Should You Give Your Dog Away? 5 Things to Consider

If you’re thinking about giving your dog away, here are several things to consider. Surrendering a dog is painful, but could be the right decision for you and your family. We sadly gave our dog away yesterday…it was the right decision for us, but we’ve been crying ever since. The following tips will help you decide if you need to give your dog away.

giving my dog away“There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people [and dogs] we can’t live without but have to let go.” ~ Unknown.

And that’s exactly how I feel: I can’t live without my dog, but I had to let her go. One of my regrets about giving my dog away is not learning more about dogs from books such as Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know.

The more you understand your dog, the better equipped you’ll be to make the seemingly impossible decision of whether you should give her away.

I recently wrote How to Cope After Rehoming a Dog. I recently adopted a second dog (Tiffy), and the person who gave her away is having trouble coping with the loss. My article about rehoming a dog is actually a letter written by Tiffy to her previous owner. This is a chance for you to see what’s it like to move to a new home, from a dog’s perspective!

Should You Give Your Dog Away?

Here are my tips, based on our recent experience with adopting and surrendering a dog.

Separate emotion from the reasons you need to give your dog away. We adopted Jazz, a 75-pound one-year old black lab German Shepherd “puppy” from the West Vancouver SPCA just over a month ago. We fell in love with her almost immediately, which is why we couldn’t stop crying when we surrendered her back to the SPCA yesterday.

However, as heartbroken and guilty as we feel, we couldn’t ignore the practical reasons that compelled us to give our dog away. We are not the best family for this dog. If you’re trying to decide if you should give your dog away, try to separate your love from what’s best for everyone…including your dog.

Make a list of pros and cons for keeping versus giving your dog away. When you make your list of reasons for keeping or not keeping your dog, assign each reason a number. For instance, one of the reasons we gave our dog away (a “con”) is that she is the size of a small pony and has the energy of seven dogs combined. Our house and yard isn’t big enough for her – and neither are our energy levels! So, this con rates a 10 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being “very important reason” and 1 being “hardly important at all”). When you finish making your list, add up the numbers. If the cons for keeping her outweigh the pros, then maybe you should give your dog away.

Listen to your heart and head – not other people’s opinions. My husband and I were your typical confused dog owners! We didn’t know if we should keep trying to train and bond with our dog, or if we should just give her away after one month. Everyone we talked to had a different opinion: some said to give the dog away because it’s not worth the time and hassle to train her, while others said it just takes time (up to two years!) for her to mature and learn how to be obedient and part of our “pack.” Ultimately, though, we had to make our own decision, regardless of what other dog owners or obedience trainers said.

Do what’s best for you and your family. I’m a full-time writer and blogger; you’d think I’d be the perfect owner for a big energetic dog who needs lots of time and attention! But, she was so restless and needy, I couldn’t do my job properly. Having this young black lab around all day was emotionally draining; I was constantly worried that she might need to pee, that she was bored, that she was lonely without her SPCA dog friends.

Additionally, it was physically exhausting and time consuming to take her on four walks a day, which the dog obedience trainer recommended. As painful as it was to give our dog away, it really was the best decision for us.

Find ways to cope with guilt after finding a new home for your dog

rehoming a dog

Our dog Georgie, who we adopted after giving Jazz away.

Both my husband and I feel terrible that we took Jazz back…but it helps to know that we did the best we could. Our dog will be better off in a different home with a family who can give her what she needs. We’re struggling with seriously guilty feelings after giving our dog away – and the sooner we find ways to cope with our pain, the better off we’ll be. One way to cope is to talk about it with people who understand, and to write about it.

UPDATE: we adopted a different dog, Georgie, six months after giving Jazz away, and can’t imagine life without her! We always wanted a dog, but didn’t find the right one…until now. I describe how it all happened in Are You Ready to Get Another Dog?

Are you struggling to decide if you should give your dog away? Comments welcome below.

A reader suggested these articles, for people who are struggling with the decision to give a dog away:

I welcome your thoughts on how to decide if you should give your dog away. I know it’s not an easy decision to make, and I wish you all the best as you decide what to do.

