5 Ways to Deal With Guilt and Grief After Rehoming Your Dog


Rehoming a dog – or giving your pet away – is incredibly intense and sad. You’ll find no judgment here, only understanding and compassion. I know how you feel; I had to rehome my dog a few years ago, and the decision was agonizing. Here, I share tips on how to deal with your guilt and grief.

How to Cope With Rehoming a Dog

Tiffy, star of “How to Cope With Rehoming a Dog”

First, the good news: your dog is a survivor! Your dog is lovable and adaptable, and will adjust to his new home so quickly that you’ll feel insulted. Here’s how I know: several months after we rehomed our big black Lab German Shepherd cross, we adopted a little white toy Poodle Bichon cross. Her name is Tiffy and she was three years old when we adopted her. Her previous owner was devastated that she had to give her beloved little dog away, and I was happy/sad to tell her that Tiffy happily made our home her home within three days. Dogs are survivors, they live in the moment, and they adjust so quickly it makes your head spin. So, while you’re reading through my tips on how to deal with the guilt and grief of rehoming a dog, remember that your dog is probably curled up in front of the fireplace or happily playing with other dogs in the dog park at this very moment.





One of my most popular articles about dogs is How to Decide if You Should Give Your Dog Away. I wrote it because I had to rehome a dog called Jazz – she was a 77 pound black Lab German Shepherd cross. Since then, I adopted two new dogs: Tiffy (the wee white one in the picture) and Georgie (a the black and white terrier you’ll meet later).

So, I already gave you the good news: rehomed and adopted dogs adjust quickly to their new environments. Dogs adapt because they live in the moment, and they’re survivors. Rehoming a dog is more painful for dog owners than the dogs themselves – though I have no doubt that our dogs miss us! I just don’t think they dwell on their loss, and they definitely don’t have to learn how to deal with their adoption.

The bad news is that the pain, guilt, and grief you feel about rehoming your dog won’t easily go away. The truth is that even though I may sound like I had no problem giving my dog Jazz away, I still feel terrible whenever I think about that day. We took our dog back to the SPCA, and both my husband and I wept like our hearts were breaking. Because our hearts were breaking.

The other bit of bad news is that the grief and guilt of giving a dog away doesn’t just disappear – even after you read my tips on how to deal with this type of pet loss.

How to Cope With Rehoming Your Dog

If you’re overwhelmed with guilt, you may find How to Deal With Guilt After the Loss of Your Beloved Dog helpful. Pay particular attention to the readers’ comments, because you’ll see that you are not alone. Our dogs are so important to us and we love them so much…and causing them any pain is incredibly difficult for us to resolve. Rehoming a dog is traumatic, and I want you to be gentle with yourself.

1. Write a letter to the dog you gave away

Take time to say goodbye to your dog. Allow yourself to grieve your loss and work through the guilt you feel about adopting your dog to a new home. Face those ugly feelings of shame and guilt – don’t push them down, or they will overwhelm you in the future. You need to process the pain of giving a dog away, or it will eat you alive.

How to Deal With Rehoming a Dog

Georgie, a year old when I adopted her (she was rehomed!)

One of the best tips on how to deal with rehoming a dog is to write him a letter. Tell him how much you love him, how sorry you are, and why you did it. Weep. Put your head on the paper and bawl like a little kid. Tell your dog exactly how you feel.



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Read through the comments below – you’ll find several letters written by dog guardians who had to give their dogs away. You can write your letter here in the comments section, or in your own journal.

Wherever you write it and however long it is, be honest with your dog. Just let yourself be a kid talking to his dog.

2. Read the letter my adopted dog Tiffy wrote to her previous owner

Below, I share a letter my newly-adopted dog Tiffy wrote to her previous owner. Learning how quickly and solidly she adapted to my home might help you see that rehoming a dog can have a very happy ending. You might also begin to understand how incredibly adaptable and resilient our dogs are.

Dear Old Ma,

I miss you, but I am very happy and glad to be in my new home! I get lots of love and attention here. My new Mama and Papa don’t have human kids to take care of, so I get all their attention. I have a Big Sister called Georgie, who is a dog like me. She’s bigger, but not nearly as smart as me. But she is showing me how to run and jump and play.

You should see me now – I’m so fast, racing through the forest like a speeding bullet! I run and sniff and get to follow all sorts of exciting new paths that take me on fun adventures. I chase squirrels and raccoons and birds – but they’re too fast for me. I don’t care, I just am so happy to run around after them. I feel big and brave in my new home, and when I bark I am even bigger and braver!

I’ve met all my Big Sister’s friends – she has so many friends, and they all fell in love with me as soon as they saw me. They’re called Nico, Shore, Benji, Hunter, Ivy, Bumpy, Senna, Kyla, Ruff, Diablo, and Smokey. See how many new friends I have? They think I’m cute, and the big ones finally stopped stepping on me (it took them awhile to remember how itty bitty I am).

