frank was also obsessed with the neighbors’ dogs. There are three on one side of the fence and a Great Dane on the other. The three dogs barked a lot and Frank would spend a lot of his time pacing around the fence line wanting to play with them. He also was terrible on a leash and even though we knew that he needed basic obedience training in advance, it was pretty obvious that he would know a command and choose when he wanted to listen. In addition to all of this, we had to have someone in the same area as Frank at all times that he wasn’t outside or in his crate because we couldn’t fully trust him yet. He often HATED being outside by himself so we couldn’t just leave him out there.
Scott and I had some very lengthy discussions about Frank because ultimately it became too consuming without any of the benefits/rewards. It was one of the most difficult decisions to make. Do we keep Frank, knowing with continued effort that things will improve? Or do we give him back to the rescue to be adopted by another family? We went into this with the mindset that we were adding a member to the family. We knew it was going to be challenging, ESPECIALLY in the beginning. What we didn’t expect was how miserable we would be. What really tipped it towards rehoming was that even if Frank improved, it still wouldn’t be enough for us. So we made the very sad decision to give Frank back and the rescue was able to get a foster family to take him the same day. And I know we made the right decision because of the gigantic RELIEF that we all felt and the fact that Damien was okay with the decision. He said he felt “happy but sad too.” That was the best way to describe it for all of us.
The reason I wrote all of this out even though I’m a little bit disappointed and ashamed of myself for pushing for this and I’d much rather pretend it didn’t happen…I wanted to remind myself DO NOT GET A DOG! If in a couple of years I think to myself “hey, maybe we’re finally ready for this commitment!” I need to read this post. Sarah, don’t get a dog. You and Scott are not dog people. It’s a bad idea and you will regret it.
And of course, here are some cute pictures and videos of Frank! He was a good dog who will make another family very happy 😀
So that’s another chapter closed and life lesson learned.