Article Name
How to Decide if You Should Give Your Dog Away
If you're thinking about giving your dog away, here are several things to consider. Surrendering a dog is painful, but could be the right decision for you and your family.
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Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
I live in Vancouver, BC; my degrees are in Education, Psychology, and Social Work. Most importantly, I am a Christian! I love God, Jesus, Spirit. Your comments are welcome below, but I can't give advice. Are you lost, hurt, scared? Take a deep breath, and remember the reason you exist. "The eternal God is your refuge; His everlasting arms are under you." - Deut 33:27. Feel free to share your prayers and experiences here.

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272 Responses

  1. Kellie says:

    My husband and I are currently trying to decide if we should give our puppy back to the rescue we got him from. We love him unconditionally and I cannot imagine like without him. We have only had him for 2-3 weeks but I am completely in love. I know deep in my heart the best decision is to give him back. He is 9 weeks old and my husband and I work fulltime. The puppy stays in a play pen for 8 hours a day. He is so energetic and needs to be out and able to run around. I think by him staying confined all day, makes him aggressive during the day. I know we need to give him back so he can have a family that is there for him more than we are. My only concern with giving him back is that what if he goes to the wrong family after us? What is the new adopted family says they stay home during the week but really dont? What if he goes to a family that does not give him the attention that he needs? I am just so worried and then convince myself that he is better off with us since I know the love that I can give this puppy; the problem is is that we are never home. I truly know we should give him back but it just breaks my heart….

  2. Ashley C says:

    Reading this was very reassuring. I’ve been tearing myself apart for months about the thought of re-homing my Great Dane who is 10 months old. We got her at 9 weeks and the day after I knew it was probably a mistake. We kept her and worked really hard on training her well before we both go back to school this fall, but just a few days ago she shred our carpet and the padding underneath in our rented apartment, costing us money we do not have. The money spent on her should have gone towards buying a car, since we have her on a very healthy and natural diet with regular vet checks that cost us an arm and a leg. I just know she needs more space and more people time than we can give her and with us going back to school and working in a couple months, I know deep down she will not be given what she needs/ deserves. She is the coziest snuggler in the world and I feel SO guilty just thinking about giving her away… even imagining handing over her leash to someone else kills me inside. But she is draining our bank account. So sad.

  3. Rachel Cheng says:

    I am having some thoughts about giving up my 15 month old beagle /labrador. My mom and my brother think that they are allergic to him… (me too!) but I love him, even though he gets into lots of trouble. He has run away 3 times from me, and gets really territorial in our backyard with my mom, nipping/mouthing her. I love my Ollie, I don’t want to have someone else to take care of him. . . Also, we think that he will be better off in a farm with an enclosed fence. . .

  4. Eve says:

    Thank you for this, I too gave up a greyhound bull terrier crossbreed yesterday. After 3 months, we had not bonded and everything I did for him felt like a chore rather than a pleasure. He was destructive and began showing a little aggression which did not feel safe for my young children. I really hope everything I told the rehoming centre will mean he finds the right forever home for him with people who can love him for the dog he is. There were too many incompatibilities for me to try ‘train out’ of him.

  5. YC says:

    Thank you. We just went through the same experience. Your article helps to make us come to terms with what happened.

  6. Chels says:

    Thank you for this article. I’ve been struggling with the decision of rehoming my dog, and it’s been eating me up inside for months. I hate that I’ve even considered it, and that I’m “that person”, but I can’t help it. I don’t want to give up on him – can I really be that selfish? – but I’m at my wit’s end.

    When we our 6 month jack-russel/corgi mix, I knew it would be a lot of work. I grew up with dogs and puppies and I’m no stranger to the amount of work that goes into training a well-behaved dog. I was excited for it! I knew he’d be full of energy (a great hiking companion) and that I’d need to train the guy. It turns out his issues were a little more than just puppy-related… he obviously hasn’t been socialized at all, and I dread taking him outside, even if it’s just to pee. He goes bezerk at everything – bikers, skateboarders, motorcyclists, other dogs on leash, off leash, wheelchairs, squirrels, birds, loud cars, people walking by, etc. I get to bring him to work but he barks at every little noise and every leaf that blows by the windows. He has severe social anxiety, to the point where, after a 4-hour hike, he’ll still howl, whine, and destroy the door if I leave him alone for 10 minutes.