How to Deal With Rehoming a Dog

Tiffy and Georgie – How to Deal With Rehoming a Dog

My Big Sister Georgie taught me how to work the thing called “Kong” that gives us yummy treats. Did you know I get homemade chicken soup every day, for breakfast and dinner? And most nights I watch Papa Bear cook steaks or chicken or pork chops on the bbq. Sometimes he drops pieces of meat, and they are more delicious than anything I ever tasted.

Mama Bear always makes sure I have real chicken and crunchy bits to eat with my chicken soup meals. I love it so much, I lick the bowl clean every meal! Sometimes I chew on soup bones, because Mama and Papa say it’s good for my teeth. I don’t know anything about that – I just love the way the bones taste!

Even though I am a happy dog in my new home, I remember you in my dreams. I have a special place in my heart for you, and when I dream of where I was before I came here, I remember how good it felt to be held and hugged and kissed by you. You will always be in my heart and soul, and I will always love you.

xoxo

Tiffy

3. Know that your decision has brought happiness to another family

Last night, the person who gave my dog Tiffy to me emailed to say thank you for adopting her. She had to rehome Tiffy because she just couldn’t take care of her anymore. I am so grateful she gave her dog away! And she is so grateful that I was able to adopt her dog and love her fully and completely.

If you feel like you can’t deal with rehoming your dog, take heart. Know that your dog will adapt – and perhaps even be happier with his or her new family. After giving your dog away, you have to believe that the next home will be the right place for him or her. Otherwise, you’ll just keep spinning your wheels in the thick muck of guilt. Believe that your dog and his new guardians are very happy together.

Are you dealing with overwhelming sadness or depression? It’s possible that you haven’t dealt with past grief and trauma. Read How to Recover From Loss and Survive Grief.

4. Be gentle with yourself as you grieve

Are you beating yourself up for giving your dog away? I sure did, for the longest time. I regretted our decision, and wished I hadn’t rehomed our dog Jazz.

But regret and guilt got me nowhere. If I kept ruminating on my pain and condemning myself for taking our dog back to the SPCA, I wouldn’t have found the strength to write this article. Maybe I had to experience the pain of rehoming a dog so I could help you learn how to deal with pet loss. Maybe we really are all just walking each other home, through the dark late afternoons of our lives.

Trust that giving your dog away was the right thing to do. Have faith that your dog is being well taken care of, and that your souls will meet again one day. Give yourself time and permission to grieve. Rehoming a dog is a painful experience, and you need to allow yourself to process your emotions in healthy ways.

5. Let your dog go

Your current feelings of pain, regret, and guilt are normal — but they will get worse unless you deal with them. You’ll find yourself stuck in a downward spiral of depression and self-loathing! I know, because it happened to me. I was trapped in grief and guilt, and it was hard to pull myself out.

Farewell, Friend: A Gentle Guide to Saying Goodbye to Your DogI wrote Farewell, Friend: A Gentle Guide to Saying Goodbye to Your Dog to share how I grieved my dog’s death and let go of my guilt. I even opened my heart and home, and welcomed two new dogs into my life! This ebook will heal your heart, comfort your soul, and lift your spirits.

Each section contains 5 chapters of fresh insights, suggestions, and activities – all focused on helping you let go and heal.

 

To learn more about the book and me, visit Farewell, Friend: A Gentle Guide to Saying Goodbye to Your Dog.

I hope this article has helped you think differently about giving away your dog, and maybe even eased the pain a little bit. My prayer is that you heal from the pain and grief of giving your dog away. May you find freedom and self-forgiveness, and peace knowing that you made the right decision.

xo







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453 thoughts on “5 Ways to Deal With Guilt and Grief After Rehoming Your Dog

  • Mayra Saavedra

    Dear Orek my beautiful boy !!!! It’s only been 1 day and it feels like a lifetime. I hope you understand that we didn’t want to let you go but we had to. Our landlord said your breed was dangerous and neighbors didn’t feel safe. You are the sweetest pitbull I’ve ever came across and I’m so blessed to have had your unconditional love. You loved my kids with everything you had and I will forever be grateful for that we are all very sad to have let you go. But me and dad made sure your new family with love as much as we do and will take care of you and take you for your walk and take you to the dog park. They are great people and they are very lucky to have you. You will forever be in my hear and hold the best dog award. I’m just scared that you hate us we promised you a forever home and could give it to you. I’m so so sorry Orek. I hope you remember us in your dreams. You helped dad so much and now it’s time for you to help and be there for another family. I will for ever love you love your family !!!

