Now That We Have a Family, Should We Get Rid of Our Dogs?


Posted By Eric 

Personally, I do not consider myself a dog lover. Yet, I have had dogs all my life—with only a couple years of freedom from them.

Although I’m not really a dog lover, I can definitely become attached to a dog, cat or other household pets. For example, I have never owned a cat and if my wife brought one home I would probably be against keeping it. But through time, I know I would fall in love with the cat and probably end up cuddling it to bed or something weird like that. That is just the type of person I am. I get attached and have a hard time letting go, especially if the pet cannot survive without me.

So now Gaby and I are debating what to do with our dogs. Before we had kids, we took in two small dogs. The first one she found outside of her work. The dog was eating garbage and she brought him home. He was only supposed to stay for a week, and ya, that didn’t happen. Then a few years later we adopted another small dog from a rescue home. We felt bad for our first dog because he was home all day and didn’t have another dog to socialize with. Plus, we were adopting a dog that really needed a home so we saw it as a win/win.

Years have passed—about 9 years to be exact—and our lives have completely changed. With two kids, tons of extended family and close friends, we are a busy bunch. Feels like every weekend we are either on our way to Southern California, Fresno or just have errands to run all day. This life suits us well, but it is hard on our dogs.

I should also add that we moved to the bourgeoisie part of our town, so if our dogs bark we get a notice in the mail. Both of our dogs are small, but one is a constant barker. And because of that, he has to remain indoors most of the day. He is allowed to be in our backyard but he needs to supervised and shouted at if he barks. When we lived in another town, his barking was never a problem because the neighbor’s dogs barked a lot as well.

A typical day for our dogs starts with being locked up in our garage with access to food and water. They get one hour of backyard time during my lunch time. Then they spend four hours locked in a small section of our home. After work we let them out to the backyard again for an hour or two. They then come back inside for about 12 hours until the cycle repeats. During the 12 hours they are let outside to pee and get water a few times. But for the most part, it is a pretty boring life. My wife and others have told me that it is time to let them go. But go to where? I am definitely not taking them to a dog shelter. How is living caged up in a shelter any better? When dogs are in a shelter and they are not adopted after a certain amount of time, they are put down. That is basically death row in my honest opinion.

Now if my wife was able to find someone we knew and would take good care of our dogs, then I would be okay with that. But I just can’t take my dogs out to the country and throw them out. I know people do that but I can’t. I need to know they are going to be in a better place than they are now. So until then, I will do my best to give them a good life. They’ve got an endless supply of food, a spot next to our heater, Costco dog biscuits, and a crazy 1-year-old boy that wants to play with them. Life isn’t perfect for them but it isn’t death row either.


Posted By Gaby

I take responsibility for bringing poor Butters into our home. He was super cute and I hadn’t had a dog in my life for years. Plus, I kind of wanted a baby but knew it wasn’t a good time for us to have a child. So yeah, poor Butters became a practice child. I messed him up and take full responsibility for some of his actions. But Butters is a crazy dog on his own. He has always been on the defensive, barks incessantly, and is determined. When we first got him, we tried to put him in a crate-type thing. He scratched at the door until we came home. He’d scratched so much he had worn his claws to nubs and was bleeding from his paws. So I realized, he’s a special case.

Then we bring in Baxter. That dog has had bowel and bladder problems since day one. I mean, we have pictures of him during his first year where he’s wearing a diaper. The dog peed from excitement. He had a bad life and was so happy when we acknowledged him that he peed from joy. Our dogs are special cases and we know it. I love them, even though they drive me crazy, so please don’t think that my saying we should get rid of them is a dismissive act of someone who could care less for the dogs.

The truth is that for the most part, Butters and Baxter were bathed, walked, and played with regularly until our daughter’s birth five years ago. So much so that one Christmas, we took them to the doggy ER and spent hundreds of dollars getting their stomachs pumped after they ate a batch of espresso brownies. We were lucky when a friend moved in with us temporarily and was able to spend a good part of the day with them while we were at work.

