I went into this adoption thing with rose colored glasses, or blinders, or perhaps just completely blind.  I honestly didn’t know what I was getting into, adopting a rescue dog with no known history.  I really thought that Charlie would be our dog, forever.  I really thought that this would be his home.

Charlie has come a long, long way, in the past seven weeks.  I’ll bet in the next 3 or 4 months, we would see more change in him, too.  But Charlie doesn’t understand his place in this family.  Charlie thinks he ranks higher than the children, and nothing could be further from the truth. 

Charlie bit William in the face about four weeks ago.  Two weeks later, he snapped at Henry.  In that same day, he snapped at Kate.  In neither of these instances was he provoked.  I got in touch with the organization from which we adopted Charlie.  They recommended I return him to them, stating that it is too big a risk to take, and that though we could get training and greatly reduce the risk of a reoccurence, we could not eliminate it.  Hoping to hear something more encouraging, I called a trainer, who was to come out to the house to assess him.  I talked to her about the situation, and she told me that she wouldn’t keep a dog that had aggressive tendencies towards people, and especially not children.  But she said that it was possible that we could “fix” him, so I scheduled an appointment with her to begin his training. 

But yesterday, he snapped at William, again without provocation.  I crated him until I was able to put him on his lead and watch him every single second.  When that time came, I put his lead on and we sat, I in the chair, and he on the floor.  Kate did nothing more than walk by when he snarled at her.  And the gray area of what to do about Charlie sort of disappeared.   

I am completely heartbroken.  When I think of our morning walks and how happy he looks, or when I think of him wagging his tail in the morning, snuggling into me, or when I think of his wonderful (though seldom heard) baying, I just burst into tears.  When I think about him waiting, again, for his new home, I don’t want to do it.  I don’t want to give him back.  I want him to be ours.   

And I feel like a fool that thought she could make a difference in the world, one little dog at a time.  Instead, I am an idiot, just like every other idiot that gives up a dog for whatever reason.  Did I try hard enough?  I don’t know.  I made a promise to take care of him for the rest of his life.  Is it okay to break that promise because he is aggressive towards my kids?  I don’t know…I promised.  I just know that I wish I had never done this in the first place.  I have caused everyone here sadness, especially the kids.  And I have failed.  I failed the kids, I failed Charlie, I just plain failed.  

I’m sitting here, watching him sleep.  I think how preciously cute he is, with his white socks and his spotted belly and his big floppy ears.  I watch him stretch and I smile at the way his little toes flare out at the end of his outstretched legs.  And then I remember that in a few days, he will not be here anymore.  Upstairs I hear the kids.  They are playing with their stuffed dogs.  I think how they should be down here, playing with their real dog.  They wanted so badly to have a dog to play with, but Charlie wants no part of their playing.  

Charlie will go back to the rescue group, and they will find him a home where he really belongs.  Where there are no children.  Where there are adults that understand what he needs.  Where he will be loved and taken care of, and can learn to be a real dog again. 

I have agonized over this decision, so please do not leave negative comments.  I have been told by more than one dog expert to return the dog to be re-homed.  I believe in my heart this is the right thing to do, for both Charlie and for my children, but it is an awfully painful thing to do.


20 thoughts on “Heartbroken

  1. I am heartbroken for you.

    I want to say all sorts of things like I know Charlie will find the perfect home for him and you will find the perfect dog for your family, one that isn’t scared of the strange-moving smaller people in your house. That understands they are being fun and not aggressive. But I know that won’t help right now. That you are sad and that this sucks.


    1. I wish it were merely a matter of teaching the kids to be more gentle. They have been nothing but gentle with him. Unfortunately, he is exhibiting dominance over them, and that is not acceptable. As much as I love this dog and I want him here, I truly truly do, I love my kids more. And they have to come first.

      All that said, it doesn’t make it any less difficult.

      1. Oh no, I’m so sorry it sounded like that – it’s not what I meant at all! It’s by no means the kiddos fault and that they aren’t being gentle, I know your kids and I can see them sitting as still as possible and petting gently.

        Children just move differently and some dogs just don’t get how to take that. It’s not a good/bad on the kids part, it just is. And you are right in that a dog like Charlie that isn’t responding well to them most likely never will, and when it comes to your kiddos vs. a pup, your kiddos must always come first.

        Again, I didn’t mean for it to sound like the kids had done *anything* wrong. In fact, no one did anything wrong, it just wasn’t a good fit. And it’s sad and it sucks :(.

  2. You are making the right decision. Long time ago i walked a german shepherd for a family that had a little child, i watched that child climb, bounce on the dog and that dog never blinked. The family moved away and gave up the dog and he ended up with another family that didn’t take care of him at all..about 3 months later that dog bit a child in the face leaving the child with life long scars.
    I have felt so bad over the years that I wasn’t able to take that dog in at that time that I felt the need to get my own german shepherd when we first bought our home. She is now 7 years old and a huge part of our family BUT if she ever showed any signs of aggression toward my children or grandchildren I would have to let her go.
    I know it’s hard but it’s the right decision for your kids safety.