    • lia

      I can’t believe I feel connected to all the people writing here and what they are saying and feeling!! I can’t say much yet I am exhausted with excruciating pain from rehoming my baby girl puppy I have had since 5weeks old. I rehomed her although I kept changing my mind at the time and WISH i hadn’t and keep thinking about this and what I should have done to keep her. I was pushed into this as a couple and their daughter wanted her and they pushed me and I was too vulnerable and not ready. I had other pressures and could not think clearly. I have read so many feelings I feel, the first is I want her back.!! I have tried this and asked the nrw owners and apologized saying I made a mistake a rash decision. She is my assistance dog and my doctor and psychologist tried to get her back for me by calling too. But these new owners won’t reply except to say she’s there’s now. I do not know what to do. Please help! Please be there others like me, I feel less alone. I finally feel understood!! For the first time. God rhankyou I’m in so much pain. Lia.

      • Kathy

        Lia – I know EXACTLY how you are feeling!!! I kept changing my mind as well to rehome our almost 2 year old yellow lab and so did my daughter. She too felt pressured and pushed to give up our girl and it all happened so fast that none of us knew what the stark reality would be until we realized she is now gone. It’s almost been a month now and all I can think about is her and that I wish I had given it more of a chance and how badly my heartache is when I go home and realize she is not there anymore. I am so sorry the new owners won’t consider giving your dog back. Our dog was an emotional support for my daughter as well but she has since moved so we were left with the choice of rehoming because I felt like I wasn’t being fair to the dog because I am not home that much and she spent too much time alone or at a doggy day care. I think she is probably happy and receiving lots of attention and has another dog there who is now her buddy. I just wanted to reach out because I feel your pain and I miss her terribly. Sometimes I even say goodnight and good morning to her even though she’s not there. I wish there was something you could do to ease your pain but I do know this website is a great tool to at least get your feelings out there. I wish you the very best and know you are not alone. 🙁

  • Sarah Hagberg

    Our family made the painful decision to relinquish our recently adopted rescue. She was and is sweet and affectionate, playful and cuddly. Of course, there is a “but” here. She displayed a tendency to nip at guests and extended family members and was territorial around food. All manageable with the right level of separation at meal times and when company visited. Sadly, our beloved new dog also reacted nervously when startled such that she reacted instinctively and scratched our child’s with her teeth. Our decision to relinquish and rehouse her is the right decision for us since we were already on notice about her potential aggressive behaviour. So why oh why does this feel so wrong? If we had kept her and worked with her, we might have made progress but would always be in fear that we might not be so lucky again and those scrapes might result in a more severe or life altering injury. Returning her to the shelter was one of the most traumatic moments of our family life. To think she is back in a shelter, even though she is warm and fed is heartbreaking and why we decided to adopt a cast aside shelter dog to begin with. But we know now that she needs a calm house without young children and we couldn’t risk a repeat incident. Still, my heart and head just ache to think that she is back in the shelter. We feel guilty because we are guilty, yet what logic would permit us to keep a dog that could harm our child? I have always advocated for rescues. We did not make our decision to adopt and now to relinquish lightly. I just don’t think the grief, guilt, sadness and loss will abate. I’ve read articles for and against giving up on pets, and know only this – I will never assume all people who relinquish pets are unkind or unwilling to try. Sure, there are those who are able to walk away and not look back. That is not me nor my family. We are just so terribly sad and sorry that our story doesn’t have a happy ending although we hope for our sweet yet unpredictable dog, it still can.

    • Kathy

      Sarah, my heart breaks for you and your family. I was so sad when I read your story and yes, I have my own. I too am struggling every single day and night with the decision to re-home our dog. I have NEVER ever had to make this decision and I am completely heartbroken. We had a beautiful yellow lab who will be two January 29, 2018 and we got her as a pup. She is a wonderful, loving, obedient, affectionate and smart girl. She was originally my daughter’s who lived with me at the time we got her but my daughter has since moved to Oregon and is trying to get established there financially. It was not an option to fly the dog to Oregon. I have been taking care of her but I work full-time and am not home as often as she needs someone to be around. I tried the doggy day-care but she gets overwhelmed in large groups of dogs. I would take her on some wonderful walks in the summer but the winter months are too hard here to give her the appropriate exercise she needs at a young age. We just re-homed her to a wonderful family who have a dog and are home during the week and have a camp at a lake. The two dogs have hit if off and they are best buddies now. You would think that we would be happy that she has an ideal home now but we struggle everyday with the decision to let her go. I cry almost every time I walk thru the door and she is not there to greet me. I am thrilled she is not sitting on a couch all day or penned with other dogs at a doggie daycare but it still breaks my heart. I completely understand the heartache, guilt, sadness, doubt etc. that you are feeling so just wanted to reach out to you. My thoughts are with you and hopefully as time moves on we can recover and know that we put our dogs needs first. I pray your dog finds the ideal home situation and thrives and is happy!

