Am I going to rehome my Labrador?

(46 Posts)
AlwaysMeanWellOftenWrong Thu 10-Jun-10 20:29:29

I am torn.

He is the perfect dog, no problems. I have 2 children 3 and 6mths. I struggle to find the time/energy to walk him sufficiently and I feel we are not offering him the wonderful love filled home he deserves - all my energy and love is splashed on the kids leaving a quick pet or rushed walk here and there.

My husband does not want the hassle any more either, he says it is up to me though. We both love him, but just cannot afford him the time to make his life fulfilled.

I probably spend 10 - 15 mins with him per day. The rest his is out in the garden or on his 2 x 20 min walks.

We used to walk for hours each day/evening after work - at weekends we would go hill walking for hours. He jumped in rivers, lakes and chased his ball in the fields. Now, he survives.

But I love him so much. I find it very difficult to let him go. How selfish am I. I have booked him a place at a Labrador rescue centre, I am just waiting for a phone call. The wait is making me chicken out for the third time this year.

Vallhala Thu 10-Jun-10 21:08:02

I had 2 children, a newborn and a 19 month old. My husband had left us, we had very little money, no support and no transport. I was struggling having just had a caesarian section... and I had 2 dogs.

Cassie was already older and she died when my children were quite small. Monty was only a year or so old. He joined Cassie three and a half years ago, aged 12.

I was tired, exhausted, in pain, desperately pushed for time, no car to nip to the shops, no husband to feed the babe whilst I cooked for the toddler here. But I couldn't have given my dogs up for the world. I owed them, they relied on me, and they weren't just disposable items to be discarded when it didn't suit me. It wasn't their fault. Besides, taking the chance to walk them, with a babe in a sling and toddler in a buggy, or both in a double buggy, was my chance to unwind, to stop being a cook, cleaner and nurse. It kept me sane.

So, my thoughts are these, for what they're worth. You are being unselfish by sending him to Lab Rescue. I admire you for that. BUT... how much will you miss him and how much will you regret not finding that extra half hour or so in a day when he's gone?

As time goes by, you establish a routine, you tell DH you need some "me time" to walk your dog alone, you'll find that the time you spend with him naturally starts to increase again. Children grow, their demands change, workloads change. They become less hard work.

No-one is going to castigate you for having less time for your Lab now that you have two youngsters. We know that it won't be forever. But if you let your dog go now, that will be forever.

Purely my own take of course AMWOW (god that should be my name!), and I don't know the ins and outs of your life, but all I can suggest is that I managed it (have had at least 2 dogs of my own, have fostered dogs and gone through cancer all as a lone mum). so I'm sure you can too. Perhaps you can get that husband of yours to care for the babes regularly while you take a breather out walking with your dog. Whilst indoors, compensate with more mental stimulation for your dog, in the form of chews and Kongs, stroke him and talk to him each time you pass him whilst doing the chores, play fetch/hide and seek a toy/treat whilst you're sitting having a coffee.

Hope that I've offered food for thought and reassurance that it's not impossible to have both cared for children and a happy dog.

jonicomelately Thu 10-Jun-10 21:13:06

Walking my dog is the only me time I get. Why not get an ipod with your favourite music or audio book. Everybody needs time to think. Look at it that way instead of a chore.

jonicomelately Thu 10-Jun-10 21:14:27

Writing this on my blackberry hence rubbish sentances.

Is there any reason you stopped taking him out so much? Can you take the 2 DCs out with the dog, esp. as it's summer and just spend long afternoons outside? Instead of thinking you have to do something with the dog, can you just sort of fit him in? Get a bike seat for the baby and go bike riding?

Vallhala Thu 10-Jun-10 21:27:37

Agree with Lemonade! A lot of the walks my dogs got in the early days were to the shops. I also included the dogs in our walks to the park, library etc.

GroovyGretel Thu 10-Jun-10 21:30:14

Blimey, you must feel so torn in two - it sounds as though you are feeling really agonised over this decision.

For what it's worth, I would agree with Valhalla (though you could say I was biased with two labs of my own).

I got mine as puppies when I was 3 months pg with my pfb as I wanted dogs in my life and was too selfish to wait until the children were old enough to understand how to treat puppies.

