Just over five years ago, I gave away the Pug who had lived with me as my fur-child for the eight years prior. And I have to say, to this day, it continues to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.
But that still doesn’t mean that it was a decision that I had ever wanted to make.
He became a part of my family when I was 20 years old. He moved to three different houses with me, watched his “daddy” and I get married, and a few years later he received a human sister. He was very much a part of our family; from the presents with his name on them under the Christmas tree to the little blanket that I would tuck him in with at night. An actual birthday party (with a specially made cake), a Frankenstein Halloween costume, and a trip to see Santa every year — his presence was nothing short of a joy in my life because he was a part of my family. Doggie splash days at the pool, and five phone calls a day to check on him when we went out of town every year, I wanted nothing more for him than to be happy, safe, and loved.
As an active volunteer in the Pug rescue community, I dreamed of one day having a Pug farm: a house filled to the brim with squished furry faces, all living out their lives in what I envisioned might be doggie heaven on earth.
But unfortunately that dream was not going to come true, and in fact, many of my other dreams had already begun to shatter to the ground.
The loving “daddy,” my husband, turned out to be more abusive toward me than I could ever have imagined. And in a situation that quickly spiraled out of my control, our household became nothing less than a battlefield at times and a hazard for anyone, and everyone, involved. Desperately trying to leave with my daughter, Pug, and two cats intact, I quickly learned that simply leaving was going to be much more involved than the myths of society would had ever led me to believe. And in an explanation that would be much longer than anything this article could handle, the synopsis of it all (and the story for many abuse victims) was that I was trapped.
We were all trapped, and my little Pug was watching it all.
Yet I didn’t give up — please don’t think that I gave up. I was trying to leave, but nothing was moving fast enough. There were no temporary shelters that could take my pets while I went to a domestic violence shelter, and there were legal ties to my husband that prevented me from just disappearing with my child and pets in tow.
I wanted to leave, and I was working on it, but it just wasn’t fast enough.
My Pug, aging in years and watching the drama unfold day in and day out in a house that was falling apart, began to take his anxiety out on my daughter.
He bit her once, and then he bit her twice.
I couldn’t get out, but this might be the only way that he could.
My husband, although he didn’t seem to have much empathy for human life, was extremely attached to our Pug, and when it became clear that our Pug was at risk to be put down should he ever bit anyone again, my husband gave me the OK to find him a new home.
It broke my heart in more ways than I can even describe, but after a relentless and grueling search to find him the perfect home, he left our family… for someplace better.
Five years later and finally out of my abusive marriage, when I see his little face appear on my Facebook newsfeed — photos posted by members of his new family — a little part of my heart always breaks, and the rest of it swells with happiness because he is happy there. I’ve watched him celebrate holidays without me, get dressed up for Halloween by his new mommy, and I’ve watched his new family care for him during a serious illness that he faced after they adopted him. I’ve been invited to visit (and I have!) and receive regular updates on his well-being. His new mom sent my daughter pictures just to let her know that he was OK, and when I visited him a few months ago, I was once again reminded that he really is OK.
Well into his senior years by now and nearly blind, on a visit with him not long ago, I watched him walk behind his new mommy, his pace quickening to follow the flip-flop noise of her sandals, wanting to catch up to her and be by her side because he loves her.
This was never the way I had imagined his life with me playing out, but it is everything that I ever wanted for him; he is happy, safe, and loved.
It breaks my heart that I couldn’t be the one to have directly given all of that to him, but in a roundabout way, I was.
I have been judged relentlessly and harshly over the years for rehoming one of my family members, but what people don’t seem to understand is that I found him a new home because I loved him, not because I didn’t want to love him anymore.
It was the toughest decision that I have ever had to make, and if I could go back in time and change everything… I wouldn’t.