Monday, December 16, 2013
This is a hard post to write, and it was a hard decision to make, but we decided to give Gus back to the rescue organization. This is the hardest thing to do because we love him so much already, but we know deep down we are not the best home for him. I know it might seem as if we got a dog and just turned around and gave him back, but I promise there are a lot of reasons why this is best.
Gus is a super high energy dog, something akin to a Jack Russell Terrier, or rather, a Jack Russell Terrier on speed. To give you an idea of a typical day, this was our routine (at least until Peter broke his arm running with Gus and had to stop)…Peter would get up before work and run with Gus about 3.5 miles. Then a little before 10 am, I'd take him out to the back yard and run and play hard for a while. Then around 12:30, I'd take him out again to run and play hard. Then around 3-4 pm, I'd take him for a long walk around the neighborhood. Then when Peter got home around 7:30 pm, he would go running with Gus again for another 3.5 miles. Then we'd take him out again a few hours later to try to burn off as much energy as possible before going to bed so that (hopefully) he would sleep and not cry all night long. He was running/walking miles and miles every day. You might think that would wear him out, but believe it or not, he was still hyped up and restless most of the time. We couldn't physically do much more than that on weekdays.
It was pretty clear to us from the get go that Gus would never be the type of dog who can just chill out at home while "Mom and Dad" are at work with maybe a short break at lunch to run around. Gus needs to go to a home with a lot of land, or at least a very large yard, where he can run and run (and run and run) for hours off-leash. We also think he should go to a home with other dogs so that he can be a part of a pack (and they can keep him in line). He would be much, much happier with other dogs. Like I said, we realized all of this within a day or two of getting him, but we loved him of course, so we tried to make it work anyway.
There were other issues too, but I don't want it to seem as if I'm listing grievances against a dog who is very, very sweet and loving (at least to us…he did sort of try to murder the vet, but in all fairness, I've wanted to take out a few doctors in my time as well).
We love so many things about Gus: as you can see in the photos, he has just about the best ears in town. And he does the classic dog head-tilt, one ear up and one ear down, and looks up at you and makes the funniest noise, like he's trying to ask you a question. He also will take his paw and wipe it over his ear and down his face just like a cat, which is the cutest thing ever. And I loved when we were outside, and he'd stop to smell something wafting by on a breeze; he'd tilt his head up and wiggle his nose back and forth like a bunny. And at the end of the day, when we'd finally managed to get him calm, he would curl up in your lap and nap for a little while.
Gus is whip smart and if you have a treat, he will learn just about any trick you want him to learn. I almost feel like he could be trained to be a working dog of some sort, though I don’t know what that would be. And he could definitely do agility competitions; he is lightening fast, very agile, and as I already mentioned, has energy for days. Gus is just the most affectionate, sweet boy, and we are going to miss him so much.
Please know that he will never be taken to a shelter or euthanized. If that were the case, we would've kept him ourselves until we could find the right home for him. He has gone back to his foster at the rescue organization, to a home and a person he knows well. We had a long talk with the rescue folks and shared all of our experience with Gus in the hopes that they are able to find a home where he can thrive and be happy. And we are going to stay in touch with them.
Also, I don't want to discourage anyone from getting a rescue dog. For those of you who've never had a dog and have maybe been thinking of getting one, you should know that this is not a normal activity level and not a normal time commitment from an owner. Most of my friends and family members have dogs, and everyone I know takes their dogs for, at most, two walks a day, in the morning and at night, with maybe a break at lunch to potty for smaller dogs who can't hold it all day or older dogs with special needs, etc., and then a potty break at night before bed. Usually more active dogs will also benefit from 30 minutes at the dog park to romp with some friends too. But again, it's not that much time required from you. Everyone I know works full time, out of the home, and their dogs are all happy and healthy.
I would recommend spending some time with the dog before you adopt though. We weren't really given an accurate description of Gus's nature or needs, and we didn't really have an opportunity to spend any time with him beforehand. Even if you know the breed characteristics and think you are a good match, every dog is different.
We hope one day to find a dog that will be a good match for us, that we can watch grow and love and have forever. This whole experience has made us a little sad though, obviously, so we will probably wait a long time before we try again. We've already been approached to foster another small dog, but we decided that, at the very least, Peter's arm needs to heal first.