  • Lisa

    I am currently considering rehoming our 9 month old bullmastiff puppy. We’ve had him 7 months… Since he was a baby. Hes a great and sweet dog and ive been back forth with the idea of rehoming for a couple months. The problem is my 3.5 year old daughter doesnt like him. She used to love him but i think now that he is so big she is intimidated..he would never hurt her but she screams every time he comes up to her to say hello. She is not this way with older much smaller dog. I never thought his size was going to be an issue for her. Ive tried working woth both of them to respect each other..for him to keep his distance and teaching her to not hit kick and scream at him when he comes near her. I’ve been trying but nothing has changed. Im crying as i right this bc i dont want to rehome him. But i dont know what else to do. I dound out i am pregnant now so i am now also worried about him with a baby on the floor. He doesnt respect boundaries and i fear he’d unintentionally hurt a baby just due to his size and his desire to be nosy and get into everything. I hate doing this but i really feel its the best decision for all of us.

  • Karen

    Tommy
    I rescued a dog lost on the road. I spent months looking for the owners. I couldn’t understand who would just give up search on this sweet and loving German Shepherd Dog we called Tommy. He had no tags and after several ads in three different counties (social media, newspaper, flyers) no one claimed him. We decided to keep him and give him a loving home. After a few weeks he adjust to our family and loved to follow my kids around, (not sure he thought he was one more kid or being protective?) Everyone loved Tommy including my neighbors. Sadly after a confrontation with a no dog lover neighbor and knowing how spiteful this neighbor was, we decided to rehome Tommy in fear that this neighbor will poison our three dogs. We thought it was best to remove Tommy to avoid having another confrontation with this neighbor. We knew this neighbor was going to be impossible and wouldn’t ever stop. The day we gave him away several neighbors came to say goodbye to Tommy. We gave Tommy away to a family friend who wrote us back saying they were grateful to us for our sacrifice and that they had gotten the best Christmas gift. Tommy adjusted well with the new family. The night before we gave Tommy away, the new family made a trip to the pet store and bought everything from food, leash, collars, cage, bed, toys in preparation of the arrival of Tommy. As soon as we handed over the leash the new family said they were in love with Tommy. We saw how much love they had for Tommy instantly. Although it deeply saddens me to give him up we are giving Tommy a new opportunity to life without this bitter hateful neighbor. He has a chance to live free and we may have a chance to avoid further confrontations with our neighbor. We will always remember you Tommy. Hope you may continue to love being sweet and open your heart to unconditional love for your new family.

  • Eunice Angel

    My family had to give away our 21-month old black pom. He was with us ever since he was born. His name is Prince. We gave him to a family friend who loves dogs and have many dogs in their home. I was there when we left him, just earlier today. He was growling to the new people that they had to cage him first. I felt so sad coz we never caged him. I hope he behaves well so that he can walk outside the cage. He was barking when we were leaving. I was crying in the car. I am still crying right now coz I miss him so much. I look and pass through his usual spots at home and it just makes me remember him more. I fear tomorrow coz no one will scratch my door, climb up my bed, and wake me up. I might cry tomorrow. I might cry until I get a chance to see him again. I just can’t seem to let him go. We had to give him away because of compound orders. All my neighbors had to give their dogs away as well. I feel so sad. Prince just gives off this energy and happiness that I am always willing to receive. I miss him. I hope he is fine. I want to believe you that dogs adapt fast so that I can be at ease. But I hope my dog doesn’t forget me and my family. I hope when he sees us he’d be as excited when he was still living with us. I just can’t stop crying. I am heartbroken. I hope he doesn’t forget us, that’s my only wish.

  • Calum Motteram

    My mum didn’t know how hard it would be to have and care for a dog but we have to give her away after Christmas.porridge pepper ready your article helped but I can’t stop crying Italy 5 days till Christmas and this happends 5hankyou for your help bit how do I know when it’s OK cause something could happen and I won’t know cause we had to give her away cause we couldn’t cope this is horrible I’m in tears I can’t say goodbye

  • Neelia

    Thank you so much for this. I recently found I was pregnant but its a high risk pregnancy and I was finding thay taking care of my 7 year old fur child Teddy was becoming more difficult. He is an indoor dog and hos pee and poo was making me feel nauseous to the point where i became dehydrated and hospitalized. My husband and I had decided to let Teddy stay with my mother until I had the baby but i quickly changed my mind because I was going to miss him too much. When my husband took him out for a walk, tragedy struck and a big pitbull attacked my little poodle shih tzu mix, my Teddy. We quickly took him to the pet hospital where they told us he suffered from a broken arm and needed extensive care and surgery. This had been the second time Teddy suffered something this traumatic as Teddy had ran out and got hit by a car causing him to lose an eye ( this happened while I was on my honemoon). So with a broken heart my husband and I decided that Teddy could not longer continue to suffer. He wouldnt get my full attention as I was more concentrated on my pregnancy, his smell was causing me more trouble, at times he would go on to be asleep all day because we both work, we wouldnt engage him much but he would follow us. All these things made me realize that Teddy needed a more loving him (not thay i didnt love him, i raised him) but a home where someone could play more with him than I was. So when tragedy struck and told the Vet about our plans, it was as if God sent me an angel. The Vet decided to adopt my beautiful sweet boy Teddy and agreed to pay all of the fees that were required. She promised me she would care for him and if someone loving wanted Teddy, she would let him go with that person. I made sure she reassured me of this because I didnt want Teddy to be placed in a dog pound. My heart aches and I cant help but feel torn over this decision but God knows what he is doing and this was Teddys destiny. I love that your article talks about dogs being survivors because thats what my baby was and is, a survivor. His memory will live on but I know he’s in better hands. I couldn’t have asked for a better and more suitable person to care for my Teddy than a Vet. The fact thay she didnt let my husband and I euthanize Teddy meant alot. It meant that she cared and that she would do anything in her power to ensure Teddy lives and continues to be happy. I just need to learn how to cope with this so that I can move on and be able to raise my child without the guilt of my fur baby.