So I was doing housebreaking with morning sickness.yum.

There was a period, when my pfb dd was small when I felt totally overwhelmed with the responsibility of being a good parent and a good dog owner, but believe me this time passed (as all things do).

For me, what helped was involving the children in the walks - taking them with the dogs everyday in the afternoon, (walking them on my own in the morning) and making this into an integral part of our routine, an extended nature walk I suppose, watching for the bluebells flowering, listening to crickets in the summer, chasing falling leaves in autumn, animal tracks in the winter. (hah, listen to me - I sound like a mad woman, but truly my kids loved it).

And now, my children (now 6 and nearly 5) say the dogs are their best friends, and cry when on holiday that they miss them. They are massively important to our family dynamic and I cannot bear to think of a time when they are gone.

Just as you cannot be a perfect parent, you need (imo) to cut yourself some slack. After all, a contented dog can sleep 22 hours a day (truly), and they will not hate you nor resent you for not having time at the moment, they will wait patiently for your lives to adjust.

frogetyfrog Thu 10-Jun-10 21:31:22

He may be desperately unhappy leaving you and the children and actually be happier with you even 'neglected' until you have more time rather than going to a new home and missing you and kids.

Rehoming centres are awful for animals - a real shock for a family dog.

You will get more time soon - just give it another year and it will be so much easier.

PersonalEnglandCoach Thu 10-Jun-10 21:32:14

Totally agree with Valhalla.
In the beginning my lil Staffy only got around the block a couple of times a day. Now life has worked it's way around and I love the hour+ walks we go for in the woods.

A 15ft lead and doggy water bottle and he's a happy pup!

Slambang Thu 10-Jun-10 21:34:59

Pay for a dog walker?

Then you wont feel guilty on the days you can't manage a decent walk but you can still enjoy your lovely lab.

And it's very good for children to grow up with dogssmile

Alouiseg Thu 10-Jun-10 21:37:10

Your dc will only be little for such a short time, then you'll have more time for your lovely dog. He would be so confused to be rehomed after being brought up by you.

If you can't cope then so be it but my kids are older now and my dog has saved my sanity since they need me less.

If you give him up to be rehomed please choose carefully.

mjinhiding Thu 10-Jun-10 21:38:58

Hi, I had a thread similar to yours (choccy brown lab and teens plus 2 babies).

I sent her for a temporary rehome, it was awful, she is back now, after a huge family row that ended up in me driving streets with babies in car at 1 am.

Since she came home, I have become more selfish, the babies and the dog now come first, the house is messier, also I have started taking the dog more places with me, for example, I now take her to my mothers, and sisters, rather than leave her home, my sister has 2 pocket dogs she takes everywhere, and as I pointed out to my mum, they may not moult but they are horrible, snappy and she puts up with them.

I missed her so much when she was gone, and was so glad she came home.

I have taken to park more than baby groups, also walking to shop, doctors, etc, instead of sort of fighting having the dog I have re-embraced her as a much loved family member, whereas before I was almost resenting her has just another source of chores.

mjinhiding Thu 10-Jun-10 21:41:20

oh and one more thing, re the 19 month old, also instead of walking her if I am too busy, my 2 year old will happily spend half an hour or so throwing her a ball, and she gets excercise this way, it is only since she came home (2 weeks ago) he has been doing this, so it is not long before your kids will be able to join in interacting and excercising the dog, even if it is not in the most conventional way.

jonicomelately Thu 10-Jun-10 21:42:34

I also find those sticks that throw balls really far are handy when I'm pressed for time. 20 mins and my very fit dog is shattered. The kids love to use it and cheer when the dog catches the ball in her mouth. I agree that the dog is probably happier with you than anywhere else. We all think we're not doing a good enough job with our dogs, kids etc. You're probably a far better dog owner than you think.

mjinhiding Thu 10-Jun-10 21:42:52

valhalla just to say - your posts on my thread helped clarify things immensely - I have been meaning to message you to thank you, I love my dog, it just needed someone to remind me of that

sorry for hijack OP

mjinhiding Thu 10-Jun-10 21:42:52

valhalla just to say - your posts on my thread helped clarify things immensely - I have been meaning to message you to thank you, I love my dog, it just needed someone to remind me of that

sorry for hijack OP

Sexonlegs Thu 10-Jun-10 21:46:00


What a dilemna

Vallhala Thu 10-Jun-10 21:49:33

Aw, thanks mj. blush

You'd be laughing if you'd seen me a minute ago... I just shrieked, "That's the lady with the lazy teenagers, I'm SO glad she kept her dog in the end!", and did a mini-jig whilst DD1 actually looked up from Facebook to see what all the fuss was about!

