If you’ve been reading this blog, or listening to our podcasts, you know the past year has been one of many changes. It was a year ago that I was let go from a job I’d had for five years. At the time, I was living with my husband and son, two dogs, and my dad. Over the course of the year, my dad went into long-term care, and I moved to a condo with my dog.
Yesterday, I rehomed my dog. Keo has been part of my life for the past three years. I knew when I bought him that he’d be my last dog; I had no idea it would happen so soon.
I have had at least one dog, and as many as nine dogs, in my life since I was 23. My first husband bought me a dog to keep me company and is the reason I got into the dog fancy – obedience, conformation, agility, hunt tests, flyball, tracking and even breeding. “Sharon” and “dogs” were synonymous. It seems rather fitting to have my last dog happen with my last marriage.
As much as I love Keo, I knew he needed more than I can now give him. The “honeymoon period” we went through when we first moved here didn’t last long. He barked at every dog who walked past our yard. It didn’t matter if he was inside or outside, so he had to stay in his crate during the day while I worked. I don’t have a yard. He didn’t have the room to play with his favourite toys. I was having to walk him three times a day to give him the exercise he needed, and he wanted to greet Every. Dog. He. Saw. Walks became a struggle to control him. He’s not aggressive at all; just very eager to say “hi”. I started to resent all the time he was taking out of my day. Instead of having a dog be part of my life, he was becoming my life. His needs took priority over mine.
I tried working with trainers. We quickly learned that, while my dog loved me, he had absolutely no respect for me. He is obedience trained, but only listened when it suited him. In the house, he was perfect. Outside – with any distraction – I didn’t exist. The day he wanted to go say “hi” to a dog and, literally, pulled me off my feet and dragged me, I knew he needed more attention and consistency than I’m prepared or able to give him. I’ve come a long way in the past year, but I still have moments of not being strong enough – mentally or physically – to be the leader he needs.
So, we are both getting a reset. He is in a home with new people where rules will be set from the start and enforced. I’m getting to experience life without dependents on of any kind. As someone who has spent the majority of my adult life as a wife, dog-mom, child-mom, and caregiver – I’m charting new territory.
The condo seems quiet tonight. It was strange getting up this morning and not taking Keo for walk before I had coffee. It was weird to be gone out for several hours, come home, and be able to relax. Usually, it would have been a long walk or a trip to a field for an off-leash walk. Tonight, I can go to bed when I’m tired and not have to decide whether I want to stay up later so I can sleep in tomorrow.
There will be a period of adjustment for both of us. I’m confident he will do well with his new family. With the support of my partner, I know I’m going to be just fine, too.