Becoming the Dog Owner I Never Wanted to Be


I was always quick to judge when I saw someone post about how they needed to “rehome” their dog because of X, Y, or Z. Often times, I still think it was a lack of research or anticipation of how your life might change over the course of that dog’s lifespan. However, I honestly can say that when we decided to get a second dog, there was no way we could have anticipated the things that we encountered. I was becoming the dog owner I never wanted to be.

This is Lucy. She is the sweetest girl you’ll ever meet, and on a rescue site’s description, she would probably sound like a dream. Great with other animals — has lived with cats, dogs, turtles, snakes. LOVES kids and people. Energetic and a great running partner, but also loves to snuggle. See…a dream right?

But Lucy came from a traumatic past. When we got her, she was three and struggled with separation anxiety. However, after trial and error on our own, we decided it was time to do something more for her.

We did some research and Lucy was enrolled in a three-week board-and-train “summer camp” to help her work through that anxiety. Before going, she had to be medicated and crated to be left alone while we went to work. After attending summer camp and settling into our daily routine again at home, she was unmedicated but still crated and doing GREAT. She was great on a leash and, with consistent practice, was very good at all her commands. She was SO PUMPED to become a big sister and was a dream of a nanny dog.

Then, COVID hit. Our daily routines all changed, she got used to having her humans around all day every day, and she got even more clingy than she was before she went to training at all. I’m talking, could escape an all-steel crate with three locks and zip ties, while medicated, then poop all over the floor if we left the house for even an hour kind of anxiety. This sweet girl was not fit for city life with 9-5 working parents. It was already pretty rough and we were looking for ways to help her readjust back into an old normal as we started easing back into some pre-COVID routines leaving the house. She was not having it.

The day we found out we were expecting baby #2, I started to worry even more about poor Lucy. Could she handle another change in this house? Would she love having two brothers as much as she loved having one?? And then my nausea hit. I was sick basically 24 hours a day for well past the first trimester. As the primary exerciser for Lucy, this meant that not only were we leaving her more often, but she wasn’t getting in any runs or long walks because my body couldn’t handle it. She regressed even more, starting having more random accidents in the house and trying to escape the yard sometimes.

After so many nights of guilt, discussion, and debate, my husband and I decided it was time to look into some other options for Lucy. Now, she was already sort of a family-loved dog, because she took quite a journey through my aunts to get to us when she first moved in. For that reason, one of my aunts who had recently lost her own dog quickly stepped up and offered to take Lucy for a trial. It seemed perfect. My aunt lives in the country, hikes a lot, and works with students, so Lucy could get all the things she loves. I didn’t have to feel that extreme guilt of sending Lucy off because she was going to be with someone who loved her and could give her all the things she needed.

And then my aunt fell and hurt her leg, and then she got COVID. And now Lucy is back at it again with the extreme anxiety. No combo of medications seems to be the perfect cocktail to help her, and my aunt is about at the end of her rope trying to figure something out. This is how I was becoming the dog owner I never wanted to be.

We are now in the process of trying to find Lucy a home where she can have a human around almost all the time, plus lots of room to exercise freely, and ideally some kiddos to love on. She would make a great farm dog if allowed to come in occasionally to snuggle too.

But that laundry list of wants seems like asking for too much. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. This girl is a dream dog in so many ways. You can take her out to the restaurant patio to eat dinner and have drinks. She will give you all the dog loving you could ever want. She loves everyone and everything, so you never have to worry about her being a threat. But she needs her people basically all. the. time.

As I write this, I feel the weight of this decision all over again. I cry every time I think about her having to find another new home. She is the best girl. So, all I am saying, is that now I get it. There are some things that training, medicines, and time just don’t fix. When you’ve tried all the things and invested all the money, then what?


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