  3. Oh, friend. This just makes me so sad for you. Wish I could give you a great big hug right now. I will pray as you grieve, b/c loss is painful.

  4. joe bennett says:

    I know first hand how hard this is. We fostered a sweet cocker spaniel once. he had belonged to an elderly woman and was teased by neighbor kids. We had no children at the time, but I was pregnant and we had kids at our house for small group etc. He was the sweetest thing to us, but snapped and snarled at any kids that came near.
    I cried all the way to the shelter, knowing he may not be able to find home.
    I know it is a dog, but boy do they find a way into our hearts quickly!
    You have made the right decision, even though its hard.
    love and hugs to you!

  5. Oh I am so sorry to hear this. Of course you have made the right decision-you have to keep those kiddos safe, but I know how sad this is for you all. I’m just so sorry. Keeping you in my prayers.

  6. Mom says:

    I feel your anguish, I really do, and I’m sitting here in my office with tears in my eyes. It’s just such a familiar feeling…

    I’m here for you if you need me…

  7. My heart is sad for you, while I applaud your decision. I don’t think you’ve failed at ALL. And if I had to put it in terms of failure… well… I’d much rather fail a pet than my children. Your priorities are in the right place, even though it hurts.


  8. Toni :O) says:

    Oh golly, so, so very sorry for the situation. I’ve been out of internet loop for far too long so I’m just catching up now. You poor girl, my heart aches for you because it’s very painful what you have to decide for certain but please DO NOT FEEL BAD that you have to return the dog…these things happen unfortunately. Background on these dogs is not always clear (I know, I have rescued our dog who was two when she came to us). I do know that something happened with my dog as a pup because any loud beeping noise sends her into shivers uncontrollably. She HATES storms big time. All dogs are different and if my Jewel ever snapped or bit a child in my house, of course, I would have to return her even if it broke my heart to pieces. Please don’t beat yourself up….I’m sure these another sweet pup out there that would absolutely love your home if you were to rescue another one. Sometimes these rescue groups have more history on them before placing a dog, maybe you’ll have the kind of luck like us if there is a next time as we were incredibly lucky to get our Jewel. She’s the sweetest thing and most are…you found the lemon in the bunch I guess. I’m sending you virtual hugs (( )) (( )) (( )) for support during this rough time. It’s hard, it truly sucks, I cannot even imagine, but you will pull through this…those beautiful children and you and your man are stuck like glue and the love that you have for each other will get you through this. I’m certain with time, the pain will ease. Praying for you sweetie and hoping you find peace soon. Take good care.

  9. If someone were to leave a nasty comment I’d track him or her down myself and shame them. Clearly you’ve agonized over this. I’m so sorry. I know you must feel just awful. But let me must echo the comments here for what little reassurance it might offer: you’re absolutely doing the right thing. Hugs, my friend. I’m so sorry.

  10. I just literally said “oh gawd” aloud and felt my heart sink. I’m so sorry. What a terribly difficult position you are in right now. Charlie will find a home that’s better fit for him…just know you did everything you could to prepare him for his next step. He knows that. And your kids know you are doing what’s right for your family. ((hugs))

  11. This happened with my mother-in-law’s dog and she was absolutely devastated. Its been nearly 2 years since she returned Ernie and she still doesn’t talk about it. He was just too aggressive with the kids (she is a devoted grandmother and loves having her grandkids visit) and it was a heartbreaking thing to see. I’m sorry you have to go through this.

  12. Oh, I am sending *hugs* your way. What a difficult situation. Really, though, giving up Charlie will be the best thing for your family AND for Charlie. He may be a one-person dog, and thrive with a single owner. Truthfully, the kids have to come first – and it is better to give him up before any serious injuries occur. It is heartbreaking, but I hope and pray that everyone will be better off in the end.

    You are doing the right thing, even though it is the hard thing to do.

  13. People come first. That’s what my mom has always said when it came to choices with our animals. You are doing your job as your childrens mother by protecting them even when its really really hard. And you didn’t fail anyone. We had a similar scenario, so much so that before I met our dog Somewhere, I sat in my car praying for a sign, good or bad, so that I would know if I should make her our dog or not. Charlie will find a good home and you will have the dog you all wish for and already hold in your hearts. Warm thoughts heading your way.

