When You Fail

We try so hard sometimes, with the best of intentions, but despite this things don’t work out the way we hope. How do we accept defeat? How do you move forward with grace when you fail?

I will be the first to admit that when we got the green light for a family dog from my in-laws, who we were living with at the time, we moved too fast. In hindsight, I can see that we were looking for a balm to soothe a lot of wounds. A bit like those people who think a baby will make everything better (in our case, a human baby actually did, but that’s another story). We thought we knew what we were doing. We even planned to bring our dear friend and amazing dog trainer with us to choose the puppy, but a scheduling burp on our part messed that up, and we ended up with a very beautiful, and very deaf dog. We had her nearly a week before we realized she was deaf. That’s how puppy savvy I am.

Then some things happened, and I had to be away from home, and the dog for a week or two. During some pivotal training and bonding opportunities. We had lots of hands trying to puppy wrangle, and no real clear alpha. And she was so damned mouthy – something I had never really even thought about in a puppy. Soon the kids, one of whom is only two years old, were too afraid to go near her.

Then we found a place of our own, a place we really needed, with a landlady who is passionately against dogs in her house, though ironically a dog owner herself. Yes, this is illegal in this province. But yes, it’s been a huge source of stress/nightmares for me. I know, I need to learn to let go.

Then, with the dog finally in our care full time, we learned she cannot settle unless she’s crated, she continues to teethe and chew and bite things we don’t want her to, she needs lots of hands-on attention and special training with a vibrating collar. Like any puppy, she needs as much attention as my toddler, and I’m the only adult who has the time and space to give it to her, and I. Just. Don’t.

I’m trying to be brave when my landlady threatens to call her lawyer.

I’m trying to transition my son into his own bed/room and so I’m not sleeping through the night. My adult time is entirely gone. I’m exhausted.

I’m trying to run our household while my poor wife drives nearly five hours each day to commute to work and my husband is pouring his blood sweat and tears into a start up.

I’m trying to be patient, and realistic about my nine and almost twelve year old daughters who can really only do a little to help with this high energy pooch.

I’m trying to prove myself to everyone, to show them I can do this, I can handle it. I’m a dog person after all! I’m trying, I’m trying, I’m trying.

The dog flops at my feet as I’m working. She gazes up at me with huge, dark green eyes. That look of love and trust that only a dog can bless you with. I feel that I am failing her, and that I am failing my entire family by insisting that I can be the person she needs in her life. I am not that person.

She needs someone who can give her a vigorous walk each day.

She needs someone who can spend lots of time helping her learn her hand signals. We got her to learn ‘sit’ and ‘lay down’ and she’s getting better and better at ‘stay’. Now she needs someone who can teach her that her vibe collar means ‘look at me’ or ‘come to me’. I just don’t have the time each day to do this.

She needs a family with people who can be dedicated to her training, and not so distracted and busy with all the other stuff of life.

She would greatly benefit from a home with another dog who is tolerant of puppies.

She needs lots of things she can chew because she lost almost four bottom teeth at once and the adult teeth are all coming in. Too many toddler toys, shoes, and rocks have been pressed into service for this at our home.

She needs a little patch of earth to dig and to bury all of the various bull pizzels and greenies she is given, to save for a rainy day.

She’s a wonderful dog. She loves people, loves kids, LOVES other dogs. She’s happy to rest in her crate when she’s worn out, she’s house broken, and we’re going to turn her over to a rescue through our trainer so she can find a home that is better for her. Where she can get the attention that she deserves.

Tonight we’re going to talk to our children and tell them about our decision. You will read this post the morning after. My heart is breaking because I know how empowering this dog has been for our middle daughter, who really needed something to feel proud of. They have a beautiful bond, and I feel sick about separating them. I remember when my own childhood puppy became too much for our family, and she had to be turned over to a family friend. I was devastated, but now I really understand what my poor mom was going through.

Our life just isn’t meant for pets right now, so what do we do when we are faced with the hard realities of our failure? We take a deep breath and listen to our hearts. We face the truth and push away the fear of failure. We reach out with vulnerability to friends who can help. We accept and try to empathize with all of the feelings from all of the people. We take each moment slowly. We practice self-care and self-love instead of allowing guilt and regret to take over. We feel grateful that we have options, that there can still be a happy ending for this beautiful four-legged soul that we crossed paths with.

Now, if any of you are looking for a deeply loving animal companion, and you have the time and energy for a smart and energetic puppy. Please let me know with an email and I’ll put you in touch with the rescue organization.

Due Diligence, Disclosure, and Determination

So, our latest addition to the family, the adorable puppy I mentioned in my last post, is utterly and completely deaf. How do we know? Among many other tests designed to give off as little vibration as possible, we smashed the metal bottoms of two chafing dishes together over her head while she was sleeping and she didn’t even stir. Now I know why she barely ever barks. In honor of this unexpected wrench, today’s post is about due diligence, disclosure, and determination.

Determination

Sending Shanti back to the rescue wasn’t really an option. Deafness, though not ideal for a first-time family puppy, isn’t a deal-breaker in our books. In fact, I’m finding it kind of amazing to push beyond my voice to train this pup, and I think she’s teaching me to access parts of my senses that could really use a work out. My initial response, upon learning that our dog can’t hear, was to be really annoyed by the rescue organization that we adopted her from.

Due Diligence

Nekky called them to share our discovery and to ask for a reimbursement of enough of the adoption fee to cover the cost of a vibrating collar. To be clear, this isn’t a shock collar, it’s a collar that vibrates (like a cell phone) to grab the dog’s attention. Kind of a must-have in our circumstances. I was beyond satisfied when the contact at the rescue agreed to refund half the adoption fee and issue a tax receipt for the remaining half. She also said she would alert the other families who adopted Shanti’s sisters, in case the deafness was something they brought to the party too.

I couldn’t understand how the vet check the rescue claimed to have conducted (we got a receipt from this vet, and I wondered if it was real) could miss something so major. It seemed like a basic thing to check for. My own vet, our next-door neighbor, assured me it could be a very easy mistake, especially if the vet had all three puppies at once. We missed it ourselves, as the sleepiness of our puppy and the adorable chaos of her sister and the toddler at the foster home made things a bit distracting.

Disclosure

Would we have chosen this particular dog if we knew she was deaf? No way. I will freely admit to wanting our first puppy to be as simple as possible. I’m going to believe the rescue org when they say they had no idea that our dog was deaf, because I think most responsible rescues would be up front about such a thing to ensure that the dog finds a suitable home. Days after picking her up, we are already in love with her, bonded with her, and invested in her. We didn’t want to teach the kids that an issue like deafness meant that the dog had to go. Blindness, maybe, because I don’t even know how you would train a blind dog, but deafness is a highly workable dog training scenario. Dogs smell, see, and then hear. People hear, see and then smell. So, despite this surprise, we carry on as planned. We have an awesome trainer who we will work with once Shanti has her next round of shots, and in the meanwhile I’m grateful for the epic amount of information available.

We’ve already taught her how to sit, and come. Now we just need to get those puppy teeth under control!

Have you had a deaf dog? Know anyone who has? We’d love any tips or tidbits from you.