Nikki was a Labrador Retriever puppy that was brought home by my ex-husband one day while we were still married. She was about 8 weeks old and super cute. He brought her home as a surprise. I love dogs and we didn't have a dog because we both had agreed that we moved too much because of his job. A co-worker had told him that if he didn't find a home for her that day that he would hit her in the head with a shovel and bury her in the woods. Of course we kept her. She became my dog very quickly. I fed her and trained her. I walked her. When our marriage started falling apart several years later, she was my companion. When he would yell at me or get angry, she would sit at my feet between us. She was protective of me. I loved her. After my divorce, I moved to California to be closer to family.
Nikki came with me. My ex wanted nothing to do with her. I went through a seriously depressing period in my life during that first year after I divorced. I was running out of money and I had a job that I worked 14 hour days with one day off per week. Nikki had been a house dog. I took a job a few hours away from family and Nikki stayed with my very pregnant daughter while I found a house to rent. Nikki joined me after a few weeks. She was stressed out from being left behind and all the changes. While I was at work the first day, she ate the metal mini blinds in the living room of the home that I was renting. I figured this out when I came home at lunch to check on her and let her out. I didn't have a crate back then. People were just starting to take their dogs to doggy-day cares - but I couldn't afford it. I didn't even know about crates. I couldn't tie her outside. I didn't have a kennel. The backyard was not fenced completely. The second day she tried to eat her way out of the front door and damaged much of the door frame. I tried putting her in the backyard next and she ran away two days in a row. I had to leave work to get her from the local pound - twice. I had a terrible boyfriend at the time that was completely wrong for me. Dating too soon after my divorce was just one of many bad choices I made that year. The job didn't work out. The boyfriend left (thank goodness). I ran out of money and I couldn't afford my rent. My son had just joined the Navy. My daughter had just had her first baby and had moved to Washington with her husband that had just joined the Navy too. I had no friends or family that could or would take Nikki. I didn't know where I was going to live or work. If I could have thought of ANY way to keep that dog, I would have kept her. Looking back, I probably should have stayed in California. I ended up moving back eight years later anyway. I didn't have the benefit of hindsight back then though. But, at the time, I felt like my best choice was to move back to Arkansas where I knew people in the car business (my line of work at the time), and could afford the cheaper cost of living (my rent went from 2000 per month to 800 per month). I knew I could work there and afford it. I also knew that I would be living out of a very cheap hotel for the first couple of months and dogs were not allowed back then. I made the choice to find my dog another home. I hated the idea. I couldn't think of any other way though.
I found a lab rescue group and they took my dog. A week later, they told me that they had found a retired couple living near the beach that wanted Nikki. I still miss that dog. I still feel guilty about having to give her up. My children were mad at me. I was mad at myself. It wasn't a decision that I made lightly for a dog that had been there for me for 7 years. I received a very kind letter from them telling me what a great well behaved dog she was and how happy they were to have her with pictures of their grandchildren playing on the beach with Nikki. I know that Nikki had a better life with them than she would have had with me post-divorce.
So, when I hear about someone that has to make that choice, I go a little easier on them. Many people are very quick to judge anyone that says that they need to re-home their pet. I have been that person. It was not my first choice. It was my last resort. It was a terrible decision for me. It was the right thing for my dog though. I hope I never have to make a decision like that again. I am glad that there was a rescue group to help me. Five years later, when my circumstances had changed, and I could be a good pet owner again, I chose a rescue group for this reason. I have been on both sides of the rescue process. I don't judge Betty's former owner for surrendering her. He did the best thing for her if he could not care for her. I am thankful.