After Blaine returned from Mother's Day weekend in Spokane, I knew we needed to talk about Daisy and us and our lives. Concerns had arisen, for me, over the weekend regarding her personality, her breed behavior and what was truly going to make her happy in life. We had to be honest with ourselves plus accept that she just wasn't the right dog for us - (especially) for Blaine's calm, quiet personality mixed with her high strung, high energy personality. Spending 24 hours a day with Daisy by Day 10 had shown me that she definitely wanted another dog in her life (we are not ready to have 2 dogs), her need to RUN and run and run and run (I'll address this in the blog post below) and seeing her leaning toward being a fabulous agility dog and it wasn't in our plan to be totally dog focused (our desire was to have a dog become part of our life/lifestyle) and she'd need to get into agility training and trials to keep her mind alert and interested.... I e-mailed back and forth with a local dog trainer and even she agreed with our decision that we should surrender Daisy back to the shelter, as it wasn't the right dog for us. SO many tears this past week and so much heart ache - even as I continued to love her, train her and spend all my time with her knowing we'd make the long drive Friday afternoon/evening to take her back to Goldendale.
We're sharing our story in hopes of helping others who may be hurting (for whatever reason) and what can happen when life decisions are made from that perspective. Not all decisions made are wrong, but decisions need to be weighed very carefully during this sensitive time in one's life. And yes, I have Blaine's permission to share everything included here.
- Spending 24 hours per day for two solid weeks caring for, training and living with Daisy puppy enabled God to show my that I truly can do HARD THINGS. I am stronger than I think I am.
- Daisy and I bonded wonderfully. She knew my voice instantly. Yes, she was a puppy and acted out like a puppy - but she and I were a great pair together.
- By the second week, Daisy really caught on to obedience training and learned: sit, lie down, off, out, leave it, drop it, wait, let's go - with a GOOD GIRL before or after and a small training treat. Of course, she brought into our lives the usual puppy challenges and she was a naughty/mischievous girl too. She learned the "game" of being naughty, obeying and then receiving a treat for responded with the correct appropriate behavior. It is a tedious, long, and exhausting process with a puppy, but good, consistent training pays off in the long run having a well trained dog.
- She was a lover and she wanted to be with her mommy all the time (this ends up being good and bad) I loved having her as my companion, but being with me was a bit obsessive on her part too.
- She brought new life and new perspective in seeing the world through puppy eyes
- All the running I did with her - inside and outside the house - caused me to lose 7 pounds (a definite benefit)
- Blaine and I acknowledged his personality and mine. He is calm and quiet. He does not have a need for a dog nor alot of social interaction with others. I like to engage with others, am more energetic and outgoing and I love having a dog in my life. These are challenges we need to work through together and God will guide us and help us unfold our story in the future. We have no answers to what it shall look like, but are committed to one another and our desire to make life joy-filled for us both.
- I did not listen to "my gut feeling" nor "the voice in my head" that said there were a number of red flags to consider.... In dealing with Dogs of the Gorge shelter in Goldendale, WA, you are instructed to send an e-mail or call the volunteer director's phone number with inquiries and questions. I made several e-mail inquiries (asking all the important questions about puppies, upbringing, personality, etc) and left messages asking questions, asking more questions, seeking answers and I received only a few replies, but never having my questions answered (1) that someone else was going to adopt Daisy, but ended up choosing her sister. (2) When we faced a delay in getting Daisy, she replied that it was okay as some of her siblings were not adopted as expected (3) She told us Daisy got a bath, her last shot and loved playing with her dog, Marley. Were we still coming next weekend? ***I told Blaine that I wasn't feeling confident about the director and the poor communication. I couldn't get any answers from her and I was questioning whether this was really the right puppy for us. Historically, people have let me down and I am not quick to trust other people. Blaine, on the other hand, prefers to give people the benefit-of-the-doubt (perhaps she's really busy, she works full-time and runs the shelter, let's just get her - everything will be fine). Unfortunately, he kept reassuring me that everything would work out and I did not stick to what my gut feeling was and we moved forward in adopting Daisy.
- We compromised on a previously made agreement between the two of us. Blaine really didn't want to get another dog after Coco passed away (we had talked about this prior to her passing). He wanted us to experience life together, just the two of us, for a season, and definitely not consider another dog before our 3 week road trip to Kansas/Indiana in 2017. He wanted us to live life and be able to do/go wherever and not worry about a dog at home or with us. And yet, when I told him that I'd found Daisy on Petfinder, Blaine knew that I missed Coco dog terribly and was really lonely, in addition to working through the grief from my Dad's passing (and many things associated with his passing), he saw her photo (and was smitten) and allowed everything else to fall away, because he wanted to make me "happy." Sometimes we do things in 'love' that causes even more hurt...
