Monday, March 31, 2008

Doggy Vacation

Yesterday our dog Goldie went on a "vacation" to my parents' house. At least that's what we're calling it to the kids - it might end up being a permanent vacation. It breaks my heart to write this post because Goldie has been with us for over six years (if I'm doing my math correctly), spending a year with us in our previous house before we moved to the house we're currently in.

Goldie really is such a good dog but we've been having a number of problems with her lately. The most recent, but most distressing, is that she's started peeing in the basement (carpet) and occasionally pooping there as well. We don't go down to the main room of the basement every day so that means the stain gets set and is a real pain to clean up and clear the room of the odor. We take her out around 11pm before we go to bed, but it doesn't seem to help.

Also, she runs away. If I'm coming in the front door with the girls and waiting for Catherine to slowly make her way in the door, Goldie will push past both of us in order to get outside. When outside, there's no point chasing or calling her. She won't come back until she feels like it - a few hours later. Once our friend
Dustin was at our house for a few days while we were away and Goldie escaped - we got a series of voicemails from him in his pursuit of her that had us cracking up. I felt so bad because Matt and I know that Goldie will not come back when you call or chase her and if we had gotten Dustin's call we could have told him that his pursuit was futile. I just remembered why Goldie got away that time - Dustin saw her electric fence type collar on and figured he could let her out - but Goldie doesn't really care too much about those pesky electric fences. Unless you're keeping a careful watch on her (Dustin - didn't you decide to shower or something while she was out??) she'll dart through that fence and decide it's not worth going through again to come back. Plus we have a small stream in our backyard, that has made fencing in the backyard pretty impossible. Our dog who really dislikes water, wants to be free to roam the neighborhood so much that she just runs through the stream to freedom on the other side.

In addition to that we recently discovered that Matt is mildly allergic to dogs. We don't have a big enough house to have a separate area for Goldie to sleep - unless we put her in the basement in which case she'd probably just pee everywhere - so Goldie sleeps in our room and when we're not home she rejects her dog bed for OUR bed. If our room is closed up tightly (if not tightly enough she'll push that door open) she'll lounge on the couches - so basically everywhere that Matt could sleep or sit is covered in dog dander.

A smaller, but still consistent issue is that in her excitement to greet everyone who comes to the house, she jumps up and attempts to lick you. Which isn't too bad when you're over 5 feet tall, but if you're a 3 year old, it puts you right in her range. When kids come over who are scared of dogs Goldie has to go upstairs, in the basement, or outside. Which isn't where she wants to be.

All of those factors together have led us to giving Goldie a trial run at my parents. I don't think I could ever do this if it wasn't my parents who have a great house for dogs and enable us continue to be a part of Goldie's life. They have a big fenced in backyard, with lots of room to run and lots of rabbits and other creatures for Goldie to chase. Goldie is happiest when she's running free, something that, try as we might, we've never been able to work out for her and my ultimate hope is that she'll be happier having a home that enables her to get more exercise and play time than she does now.

I do feel like a bit of a failure because I'm giving my dog away. I couldn't really think about it too much yesterday because when I did I would get really sad. I'm torn because it just doesn't feel right, to give your pet away, but I know we'll see her whenever we visit my family and vice versa. Also - Goldie is a gentle dog who loves people - if you pet her and feed her, she's a friend for life. So....I don't think she'll really miss us. I know you might not believe me, but it's true. She ran away when Ella was born (before we brought her home - so it wasn't acting out over a new baby) and when my mom found her at someone's house a few streets up, she said that Goldie seemed happy as could be and it seemed like she would have stayed there forever without a problem. It made me really sad at the time (ok, could have been the new baby hormones) but now I'm hoping it just means that Goldie doesn't get too attached to her people family - as long as she is loved, she is happy. Perhaps not, but at least let me think that!

The girls have been surprisingly sad about Goldie leaving. They don't pay her much attention - Catherine is always yelling at her not to eat her food (happens pretty frequently) and Ella is usually trying to discipline her or brush her teeth. We told them that Goldie is going on vacation to Nama and Papap's house. In their minds it is temporary (which it might end up being - we're all kind of looking at this as a trial run to see how everyone does with it) but still Ella insisted on having a few pictures taken with Goldie before she left.

Last night Catherine started crying about 15 minutes after we put her down. When Matt went in to see what was wrong she told him she didn't want Goldie at Nama's house, she wanted Goldie at our house. Just a tad bit heartbreaking.
So who knows how this will turn out. Most likely it will be one happy dog who gets to chase rabbits and run in the sun all day long and two sad little girls who miss their dog for a little bit but get to have an added bonus when they visit their grandparents.