When Chinchilla was born, they weren’t neglected per se, but it became increasingly difficult to care for them at the level they deserved. Eric would walk them and then we began to walk them as a family, one of us pushing the stroller while the other held their leashes. Then Chinchilla began to walk and didn’t want to be in the stroller, our days were booked with family events and ballet lessons, and before we knew it, the dogs were rarely walked. Now that Jamiroquai is around, our time is even more limited. I keep thinking that in a few months, once Jamiroquai is able to be less dependent of me, that Eric and I can take turns walking them. It’s hard to think we can actually get this done when we barely have time to eat dinner as a family. Our priorities have shifted in the last nine years, and as much as we love our dogs, they’re no longer at the same level of priority that they were in 2004.

My argument with Eric is that if we aren’t going to walk them, hire a walker or dog sitter when we go on vacation, then we need to find them a good home. I’m not arguing we just open the fence gate, take off their collars, and send them off their way. We need to send them to a shelter or Craigslist them.

I get where Eric is coming from. Butters is like Joe Pesci in Casino and with that kind of attitude, who would want him? So we’re stuck with him. And Baxter? While we think that Baxter would find a good home, Eric argues that he’d probably regress to his submissive peeing days if we send him away. So we’re stuck with him, too. And that’s okay. But then we need to give them better care than we are. Are we providing them care that CPS might even consider minimum quality care for a child? Probably, but it doesn’t mean it’s fair.

I feel guilty admitting this. Especially because they’re our dogs. But I also think that we need to let them go to a better home if we’re not providing the quality of care they deserve. What’s the saying? Poop or get off the pot? Yeah, we’re at that place now.

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5 Responses to “Now That We Have a Family, Should We Get Rid of Our Dogs?”

  1. alex

    Ah, this is a tough one guys. I don’t know what I’d do so I imagine the situation is very tricky. For now, I think keeping the dogs is your best bet even though you feel bad for them.

  2. Ravi

    i agree with Eric.
    If you have dogs before your had kids, it will be totally unfair on them to get move them out. if you have concerns, dont bring news ones.

  3. wtg22

    Yeah, this one is tough. One of the reasons Alex and I haven’t gotten a dog (even though I LOVE dogs) is because we know we wouldn’t be able to give him the proper care he needs. If we had gotten a dog before our child came along, we’d be in the same boat.

    As for what to do: I sort of agree with both of you. I do think that Eric is right that, if you dropped them off at the pound, they’d have a good chance of being put to sleep. But I also agree with Gaby that if you guys don’t have the time to give them proper attention, you aren’t doing them any favors. Maybe what Gaby mentioned: getting the dogs a real sitter when you are out of town (because we stop by and feed them and let them out, but I’m not sure we’re providing them with the care and attention they need either), would be your best bet. And I imagine weekdays are tough, but perhaps bringing them out for family walks on weekends when you are home would be a good idea. Is there a doggie park in South Salinas where you can bring them? A regular park?

  4. Lulu

    Haha, Gaby, you made me laugh with your “practice baby” comment. This is a hard one. I have a similar situation with Benny, our Shih Tzu. I used to work from home and I kept Benny company. But now I work at an office, and the first week Benny was really angry, and he tore up the house. He even lost 3 teeth chewing up the blinds. At that point we could have said he was a problem dog and just gotten rid of him, but he was our responsibility. So now I get up at 6:00, make lunches for everyone, and take Benny for a walk before I go to work. Sometimes I come home for lunch and look in on him too. But he has a boring life now too, since I started working outside the home. Pobrecito.

  5. Fran

    See here it is. Love doesn’t come and go like a rainstorm. Sometimes it comes easy like when two people who meet and truly hit it off from the start. Many times it comes hard like when you seek to right a wrong or make better a place, a condition, or a life. In this case it was the lives of two pets chosen because you felt you can provide them what they need. Not the food and shelter variety but the nurturance and the love.

    Gabby and Eric, this one is on you both. You must be capable and responsible otherwise you would not have brought them into your home. The fact that time goes by and life changes does not mean that you have only a certain volume of love, time or compassion. The kids will grow with the dogs. They will love them like you do and will recognize their special needs especially if you teach them. Don,t be afraid. You have the capacity. You just need to look further and wider. Good luck


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