I have a slight confession to make.
I guess I’ll start at the beginning, to when my love affair with dogs first began.
I was always a cat person. Always. Then I moved out on my own for the first time in 2011 and on an absolute whim, decided I wanted a dog. I went to the shelter, met Dakota, and it was love at first bark. I still remember leaving with him that day; he trotted out the door without a backward glance and jumped into my lap in the car. He’s been my little (obnoxious) buddy ever since.
I became a dog person the same day I became a dog owner. Dakota and I kind of adopted one another. He saw me through all of life’s biggest moments including a break-up, a couple more moves, meeting my husband, becoming a mom, buying a house, starting a new career, finishing college, and so on and so on. He’s been my sidekick, my constant companion, someone who has been there through it all and has seen me at my best and at my worst. I can look into his big, marble eyes and tell him how I’m feeling without a single word. He gets me.
So my love for Dakota turned quickly into a love for ALL dogs. Before I had Caleb, my weekends were often booked with dogsitting jobs, and eventually I began to volunteer for one of our local rescues. Jerry and I even fostered dogs for a bit, until the traumatic illness and death of our final foster.
You know how they say dogs are like potato chips and you can’t have just one? Or am I making that up? Either way, my love for dogs meant I always had this strong pull at my heart to get another one. I convinced Jerry of it when we saw Bully up for adoption, the senior English Bulldog we recently adopted from a local rescue. We instantly fell in love with the goofy, lumbering, huge dope of a dog.
Maybe you know where this story is going.
Insert plot twist, right?
Here it comes:
Shortly after we brought Bully home, he “perked up,” shall we say? He had a shy and gentle demeanor as he first got accustomed to our home but then he started to… change a bit. The dynamics shifted quite a lot, and Bully quickly made it known that he wanted to be the Alpha dog. He began to hump Dakota. He began to hump CALEB. He began to hump guests, and even the chair a time or two. He also began jumping on people constantly and scratching anyone, myself and Jerry included, anytime he wanted attention. To say that Bully is stubborn and intense is a gigantic understatement (and the stubbornness is a trademark of the breed, something we knew going into it… we did our research). Though Bully means no harm in his actions, just the sheer size of him CAN be harmful unintentionally. We’ve all gotten a number of scratches and bruises from him.
Though we’ve tolerated this behavior for the past couple of months, we finally came to the very difficult decision a couple of weeks ago that Bully would need to be rehomed again through the rescue we adopted him from.
We based this on two major factors:
One: our son is obviously our very first priority. Though Caleb likes Bully sometimes, and often pets him or lies on him… he REALLY dislikes him a lot of times too. Bully makes him cry at least once a day with his intensity. He’s constantly humping him and knocking him over. Perhaps the biggest issue of all in regards to Caleb, however, is the way Bully has interfered with Caleb’s Early Intervention services. Caleb receives speech therapy and OT in our home multiple times each week and Bully has gotten in the way. When the therapists are here, he constantly tries to jump on them. To eliminate that problem, Bully has been placed in another room, which in itself has presented yet ANOTHER problem. Dog can BARK, and bark he does… for the entire hour that Caleb is getting therapy. Is this a huge distraction to our son who needs to focus? Yes.
Two: our first animal priority is Dakota. We owe it to him to make him comfortable. He has been family to me for nearly six years now. Dakota is a very anxious dog to the point that I consider him neurotic. He’s been this way ever since I adopted him. His primary issue is separation anxiety. To put it simply, he goes bonkers when we leave and almost always poops or pees in the kitchen while we’re gone. We thought he wanted a dog companion so he’d feel less lonely. I’m not sure if maybe he DOES and Bully just wasn’t right for him, or if maybe he doesn’t want one at all, but he’s pretty miserable right now. Bully is essentially a bully. Big, huge Bully chases him day in and day out humping him and scaring the living daylights out of him. Dakota spends nearly all day hiding under the table or on the bed where Bully can’t get him. Bully torments and terrorizes him so much that Dakota has pooped/peed on our bed three times since getting Bully. He has NEVER done this before.