  • T

    Thank you for this article!! I had a one year old pitbull I rehome this Saturday and I’ve been crying so much. I honestly could not ask for a better situation he has human siblings and fur siblings and acres to run on. My apartment did not offer that and my HOA was not fond of dogs over 35 lbs (biggie was 80). I know he is happy and I needed to read how other people got over it. Thank you!

  • Emma :(

    My mum put my guinea pigs on for sale this morning, about one hour later somebody wanted to look at them.. I didn’t get time to say goodbye! I can’t stop crying I don’t know what to do?? They are 2 females and are 4 years old, I wasn’t good at looking after them as I am alregic but I loved them so bad! They said that there was a male guinea pig which they already owned but what happens if they don’t get along or if one of them gets pregnant and I won’t know , I am very upset and are thinking of all the bad thoughts , what if they die suddenly, what if she drops them? , I am going to miss so much of their lives and I don’t want to , I want to make time go back and look after them! I know they are probably happy and I am over thinking but I am a 14yr old missing her guinea pigs! I am so upset I know I was terrible at looking after them but all I can see in my head is thier cute little faces , I didn’t want them to go !
    My family isn’t sad at all which makes my heart break even more, I think they feel bad because I have cried all day my heart is Broken , how do I get over this before Christmas?
    Good bye Patch and Pic,
    I will miss you so so much, you are and were my favourite furry friend and I am praying that you will be safe and happy wherever you are. I will continue to love you with all my heart.

    Reading other comments is making me feel better, I just want my friends back though :,( :,(

    • Emma :(

      just noticed it says I have stayed up this late… I haven’t this must be American ? I live in New Zealand but I just wanted to say incase anybody thinks my parents are bad … I just wanted to say to anybody who has lost a pet without them knowing or without warning, it is very hard at first, mum is thinking of a fish or frog because then I am not allergic but I am not sure if I should feel bad for my guineas , I am moving on from them already and I feel horrible but I am also jealous of the little girl who was so excited to have them, I feel horrible for thinking like that but I think it’s guilt for letting them go to easy, she was so happy bouncing up and down saying how she had a male one, I had to listen from the window because I was too upset to look at her, I was crying the moment it set in that they were not mine anymore , they were somebody else’s Christmas present. Should I get tropical fish or a tree frog? I am trying to think of positives so I don’t cry anymore

  • G

    I am rehoming one of my dogs tomorrow. We got him as a wee puppy for my birthday last year but a month or two later I found out I was pregnant. He is a very high energy dog and I just couldn’t keep up with his exercise needs. He’s a menace but I love him so much. My heart is breaking. I know it is in his best interests that he goes to a family who will be able to walk him everyday and give him all the attention he deserves but I feel like I have failed him. Especially since we have chosen to rehome only one of our dogs and keep the other. He is so attached to me and has been since the minute I brought him home. My poor baby loves me so much and I am just going to hand him over to a stranger

  • G & K

    Max- Even though we only had you for a short time, we loved you so much and you were such a good dog. I don’t want you to ever think you weren’t and it’s because we loved you and wanted the absolute best for you that we had to find you a new home. We weren’t able to give you the time and attention you deserved with a new baby on the way, also our small home wasn’t enough for your big energy to run around. Now you have such a great family and a giant yard for you to play and get all of the love and attention you deserve. I know you will be happy and probably forget us but we will never forget you. Thank you for allowing us to love you and show us love in return. Maybe we will meet again some day. Love you to the moon and back my maxie!!

