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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-04-2004, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
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Depressing...

About a month ago, my husband and I adoped an elderly sheltie (Scamp) from the local shelter. I told them up-front that Assumpta, our 7 y/o spayed female DLH wasn't crazy about dogs and that it might not work out, but they were keen for us to give it a try, as the dog had some minor health issues and it didn't look good for him getting adopted at his advanced age. We'd done so well with Assumpta that they thought we might have a good chance of integrating the dog into our home for however long he had left. My husband and best friend assured me that Assumta would adjust fine, but I had this nagging gut feeling that there would be a problem

Assumpta came to us five years ago as a matted, starving stray picked up in the woods by my neighbor (a vet tech who volunteered at the shelter, as well). She wasn't working at their house at all (2 collies and a psycho-kitten), and the shelter was worried about her apparent aggression with kids and other animals, so we were asked to give her a try (neighbor knew I was a cat lover with no kids or pets and enough time to work with the cat a lot). Five years later, most of her issues have gone away (except the problem with kids and animals, though she'd seemed able to briefly tolerate quiet dogs). With us, she turned into a real velcro cat, Ms. Luvvie Kitty: no lap too small for her presence.

The first couple of weeks went okay, just a few little spats. We did everything "right," on-leash intros, totally supervised interaction, safe exits, litterbox, and feeding area for cat. The dog was unbelievably submissive and respectful to the cat, even turning his head away when she walked by him.

Just over a week ago, things started going wrong. Assumpta got very aggressive with Scamp, bullying him every time he laid down. She started shedding like I've never seen, and developed what initially seemed to be hairballs, but after a couple of days, we determined it was a cough instead. Vet said possibly bordetella from the dog, or maybe asthma triggered by stress, and prescribed antibiotics to start, with followup if things continued. Since then, Assumpta's been absolutely miserable, refuses to come downstairs except to use the litterbox and hide under the living room chair. Still some scattered coughing, though less and shorter duration. She's just a totally different cat, almost like she was when she first came to us...hostile, sick, and scared. Now she stands at the gate to the dogs room and hisses at him when he's fast asleep on the other side of the room. She hasn't come up on my lap since the dog came

The dog's going to have to go. It's been ripping me apart making this decision, but the deal was that Assumpta came first. He's such a sweet dog, but he's miserable being either bullied or confined, and the cat is miserable that he's even here. Seems like I've done nothing but cry and worry all week.

Anticipating this, I'd lined up a couple of possible shelter-approved rehome possibilities for Scamp before he came home. Happily, he is going to live with the same neighbor who was responsible for placing Assumpta with us...they have three adult collies now, and they decided that they would rather take him than see him rehomed elsewhere or back in the shelter. So, he'll be living next door, with a bigger yard, built-in playmates (he loves visiting them and playing with the collies), and an experienced, medically knowledgable owner who has experience with geriatric dogs. We're going to pay as many of his vet/food bills as they'll allow, so that the neighbor doesn't get financially strapped, and they said we're welcome to visit, play with, and walk Scamp anytime (also welcome to dog-sit!).

But still, I'm feeling depressed and guilty that I couldn't make this work out. Scamp's a great, sweet dog with virtually no bad habits, but Assumpta just can't deal with him, and it's not fair to either of them to push it any further, because they're both miserable right now, and it's getting worse instead of better.

Scamp's going to his new digs next door tomorrow morning. I'll miss him, but I love him enough to want him to have a great home instead of one with a hostile cat and nervous-wreck people. I hope that the cat returns to her normal self once she has "her" house and people all to herself again (I'll never forgive myself if she doesn't). The shelter and my vet have taken great pains to tell me that it isn't my fault, and that it's not uncommon for this to happen, and that I went above and beyond the call by knowing that I had an appropriate and approved rehome option before adopting.

But...I'm still depressed, and still worrying. <sigh>

Another bit of good news out of all this...I start volunteering at the shelter next week. While I was there discussing Scamp and Assumpta and our options, the director mentioned that she can never find enough cat people, so I said I'd be honored to clean litterboxes, fill bowls, and chat with cats.

So, I'm sad, but sometimes good things happen when other things go wrong, eh? <small hopeful smile>
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-04-2004, 12:52 AM
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I'm sorry you are going through this. Please try not to feel so awful....you have done everything right. I know it is hard, though, to realize you just can't make it work, and it isn't fair to anyone. I went through a similar experience several years ago.....

