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Posts: 2
Hi everyone,

This is my first post - I am hoping that my family can receive some support from people who have gone through something similar. 

We got our sweet dog, Charlie, from a local rescue organization about two years ago. He was nine months at the time. He is a Golden/Chow Chow mix.

When we adopted him, we told the rescue organization about our plans for the future. We had just purchased our first family home, and planned on having children. The rescue seemed excited to give Charlie to such a loving home - and so were we. We were confident that Charlie was the right dog for us. We didn't know much about his background, other than he was homeless for his first nine months of life. When we did adopt Charlie, we took him for daily exercise walks (at least 30 minutes) and played with him in the yard daily during the nice weather. We even established some indoor games to ensure that Charlie got adequate exercise and attention - he was, and continues to be, the center of our lives. 

We did finally have a child - our son, Henry - in February 2018. Charlie had lived with us for about a year at this point. At first, he was curious about Henry. Eventually, he showed some signs of affection like licking and sniffing. That said - he never really "took" to Henry in the way that we had hoped. For example, he never sought Henry out, and often looked at him like he wasn't sure what he was doing with us.

There were never any overt signs of agitation until Henry started to move around. He's a fast crawler and a new walker as of a few weeks ago. This scared Charlie and made him anxious. I believe Charlie was uncomfortable with the fact that the baby could approach him whenever he wanted (we, of course, prevented this - but it was his fear).

One day a few weeks ago, the two boys were hanging out in our bedroom as they had done hundreds of times before. Henry was on one side of the carpet and Charlie on the other. I turned my back for one second (literally) to close a drawer, and the next thing I knew Charlie had growled and nipped at Henry, who was crawling towards him innocently. Henry began to bleed and Charlie ran out the door, I believe feeling ashamed.

This is not the first time that Charlie had used his mouth to send a message, but the first time that Charlie had made contact with someone. 

My husband and I weighed about a million options. Should we keep the dog, but ensure that he's never in the same room with Henry until Henry is old enough to understand how to approach him? This could take up to five or six years, at which point Charlie's "golden years" will be over. Should Charlie live outside for most of the year? What would we do if we wanted to run around in the back yard with the baby? Or what if he wanted to be with us, inside? Is it fair to a dog to have him live a totally separate life from his family until he can be trusted again? Is it fair to us to have to constantly watch them to ensure that Charlie isn't taking out Henry's eye next time? If he does hurt him again, we will have to put him down! What the hell are we going to do?

Ultimately, we decided that we needed to carefully re-home Charlie. We couldn't stand the idea of him being separated from his us or constantly scorned by us. That's not a life, especially since we are planning on having another baby soon. Charlie deserves a home where he can run free, without the constant anxiety that he felt when Henry moved towards or around him.

We found a wonderful organization that rehomes Golden Retrievers. He is currently living on a property with 15 acres of woods, outdoor play spaces, living rooms for lounging, and loving, caring people who are working to find his "forever home." Charlie is probably happier and better exercised than he's ever been, despite our best efforts.

The problem is, we are DEVASTATED. We haven't stopped crying for three days and I don't see any end in sight. Charlie was the light of our lives and never did anything to me or my husband to cause any concern. He loved us with our whole hearts. The problem is that he never shared that affection for our son, which could result in life-changing injury to him. How can we move forward? How can we let go of the guilt? Has anyone had to rehome a dog when they showed aggression towards your child? I am desperate for some re-homing success stories, as I am convinced that no one can love Charlie the way that I did. Or that he resents me and thinks I abandoned him. I wish I could tell him that I re-homed him so nothing WORSE would happen, which may have led to us having to put him down. 

Any positive support would be most appreciated.

-Melanie and Chris Gordon


Posts: 167
I have not been in such a situation but I can empathise. Sometimes, we fall so deeply in love with a pet without actually realising it until we are separated from it. Then, the pain of missing them can be super intense and punishing.

On the other hand, at least yours is a happy kind of pain. Charlie is alive and well, and well loved and taken care of in a great new home. That knowledge should give you so much comfort and bring a smile to your face, even as your tears may be falling. You made the right decision for Charlie, for Henry and for yourselves, under the difficult circumstances. You guys did great, so I hope that brings a measure of comfort as you traverse the emotional void left by Charlie's absence.

Posts: 839
Accidently hit the wrong button. Sorry about that.
As a volunteer I screened each person carefully when they came to see one of "our" dogs. I developed a sort of sixth sense about people and always checked after the adoption to make sure things were going well. My biggest problem was that we fell in love with all of them and it was hard to see them go. Whenever you feel sad remind yourself that you did what was best for all of you and know that Charlie will be happy in his new home. Please take care and be well. As someone who often replies to posts says, all is well with love.

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