I got a dog. Maybe.

I had expected to write an excited posted filled with happy stories and cute dog photos. Instead, I’m caught in a limbo, unsure what to do.

I’ve wanted a dog for ages. I grew up with a dog and I’ve always loved dogs. In my 20s I 2016-03-01 18.55.33worked and traveled too much for a dog. I wasn’t ready for the responsibility. In my early 30s my health was too bad for a dog. Then last year, I was talking to a friend for the millionth time about how much I wanted a dog, but that I couldn’t manage all of the walks. She pointed out that I could litter train a dog.

Suddenly, getting a dog seemed feasible. I could walk her once a day and play with her indoors for exercise and have her use the litter the rest of the time. This could totally work. I’d have a lovely companion. A furbaby. Someone to love and someone to love me. I could finally get my dog!

After a ridiculous amount of thinking and over analyzing, checking with doctors and working out logistics with my landlord, then recovering from my foot accident, it was finally time. I sent out several applications. And then the call came: my application was being processed for a little cutie named Roxanne!

Roxanne is a darling. She is sweet and beautiful. She’s housebroken, so in some ways she’s a lot less work at this stage than I expected. She’s got big ears and lovely markings and a tail that’s almost always wagging. Right now, she’s sitting in my lap.

And I don’t know if I’m going to keep her.

If the rescue agency had said the adoption was final, maybe I’d have a different mindset. I’ll never know. Instead, they said this was a foster-to-adopt. I had 2 weeks to decide. After two weeks, I could return her to her last foster home and get almost all of my money back. I shrugged it off when they said that; of course this was permanent! But now I’m not so sure….

Even in the first days, I had doubts. I tried to ignore them. I decided to try the fake-it-til-I-make-it approach. I emailed my loved ones about the adoption. I posted on Facebook. It wasn’t quite working. I was overwhelmed and exhausted and not sure if she was really going to be mine. I posted a more hesitant teaser on this blog. My parents visited to see if they could offer some insight. I spoke to friends with dogs. I talked to her new vet.

And I still don’t know what to do.

At first, I felt like she was too hyper. But that was mostly her acting out as she adjusted to a new place, combined with me not handling it in the best way. Really, she’s so great, there’s nothing particularly “wrong” with her. I just wonder if I can really fit Roxanne into my life.

I had a good thing going. But it was tenuous at best. I was starting to do some paid work, but I was having trouble finding time and energy for it. I was hoping to even start dating again soon, but there was no time or energy for that. My health was doing ok, but I wasn’t doing my exercises consistently. Still, it was going pretty well overall.

I want to give Roxanne back, but I’m not entirely sure why.

If I want to give her back because I don’t think I can fit her into my life without giving up something I shouldn’t (like paid work or physical therapy), then I have to give her back. But if I want to give her back because I got used to having no responsibilities, that’s not a good enough reason. If I want to give her back because I’m scared of the unknown, that’s not a good enough reason.

I used to make changes in my life. A lot of them. I changed cities. I changed jobs. I traveled. Now, I haven’t been on an airplane in 5 years. I’ve been in the same apartment for 10 years. I haven’t been working. My life has been fairly stable. I think stability can be good. I need it to a certain extent. But it can make me complacent. Roxanne would definitely change things up, and maybe that’s the part that’s scaring me. In a life where chronic illness takes away my sense of having any control at all over my life, that stability gave me a small measure of control that I could hold on to. Am I ready to rock that boat?

Or maybe I just didn’t fully understand just how much work a dog would be, and it’s too much for me.

I would love any and all thoughts, advice, and tips you can offer! Please comment below. Do you have a dog? How do you balance dog care with chronic illness? Do you feel that you shy away from new things because you’ve become set in your ways? Really, please share anything you think of. Maybe it will help me.

Right now I’m leaning towards giving Roxanne back. I’m not sure if I can manage having her. But this would also mean giving up on my dream of dog ownership, at least for now (maybe down the road I’d feel more ready?) Not to mention, I would miss her and feel terrible about her being abandoned yet again.


9 Responses to I got a dog. Maybe.

  1. I would hate to be without my dogs. They give so much for so little. I’m at home all the time now because of my poor health and they’re great companions. Your Roxanne is a beautiful girl, why not wait the couple of weeks to see how you feel then? 🙂

  2. Ms. Mango says:

    OMG this post got me so emotional. We got a dog a year and a half ago. A cute little husky cross that literally was abandoned on the side of a highway and needed a home. He was adorable, gentle with the kids and very loving, but it didn’t matter I couldn’t handle it. It took 8 months of hell for me to finally come to grips with it and worse to try and explain it to the rest of the family that my body and my mental state just couldn’t handle the responsibilities of a puppy on top of everything else. To this day I still think Mr. Mango is upset about it, but he also gets it. We put an ad up and he was adopted within a week by a family that had much more space and much more energy and, well, no chronic illness. That was MY experience with trying to adopt a dog. Keep in mind, it was a big dog, a hyper breed with separation anxiety after being abandoned and I had a 1, 4 and 7 year old at the time we got him to take care of. I don’t think I would have been able to make that decision within a 2 week period to be honest. I do think that a smaller dog that didn’t have it’s own anxiety complex would have been better. I would suggest weighing the pros and cons, asking family or friends that “if” you were having trouble days to help on the walk or to visit and play and also maybe talk to the adoption agency if you can extend the trial period to give you a little more time to adjust. I think for those of us with chronic illness, change can be really hard to adjust to even if its good change. We’ve found what works best for us and how to take care of ourselves and an added responsibility can throw that all out of proportion. I really with you all the best in making the decision, I know my story didn’t have the oh so happy ending, but it’s real. Take care. xoxo

  3. Corgerz says:

    Roxanne looks so cute! I have 2 dogs, both are very active breeds (an Aussie and a husky mix) that I adopted when I was in better health. We used to go on walks almost every day. Now I feel guilty that I can no longer do that for them. But there is nothing in this world that is better than them cuddling up to me on a bad day. When I am stuck on the couch, in too much pain to get up and ready for bed, they lay with me and suddenly I’m not so alone in my misery. I couldn’t imagine my life without them!