I'm really, really pleased for you. That's made my day.

Sorry Always, whoops, as you were! (But take heed, mj's another one of those "If I can do it, you can, honest" examoles! ;) )

mjinhiding Thu 10-Jun-10 21:52:52

my thread in case it helps OP

Valhalla, yes I have thought of you often when I am walking her - you are an excellent animal advocate

hatwoman Thu 10-Jun-10 21:54:55

you have very high the dog showing signs of unhappiness/stress? I thought, from the beginning of your post, that you were going to say he was getting no walks at all. but he is. and, when you're in the house, he's getting your company - which is often the crucial thing. if he's happy pottling about in the garden, and getting bits of attention as you go about your day, I think you can get through this difficult patch. I agree with all the other suggestions - walking him to places you're going to - not the same as getting a run off the lead, but to a dog it's mental stimulation - interesting sounds and smells. and can you compensate for the shorter works during the week by getting some longer ones in at the weekend? also agree re a dog walker - even if it were just twice a week it would help. you love him and he loves you.

AlwaysMeanWellOftenWrong Thu 10-Jun-10 22:13:01

Thanks everyone. Vallhala, you almost made me cry and I appreciate you taking the time to write such a lengthy reply.

Above all, I want my dog to be happy.

My hubby works shifts and when we both are back at work, when baby is one, both full time, I have to pick up kids from nursery then go out and walk dog in middle of winter when it is blowing a gale and dark.

I can technically afford a dog walker ie. my neighbours son has just started high school and may want a little job, I am by no means rich though, it would mean some string tightening elsewhere.

You all seem so keen to get me to keep him! I am so keen to keep him, I just have to keep my energy and positive frame of mind knowing that things will, as you have all said, get easier.

I will miss him so much. I see pictures of him all round the house at various ages and he is in all my baby videos, thinking about that now is making me cry.

You are all so kind to come on here and try to stop me making a mistake I will regret.

I think I am going to have to persevere, at least till after Christmas when we will both be back at work and it will be winter so we can see how hard it will be.

This is the third time I have contacted the rescue centre and chickened out - they must think I am barmy!

AlwaysMeanWellOftenWrong Thu 10-Jun-10 22:21:34

He is not showing any signs of stress and sleeps when he is not being walked. He is 7 now.

I have sent an email to my hubby at work telling him I can't do it.

I am just going to keep putting in the effort, as you all say, things will get easier.

Thanks again, you are lifesavers.

mjinhiding Thu 10-Jun-10 22:24:58

by then, the 19 month old will be able to throw a ball in the living room for ages, save the walk (its my plan anyway!!!)

I work on the basis, company is more important than walking, and plan long walks in the park on the weekend to make up for it (no way will I be walking her in the dark)

I am already buying up ski wear for the 2 babies to make sure they are warm and dry in the winter (if you can catch it it is going for peanuts on ebay because it is out of season)

Vallhala Thu 10-Jun-10 22:27:36

It will get easier, honest. And to be honest, at 7 he'll find it terribly hard to adjust to foster homes or rescue kennels having spent a lifetime with you.

I really hope that you can make it work... as I said, I did, so it's by no means impossible.

On a lighter note, the workload may decrease as they get older, but as the mother of two teenagers I can promise you that the chaos and noise level doesn't!

AlwaysMeanWellOftenWrong Thu 10-Jun-10 22:28:30

I could, in winter, take him to work with me and leave him in the car and walk him on my lunch break if things are desperate.

I think things are a little difficult with 2 kids and it is an easy option to 'get rid' of the dog to relieve some pressure. A very costly and hurtful easy option mind you.

I have told hubby never ever let me re home him.

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