I'd like to start this post by saying that this was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make. It brings tears to my eyes yet again as I write.
I have been a mom to a child for 15months. I've been a 'mom' to my dogs for 7 years. Rudy was our very first family pet. We brought him home just months after we moved into our first apartment together. He chewed everything, nipped at everyone and was-- generally speaking a pain-in-the-you-know-what. Even with all his flaws, we loved him, and he certainly loved us. Make that me. He loved me. Rudy was 'my' dog. He would follow me all around the house. Up the stairs, down the stairs, into the kitchen. I couldn't sit down on the couch without him jumping up beside me two nano-seconds later. Fast forward to February 2009. I became pregnant with Sydney. As my bump grew bigger and bigger, so did Rudy's love for me. He would follow me around even closer, and rest his chin on my bump each night while we watched tv. He wanted to protect me, and my inside baby.
Then, Sydney arrived. Our attention was no longer 100% focused on our dogs. Caring for our new baby took the focus off of him--he was not a fan. As the months passed, and Sydney became more active, Rudy's behavior changed significantly. He was peeing in every corner, any surface that he could lift a leg on got a golden shower. Then came the growling. If Sydney got too close, out came the teeth and the low belly growl. If she crawled near him or eventually toddled by, she got the side eye and a threatening grrrrr.
It had gotten to the point where we were prisoners in our own home, especially after Camryn arrived. We had baby gates to, well...block the baby. And then gates to block the dog. We couldn't leave Rudy and Sydney in the same room for fear that this time would be the last warning growl...that he would bite. I was even afraid to leave Camryn in her swing in the living room alone with Rudy. This behavior was in turn punishing our other dog, Kelly. She would be gated off away from the family most of the time along with him. She didn't deserve that. She loves those kids and loves to be around them.
So, the decision was made. Before any real aggressive behavior occurred we decided that Rudy needed to be placed into a new home. No, we didn't know any friends/family/neighbors/strange people we met at the grocery store that would take him. Our only option was clear, Rudy would have to go to a shelter.
After doing some research, my husband found a shelter called Adopt a Dog that was willing to hear our story. They take in pets and place them in new homes, with the right family. Rudy is a great dog, given the right environment and proper attention from a family without small children. Luckily for us, this no-kill shelter has given him the opportunity to be happy again. That, and the safety of our kids is most important. Rudy needs to be happy once again.
Today my husband brought him to the shelter, said his goodbyes and left him in the good hands of the great people that help families through this difficult decision. While I know this was the right thing for us, why do I feel like I've failed as a 'parent'. Deep down I feel like the drastic change in behavior was my fault. I wonder how he's been since we left him this morning? Is he scared? Nervous? Mad at us for leaving him with strangers. I wonder if he'll be able to sleep tonight? New surroundings, strange noises. Will he have soft blankets to sleep on? Is he going to miss us?
I know we are going to miss him. We already do.