He moved so fast that I saw the gash on her eye before I even realized what had happened. My Pug had bitten my daughter, again.
Moments earlier I had been sitting on the couch, seven months pregnant, watching my dog chewing on a bone at one end of the carpet and my daughter playing with her tea set on the other side.Wow, I thought. What a nice, quiet evening.
Suddenly the toy teapot made a whistling noise and before I knew it my Pug had leapt up from his resting place, run across the carpet, and bit her on the face.
She cried, I cried, and in that moment I knew: It was time.
Our dog was the first baby of my husband and I. Adopted while we were still dating, he quickly became the fur kid at the center of our relationship. I was that momma who put a coat on him in the winter, dressed him up for Halloween, and even tucked him into his little bed at night. I attended Pug party events, threw him a birthday party, volunteered at a Pug rescue, and took great pride in this fur child of ours.
I loved him with all my heart, yet now my fur baby was injuring my human baby — for the third time.
The first time he nipped her I didn’t see it happen and I assumed, based on his normally calm demeanor, that she had done something to antagonize him.
“I’ll just have to keep a better eye on them,” I thought. “He is always so chill and she has become so mobile, I need to make sure that she isn’t invading his personal space.”
The second time he nipped her, I saw what happened and it wasn’t her fault at all. I jumped into action — taking him to the vet, calling a trainer, and making arrangements to keep them separated at all times.
It didn’t work out like I had planned.The vet said our dog was getting older and his eyesight was fading. He was reacting out of fear and there were no guarantees that he would be safe around her.
What was I supposed to do? Lock him away forever? Banish him to the basement? I obviously couldn’t rehome my human child, but nor could I fathom our family without our dog.
Not a week later the incident on the carpet took place and the decision was made for me.I needed to rehome my beloved Pug or risk the city putting him down if he bit again. (Where I live, if you report a dog for injuring someone, the city takes it very seriously, and the animal can be seized and euthanized.)
It wasn’t about getting rid of the one we loved less; it was about making sure that both my babies, fur or otherwise, were taken care of.If I kept him, I would not only be risking the health of my daughter, but the life of my Pug.
It’s not easy. How do you remove a beloved family member from your home? How do you find a place better for them than in the comfort of your arms?How do you rehome a dog who can’t be around children?
The last thing I wanted was to put him in another home where he would still run the same risk of being put down by the city. On top of that, I knew that because he was a purebred, I was going to encounter a lot of people who just wanted a free Pug.
My first choice was a rescue. I knew that the Pug rescue that I had volunteered for in the past went to great lengths to screen the dogs’ new homes.
After tearfully deciding that it was the best option, my husband drove for four hours to the next state over where the available foster home was located. When he called me, telling me that the foster home was on a lake, I begged him to bring our water-curious non-swimmer Pug back home. The point was to keep him safe, not transfer him to a different place of danger.
When they arrived home that night, I was at a loss for what to do next. I spread the word via social media but nothing that I was comfortable with panned out. I reached out to some local veterinary offices and asked whether they knew of any responsible pet owners who might be willing to take in a Pug. Not just any Pug, but a Pug who couldn’t be around children.
I was given the name of several families and reached out to all of them. I didn’t just reach out; I interrogated them.From the woman who wanted me to lie to her husband and tell him that she was just “pet sitting” for a few weeks until the Pug grew on him and she could break the news, to the family whose Great Dane knocked me down not once, but twice while we were there, they all failed to meet the expectations I had in caring for my fur child.
They all failed me except for the very last one.
They called me on a Friday night, and by Saturday I was reluctantly dragging my wearying heart up the steps of their house for a home visit. If someone was going to give a home to my fur baby, I sure as hell was going to see where this home was.
With a daughter in high school and a son in college, the mother was feeling lonely with her kids out of the house. They had a (very well-behaved) Puggle and were looking to take on a fur sibling for him.
They asked me all the right questions and gave all the right answers to the ones I asked. They asked me if he was a purebred and as a little test I told them, “Yes, he has a pedigree, did you want it?” They passed my sneaky little test with flying colors when they replied, “Oh no need, he would just be a family pet. We were just curious.” They were even concerned with how he would make the transition, wanting to know if I could come visit him often so that he wouldn’t feel abandoned while he got used to his new family.
Two days later I dropped my Pug off for a trial overnight, and the next weekend I moved his belongings over to their house.
Was it easy?Hell, no. I lost a family member, and that alone was crushing. Thanks, though, to the time and effort that was put in to finding him a family, he has lived there happily for the last four years.
They send me weekly emails, photos, and funny little stories. I have never been more secure in my decision.
A year into his rehoming he was stricken with cancer. What would have been a financial crisis for me was not a problem with them. They had the time and money to give him everything he needed, from chemo to a supported recovery.He is not only living out his life in the comfort of a child-free home, spoiled on by a stay-at-home mom, he has been given something that for several different reasons I wouldn’t have been able to promise him: A future.
Losing a family member is hard, but it doesn’t have to be the end. Sometimes it’s just the beginning of something new.
This is the age of modern-day family arrangements, and as we all know, our pets are a no less important part of what makes up that family.
Have you ever had to adopt out your family dog? Why? What were circumstances around it? Let us know in the comments.
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About the author: Eden Strong is a quirky young woman with a love for most animals with fur. She readily admits to living her life completely devoid of most social graces and so far she’s still alive. More of her crazy antics can be read on her blog, It Is Not My Shame to Bear.