    It feels like I’ve tried everything… dog trainers, obedience classes, fancy treats (cheese, hot dogs) and nothing is working. When distractions are around, he’s not food motivated, so training is difficult. It’s been 6 months and I can’t say if he’s improved at all. I’ve never been more stressed, and I wake up in the mornings dreading the day. It’s constantly a struggle to keep him under control. I walk/hike with him average 2-3 hours a day and that’s not enough for his energy level…

    Doggy daycares I’ve spoken to aren’t keen on having him in their care, because when he plays he’s very vocal. He’s never, ever aggressive, he’d never bite to cause harm, but he does growl and bark when he plays, to the point that people don’t want him around their dogs.

    He also has a strange growth in his back leg, and we’ve had to have biopsies done on the bone to figure out what it is. We’re still waiting for the results, but worst case, it might be bone cancer, which would be incredibly rare. Still, I wonder that maybe that’s why he acts out, if he’s in pain.

    I’m so torn. I believe I was misinformed from his foster mum about all his issues, and it breaks my heart because aside from the reactivity, he’s a wonderful little guy, he loves to cuddle, he sleeps through the night, no accidents… I really do love him, but I can’t help but think that someone else would be better able to dedicate themselves to the intense time and training that he needs. He could be such a good boy if he had the right handler.

    My partner doesn’t understand my frustration. We both adopted this dog, and while we’re common-law, he works upwards of 80 hours a week. He only sees the “happy dog stuff” – the night time cuddles – and doesn’t have to do any of the work. I was always ok with the idea of having a dog that I would solely take care of, but it’s been a bit more than I can handle.

    I think it would destroy me to give him away, but I also think that by keeping him I’m destroying my own life and my nerves. I honestly think this is one of the hardest, worst decisions I’ve ever had to make.

  7. Dear Fina,

    Thank you for sharing your experience giving your dog away. It sounds like it was a very painful experience for you. I have a Little Sister from the Big Sisters/Little Sisters organization, and she’s Muslim too. She had to give her dog away as well, but not because of her religion. She and her family just couldn’t take care of their dog anymore.

    My prayer for you is for healing. May you grieve the loss of your dog, and allow yourself to say good-bye in meaningful ways. I pray that you find comfort in your faith, and that you know deep in your heart that Oreo will never forget you! Dogs are so smart, and they devote themselves to us for life. Your dog will learn to love her new family because she’s a survivor, but she’ll never ever forget you. She will miss you and she knows you miss her, but she will be happy in her new home.

    I know this because I adopted Tiffy when she was three years old. I know she is extremely happy with us – we love her so much! But sometimes when she sees an older lady, she pulls over towards her. Her previous owner was an old lady, and I know Tiffy sees elderly ladies differently than she sees younger people like me. Your Oreo will be the same way — she will always remember you, but she will love her new family too.

    I wish you God’s peace, hope, and healing.


  8. Fina khansa says:

    Hi. Im really glad that i met your website.