  14. We don’t know each other, but I saw a friend on my list who linked this. I was curious, as I just started a blog myself. Besides, I am incredibly nosy and I like to stalk other peoples thoughts. :o)
    sigh. Let me first say how sorry I am that you are so sad. Sad seasons feel eternal, and for as much as we want them to end, it seems they take forever to move through and process. The good news is that all seasons will change, and I promise that you will not be in this place in your heart and mind forever. I am the kind of person who lingers on thoughts, a lot. You might even say OCDish, but not really in the psychological sense. I am an over analyzer, so I think I bring my mind though every detail of thought and feeling possible.
    That said, I can relate. We also have rescued two dogs. One at 4 months, she is going on 7. The other I found when the mother just had puppies, so we were able to pick her out of the litter at 4 weeks. Like you, we were trying to do the right thing by finding a rescue dog. We never had any issues with our first dog, she is very sweet, has a very docile temperament, although she is not very outgoing. She is cautious of people, which is uncharacteristic of the reputation of “the happy beagle”. I mean, she is like that with us, but still. Her experience and temperament are what they are. The second dog came into our home at 7 weeks. In my mind, I thought that this would be the perfect answer. I believed that she would not have any negative imprinting from being in a rescue situation. As time went on, I have grown to love her very much. She is not the dog that I thought she would be though. She too has an odd temperament. My son was bitten in the face twice, and had to have stitches once as a result of the bite. I actually contemplated putting her down, because I was afraid. She has never been to any sort of training, and in general, she is a nice dog. She tends to be a little skittish around people. She too is a full bred beagle, and she is the happy go lucky kind, but only with her pack. I worry about her temperament, especially around kids. She too thinks she ranks above any little ones, and I find myself constantly having to worry about the possibilities. I will never completely trust her again. She is going to turn 4 in November.
    I am telling you all of this because in the seasons that I have had my pups, I have grown to understand a lot more about dogs than I really ever understood. They are complicated. They are animals. I had always attributed certain qualities to my animals because I am such an animal lover that I could only see the goodness in the kind of love and loyalty we think of, especially when we think of dogs. This was a fallacy on my part.
    Let me share one last thing with you about another experience I had with another rescue dog.
    About 9ish years ago I had come to the conclusion that I had to relinquish a dog that we had rescued. It was one of the single most painful experiences of my life. He WAS the perfect dog, andI went into the adoption impulsively not thinking through all the facts for my family situation. First of all, my husband did not want a dog, but I got it anyway. Besides that, he was a large black lab, on his way to being close to 100 pounds when he grew up. My house was
    s-m-a-l-l, I had two small kids and an toddler. My hubby ended up being laid off, and then 9/11 happened. My stress level was so high at the time that I felt as if I had one more thing on my plate, it would be the proverbial straw that broke me. I adored my dog. Like you, he LOVED me. I was his world. He never did anything wrong, he was the best dog that I had ever known. Of course, he was very co-dependent, which was because that was his issue. He did not like to be away from me, EVER. But, he was so good, so smart. At one point in the scheme of how I felt emotionally, I knew that something had to give. It ended up being him. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make in my life, because I ADORED him. He got on my nerves sometimes with his codependence, but he really was a very special dog. My point though is that sometimes we have to make the best decision for our family situation. In your case, I hear what you are saying. You feel as if you are betraying your beloved pet because you made this promise to him. You aren’t betraying him, believe me when I say this. Your role in his life was supposed to be just that. Try to think of what you have given him up to this point, you helped heal him in a way that he needed to be healed. It sounds to me like the one thing the rescue group didn’t realize before was that he probably shouldn’t be with children. Some dogs are like that in this kind of a situation. Unfortunately, you are now in the position of finding that out. The best thing is always to do what is best for your human family. If you release the dog back into a foster situation, the foster will continue the love and care that he will need, even if your not the one to help facilitate that part. You HAVE done your part.
    *When I relinquished my Shadow, I was soul sick from having to make that decision. I was the one who ended up selecting the new owner, because in my case I was able to have the time to do that. I was fortunate to keep in contact with that family afterwards, and we stayed connected until he died last year at an old age.
    In your case, you must keep in mind that the safety of your children really is the most important thing. That is not going make this whole situation any easier for you, but my thought is that part of your sadness is that you feel is the edge of the stress of worry about your children, and the stress of making the decision to let him go. When you allow the process to complete, I believe you will be relieved more than not. Although, you will continue to process the pain and you will mourn for a while, but you will feel better that you won’t have those stressors overwhelming you. You have lot on your plate with 4 kiddos and a hubby. Having that kind of unpredictability in an animal is HUGE. Like I said, I still don’t trust the dog I have now, but I have tools to dominate her as her Alpha. It’s not the same as what you are describing though.
    Anyway, your blog really tugged at my heart strings. I just wanted to reach out, one soul to another, to let you know that in the end, this will all be okay. Essentially, your sad summer will turn into a happy fall when something changes. Change can be good.
    Your dog will go on to have a new master who is without children, and who will manage the kind of life that he needs based on is experiences. You releasing him will not make him more mental. He might be confused in the beginning, but dogs are not like us, they move on much more quickly. He will remember you in his memory bank with good memories. You will have made a difference in his life, and he in yours. In time, perhaps you and your hubby will be able to reevaluate the possibility of doing it again, and you will have new tools.
    I hoped my very lengthy note will have left you with something good. I wish you joy, and peace, and happiness. Life is a gift, not without the sadness sometimes. It’s all part of the process. Remember that this too shall pass, and your sadness WILL lift. I promise. ❤ Your unknown "friend" Kat

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