  • Kathy

    We recently had to rehome our beloved yellow lab. She is a fantastic yellow lab who my daughter raised from a puppy. She will be two years old on January 29, 2018. I still can’t believe she is gone from our lives. My daughter moved to another State across country and my son is in college. It was just me left to take care of her when they were not home. I have a full-time job and tried to get out and walk our dog as much as I possibly could but many times she was left just sitting at home all day alone. I would try to take her to a doggie day care but that also felt wrong because she would be in a small space outdoors with other dogs and would sometimes get overwhelmed by that. I have some wonderful memories of trails that we would walk on weekends or after work when not dark out. She truly helped to get me out and exercise and I will always treasure that time I had with her. I am heartbroken that this decision had to be made and I feel for my kids who are also feeling the same. She is with a wonderful family who have lots of woods to run and another dog to play with. She has a new brother now as well and she will be living all summer with them at a camp on a lake. Does not get much better than that! I have never been faced with such a difficult decision and have raised other dogs from puppy stage right thru their senior years. It is such a sad situation that nobody could have predicted. The guilt and grief are so intense and the feelings so constant. I cry when I get home at night and she is not there to greet me. I know we made the right decision and sometimes life choices are very difficult. Thank you for this space to write our thoughts and share the experiences with others who have had to deal with the same sorrow.

    • Mariusz

      Kathy,
      I know exactly how it feels. I also have a job that keeps me from spending time with my dog. I am very happy to hear your dog found a great home! I do hope mine will find one too. I am very attached to her and many times she has been the only one to help me go through tough times.
      Thank you for sharing your story.
      Mariusz

      • Kathy

        Thank you so much Mariusz for your nice comment. There are so many times when I just want to pick up the phone and ask the new owners if we can have our dog back. This was the toughest decision to make. We are going to love and miss her forever. They truly are man’s best friend (and woman and child). I hope your dog finds the perfect home as well.

        Best to you,
        Kathy

    • JailisA VArgas

      Oh my god, i gave away my dog 2 days ago and his name was max also…. he was barely 5 months. We also had him since a tiny little baby. My heart is broken but i feel you on a personal level. I’m so sorry that u had to give him away as well. 💔:,(

  • Mariusz

    Thank you for creating this page. I just left my dog at training center for evaluation. I am leaving her there for re-homing in 2 days. Although I read that my feelings are something to be expected, I feel crushed.
    I have had her for almost two years. I feel guilty that I did rescue her. If I had not, she may have found an appropriate home. I live alone. At the time I rescued her, I had more relaxed schedule, just bought a house, and thought life will be all good. I was not thinking.

    My schedule changed. Long hours of work and my dog which turned out to be fear aggressive. I couldn’t trust her to be around a stranger to walk her. She spent the whole days at home. I was afraid to walk her because she got into fits of rage against other dogs and people. My neighbors started talking.

    I paid for an intensive training for her. She came back much better but I still had to leave her home for 10 or 11 hours. I woke up at 4.30 in the morning to give her a long walk and spend time with her. I bought a treadmill, so she could use her energy. Bought a bicycle, so she could run next to me. I came back home exhausted but still took her out for one hour walk or run.

    After 3 and a half month I am emotionally and physically exhausted. She still gets anxious around people and dogs although she is much easier to control. I do not imagine I can live like that. My whole life revolves around her. I finish work and the first thing I do is check the time to make sure I can catch my train home (I live next to Boston). I cannot have friends over. I cannot renovate my house. I only know two people in the town I bought my house in. They will not take her for the day. She is a strong muscular dog. I spent renovation money on her training. I keep buying new toys and maintain good health insurance for her. I have not been happy for a long time. Neither has she.
    I love my dog, but I know she is very dependent on me. She is scared of other dogs and she attacks. She knows she is strong and she prefers to attack first rather than ignore. I spoke to the trainer at the center she was at before and I am going to board her there for three weeks hoping they can help me find a home for her. I had realized there is nothing else I can do for her. I do not trust her to have a regular dog walker. I know how to handle her. Her trainer does too. I would not risk that she would break loose or bite the walker. I have no idea what else I can do for her. The only last thing would be to quit my job. lock myself in the house with her and become a recluse. I have felt like I was in a nightmare without hope for waking up.

    I feel very guilty. I miss her already although she is away only for a day today for her evaluation. She trusted me when we left the house and I left her there trembling. I saw she was scared. I cannot stop thinking that I did a cruel thing and she will be lost without me.

    Thank you for reading my post.
    Mariusz

  • Tracy

    We are 4 days past now after rehoming our patterdale terrier to their rescue centre. We rescued him almost 8 months ago from a different rescue centre, he was in very poor condition physically. We nurtured him back to a healthy and bright boy. Our plan for care of him whilst we worked failed almost immediately. We struggled with dog walkers as due to his breed, he couldn’t regularly be on/off lead, which they required. We have managed with the help if our neighbour which has been great . Our boy was always a wee bit tetchy but had never snapped or bitten. That was until a few months ago, his behaviour changed towards me and he would go for me, sometimes for no reason. Other times it seemed to be when I touched his fur, I avoided petting him. Then it was when trying to put his collar on to walk him. Afterwards he would come to bed and be right next to me under the covers, he did I this every night which we both loved. So unpredictable, so we took him to the vet to rule out anything physical, our boy had spasms in his bag legs which we got pain relief for. By that time we had made the decision to rehome him. The car journey down was so distressing for him and us, I will never forget his wee cries and whimpers like a baby, this made me so sad and feel so horrendous about myself and what we were doing. We handed him over to the rescue, as we walked away he was just standing there looking at us. My boyfriend had to go back to the car, just devastated. I waited a few seconds longer to tell our little boy “it’s ok, it’s ok, on you go, be a good boy” before turning my back on him. He absolutely adored my boyfriend to within an inch of his life, his welcome home from work were unbelievable! I feel I’ve let them both down. My stomach is constantly churning worrying how he is, if he is warm enough, has he bonded with anyone, are they being kind to him……and so much more. Right now my guilt is overwhelming, hopefully it will ease in time. Love you little boy.