    So i have the loveliest dog ever. She’s a 3 years old mixture of toy puddle and shit zu. Her name’s oreo ahaha. I got her from a friend of my uncle’s. He had to give this puppy away because he couldnt bare to take care of another. Its an economics problem. So my family and i decided to adopt her. She was so little and precious. At first she was really shy, but then she learned to adapt and get along with us. She’s the smartest dog ive ever had. It seems like she understands my feelings….she’s so loving and calm but sometimes really really really hyper and gets so protective over strangers. But she never bite anyone. I took her everwhere i go. Even she came with my mom to drop me off to school everyday.
    Then the problems came. And its an economics problem. I am a muslim, and in my religion we arent supposed to have dogs. But ever since i was little we had a dog cause my dad’s a dog lover and couldnt care less about it. Anddd it grew on me. I love dogs more than i love people….seriously. My grandmother believes that one of the things that made the problems come because we didnt obey the rule. Which is having a dog when obviously isnt allowed to do. So she told us to get rid of the dog and pray more so we could have our normal life back. I think its stupid cause obviously we have our own ups and downs. And i got so mad at her cause she cant just do that. Oreo is my family. And she has feelings. Its like giving away ur own child. I DONT EVEN HAVE A CHILD BUT I JUST KNOW!
    arguments after argument…i finally lost. We had to give her away. We gave her to a friend of my brother’s thats more than willing to adopt oreo. He seems love oreo so much the first time he met her. But she’s my family. She left a big hole in my heart. I cry in my sleep cause i couldnt stop thinking about her feelings. It seems so dramatic but that’s what i felt. I dont want her to feel like i throw her away just like that.
    My family told me that i was being selfish, but i dont care…cause the only thing that i care about is my dog’s feelings.
    Do u think she’ll forget about me and accept her new family? We built so many memories together. Im scared she’d be stressed out. Im only 16 and i feel like its the end of the world for me. But i need to go whats best for my family though. Its the only choice we had.
    Whatta longg speechhh. Thankyou so much.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi there,

      It is difficult giving a dog away, you have given Oreo a good start and I am sure you have done the best thing to give her a long and happy life. Whats to stop you from seeing her from time to time? I believe a dog never forgets, and I am sure if you ask they will let you see her from time to time.
      We all know how you are feeling, what you are feeling right now is a grieving process combined with anger and resentment, it’s the same feeling when you loose a pet who has died or been put to sleep.
      Trust me, it does get better with time sweetie, you think it wont right now, but it does. We had our dog re-homed a few weeks ago because she was too much for us and our dog who is dying of a tumor. We have been told by the people who re-homed her that she is happy and loved, thats all that matters. Unfortunately, today, we have to go theough it all over again with our elderly dog, another heart wrenching time, but again, with memories and time, things will get better.
      So, chin up, be strong and keep telling yourself Oreo is happy and loved and if you get the chance, in a few weeks so say hi to her and see for yourself.

  9. Janine says:

    Im really happy I found this site. I have been struggling as well about whether or not I should give my dog away. I have a 2 yr old dachshund that I got when he was a puppy. I was married at the time and thought it was something I wanted. Here I am 2 years later divorced and living in a tiny house I am renting. It took some time for my Toby to get used to and he still has accidents in the house. I work from home as well doing hair and sometimes he snaps at people so I put him away in my room when I have clients. (Sometimes it’s all day)… I plan on moving to Georgia with my boyfriend and I know we will be living in an apartment and I feel really bad for him not having space and room to play. I believe he would be better fit in a home that has space, time, attention, and love for him. I am still very young and don’t know exactly where my life is headed. I believe it’s going to be very hard but ultimately the best thing for him.

  10. Thank you for being here, and sharing your experience with giving a dog away. Your experience will help others recognize the signs it may be time to rehome their dogs, and will help them cope with the pain and loss.

    My prayer is for healing and self-forgiveness. May you know deep down in your heart that giving your dog away is the best decision, and may you be comforted by peace, faith, and trust that your dog will adjust to the new home with enthusiasm and joy! Thank you, God, that dogs are so “in the moment” and adaptable, and that they form bonds with new people fairly quickly. Thank you that dogs are survivors, and that they love to be with people. The dogs we have to give away will be eagerly welcomed into their new homes – their owners have been waiting to love them, pet them, and cherish their little doggy bodies. May we know that giving away our dogs was the best decision for everyone concerned, and may we let go of our dogs with a sense of peace and serenity. Amen.


