Thursday, June 27, 2013

Not Giving Up

I was sitting downstairs, listening.  It was night time.  There was a knock at the door, muffled voices.  They were being quiet on purpose.  I felt nervous and confused.  

"We'll take good care of the dog," I could hear a woman saying.  And then quiet.  Nothing.

I cried before I knew what was really going on.  Then my mother came downstairs and told me people had come to take Smokie, our puppy.  "It was just too much, we couldn't take care of her," she told me lovingly searching my eyes for understanding.

"You gave away my dog?," I asked in shock.  I knew she was trouble, but my god, giving the dog away?  That's serious.  That's forever.  I was horrified, devastated, nervous and confused.  I felt guilty (I was an advanced 8-year-old and felt guilt and anxiety like a boss).

"How could you just....give up on him?," I begged for an answer through my tears.  "I'm sorry. I'll walk her more.  I'll play with her more.  I'll be better."

For the past 30 years, I've thought about that night every now and then with such sadness and judgement.  "How in the hell could my parents have done that?!" I thought.  I've thought that until we got our new puppy this spring.  And now, I have a whole lot more compassion for my parents.

Cosi is our puppy.  She does puppy things.  She chews on everything, she nips, she wants to play all.the.damn.time.  She sheds, she whines, she smells, she needs to go out a lot.   She's just being a puppy, a dog.

Being the only one home all the time and in charge of her along with the four kids has made me pretty grumpy.   I've texted my husband so many times saying "getting Cosi was the worst mistake of our lives" and "I'm not an animal person."  I've sworn more in front of my kids in the last three months than the last 11 years.  I do a lot of complaining.

After eating a 500 million berries that fell from a Mullberry tree we didn't realize we had in our backyard and getting an upset stomach (that's a nice way of saying she couldn't stop pooping), it was just too much for all of us.

"I put feelers out to give Cosi away," my frustrated, tired husband informed me.  "Someone wants her and they want to pick her up tonight at 6:30."

I was speechless.  It was 1982 all over again.  I was horrified, devastated, nervous and confused.  I cried.  "Oh my god, I'll walk her more, I'll play with her more, I'll be better," I told my husband through tears.  "I just complain to vent, I'll be better.  We can't...[sob, sniffle, sob]...give up on her."
JT and Cosi, best friends.

My mind raced. I wondered if I was doomed to repeat patterns, repeat history.  Shortly after my parents gave my dog away, they got divorced.  In my arrested emotional development's point of view (which arrested around the age of 12), they gave up on us.  Yeah, there it is, spoken like a true product of a broken home.  Waaaaa.  Was this how it all started?  With a really unruly puppy?  (There's that 12-year-old over simplification thing I do really well.)

I took a deep breath and spoke slowly, "We are not giving up on this puppy or us."  

Tim looked at me funny, like "us? What the hell are you talking about?"

"Okay, I didn't see this coming, but okay," he said.  "And hon, we're fine."  And then he hugged me. And we both made a plan to be more patient with Cosi and make more time for her.

The kids had overheard most of what happened.  They were all relieved that we weren't giving away their puppy.  I was relieved I didn't have to have that oh-so-memorable talk with them.  

"This is a good thing Mom," Peyton said to me.  "I mean, Youngbloods don't quit, isn't that our thing?"

Years ago, Tim had said that was our family motto in a moment of trying to be Super Hero/Motivating Coach/Hard Nose, Yet Loving Dad.  And I guess it sort of stuck.

This experience has made my compassion quadruple for people and families that have to give up their puppy because of life circumstances and whatever reasons.  It's not an easy decision and I can't/won't judge.  Sometimes people have to give up, let go, quit their jobs, their pets, their marriages.  Sometimes it is what has to happen.  Sometimes it is better, of course.

But it's not for us.  I am on a path to make my own mistakes, my own patterns, my own history with my own family and my own puppy--giving up ain't my story.

Whether Cosi likes it or not, she's part of this wacky gang.

Cosi can't leave, she has a buddy next door!

We're keeping her, but that doesn't mean she doesn't owe me an apology for the sh*t she chews up.  Here's what I have to say about that:


  1. Awesome post ! So happy for you all and your pup!

  2. I can so relate! We have an eight month old goldendoodle and I have wanted to give her away so many times...mostly after she's chewed something! I'm home with little kids all day too and some days the last thing I need is one more person to clean up after! At the end of the day I may threaten to give her away, but it would be like giving away one of my children...I don't always like what they do but when they're not chewing things up and they're asleep it makes all the crap worth it ;)

  3. Puppies are so dang hard. But in a few months or a year, she'll have grown up some, calmed down a little. At least, I'm praying she does, for your sake.

  4. So... about four years ago I did this to my daughter (she was about five). I gave our dog away. We absolutely, 100% did not have time for it, and my daughter refused to go in the back yard and play when she was out there. She still talks to me like it was the worst thing I have ever done to anyone in my entire life. And now this makes me worried that it actually was. Even though I still believe with a powerful conviction that it was the RIGHT thing to do. I'll go cry now.