Typically, when you hear that a dog has “gone to the farm,” it is not a good thing. In our situation, though, this will not be a euphemism that we use with Harrison; it will be the truth. Our puppies are going to my parents’ farm in South Dakota.
This has been a heartbreaking decision that has come after weeks of contemplating and wish-washing. I love Ozzie and Mara to pieces. Look at these faces. How could you not love them to pieces?
But the reality of our current situation is that they are not getting the love and attention that they need from us. I have two other small things (size-wise, that is) in my life that demand my eyes and hands and my heart day and night. The poor puppies get pushed to the end of the To Do list most days and that has made me feel sad and guilty to no end. Did you know Mommy Guilt applies to pets as well as kids? Well, I’m living proof that it does, and so we started talking about options.
My parents love dogs. We have always been a dog family, which is why I pushed Ben to get a dog (it was eventually his idea to get two!) from the very get-go of our marriage. After two years, he gave in and we brought home Mr. Ozzie and Ms. Mara. It was wonderful except for the fact that I was teaching in a town over an hour away and it was mid-winter and I was pregnant. As much as we have loved them from the very beginning, they have never received our full attention. Back then, though, there was still time for some of this:
After the first baby arrived, life got slightly hectic. But after a few months, we were able to settle into a routine and life was OK. Mostly the dogs were happy because at least they could have us in the evenings when we’d hang out in the family room and they’d be up on the couches with us. Now, with Baby No. 2, our evenings are once again as busy (or worse) than our days, and with school and track and everything else, it has all just become too much. Then there is the added factor that Harrison and the dogs have never been close. They run from his grabby toddler hands and I fear he isn’t learning the best pet care skills from us when most of the attention we do direct at the dogs is less than positive. When you add to the that the excessive barking at anyone coming to our door or walking by our house, plus the getting out of the yard and roaming the neighborhood, plus the sudden extra messes in the house (regression?? attention seeking??), I am overwhelmed. I guess if I could get the Dog Whisperer to come to my house, things might not be ending like this, but I can’t, so I’m looking for other avenues of help.
My parents are that avenue. It has been almost two years since they said goodbye to Joey, their own full-sized Australian Shepherd, who was part of our family for 16 years. There have been a number of reasons why they have waited to get a new dog, but now I believe it is because they were meant to take mine. As much as I hate to give O&M up, I can rest a little easier because I know they are going to place where they will be Loved. Plus, I selfishly know that this way I will still get to see the puppies when we get together with my family. I hope they can enjoy the space to run on the farm and the snuggles in the recliners that I know my parents will give them. Plus I know my dad. He will give them umpteen treats and carrots a day – how could they be too sad??? I just hope that what I don’t see is too much hurt and confusion in their little brown eyes as to why their home isn’t my home anymore; that will officially break my heart.
I don’t know if any of us know how permanent this is. But it is what we are doing for now and I guess we’ll see what happens. It is so very bittersweet because I’m relieved to give up some stress and deflated by the feeling of having failed to have been enough for them. Perhaps someday our little family will be more conducive for puppies. Until then, I can only hope that Ozzie and Mara know we’re doing this so they get the love and attention they really deserve.