  11. Lisa says:

    i am so pleased to have found your website.
    My husband and I took pippa our jack Russell cross long coated terrier to a dogs home yesterday. We or rather I found it hard, crying and nearly saying “turn the car around I can’t do this”. Pippa giving me a wonderful cuddle as always unbeknown to her it was our last moments together.
    We rescued poppa from a lady in Cambridge (uk) who was constantly breeding for profit. With poppa being the only female, and having two miniature poodles already, we thought it would be a good idea to take her on plus with our poodles getting so old now (12 & 13) it would help our grieving process when the time came for the poodles to go to doggy heaven.
    One thing I do know is we stopped poppa from being bred. She is such a scruffy little might – well no so little 8 months later, taller than the poodles!
    We re homed her because she ate anything and everything, plastic balls, rubber balls, stones, bark, twigs carpet, bedding was totally wrecked and irreparable. But she was obedient in the sense of sit, stay, off etc. she would be loving to our 9 year old cat one minute, then bite him hard making him cry out in pain, and chase him despite her strict upbringing, it was instinct to chase cats.
    I feel so guilty, a failure in not being able to control her behaviour, I have disabilities and cannot walk too far without pain in my feet and knees – she needed at least 3 walks or runs a day that I couldn’t give her as my husband works away a lot.
    I am still tearful now, her face shocked and her barking and jumping up at the dogs home fence upset I was leaving her there, something I will never forget. But we did it for her, not us, she can have a better home, with a family who can give more time to her.
    I try to remind myself the reasons why she will be better off in a new home, but it does not take the pain away we are feeling inside.

  12. Erin says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. We adopted a puppy and after the first day I was constantly in tears. He could not be left alone for even a minute – he’d either bite everything in site, or if crated he’d howl. I also work from home and couldn’t concentrate on work at all – if he was asleep I constantly worried he’d wake up and need to pee while I was on a conference call, or if he was awake I’d have to continuously toss him new toys in order to keep him from chewing furniture, cords, the baseboards, etc. I tried containing him into a “den,” but he was clearly lonely and miserable. After only 4 days we decided to give him back to the rescue. Driving to drop him off was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and I spent the entire day before and after sobbing somewhat hysterically. Hearing that others have gone through this is tremendously helpful and definitely a source of comfort as I try to tell my heart what my brain knows – we were not the right family for that little pup.

  13. Laurie says:

    Dear Nadia,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing your struggle with Maya. It takes alot of courage to be honest and authentic about what you’re going through, and to share how you feel about your dog.

    I felt the same way about my dog Jazz, who I did end up giving away (as you read in my blog post!). I can’t tell you if you should give your dog away, or if you’ll eventually feel more connected to her, or if she’ll grow out of her puppyhood and become more trainable, lovable, enjoyable. I don’t know what will happen with her. Nobody can say for sure if she’ll ever become an easier dog to own.

    What I do know from my experience is that I regret giving my dog Jazz away. She was NOT an easy first time dog — just like Maya isn’t an easy dog. But, looking back, I believe that if I would’ve stuck it out, it would’ve become easier. Of course I don’t know that for sure, but….I just have a feeling that I needed a year to bond with her.

    Our obedience trainer said it’ll take a year or two for Jazz to settle in, and I wasn’t willing to let it go that long. But now I know she was right. My husband doesn’t think we made the wrong decision by giving our dog away – he isn’t big on looking back with regret! So if you do decide to give Maya away, you need to stand firm in the conviction that you’re doing the right thing. In the future, you will probably wonder if giving her away was the best way to deal with Maya. Or, maybe you’ll never look back!

    My best advice is to take a deep breath, and find a calm, peaceful place inside yourself. Take another deep breath, let it out. Give yourself 10 minutes of peace and quiet — no husband, no dog, no cat, nothing but your own thoughts. Should you give your dog away? Don’t even ask yourself that question! Just take time to be quiet. After you’ve been quiet for as long as you need, then ask yourself what you really think is the best way to cope with Maya. What do you really want to do – what is best for you, your husband, and Maya?

    The answer to whether or not you should give your dog away is in you. It has to come from you. But this doesn’t mean the decision will be easy — nor does it mean you’ll never regret it. My decision to give Jazz away came from my heart and soul. At the time, I really believed it was the right thing to do — because at the time it WAS the right thing to do. At this time, however, it wouldn’t be the right thing for me to do because I’ve owned two dogs since Jazz, and I would never in a million years dream of giving them away. Unless I got a job in Africa or Europe and had to move :-)

    My prayer for you and your husband is that you find peace with the decision you make. I pray for Maya, for her future. If she is to be rehomed, I pray that right this very second, there are owners who are excitedly thinking about adopting a dog. I pray that she transitions easily and happily – whether it’s into a new home or into your hearts! I also pray that you and your husband are of one mind when you’re deciding if you should give your dog away, and that you and he both know that you have tried every option, so you don’t feel guilty or bad later. May you be blessed with peace, strength, wisdom, and insight as you make this difficult decision. Amen.

