A dog is for life, or is it?
I have had dogs all my life; anyone that has read my book will know that my childhood was full of temporary pet dogs, temporary only because my family couldn't cope with them and ended up moving them on; I was told they went to the farm...
I cannot and do not defend what happened to those dear dogs. The ignorance of my parents was horrendous! By the time I was 13, we had a Border Collie, brought up by someone else, so likely why she was so good, and we were lucky enough for her to live out her years with us.
I defend that rehoming a dog is needed and is the kindest on people and dogs under certain circumstances. It took me many years to fully agree with this statement; my childhood made me super sensitive to not keeping a dog, my heart had been broken often enough to avoid that ever happening again.
This led me to keep dogs that I should never have kept, dogs that behaviour was dangerous for them and my family, both human and animal. I was so stubborn, so determined I could make them right, that I could train them, that only I was capable of giving them a good life, that I hung on to the bitter end.
Rehoming A Dog Isn't Wrong
It is not rehoming a dog that is wrong; it is rehoming without care and thought. If the right home is sought out, the new owners are given all the facts of the dog's life and behaviour. If the dog is truly wanted and the owners have the wherewithal to accommodate the dog's needs, then the dog is likely to have a much better life and will adjust, really, very quickly! Most do so within 14 days; that is how long the pack law takes to adapt, 14 days for them to accept and adjust to the new pack. The younger the dog, the faster it can happen, but even oldies will adapt in that time, even more so when to a better life!
The other emotion that keeps us stuck with an animal is guilt and/or shame, the belief that a dog is for life, that not keeping them for life is a shameful betrayal. I can relate to those feelings too, and I have observed many clients over the years stuck in those feeling and unable to let go, even when it would be best for all!
I am not quite sure when it was that I started to think differently, looking back it was partly a gradual awareness, maturing as a person, but, as always, with the benefit of hindsight, I see that my life gave me the lessons I needed for me grow and learn, and in turn, to pass on my the awareness to others, for me it was huge for me to know to let go of a dog to another home, be that my dog or someone else.
My Own Experience
A significant and challenging part of my journey was with 2 Dobermann bitches; both came to my life as puppy's, only 6 months between them. As puppies, they did everything together, played, slept, and walked, but as can happen at maturity, they could not decide who the top dog was. They were too equal in every way; over time, the skirmishes and fights increased in intensity until they would not accept the existence of the other. This came to a head one day. I had to get them both stitched by the Vet; after the last fight, it was only then that I was forced to accept the truth.
Yet still, I could not bring myself to rehome either of them. How could I choose who stayed, who went? I didn't believe anyone could love them as I did. I decided to live with the fact they could never be together in my home without being muzzled and, even then, under constant supervision. I chose to live with them both but only 50% of my time, alternating them in an outdoor (heated) kennel. Until one died, and my life regained some normality! I would never put myself through that torment, but the experience means that I have helped many other people to avoid the same misery.
Then there are dogs that I have taken home because I knew they needed me, not dogs that I wanted, nor was I looking for another dog, but just because I knew they were good dogs in the wrong home, going wrong. These dogs stayed with me for as long as they needed to get back on track and for me to find suitable homes for them. There have been a few dogs still held in my heart, dogs that I stayed in touch with for their lifetime to ensure they stayed happy. I know I did my best; I didn't have to keep them for them to have a great life. In fact, they gave so much happiness to their new owners it would have been selfish for me to keep them any longer. They are the ones that really helped me understand that they don't have to live with me to have a great life!
External Challenges & Realisation
In this pandemic era, we all know many people have got dogs for the first time in their lives, many many more than expected, sales of puppies are going through the roof!
There is a high demand for dog training, too, I am pleased to say, as that means dog owners are more aware they need help. Some will have got the wrong breed or wrong dog, others discover, as they return to some sort of everyday life again that the dog no longer fits their lifestyle, that is not something to be ashamed of, I simply ask you to help them get to their forever home, they can go on to be truly happy with another family, just make sure and help them along the path! Don't let anyone guilt you into staying with the wrong dog or shame you into rushing the process and not giving time to finding the right place. It really is worth taking a few weeks.
Looking To Rehome Your Dog?
I am always more than happy to put the word around for you, whether you're someone looking for an older dog or if you do need to rehome one.
It goes without saying there will never be any judgement on your reasons for rehoming your dog, I understand.