I’ve been MIA for a few weeks. We have been sick, Ryan has been out of town and to be honest, my heart has been a bit broken. I knew I needed to share this news, this story, but I didn’t know where to begin. Two weeks ago we ended up rehoming Mr. Feeny, our Labradoodle. We knew it was coming for a while, but I was not prepared for the number that this would do on my heart.
Let me rewind about 4 years in order to help you understand where we are coming from.
I’d never had a dog before our Labradoodle, Mr. Feeny. I spent the better half of my childhood wanting and waiting for a dog. Every year at Christmas my family would tease me with some kind of dog- stuffed, robotic, you name it. One year I even got a pooper scooper. Not a dog. Just a pooper scooper.
Needless to say, I was over the moon when Ryan and I began to talk about getting a dog of our own.
We brought home what appeared to be the calmest dog of the Doodle litter. As we made the 2 hour drive home after getting him, we quickly realized that we were wrong. Unlike his namesake (the man, the myth, the legend) from Boy Meets World, our Feeny was far from calm cool and collected.
We tried to do all of the right things. We read all about training a puppy. Despite our best efforts, if you’ve ever seen the movie Marley & Me, we were living that life. I can’t even count the number of dog beds, dog toys and leather shoes that he destroyed. Not to mention the scratches that we (along with our family) obtained. To this day if you look closely at a lot of our trim, you can see his teeth and claw marks.
His energy was undeniable, as was his need to be dominant. We spent a lot of money on an amazing trainer. She spent a great deal of time not only training our pup, but training us as well. We loved her. She saved us, at least as much as she could.
We saw a huge improvement in behavior but also had to come to terms that he was just always going to be a little bit crazy. He was never a cuddler and only wanted to be loved on when he initiated. He was easily startled and often got aggressive when it came to toys. But he was ours and he was so darn cute and for that we loved him.
When we found out that we were pregnant, we knew that it would be an adjustment for Feeny. He doesn’t share well. So in addition to nesting and prepping for Quinn, we were also training and preparing Feeny.
Ryan and I had learned to read Feeny’s cues and were able to avoid his growls and nipping most of the time. But we knew that a baby wasn’t going to be able to do the same. He was always an anxious pup but loved peanut butter, the water, being outside and head scratches and that had worked to our advantage up until this point. However, Feeny wasn’t the only anxious one. As we awaited Quinn’s arrival we also anxiously awaited Feeny’s reaction.
From the moment he met Quinn, Feeny truly did love her. He would lay beside her wherever she was. Rarely did I nurse Quinn without him laying at the foot of the nursery glider.
Though we knew he loved her, we were always watching his every move around her. We would never let him be in a room with her without us right there.
The Decision to Rehome our Doodle
It wasn’t until Quinn began crawling and eventually walking that we began to see his anxiety increase. He didn’t like that he couldn’t predict her next move. Slowly we saw his aggression increase. Often he would growl when Quinn got close. Life with Feeny was proving to be almost as stressful as life with a toddler.
If I am being honest, life with Feeny was never easy, but boy have we loved him something fierce.
We had thought about rehoming him for quite some time. But I always found myself justifying his behavior. I felt that we had made a commitment to him. When we brought him into our family I imagined only one way out and this was not it.
The final straw came on a sunny Fall day. I held Quinn on my hip as we strolled to the mailbox, both of us laughing as Feeny excitedly ran around the front yard. He wasn’t on a leash but I knew we’d be quick. I had looked and I hadn’t seen any dogs out on the street (he had gotten increasingly more aggressive with other dogs as well, so we were cautious). Out of nowhere a woman came walking by with her dog. Feeny darted across the street and immediately began to attack the dog. I quickly set Quinn down and ran across the street in attempts to get Feeny. Before I knew it Feeny had somehow broken the other dog’s leash. Meanwhile, Quinn had darted across the street, somehow (thank you Jesus) managing to avoid any cars. I then had to ask this complete stranger whose dog my dog had just attacked to hold my child (who was screaming bloody murder) while I wrangle my dog back into the house. By the end we were all crying and I was done.
Somehow no blood was shed, Quinn was unscathed and the owner of the other dog was beyond kind. We knew that this story could and probably should have ended much more tragically. Next time we wouldn’t be so lucky.
He was a good boy but our home was no longer bringing out the best in him. This was not only a jab to my pride, but to my heart. He needed a home that doesn’t have kids. A home in which he would be less anxious and more at ease. A home that would be able to give him the attention and energy outlet that he deserved.
I began to contact every agency that had anything to do with dogs within a two hour radius of our house. I became discouraged when the theme seemed to be that no one wanted an aggressive dog. After many no’s, my heart sank. I refused to have him put down. His story would not end that way. We wanted a good home for our boy. After all, he was part of our family.
Cause for Canines
I’m thankful for my mother-in-law and her connection with Cause for Canines. Thanks to them, we found an amazing foster home for Feeny. He has a huge fenced in yard, he gets to go to work with his new foster Mom and goes on 2 mile walks almost daily. The agency has approved funding for a behaviorist to work with Feeny in hopes of reducing his anxiety and aggression. Best of all, his current foster Mom plans to adopt him, assuming Feeny continues to feel at home in his new place.
Our hearts are sad and our house seems exponentially quieter (yes even with a toddler still in it!). However, I have gradually moved past guilt and accepted that this is best not only for our family but for Feeny. We are all less anxious, Feeny included. Though we will forever miss him, and I’m not sure if Quinn will ever stop asking about “Fefe”, we are so thankful for the time and the memories that we have had with him.
We love you buddy!
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