    Let me know what you decide.


  14. nadia says:

    Hi everyone,

    I have an 8 month old Golden Retriever. Both my husband and I are fist time dog owners. We were excited to get a dog when we finally bought a house. We were excited to develop a bond with our dog like the kind everyone else seems to have.

    When we brought Maya home we were excited because she was adorable. That excitement was short lived as we both became exhausted during the first few weeks when she would whine through the night. That’s ok. We knew it was going to be a lot of work, combined with potty training (no grass on our lawn yet so our new floors in the fall were a disaster), regular training, puppy classes, etc. Eventually she became house trained, and learned some commands (sit, lie, high five, paw). All sounds good, so what’s the problem?

    The problem is that I do not yet feel a bond with my dog, and I don’t know if I ever will. Please do not judge me for saying this as I am just looking for help. As I have said, I have never had a dog before so I don’t have a point of reference. I have only ever had cats. I know for a fact that my cat loves me. She is affectionate, possessive of me, misses me like crazy when I am away, and I can see it in her eyes. I don’t get even a 10% feeling of that with Maya, yet I spend 10x more time and energy on her. I take her to the dog park and additional walks every day, she eats only the top quality of food, I pet her, play with her, bathe her, groom her, and train her. I have had her now for 6 months, yet I do not feel a sense of closeness with her. She is not very affectionate, doesn’t really make eye contact, doesn’t like hugs. She whines when she wants something, I will do it, then she will whine again for something else. That’s really about the extent of our relationship. That and stealing socks.

    My question is, when do I start seeing something out of this? Perhaps 6 months is not long enough to establish any type of connection (again I don’t know) but I feel like I should be feeling a sense of purpose with this dog. Why am I doing this? Spending thousands of dollars on food, vet, toys? Why am I sacrificing my floors, furniture, car? Don’t get me wrong these are all just things that I would in a second trade for love, but I just feel like the love is not happening?

    To make matters worse she is very possessive with things she finds on the ground. If I try and take something away from her she will bare teeth, growl, and even bite. Today she chewed through the fence while out in the yard and took off several houses down. I ran after her telling her to come home. She was completely defiant and started running in circles around me like it was a game. I finally managed to grab her by the collar at which point she became extremely aggressive, started biting me hard, growling, baring teeth, and just getting completely out of control. I have been extremely patient up until now, but today is the first day I feel like I want to give her away.

    The only responses I get out of people is that she is still a puppy, and to give it time. Some people say even up to 2 years. Seriously? I don’t understand how so many people have to patience to go through this. Goldens only live 12 years on average and the first 2 years is this? I am also extremely worried that I am waiting for something that’s not going to happen. How do I know if she is just like this as a puppy or if this just how she is? There are so many times my husband and I look at each other in disbelief and wonder, is this really what it is to have a dog?

    I want to clarify that this is not a matter of training. We have tried both positive and assertive training. Maya knows and understands what she is allowed and not allowed to do.

    Please help me understand. Am I missing something? Doing something wrong?

    Thank you.

  15. Laurie says:

    Dear Lenn,

    It’s such a difficult decision! Especially if you don’t have someone to shoulder part of the responsibility for taking care of your dog. And, dogs are very social creatures – they don’t like being alone, especially when they’re pups. That’s another hurdle: trying to train a puppy who may not be getting enough exercise….it’s just not easy.

    Yes, I think contacting his previous owners might help — could they dog sit during the day, or walk Nobu three times a week? Maybe they’d like to take him back (but I wouldn’t ask for my money back).

    How happy are you in your job? Maybe this thing with Nobu isn’t really about deciding if it’s time to give your dog away. Maybe you have a job that you don’t enjoy and that takes too much of your time. Maybe the job is the problem, not the dog!

