A Tale of Two Re-Homings: Part Two
In the summer of 2021, my wife and I opted to enroll Heidi in a dog training school. We hoped this might make her a more social animal but that was not to be. Before every session, Heidi pulled on the leash outside the building as if she were a student eager to get the day’s session started. Upon entering, Heidi immediately made a nuisance of herself, threatening the staff and lunging at the other dogs. The school had some excellent trainers that tried all sorts of strategies to calm Heidi down. None of them worked. Heidi would only allow one trainer to get anywhere near her and even that trainer was treated with snarling suspicion. Technically, Heidi graduated, but not with honors.
We were the proud owners of another special needs dog☹. After going through a sizable amount of money and seeing no real improvement, we ended the training sessions. At home, I continued to utilize the instructional sheet provided by the school. Heidi was a quick learner when not distracted by what she didn’t like —other people and dogs.
We tried a few more experiments with visitors to our house but they all failed. In the fall of 2021, Clara and I threw our hands up in defeat. It was time to re-home Heidi. Whatever this dog needed, we couldn’t give it to her. A part of me said Wait a minute! I rescue dogs, I don’t give them away! Ultimately, Clara’s health made our decision for us. She had recently undergone a knee replacement procedure that hadn’t gone well. When I was at work (you know, we starving artists need to have a day job), Clara had difficulty contending with a dog that barked incessantly and continually ran around the house willy-nilly. More importantly, Clara had difficulty getting to the door in a timely fashion so that Heidi could go out to relieve herself. We reluctantly concluded it was time to find Heidi a new owner. Clara posted on Facebook that we were looking for someone to adopt our dog. A local lady we know who’s big on animal rescue shared it on her page.
A few days later we received a call from Mario. He said he was caring for an elderly disabled gentleman by the name of Dave who had recently lost his dog. An appointment was set up for Mario and Dave to visit our home to see if they would get along with Heidi. No one else—besides my wife and I—had been able to until then and I was secretly hoping Heidi wouldn’t change her stripes. I was living smack dab in the world of denial: the rational part of me knew Heidi was beyond my capacity to handle but the emotional part of me was attached to this dog I knew I couldn’t handle. Re-homing Heidi would feel like a loss and a failure.
The day Dave and Mario were scheduled to visit our house, I left the house and went shopping, something I typically never like to do. I just didn’t want to be there to witness the loss of my dog. After shopping, I sat in my car parked in a Walmart parking lot, killing time. I wanted to make sure the deed was done before I got back home. Finally, the time came to return to the scene of the crime.
When I pulled into my driveway, I was relieved to see no other parked car there apart from my wife’s. Maybe they never showed up. Maybe they did and Heidi gave them a piece of her mind. I walked up to the door, preparing myself for Heidi’s typical exuberant greeting. I got none. Once inside, all I found was Clara sitting in her recliner crying. “She’s gone! They took her!” Clara described how Heidi had inexplicably remained calm throughout the two strangers’ visit. Heidi allowed herself to be crated and taken out to the car without incident. Not a single growl. We desperately tried to console ourselves with the fact our dog was in good hands. That night we cried ourselves to sleep.
To be continued...
Walter Stoffel is a substance abuse counselor and GED teacher in correctional facilities. When not behind bars, he likes to read, travel, work out and watch bad movies. Major accomplishment : He entered a 26.2-mile marathon following hip replacement surgery and finished—dead last. The author currently lives with his wife Clara, their dog Buddy (another rescue), and cat Winky (yet another rescue).