Five years ago, I found myself in the place no pet owner wants to be – the veterinarian’s office watching our beloved pet be put to sleep. Kes, our dog of nine years, had developed cancer that was rapidly spreading through her body. She had quit eating and by the look on her face was beginning to experience pain. Although sad, we had no regrets about ending her life in that way. It was simply the best alternative and most humane thing to do for her.
After about a year, we began to experience empty dog syndrome. Having always been dog people, my wife and I were intent on having an animal around the house. So we started the search to make a pet purchase – buying a new dog.
Not long into our quest we found him. A beautiful, all black, lab mix named Axel. He was part of a litter of puppies that was up for adoption. We made an arrangement with the foster parent to meet him and assess whether or not he would be a good fit.
Upon arrival, we were not disappointed. In every way, Axel lived up to the description we had been given. So cute, cuddly and playful…he was an instant hit with our kids.
What we didn’t anticipate though was our emotional reaction when we saw his twin sister Alley. That emotion led to a decision we are now regretting.
Alley also was a black lab mix, but smaller in overall body size and with a pointier nose than Axel. But one distinguishing feature jumped out to my wife and I when we saw her. She had white fur on her chest and several of her paws…just like our dearly departed Kes.
(You can already see where this is going.)
The whole time we were looking at Axel, he was playing with Alley. They chased each other around the yard, tumbled over one another and snuggled in the corner. They were so cute as only puppies can be.
After awhile, I looked at my wife. She looked at me. As if we could read each other’s mind, we both said, “Let’s get them both.”
Some Caution About This Pet Purchase
To her credit, the foster parent cautioned us on some issues to consider regarding adopting two dogs:
First of all, there was the cost factor to consider…double the vet bills, double the food bill, double the puppy sitting expenses when you go on vacation.
Secondly, the time factor involved with raising two dogs…double the individual attention, double the number of walks, double the baths.
Finally, she said that if we didn’t spend enough time with them there was the possibility the dogs would bond to each other instead of us.
We politely listened and nodded our consent. We didn’t care about any of that. Caught in the emotion of puppy love (and the memory of our prior dog), we took them both home. They were four months old.
They are now three+ and everything has unfolded exactly as the foster parent described.
The Consequences of Our Emotional Pet Purchase
When we purchased Axel and Alley, we did not take into consideration how life would change in the future. Our lives are moving at a much faster pace now, especially with my wife’s career as a CPA and my oldest daughter who is swiftly moving through middle school. School, careers, home responsibilities, kid activities and other commitments are the main focus of our life, as they should be.
With that said, we do not have the time and cannot adequately handle pet owner responsibilities for two dogs.
So we have made the difficult decision to put Alley up for adoption.
I could spend another 500 words defending this decision. I’m sure many will think us to be heartless pet owners for bailing out and separating these dogs who have been together since birth. But we can’t continue with the present situation and give both dogs the type of life they deserve. So we’ve decided to part with one in the hopes that both of their lives will improve.
It’s frustrating that we let our emotions control our pet purchase when we initially brought them home. It’s producing sadness now that we are surrendering one of them. It’s a reminder though of the following lessons regarding purchasing:
1. Have a plan for spending ahead of time.
2. Don’t let emotions influence your plans.
3. Wait 24-hours before buying on any significant purchase (or on a purchase that isn’t part of your original plan)
4. Consider all the costs involved, not simply the purchase price.
As dog lovers, we feel like failures. It’s been incredibly hard reaching this decision. We recognize, however, that continuing to do the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Something has to change for both our and the dog’s situation to improve.
If you are considering a purchase today, don’t let emotion get the best of you. A decision based solely on emotion will more than likely bring regret at some point in the future.
[Update: 3/22/14: After a month of trying, we were able to find a new home for Alley. Thank you to Petsmart and the Fayette Human Society volunteers who ran the adoption program each week. We greatly appreciate their efforts in helping us provide a better life for both of our animals.]
Questions: Have you ever made an emotional pet purchase or other kind of emotional purchase that you regretted later? Have you been forced to give up something material because you knew it was becoming a burden and negatively impacting your life? Have you ever expected different results while maintaining that you didn’t have to change your behavior?
Image by Luke1428