  • Nina

    Today marks a week that my handsome boy Harley ( basenji chihuahua)has been away from me and with his new family. I’ve had Harley since he was 6 weeks old and he’s now 5. The dynamic has changed over the years and we ended up with 4 dogs one being our husky we adopted from the Galápagos Islands. Since we’ve had him these past almost 3 years they have not gotten along because they were both so possessive of me. I’ve always known that Harley has needed to be the only dog but it got worse with the husky. My husky attacked him 2 times and it just became dangerous for him to be here. Amongst other little things I’d known he needed a different environment for him to be there her Harley he could be . It has been the absolute worse feeling I’ve felt besides losing my father .. I’m filled with regret , guilt , sadness , feeling like I let him down and most of all today the feeling that I chose the husky over him has got me feeling so overwhelmed I can to take it. All I’ve done is cry and stare at his pictures and just feel so bad .. I started looking up webites on trying to get him back and then came across this one on how to cope and I think that’s what I need more than ever. The people who took him loved him the moment they saw him and came over to meet home. I know he will be absolutely spoiled and loved but somehow that hurts a little too in A weird way .. like they have my baby boy now and they get to love him now and I don’t .. 🙁 just thought I’d share my feelings with those who get it because all I keep hearing from people is well at least he has a good home … lol yea I know but I still have my feeling they can’t relate to . Thank you for listening.

    • Nina

      Not to mention they have already changed his original name . I think that hurt the most.. he’s had his name for 5 years now it’s just like he never existed.. Idk just feelings

      • Elisabeth

        Hi- Try to focus on how much love he will have, knowing you laid a great foundation of love for him in the first place. We successfully adopted a puppy from a local rescue after we had to regime a wonderful dog we only had for one week, as she repeatedly attacked our 8 year old dog. The puppy is no angel, but he likes our 8 year old and therefore we are all set. After all we went through with acclimating to two dogs, first rehoming one, then helping our 8 year old feel special while we house train and play with a puppy, I am not sure I would adopt two dogs at once again. I think it can be so hard for one to adjust when they’re not adopted together. It really sounds like you’ve done the right thing, the selfless thing, giving up your own happiness to be sure your little guy gets the attention he needs. Try hard not to beat yourself up!

    • Emma :(

      I know how you feel, my guinea pigs got taken away and I didn’t get a say in it, it makes me jealous knowing that somebody else will love them, I sound stupid but she has probably re-named them too! I had my pigs for 4 years, (since I was 10) and I loved them dearly but I wasn’t the best option for them , I am scared to find out what could happen to them but I think I am over thinking. We have to move on and they will enjoy their lives! At least you have other pets, my life is empty of other furry friends and I am so so upset. Don’t worry things will get better

  • Michelle

    Today is eight days since I rehomed my Siberian huskies. I adored them but came to the realisation during my six years as a dog owner that we didn’t have adequate space for them and that it was plain selfish to keep them confined. It took almost a year for me to manage to get the guts to do what was right and I ended up asking other people to help me give them away because I was far too broken to do it. Not a day passes since I gave them away that I don’t wonder where they are, what they are doing, if they are being treated right. My heart skips a beat every time I see a Siberian husky in the road … I know I did the right thing but I miss them terribly. I haven’t managed to sleep properly since I gave them away. On the bright side they are probably far happier now. Knowing them once I’m out of sight, I’m out of mind. They operate a bit like that.

  • Lindsay

    Today is day 5 without my beloved dog Charlie. I can’t stop crying, I miss him so much. I got Charlie when he was a puppy, me and my husbands first “baby”. Since having Charlie we have gone on to have 2 children. Our son just turned 3, our daughter is almost 1. Unfortunately Charlie became aggressive with our children and has bitten both of them, on more ham 1 occasion. I would never label Charlie as an aggressive dog, he’s just not used to kids. Young children have a different presence about them, and Charlie was always scared around them. It took me a long time to find the right home for Charlie, but when I did find his new home, I knew it was perfect. I felt good about taking the time to make sure he was going to a proper home. The lady told me I could add her on Facebook to get updates on Charlie and see how he’s doing. Well tonight she posted a picture of him laying on their couch getting belly rubs, just like he used to, before we had kids. I’ve never felt this way before. I’m SO sad he’s gone, but I’m SO happy for him. I know his quality of life is way better in his new home. They love him like we do, and that’s all I could ask for.. I’ll always love my beagle, Charlie.