- When we arrived at the shelter, 2 other adoptive families were already there and playing with the puppies, but no Daisy. One of the Moms said that the director had put Daisy back in the kennel. Okay. We went inside, the director greeted us while working with another adoptive Mom and asked if we were there for Daisy. Yes, we were. She told us that Daisy had gotten nervous around the children, so she put her back in the kennel to be calm. We went to her, she greeted us in love and she stole our hearts with her puppy kisses and wiggling excitement. Yep, we should have really listened to what the director had said.... something had not been quite right with Daisy intermingled with the two other families and the children, but we didn't recall her comment until later.
- In our adoption application, I indicated that we lived on a rental property, it was farm fenced on 3 sides and Daisy would always be on leash outside. The director never once said anything about our fence situation. I was surprised, but said it must be okay. It quickly became apparent that I would need to break Daisy's spirit having her on leash always for she wanted to RUN and run like the wind. And, if she was off leash she'd be 3 farms over in no time - and that's just not okay with us. It's not who we are as pet owners. She needed a good sized fenced area to be able to really run! That would not happen where we live now, we weren't going to pay to fence in someone else's property and we did not have plans to move in the near future. There were a few times where Daisy and I ran like she really desired and I could see the pure joy and bliss on her face and how her eyes shined. UGH!
- In our outings, it quickly became clear that Daisy loves dogs and wants to be around another dog all the time. Her glee, her happiness was so apparent and another dog was not in our near future plans. She loves people too - and where we live is very quiet; just Blaine and I. No matter how much he and I loved her, it was evident that it wasn't going to be enough for Daisy. And our life wasn't going to change so that Daisy had the social environment she needed on a daily or even several days a week basis. Yes, I planned to walk her on a daily basis and we desired to integrate her into our lives - going everywhere with us - but not in the way she wanted to be.
- Agility - oh yes! The way Daisy moved, the way Daisy jumped and turned and quickly scaled things. Here is one of those amazing agility dogs, frisbee champion dogs, a dog who always wants another adventure - but she'd found owners that didn't desire to change their lives to spend all their time involved with agility training and trialing.... She quickly became bored with all her toys; tired of doing the same activities over and over again. She is so smart and needs constant challenge to her mind and body. It wasn't difficult to observe and see this in her.
- Daisy loves people! Oh, how she loves people. When we arrived at the shelter last night, the director said hello to Daisy. Daisy's hair raised on her back, she barked at her and backed away from her. In the time we had Daisy, she never exhibited this behavior with another person...
- Blaine was feeling more and more like an "outsider" with Daisy and I. Because Blaine worked all day and Daisy and I were together all the time, he struggled to feel like the three of us were all sharing life together.
- After dealing with the director at the shelter when we returned Daisy (see below), she gave us a "blank check" with the full adoption fee being refunded to us (though I had only requested the $50 spay fee refunded, as our adoption contract stated the adoption fee was not refundable). After all the e-mails, phone calls and stating my full name each time, she had no idea what my name was. In fact, she didn't even know how much we had paid for our adoption fee. She asked me. *So many red flags!!! So emotional and heart broken last night, Blaine decided to fill in his name on the check to save me having to deal with it. When I asked about the check and he told me what he had done, I told him that I had already thought about the check - I was the one who did all the communicating, Daisy was my puppy, it was a financial gift given to me and putting my name on the check would enable me to go full circle with the whole ordeal and allow me a measure of closure, but that could not happen now as his name was already on the check. Sometimes, when we try to help someone avoid pain, we make decisions that cause more pain. There are situations where we cannot take away pain from someone we love, but must support them and allow them to go through the pain. Now, I seek God's healing for something I cannot go through myself.
THE REALLY UGLY PART
- The week prior to adopting Daisy, there was an update photo posted of two brothers still available for adoption and Daisy too. In the fb post explanation, the director indicated that 4 puppies remained, but Daisy and Hunter were being adopted and Remy and Jaxson were still available and she reposted their puppy Petfinder photos in the comments. She said that Remy and Hunter were in the picture and Jaxson was off playing with another dog. However, the more I looked at the new photo and the puppy photos, I saw that she had misidentified one of the puppies. It was Jaxson in the photo and Hunter was off playing. When we arrived on Saturday, April 30th, to get Daisy, two other families were already at the shelter to adopt their puppies. The puppies were all running around and I identified each one from their puppy photos - easily. One woman was inside finalizing her adoption while a family with 2 children and grandma along played with the puppies and told us they were adopting the last 2 brothers. Wow! How wonderful! The first woman left with her puppy and the Mom and Dad of the children were talking about what do we do now? They told the director that she had just allowed the other woman to adopt one of their puppies. The director told them that they were confused, these boys were Remy and Jaxson, but the Mom explained that Jaxson had a white ring that encircled his nose and part of his paws were white. Their little boy had looked at the picture all week and was in love, but this little boy puppy didn't match the picture. I finally said something to everyone. The Mom was correct - I had noticed the director had misidentified two of the boy puppies in the photo she posted and it was Remy and Hunter who were now left for them to adopt... The director then said that with 9 puppies how was she supposed to keep them all straight? I looked at Blaine. With people coming to adopt certain puppies, how do you NOT keep them all straight? The family agonized over what to do and ended up taking the two boys, because each of their children was promised a puppy of their own... She told Blaine and I that the family would thank her a year from now and they'd be happy with the puppy they got and the mix up wouldn't even matter.
