By the time this posts, things will either have gone really well or gone really poorly. Or somewhere in the middle. Or we’ll still be in the middle of figuring it out. Jeez, that was so not helpful.
New Dog arrives Friday night. Her foster put her on transport tonight, and sent me a lovely but heartbreaking email telling me what a sweetheart we are getting. And how she was upset that he was leaving her. And the transport sent me a picture of New Dog, looking a little frightened. If one wasn’t difficult enough, the combination made me want to cry. Then I wondered somewhat wildly if we were doing the right thing. Maybe New Dog would be better off if she stayed with the foster, since he clearly loves her very much. Maybe she would be happier there, with him and in the home she’s come to know and love. With the buddy she’s become good playmates with (the foster says he is looking for her already). Ignore the rational part of me that knows she’s going to be happier here with one other dog and two owners (plus my parents and brother) versus with the foster who had 15+ dogs and just one of him.
It isn’t that we won’t be able to (or won’t) give New Dog a great home. We are incredibly loving and will spoil her rotten, just as we spoiled SP and like we spoil Le Moo. And like we spoil Cray-cray Lab, who isn’t even technically ours. I’m just so freaking scared about all the things that might go wrong. The things that I might not be able to handle. And I worry so much that New Dog will be scared and unhappy. And that Le Moo will be unhappy and feel neglected. Meshing two dogs feels overwhelming to me, cranking up my anxiety and maybe screwing with my self-confidence. I am not a terribly confident person, so I’m really afraid I won’t be able to handle what happens. I am afraid I will fail at integrating New Dog into our lives. I’m afraid I’ll fail at connecting with New Dog. I don’t like the idea of failure (who does?). I don’t know if that’s what worries me the most? Failing?
I know for sure I worry about someone getting hurt…Le Moo, New Dog, me, hub, Cray-cray Lab.
I know for sure I’m trying hard not to freak out. The more I think about the days passing by and Friday drawing closer, the more I feel that ripple of anxiety in my stomach and my chest. It makes me feel frozen and breathless. I want to avoid the feeling. I want to avoid the risk, to back out, to change our minds and refuse to take New Dog. Send her back to the foster that loves her so much.
I tell myself repeatedly that I won’t send her back. I tell myself I can handle the things that might happen. I can separate the dogs if they don’t get along. I can work at relaxing and connecting with New Dog. I can figure it out, I can handle it.
And I remember the multiple times we tried to add a second dog with SP. Multiple times. This particular dog was young and hyper, and was pretty unsocialized. She pestered SP endlessly, and hardly ever stopped moving…or stopped peeing (everywhere). After deciding she wasn’t right for us, we kept her for a few days until someone else came and adopted her (so we sort of fostered), but SP was miserable and I really disliked that dog. I blamed her for SP being so unhappy. I blamed her for me being so unhappy. I blamed myself for making SP so unhappy. She was a wild, crazy labrador, too much for our SP, too much for us. Bringing her into our home had been a mistake, one we thought we would not repeat.
But we did, with another dog. This time we brought SP with us to meet the dog…after a 2+ hour ride (SP didn’t do well in the car…puking was the norm), and I didn’t feel a connection with the other dog. We couldn’t make up our mind, so we left. Then we decided to go back and get the dog and give it a shot. We drove the 2+ hours back to pick her up, brought her home, and it went downhill. The dog was lower energy, but she was so scared…of everything. Don’t get me wrong…SP had her problems, both in the beginning and pretty much all her life. But with this second attempt, it was too much for me. I felt trapped and unhappy. I didn’t feel anything for her…at all. She had no real interest in SP (after some mild growling initially), and SP had no interest in her. I’m not even sure how long it took before we decided to return her to her foster. It took them nearly a week to schedule us to bring her back, during which all of us were miserable. Another 2+ hour ride (each way, btw), we dropped her off, and I cried all the way home. I felt I had done all of us a disservice, most especially the poor dog who was uprooted from a foster where she was happy, only to have her be miserable with strangers for over a week and then taken back to the home she knew…confused and carted around for no reason. It was a terrible experience and I cried so much. I still think about her and I am angry at myself for doing that to her…it wasn’t her fault I couldn’t bear to keep her. I have no idea why, I just know that she wasn’t right for us…for me I guess, because hub would have kept her I think.**
We gave up at that point, deciding that the experiences were teaching us we shouldn’t have two dogs at that point. Fate was speaking to us…loudly. And so we finally listened. Now we’re back to here…the unknown. And I’ve struggled over this, both before we said YES to New Dog and after we said yes. Now, still struggling. I don’t know if I can bear to fail at this again.
I sincerely hope that because Le Moo is so social and has had no issue with other dogs in her yard or house, and seeks them out when on walks or at the petco, that she’ll be happy to have a buddy. She’s been good with Cray-cray Lab living with us, she’s been good with my brother’s dog living with us (overnight), and she’s had no issue with friends’ dogs in her yard. So we hope to not repeat bad history.
**I feel horrible saying these things. It’s not that I thought they were bad dogs, or that I hated them, or that I’m a terrible person. I love dogs, I really do…I’m impossibly happy to play with and love them even if they aren’t mine (even the naughty ones!)…ask T as I love playing with her pup during sessions. SP was very…sensitive. When we first got her, she was disconnected and withdrawn and it took us years to bring her out of it. The minute we tried introducing another dog into our household, she regressed badly. Which hurt to see and we just couldn’t put her through that. I should have known better after the first major failure, but I apparently am a slow learner.