    Life is so short, and we’re not meant to live joyless, stressful, busy lives. Our dogs’ lives are super short, and they’re meant to bring us comfort, joy, positive experiences, and connection with other people. Not to mention the health benefits of simply petting a dog – it literally increases the dopamine levels in your body, which is a good thing.

    I regret giving my dog Jazz away. At the time, it was the right decision. But now, looking back, I wish I had tried harder to keep her.

    I can’t tell you what you should do – if you should give your dog away. There aren’t any easy answers, and the future is impossible to predict. But, I encourage you to remember the reasons you adopted a dog. And, think about how you want to live your life right now. If you’re unhappy, the dog may not be the cause. I know dogs are work – I have 2 of them! – but they aren’t usually the cause of our unhappiness. Often, they’re like a mirror — they show us how unhappy we are, they bring out the anger, frustration, and unhappiness we’re already feeling.

    I wish you all the best as you decide if you should give Nobu away. May you be filled with clarity and insight about your dog and your life.


  16. Lenn says:

    Dear Laurie,
    Four months ago I adopted Nobu, an adorable French bulldog from a couple that had just had an accidental litter. I’d always wanted one of those piglet looking dogs and had learned that these kind of pups grew accustomed to life in the city and were fine with being in an apartment. Also almost a year ago I had gone through a painful breakup and felt that now was the time to treat myself for getting back up on my feet.
    Nobu is now eight months old and very healthy for a dog his age. He’s playful, stubborn and always happy to meet new people and dogs. Unfortunately, due to a sudden job change, I am gone long hours during the day and even though I walk him before I leave and when I get back, I still feel guilty for leaving him alone for such a long time and even guiltier for being in a bad mood when I come home from an exhausting day at a job I dislike and having to clean up his mess and deal with his destructive streaks.
    I do wish to find a job with suitable hours but I have no clue when that will be, it could take months or even another year and Nobu is taking up the little energy I have left when I get back home. I find it difficult to be happy to see him and get irritated and snappy very easily. The guilt is very present as specially if I snap at him for no real reason such as him being clingy when all I want is to relax a little.
    I tried finding someone to walk him while I’m gone but I do not have the means to cover the costs. Same thing with doggie day care.
    I know the couple that sold him to me had a hard time coping when they gave him up and last time they visited they mentioned how glad they would be to keep him for me if I ever leave on vacation. Sometimes I wonder if I should ask if they want to buy him back from me. Maybe he’d be happier without a grumpy owner.
    I do however hope for a change in jobs and lifestyle but there are no guarantees and I’m afraid that I’ll grow to hate this wonderful little dog in who I’ve already invested so much time and money.
    I’m stuck. I don’t know what to do at all.

    • Terri says:

      Lenn I wrote about rehoming my dog in July -see below. I found Laurie’s advice spot on and you walk through the various considerations I think you will come to the right answer for both you and Nobu. I can tell you I still miss my Mocha but she ended up with a retired couple who have experience with stubborn dachshunds. I know with work and elderly Dad issues I would not have been able to be there for her-and the stress in my life has been less despite the dog sized whole in my life. One thing that was helpful to me was the night I made my decision was that I sent Mocha to my sisters for the night
      Is it possible to take your pups former owners up on their offer to keep her for a short time while you think about your options? A vacation can be defined many ways:) Then after that you might decide to approach them about something more permanent. Perhaps you could even do a sort of dog share or at least visit. Once my dog wasvrehomed I never saw or heard about her again and I would love to know she is still okay so I am envious of that possibility for you. I have taken a much more active role in dog sitting for my neighbor and when I am home I telework once a week. I go get my sisters dog who is home alone all day normally and we keep each other company while I work. I have completed a volunteer orientation at a local shelter so I can assure that even if you decide Nobu needs a different home there are probably dogs near you that you can help or spend time with. Good luck, wishing you grace and serenity in the coming days. Terri

  17. Laurie says:

    Dear Terri,

    Thank you for sharing your experience with Mocha – I’m so glad you wrote in. It’s so important for us to know we’re not alone, that we’ve had to make the sad decision to give our dogs away — and that it’s not an easy decision.

