When doing the right thing feels like a failure

Posted: November 13, 2006 at 9:55 am

It is a sad morning for me.  From the moment Thomas with the pigeon-toed duck paws walked into my heart, I wanted to offer him a home.  Sometimes one looks into a dog’s eyes and into their hearts and just feels a connection.  As much as I have always loved dogs, and now love all the critters at saints, that heart connection has rarely happened for me. And because of a loss of my previous heart-dog, I had a huge hole in my heart which wanted to be filled.  And so I asked Carol if I could bring Thomas home. 

It did not go well.  Isaac, my foster, is an unneutered male who is not well enough to neuter and is palliative.  He did not take kindly to the recently neutered Thomas, and over the three days Thomas was here Isaac’s condition deteriorated substantially.  Isaac went from a dog who had made remarkable progress in his mobility, sleeping habits, and overall condition, back to square one of stumbling gait, restless nights, and head and tail down, loss of interest in his surroundings.

Rather than adjusting to the situation, Isaac became more and more agitated- eventually he seizured, stopped eating, paced all night, and growled at Charley and me as well as Thomas.

And despite the fact that Thomas and Charley got along really well, even choosing to sleep together (not something my Charley has EVER done with her furbuddies), they were  also getting stressed.  Last night  Thomas let me know in no uncertain terms that there is another side to this quiet, sweet boy – a side that made me feel fear and escalated my own stress level. 

And so today, I returned Thomas to SAINTS.  I know it was the right thing to do – for Thomas, for Charley, and especially for Isaac.  But the hole it leaves in my heart, and the sorrow at having caused such stress for my dogs because my needs clouded my judgment, makes it feel like such a failure.

I only hope Isaac will bounce back quickly and that Thomas will soon find his perfect home.  And I hope Charley will find another furbuddy one day. And that I will grow from the lessons they have taught me.  

10 Comments on "When doing the right thing feels like a failure"

  • Chris Thomas says

    Jean you did the right thing by bringing Thomas home and trying it out. Isaac is not well and will eventually pass. Perhaps then you could try again with Thomas. I am sure he won’t mind hanging out at SAINTS until you are ready for him. The fact that your other dog took to him and all seemed good bodes well for the future. Cut yourself some slack and know that if it is right for Thomas to be with you he will be with you.

  • Jean says

    Saints is not the right home for Thomas, and I hope he will find his forever home right away. Sweet wrecked old Isaac tells me he’s not going anywhere soon – he is already more relaxed and showing a distinct interest in my Cheez Whiz on toast.

  • Carol says

    there is no such thing as failure in my world when i unscrew my head and start thinking straight…there are things that work and things that don’t.

  • Deb says

    Jean, my friend, you tried, you learned some difficult lessons, and you are stronger and wiser for having made the effort to bring Thomas home. Thomas will find a forever family. I wish it could be with you and Charley, as you both love him so much, but your devotion to Isaac is what makes you shine, and your ability to do the right thing, even as it breaks your heart, is inspiring to me.
    You didn’t fail Thomas, you didn’t fail Isaac, you didn’t fail Charley. You made the best decisions you could, based on your deep commitment to the welfare of all animals. How could you fault yourself for that?

  • Rae says

    Better that you tried and realized the fit wasn’t right than to never have tried at all. Thomas says Thank you for letting hom have a weekend sleepover and Isaac says Thank you for listening to me. You are a good doggie mom Jean

  • Maureen says

    I agree with the above posts, we can never really know how things will be , unless we try . Issac was a totally blank screen when he came, you had no way of knowing how it would all work.. & look at what a difference you have made in his life. I think Thomas will land on his feet in a safe & wonderful place.. and you will know that it is because of you that he is there. Yea Go Jean !!!

  • Jean says

    I have not been able to shake my discomfort, and tonight, after talking to Carol and spending time just lying beside Isaac, I have finally been able to identify what is bothering me most.

    It is true we cannot know how something will work out until we try it. And I was prepared for the possibility that Isaac and Thomas would not get along. But what I failed to consider was the medical implications of stress, for Isaac in particular. I am devastated by the sudden, rapid and severe deterioration of his health in just a three day period (and it continues to deteriorate tonight). I never even thought about the relationship between stress and physical health for an already weak dog. I was only concerned whether they would “get along” okay.

    That is what I have learned – to consider the whole dog and the whole environment, not just whether they will like each other or whether I have room or whether I want another dog…..it is the whole dog and the implications of a stressful environment on the dog that needs to be considered. Both Thomas and Isaac have paid a price for this.

    My education shouldn’t be at their expense.

    But now that I know better, I’ll do better.

  • Carol says

    the unfortunate truth jean is our education is usually at their expense. and trust me, the very many, many animals over the years have paid a huge price for my learning curve. i owe them for what i know now and i owe them for what i will continue to learn in the future. and i will never forget to pay attention and learn and try to get better at this, for them. it is the very least i can do in repayment.
    and quit kicking yourself over isaac, he will either get better or he won’t. and if he doesn’t? in all honesty jean, it has just been lurking around the corner and thomas’s weekend visit has very little to do with that. bad timing maybe but no crime on either part. go easy on yourself, issac would.

  • Jean says

    You are probably right….just as I was reading your last sentence, Isaac came and stuck his big head under my elbow and lay his head on my knee and looked at me with those big brown eyes and said “it’s okay, mom”. Or maybe he said “Can I have a bite of your toast?”
    He got the toast. He was disappointed to find there was no Cheez Whiz on it, but I told him that was his fault ‘cuz if he hadn’t had me so upset and worried yesterday I might have made it down to the store to buy some more!
    He slept well last night and seems slightly better this morning.

  • nicole says

    sorry to hear it didn’t go as planned, but glad to hear that isaac is perking up. i know it may be hard to see it right now, but do know that you are part of the reason isaac is still here and doing so well and loving cheez whiz.

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