    • Cindy

      Feels like we have similar situations with rehoming our pets. We just rehomed our Dixie yesterday; had her for 4 years, but she wasn’t adjusting to our son and he’s now one and becoming a lot more mobile. Snarling/growling at him out of nowhere was too much for me to handle. Wasn’t going to give her an opportunity to harm him. Not a life for her either to be put up and away from everyone. I miss her so much, but I know she’s in a wonderful home now.

  • Julie

    I had to bring my sweet girl back to the shelter after 4 months. She developed such severe separation anxiety that I couldn’t leave her alone at all, and we tried everything, and I could not keep affording day care. I also have mental illness and wanted a dog to help but was making myself even worse. I am worried she won’t find a good home because of the anxiety. i hate being alone at home because I get so sad and start bawling and hyperventilating. I think I did the right thing but I won’t know until I see her get adopted. I miss her so much and I am so sorry.

    • Mary

      I understand a little of how you feel Julie, I brought up our puppy, as a gift to my son and for myself, as a single parent I wanted a dog to walk and keep me and my son company. She was perfect but needed a lot of focus/time/energy! My hours at work were increased and I began to feel huge stress juggling my son, work, walks and a house that needed (still needs) lots of work done. I gave her away after a year to a new home 6 months ago. In one way I was glad, as I could work more hours comfortably and have time and energy to do lots of work on the house which was desperately needed. But I still miss her deeply, and even worse so does my son. I wish I had been able to keep her, or had someone to step in and help for a short while, while I got myself together, but I could not afford day care etc. and have no other support. I still regret it and wish she was here. I have to keep coming back to this article to remember at least she will be happy! But struggling with mental health and finances etc is a very sad reason to surrender a loving dog 🙁 best wishes to you and I hope you feel relief soon.

    • Terri Burnett

      Julie, I know exactly how you feel. I rescued a dog from being put down. Had him for 5 years. Love him so much. I had to take him to a no kill shelter, 2 weeks ago. I cry daily. And , check the website daily to see if he’s been adopted! He started attacking my other dogs. Took him to the vet to make sure nothing was wrong. Gave him 7 chances. It truly sucked leaving him there.

      • Julie

        Thanks Terri. I was incredibly sad and it triggered a major depressive episode that I finally came out of a couple of weeks ago. I did not realize how lonely I would be in addition to the guilt. I also check the shelter’s pages every day and she is still not posted, I emailed them and have heard nothing. I don’t think I will be fully better until I know she has a good home.

  • Audrey Gibson

    We adopted our dog 13 months ago. We fostered him and after 2 weeks adopted him. On our first walk together, my husband told me “this dog is going to be a project.” Within the first 3 months he jumped and broke two windows and ended up in the vet’s office for stitches, ate coffee and chocolate and we had to take him to the vet to induce vomitting, he bit our older dog in the ear out of jealousy. My husband and I have rescued 4 dogs before and never had any of these problems or concerns and have always been able to train a dog. We sent him to a 6 week inboard dog training program (not cheap) and set up stronger boundaries in the home so he wasn’t allowed to roam. Everything was copacetic for about 6 months. We were so happy. Then, my daughter gave him a bear hug while he was sleeping and he bit her in the side of the face. A month later he bit our senior dog again for no apparent reason right in the face (more stitches) and then a month later, I went to give him a good night hug in his crate and he bit me on the forehead and finger. I couldn’t believe it. You’re probably thinking, “This dog sounds like a nightmare.” He happens to be so sweet and loving most of the time. He loves belly rubs, nose kisses and butt scratches. Only wants to be where the people are. He’s like glue to me. Falls asleep standing with his head on your lap or falls asleep across your toes. He is always under toe and just wants to be with you. Happily the league we rescued him from is helping us rehome him. He leaves in less than a week and can’t help but to second guess this decision all of the time. But, my husband will not allow him to stay and the behaviorists we’ve worked with believe he needs a more calming environment, more predictable and to have a playmate his age to play with. I’m completely outnumbered and know it’s for the best but I can’t help but to feel so terribly sad and grief stricken over it. I feel bad for him. He has no idea what’s about to happen. Your thoughts and or support would be appreciated.

  • Valerie

    Thank you for your post.. my ex and I recently split up and he left his dog behind with me. I have enough guilt leaving this amazing boy locked up in this apartment all day with no one here to let him outside or play with any more. I don’t always get home at the same time and he just wants to play and zoom and go outside to be outside. It’s not fair to him and I can’t keep doing that to him. My ex absolutely refuses to take him back. My ex rescued him in November 2015 as the dogs previous owner passed away. I feel like a horrible human being, but I know that this dog could have a better, happier, more fulfilling life in someone else’s home. It’s so heart wrenching.