    I adopted my second dog, Tiffy, from a woman who had her for three years. She had to give her away, and I love Tiffy with all my heart! I know that our dogs – the ones we had to give away – are being loved by people with big hearts and kind souls.

    May you have peace with your decision, and know Mocha will be loved and cherished by her new family.

    In sympathy,

  18. Terri says:

    Laurie: Thank you for this article, resources etc. Its been very valuable-in helping me cope with the grief I have over re-homing my beloved Long Haired dachshund Mocha a week ago.

    I got her 5 years ago from a shelter, and was home all the time then. I didn’t really deal with her behavior problems, particularly her fear and aggression toward strangers and protection of me (and my sister and her family who occasionally watched her for me). She was a smart funny loyal companion and got me through job loss, the loss of a parent etc. I nursed her back to fitness and health and loved her to death.

    BUT, my current job turned into one where I am gone for weeks and even months on end, on short notice. Even when I am in town, I work long hours, I find my extra hours taken up with an elderly Dad, working on my own critical health and fitness issues. Because of her behavior issues I couldn’t really take her with me, and her continuing aggression resulted in a few biting or nipping incidents that led to my sister giving me an ultimatum that she could no longer care for my dog when I left town so this past year she has been boarded when I travelled, although my sister did occasionally come get her for a few days at a time. I brought in a trainer and tried different methods, but in the end it was difficult for me to change her behavior.

    She got away from me a week ago and bit a stranger when I opened the car door slightly-a first for her (normally she had gotten to friends, family, neighbors). The woman bit cried from the shock and pain of a good chomp on the ankle. I was nearly ill. I ended up escorting the woman to the walk in clinic, and it turned out the bite wasn’t that bad, seems to be healing fine and hopefully all will be well. But in addition to my compassion for the woman, I also saw legal issues looming-if sued I could lose what little I have managed to get and save.

    The issue of being gone too much is always there and I had been bargaining with myself over the past few months-how many months out of the year is too many to be gone if you are a single dog owner?

    The day of the bite-I realized my decision had been made and I reached out to the local Dachshund Rescue. I did the rip off the bandaid thing, and once I had permission from the original shelter I obtained her from and word from the Director of the Rescue- my sister I arranged to get Mocha’s records, food etc and make the 6 hour drive to the Rescue a day later, July 1 -a few days ago.

    It helped that I had a bit of flexibility in my schedule -and that I am planning to be gone for a few weeks starting in a few days.

    I was able to spend some good quality time with my dog outside and inside cuddling-as well as on the trip over before I gave her up. I am grateful that the Rescue will allow me to email for updates and follow on Facebook, although I do not intend to stalk my former dog, after I am assured she is settling in.

    My dog was calm upon arrival at the Rescue, didn’t bark in the presence of other dogs, or the Director and seemed at ease. I think she knows she can relax and be a dog there-and she no longer has to protect me. The Rescue is literally on a farm in Eastern Washington State and the yard, surroundings are nice. I feel confident I did the right thing, that she will get the training she needs and the ability to go to family that will understand her-and if not she will be allowed sanctuary at the Rescue. I know she is better off with constant company and training, volunteer socializing than she was with me.

    I ordered a Cuddle Clone-(send a picture of your dog and they make a plush replica) have a selected a couple of good pictures to be framed, and I hope soon to think of her without as much pain. Its nice to know that I am not alone in struggling with this decision, the shame that I let my dog down, and the pain of loss.

    I do think Stop Yer Whining makes some good points, if indelicately. I hope that in a year or two my job situation is such that I will not travel or work as much and can think about a new dog. I KNOW that identifying a robust back up system of dog walker/sitters as well as having a trainer to coach me will be essential BEFORE I find another dog. I also know I need to continue my weight loss and fitness regime and ensure that I have the ability to exercise and train the dog consistently and frequently. I am going to try, even with my work constraints to be a good auntie to dogs I know now , and possibly to volunteer to help socialize or even foster dogs at some point. I will use the money I had budget for my dog’s care to donate to the Rescue and local shelters, pet food banks. I have made those promises to myself. I think looking to the future is one of the best ways I can honor my beloved Mocha

    Finally, thank you again for the references and support.

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