Our house has felt very quiet today and I had to stop myself from throwing the kids' leftovers into the dog bowl a few times already. It's hard to know whether or not this is the right decision - I just hope that Goldie is happy - that's what will enable us to have peace with the whole situation.


amy said...

Hey Megan,
We had the same exact situation- we had a beloved golden retriever named Molly...when we moved to Harrisburg, we had to give her away to friends (for some of the same reasons), and it was hard...but had to be done- it would be awesome if they could still have their dog in their life! My girls watch videos of Molly sometimes and wish she was still around, but they have gotten over it....i know it's hard- but our life is a lot more "peaceful" if you know what i mean- for it...

Just wanted to let you know it has been done- and they will be okay in the end....


Megan said...

thanks for that reassurance Amy - I wish I could leave comments on your blog - just to tell you how much I enjoy the pictures and stories of your family! I am so impressed with the coordinating clothing - I can rarely work it out with only two!

Courtney said...

Oh, Megan. You mentioned this the other day, but I didn't know it would be so soon. Goldie will be missed, but I think you're doing the right thing. I know what you mean about feeling like you failed somehow, but you didn't...and you'd feel worse if you kept her and she (and you) weren't happy.
Also- to set the record straight a bit...when she ran away, I was in the shower. Dustin looked away for a minute when she ran out. We did everything to find her, running all over trying to get her back in. I finally tricked her somehow, grabbed her and dragged her back in. We felt like such bad dog sitters! Rule number one- You can't lose the dog!

Oh, good times. She is a sweet girl, but I still have enough Goldie hair on my coat to last me a lifetime. I'll consider it a souvenier! :)

Erin said...

i can so sympathize. believe me, over the past 2 years, i have been more than ready to get rid of all our animals if i had willing recipients. between the hair, the peeing in various places, the knocking down of kids and the running away, i am also sick to death of all three of our hairy children. but since i have no willing family members (my mom won't even dog sit for us anymore), we're pretty much stuck. there's no way i could take them to a shelter... hope it all works out.

Kevin and Amy said...

Oh boy, Megan, this is a lot to deal with! It's always hard if you're not SURE of the decision. But it sounds like your parents' house is perfect for Goldie and it will be a win/win/win for everyone! Here's hoping! I'm sure the first few days are the hardest. I am TERRIFIED of what our life will be like when our baby shows up...Luther is totally our baby right now...we love to cuddle him and sing to him and fuss over him. But he is a SHEDDER and what if the baby's allergic? What if he hates the baby? Worst of all...what if he just becomes really, really sad?

Too much to think about right now, but know that you are doing the right thing with the Goldie experiment and you're right, it can always be a trial basis, so nothing is final!! Wishing you guys luck!

Teri said...

Awww Megan! I'm so sorry that Goldie needs to go on a vacation...the good thing is, like you said, that they will still get to see her & also that kids are resilient and they'll bounce right back :)

renee said...

such a sweet post about Goldie! She will be missed....
even though I'm not a huge dog lover, (well, I love them, just don't want to own one right now) Goldie was a sweet dog and I think she'll be so happy running around the yard at your parents :)

Bevy said...

I don't know how old she is - maybe you said? But I would take her to the vet if she's doing something new in the way of peeing and pooping when she hasn't before - that shows there may be a med problem. Just a thot.
I had to put down my golden named Tisha of about 13 years old a few years ago - she was having seizures. She was such a wonderful doggie though! :) God bless! And let the kids see her often if possible.

Crafty P said...

Geesh, I'm sure this is hard for all of you. I hope this "week" of Goldie's vaca will help you know what to do.
The allergy thing would have me sending her off, too. It stinks to be allergic to someone you love. Poor Matt.
How are the girls doing? I should ask, how are YOU doing?

Mike, Sharon, & Caleb Koerber said...

Megan - as you know Goldie will always have a special place in my heart as my favorite "female dog" no matter where she lives. I know Skip and Nan will take great care of her if you decide to keep her there - and I know Goldie will never get sick of that backyard. I know it is a hard decision - but I also think it may be the best for Goldie as well. Maybe you could just get a hamster as a replacement and tell the girls that Goldie shrunk :)

Megan said...

Thanks for all the encouragement and sympathy! Goldie seems to be doing wonderfully at my parents - yesterday my dad was outside playing ball with her and my mom took her for a walk. My parents have such a good track record with dogs so I'm hoping the girls will get to see Goldie thriving and happy for many years to come. I still feel bad because overall Goldie is a good sweet dog and I hate that we couldn't handle her. I keep telling myself that this situation will make her happier and healthier and it's not all about me!
Thanks for weighing in!

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