The one thing I will never forgive myself for

The one thing I will never forgive myself for

We gave away our dog. Our Sophie.

This post is six years in the making, because this happened in February of 2015. I will never forgive myself for giving away the perfect dog.

My husband reminds me that she wasn’t perfect: she had separation anxiety and she would scrape the paint and wood off of the doorways. She’d bark for hours and really piss off the other apartment tenants. Even when we moved to the ‘burbs, our neighbors on either side could hear her.

But she did all that because she loved us. Unconditionally. And I didn’t return her unconditional love.

I’d get annoyed with her scratching, her barking, her being in the way all the time. After years of turning this over in my mind, I’m realizing that I have a hard time giving unconditional love. If you don’t do as the world expects or as I expect, then watch out.

What the world gave me, right before we gave away Sophie, was my second son. The child that knocked me off my parenting pedestal. Nothing about him was or is easy.

As it turns out, though, people frown on you for giving away your children.

So, I had to learn how to parent an intense child. A child that causes some people to shoot me looks of disdain and others to send smiles of sympathy my way.

I fail him most days. I get so frustrated that I cannot BELIEVE he would do or say this or that. And I honestly have to ask myself, “Am I going to withhold my love because of this?”

Unconditional love. It’s so hard.

Through counseling, parenting coaching, and even Bible studies, I’ve given myself some grace for my second born. But I’m not there yet with Sophie.

If you’re wondering, we didn’t give her back to the shelter. That’s one line we wouldn’t cross. A family friend took her. Arguably, she got more love, attention, and exercise with those two empty nesters, but I still feel the guilt. It lays heavy on my chest and makes my insides tense up.

I told myself that I never deserved another dog as long as I lived.


What do I do now that my boys have started asking for a dog?

We’ve decided to foster. I genuinely expect to be bitten: by karma or the dog, whichever comes first.

Sophie, I’m so sorry, girl. You were such a good dog. We never should have given you up. 

Update: we brought our first foster, Sydney, home on Friday. Not that I deserve it, but it’s going even better than I expected. 


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