Listen, as a big time dog lover, I have always HATED when people got rid of their animals. I’ll be honest here and say I’ve judged people harshly because of it. Dakota is a HOT MESS and drives us nuts, but I’ve refused to get rid of him even though he does at least one bad thing on any given day. Jerry and I have fought too many times to count about Dakota and I still refuse to get rid of him because I view animals as family. Clearly, I am not one to just dispose of animals as I’ve tolerated Dakota’s stressful antics for YEARS now.
All that said, and as heartbreaking as it is, Bully needs to go to a new home.
I have hesitated in telling anyone this news. Every time I’ve decided to tell someone, I brace myself for impact, ready to hear the harsh words and scoldings. I’ve felt embarrassed, ashamed, and guilty. I’ve wondered if people would be mad at us, especially the fellow animal lovers in my life.
To my surprise, people have understood. Not one person has been angry with us for our choice. The best way to describe our situation is that Bully simply isn’t a right fit for our family. We tried and we realized that we would be doing a disservice to our son, our first dog Dakota, and even to Bully by keeping him here.
Yes, I love Bully. Yes, the big guy has grown on me. And yes, I will most certainly miss him.
But… it simply isn’t working.
“Why not neuter him?” You might ask. Bully is nine, which is practically ancient for an English Bulldog. He is also a flat-faced breed. These two things mean that being put under for surgery is highly dangerous for him.
“Well then get him trained,” you might say. And to that, again I say this dog is nine. I believe he is set in his ways by now, not only because of his advanced age and lack of prior training, but also because of his breed. Bulldogs are known for their stubborn and rude natures. Just like it is in MY nature to be stubborn, it is also in his. Some things you simply can’t change. When we adopted a senior dog, we did it because we thought he would be laid-back and easygoing, but clearly he is not. I did contemplate the training option AND the neuter option, but there’s a reason I adopt older dogs only and that’s BECAUSE those things are usually not needed for an older dog.
So where do we stand now?
Bully has been relisted on the group’s adoption page for a couple of weeks now. We told them we would keep him until he found a new home, rather than putting him in a foster home. He already had his whole world rocked when WE adopted him (he had the same owner from the time he was a puppy until the time we adopted him at nearly nine years old). I wanted to lessen the life changes he would have to go through and didn’t want him to have to move again and again and again. So he’s still with us now. Currently, they are in the process of finding a perfect match for him. He’s had a fair amount of interest and is meeting a great sounding prospect this weekend. I will be sad to see him go, but I will also feel a huge sense of relief mostly because I know that Caleb and Dakota will feel a huge sense of relief. And while I am already certain that on our first night without him, I’ll walk into our room, see his empty bed and cry myself to sleep, wondering if I did the right thing… I will know in my heart that the right thing is often the hardest of things.
I will always remember the big goofy dog who came barreling into our lives but simply wasn’t meant to stay. I will forever hold a special place in my heart for him and will miss his snores, his flat snout, and wiggly wrinkles. I will remember, both fondly and with annoyance, the one and only time he somehow managed to get his big old body onto my bed at night and refused to get down (picture below). I like to think we gave him a good home for awhile, too. He made several trips to our vet to clear up some infections and get on a regimen of heartworm and flea meds. He’s had many play dates with Jerry and has served as a big old, stinky bed for our son who loves to lounge on big old, stinky dogs. Ultimately, Bully is unforgettable with his stubborn nature, nonstop gas, and funny, flat face.
I guess this is my confession, the one I’ve been afraid to make to so many people: I’m a dog lover but I’m rehoming a dog. I’d like to look at us instead as accidental, long-term fosters for the big guy since we just got him in September. He just wasn’t for us, but I know he will bound into someone else’s life and make them laugh as much as he made us. In fact, he’ll probably be happier there too, in a home where perhaps he will get to be the only dog and won’t have a toddler constantly cramping his style, putting a costume fire helmet on his head while laughing that maniacal toddler laugh. Bully’s not one for toddlers — I can kind of see why.
So here’s to you, Bully… you were only meant for us for a season, but I’m starting to learn that maybe it’s okay.