    In the beginning it will be rough, but you will get into a schedule with her and things will fall into place. You’ll learn when she eats, when she needs to be let out, when she sleeps and plays. But in the end you have to do what’s best for you and your health! I hope it works out for you both 🙂

  4. Maybe you’re scared that if you get sick again, Roxanne will be taken away from you anyway? There are ways to provide for her care in that event. It sounds like you’re already in love with her.

    No reason you can’t keep doing your freelance work while a dog is in the house. No reason you can’t leave her temporarily for physical therapy, doctor’s appointments, or for other outside-the-house reasons. Walking her would give you daily exercise as well as her, and she’s a little dog so a short walk should suffice. During the winter, my Puppy Cody gets most of her exercise playing fetch in the house.

    Yes, there will be some work and some expense. You have to provide food, water, and litter (if she’s litter-trained). You have to take her to the vet, and pay for those visits. You may have to have someone standing by to care for her in case you get hospitalized.

    Having a dog can be just the boost you need when feeling unwell, but it can also be the one thing you don’t need, depending on the dog and your relationship with the dog.

    Obviously, no one can make this decision for you, and I know it’s a tough one. If looking into those adoring little eyes doesn’t make the decision for you, then maybe having a dog at this time is not the right thing. Whatever you decide, feel secure in knowing that you thought it through the best that you could.

  5. Karen J says:

    Oh, big hugs, CR!
    I sure understand your conflict – she IS adorable, and a long-held dream. OTOH, lots of tiny decisions to make and habits to re-arrange when you add another ‘person’ to the house. It can be scary to contemplate. I’ve been breaking it down into “one teeny-tiny thing” at a time, to stay out of that “OMG! I can’t DO this!!” overwhelm. It’s helping…
    More gentle hugs, and a scritch for Roxanne! ~ K

  6. Lorna says:

    You have been on my mind since yesterday when I thought I;d posted? Hope you are ok and things have resolved in your mind. Vig hugs and sloppy kisses from Sable the lab

  7. Shannon says:

    You have two weeks to decide, so I’d wait the whole time. If you don’t mind losing the money you paid for her, you could keep her longer and if needed I’m sure the rescue would take her back if it truly didn’t work out.

    I understand exactly how you feel. My family has always had dogs, but we lost 3 senior dogs in the course of a year and only had one 6 year old mild mannered Chihuahua left. Although we wanted another dog, we weren’t sure if we wanted the work of a second dog. However, our dog was highly depressed on her own, so we got a Yorkie puppy in January. Unlike our Chihuahua, she came to us extremely hyper. Seriously I have never seen a dog that has as much energy and is as determined to find trouble as this dog. At first, she wore us out to the point every single day one of us questioned if we didn’t make a horrible mistake. The only thing that made us keep her in the beginning is because our Chihuahua adored the puppy and her depression was gone.

    Thank goodness we stuck with her. She is finally outgrowing some of her early puppy craziness and is turning into a sweet little dog.

    It may take you some time to adjust your mindset to having a dog. Or maybe there are things you can do to make things easier for both of you. The fact she’s housebroken is a huge thing. Puppy pads may be easier for you to deal with instead of a litter box.

    Getting on a schedule will help too. She’ll know what to expect at the same time every day and you can adjust the schedule around to what works best for your lifestyle. Honestly, I think sometimes it helps to have responsibility when you are sick and to push to know you have to do x and y for someone else. Maybe Roxanne could become part of your recovery in a sense.

    As far as your work or needing to get out of the house, what has helped at my house is to use baby gates on the door frames of the rooms I don’t want my dogs to go. If your dog won’t jump across, you can even use a board and then you can walk over it easily. Our Yorkie is a climber and will take a flying leap from 5 feet away, so we use a 14 inch high dog gate. Tall enough she can’t get over, but low enough we can step across.

    Giving Roxanne her own space that she knows is hers when you need a time out will help too. I use a playpen for my puppy, but my Chihuahua has a chair that is just for her. They know when they are in “their” spot, it’s quiet time and they need to sleep or play quietly. That should help you do things around the house when you can’t play with her.

    If you think there is a possibility you want to keep her, I wouldn’t rush into this. Take the two weeks. Take longer if needed even if you lose your deposit. I’d rather lose the money than to lose the dog and later wish I hadn’t given her back until I was certain what I was doing.

    There isn’t anything wrong with giving her back if you don’t feel right about the situation and certainly the right decision if you know you can’t take care of her. Just make sure you are 100% sure. If so, it really would be best to send her back when you *know* so she can find her forever home faster.

    P.S. Roxanne is adorable! Looks to be like she is a papillon or a long hair chihuahua. I don’t know a lot about papillons, but I have been told they are great dogs. I do know about long hair chihuahuas because that’s what mine is. There isn’t a lot of upkeep to them and if you can’t take them for walks, they do really well as totally indoor dogs. Both our dogs are really small and we have a large enough house they can run free so for their safety, ours are indoor only.

    Good luck on your decision.

  8. […] wrote about this the other day. And in the end, I didn’t keep […]

  9. chronicrants says:

    Thanks all for your wonderful, supportive, helpful comments. You guys are awesome! I wrote an update here: https://chronicrants.com/2016/03/08/a-doggie-update/

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