- As the family went through the gate to their vehicle with their puppies, the director says to us, they are going to need a very firm hand with Remy; a very firm hand. 2 children and one of their puppies exhibits challenging behavior already? Why wouldn't you say something to a family? Why wouldn't you explain about the puppy's behavior challenges to make certain they were up to handling them? Did you tell them prior to adopting Remy to them? You already made a mistake with adopting one of the puppies they thought they were getting to someone else (who discovered that puppy was calmer than the original puppy she applied to adopt). *And, we discover that Remy gets returned (below). Again, we should have seen the 'signs' that were all around us, but we were like - let's get Daisy out of here!
- I sent the shelter director an explanatory e-mail and fb message regarding Daisy and the challenges we were facing and the reality of what Daisy really needed in her forever family. No matter how much we loved her, we could never provide what Daisy truly needed and we needed to return her to the shelter per our contract and would do so on Friday evening. She replied to my e-mail, said okay and that she was available after 4pm. I told Blaine that I was amazed at such a simple and, what appeared to be, understanding response. When we arrived at the shelter at 6:40pm (I had called enroute and left a message that traffic had slowed our journey and we wouldn't be there by 6 o'clock as we had hoped), she greeted us and then began CONFRONTING me regarding why we were returning Daisy. I was completely caught off guard by the attack.... What was the problem? She expects the adopter to do research regarding the breed? Needs to run? She's a beagle, so she's going to run. Well, she's a terrier mix and yes, they do like to run. I explained our fencing situation in our application and that she would always be on-leash outside, but she's not happy. I told her that I had clearly explained our fencing situation on our adoption contract and she had not brought up any concerns about it. She told me that is what puppy training is for. She told me that I wasn't being fair to Daisy, wasn't giving her a chance. I had only had her for 8 days, how could I know that she's not going to be a great dog for us? Well, we've had her for 14 days and I spend 24 hours a day with her and I know Daisy very well. I can tell you what she likes, how she will react, what she is scared of and how she will behave. I usually have a good sense of other people's personalities and the energy they give off and pretty good with animals too, especially dogs. (And, at that moment I realized I had been correct in thinking something was really off with the director of this shelter and we never should have adopted Daisy in the first place.) Yes, Daisy is a lover and we love her so much - but she has needs that we cannot ever meet. I was basically told that the problem was with me and not Daisy. The director told me that I should have done my homework. I told her that I tried. I had sent her several e-mails with questions that she never answered. She told me that she always answers her e-mails. I told her she didn't answer a single question I asked, because I asked about personality, traits, etc. She said she only had the puppies for 2 weeks; got them at 8 weeks of age, so how could she know anything about their personalities. That is not true, because Daisy was 14 weeks old when we adopted her and their vaccination records indicated 3/22 for first shot and they were listed on their fb page March 29 and we adopted her April 30th - and they had been at that shelter all that time. I told her this was not our first dog, but our fourth. It wasn't like I didn't know about puppies and training. I also told her that we had already enrolled Daisy for puppy classes and when I knew that she might not be the right dog for us, I had contacted a local dog trainer, discussed Daisy and her needs and the trainer had agreed with us that we weren't the right owners and returning her to the shelter was probably the best thing to do. Well, she beat me up mentally. Really beat me up. And then, she tells us that one of Daisy's brothers was returned too....(she was not happy!) And, it was Remy. The two highest strung puppies of the litter were not well matched to their adoptive families. Such a terrible experience....
Through this wonderful and awful time in our life, the ending is what gets me the most. The director asked us if we wanted to put Daisy in her kennel with her brother. We said we could. Remy was so excited to see us, but Daisy went right in, got a drink and never looked at us again. We closed the door, handed the leash to the director and walked to our car. She closed the shelter door behind us and headed to her truck. I did not recall the scenario for some hours later when I told Blaine that I had this picture that had come into my mind of putting Daisy into the kennel with Remy. Blaine had realized what unfolded immediately, but wasn't sure what to say to me. 14 days, 24 hours a day and in a moment, it was like we had never existed to Daisy. She was "home." Back with her brother and in the environment she knew with lots of dogs barking. She never acknowledged us, or whined, or barked or even looked our way.... No goodbye. Nothing.
We are praying that Daisy finds a wonderful home. Blaine and I are dealing with the pain of this experience and where we both fell short individually and as a couple. We gave most of Daisy's belongings to the shelter director to go with Daisy to her new home, as this experience has left us with such broken hearts that we are not considering adding a new dog to our life in the near future anytime.
So much JOY. So much SORROW. So many lessons learned. And through it all, God remains faithful to us in our successes and our failures. He already knew our weaknesses and continued to love us through it all. In the midst of being broken hearted, we still have much to be thankful for. Upon arriving home at midnight last night, we walked into the house and both remarked how peaceful it felt and we hadn't felt that peace for that past couple of weeks. Now, to heal and live each day until we feel alive again. We pray God's blessings upon each of you that reads this story.