I had wanted a dog my whole life. As a toddler, I would tie strings around my stuffed toys and pretend to walk them I had a one track mind, and it was dog, dog, dog,dog. I had every other kind of pet, but my mom hated dogs, and since I lived with her.....I was out of luck. Then she met my stepfather, Art. After we all moved in together, he talked her into it I was in high school at the time. We did NOT do our research We brought home Bandit, an 8 week old beagle, and I fell in love. Unfortunately, that was not enough. I had no idea how to raise a puppy, especially a beagle, with a LOUD voice and a stubborn streak. I tried my hardest, but it was awful. Nobody was home during the day, we were all at work and school. Art was a pilot and was gone for weeks at a time. I was also in sports, which took up even MORE time....and I didn't know this, but beagles are one of the hardest dogs to train, and are not recommended for inexperienced dog owners. He would howl the ENTIRE TIME we were gone....our neighbors were thrilled He also systematically destroyed our house....which was a rental He shredded doors, walls, carpets, all of our furniture, and relieved himself wherever he pleased. I never got him housebroken. He was miserable, and so were we. I felt like a failure, and I was constantly getting in trouble because of the damage he caused. He was a disaster on the leash, and started becoming food-aggressive. Finally,after about a year, I had to face facts. I cried for weeks, trying to come to terms wth the fact that this just was not going to work. I began looking for a home for him, and met a lady with no kids, whose beagle had died a few months before. She had had beagles her whole life, and fell in love with Bandit. The day we dropped him off was one of the worst days I can remember........
That was a few years ago, and I have visited Bandit many times. He now has a sister, another beagle named Daisy, and his own yard and pool. He is a completely different dog...........totally trained, obedient, a model canine citizen I am so grateful now that I had the strength to give him up, but it was heartwrenching at the time.

In a few months, you will feel so much better about this.....but tommorrow will probably be very difficult.....you ARE doing the best thing, for ALL parties here. Try to remember that, and lean on everyone here for support.

*HUGS*
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-04-2004, 01:09 AM
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Sometimes, a wise person told me, there are no good choices. There is only one choice, and despite the heartbreak, that's what you have to do. You had a choice, a miserable dog and a miserable cat or a good home for the dog and a feeling of failure. You didn't fail. You tried, and the situation was just not good. You might have spent a fortune with a behaviorist and still had the same problem. You are doing what seems to be very wise. Be happy for both animals.




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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-04-2004, 01:40 AM
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There is no reason you should beat yourself up over this - or feel guilty that you are getting rid of your dog. You gave him a shot - and you really did - but if he makes an existing pet feel uncomfortable and get sick as a result - it's not something you can help.

You can't change some things - but at least you can take comfort in the fact that he is going to a good home - and that even though you had to give him away - your paying for his bills and made sure that he was taken care of. I'd say that is a very responsible and noble move.

Just be happy knowing that your cat will start feeling better - and that you can still play with the doggy even though he might not be yours anymore. They'll both be happier in the long run.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-04-2004, 01:32 PM Thread Starter
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Well, Scamp went to his new home next door this morning

I think he'll be happier there, once he gets used to it. He didn't seem nervous or upset at all (he's used to going over there to play with their dogs anyhow). He did try to follow me to the car (that was hard for me), but went back to the house when he was called. He learned to use the dog door to the exercise pen in one try, and the neighbors are taking him out to the lake alone today to have some one-on-one time with him.

They gave us a key to the house and said to come by anytime to visit him, and anytime we want a dog for the day, just take him and go have fun. She said "He's still your dog, he just happens to live here." I'm going to use that statement against her when she tries to refuse to take any money for his vet's bills

Assumpta is still looking upset, and mostly hiding or aloof, but she put a paw on my lap when we got home this morning. Hopefully, things will get better from here.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-05-2004, 05:48 PM
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I'm so glad to hear things seem to be working out well for both animals.




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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-05-2004, 05:54 PM
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I'm happy to hear things are going better. Hang in there, every day will be even better than the last
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-05-2004, 07:05 PM
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What a difficult thing for you, so sorry things didn't work out between Scamp and Assumpta.
But as a caring pet owner you kept both of them in mind and did what was right. Sounds like it will work out well.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-05-2004, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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Well, an update...

Scamp is doing very well at the neighbors' house, getting along really well with their grumpy geriatric collie as well as the other two younger adult collies. Their cat walked straight up to him, they touched noses and they were just fine from then on. My neighbor took Scamp up to her elderly parents' house, and said she practically had to pry the dog away from her father to bring him home They say he's a great dog with a wonderful personality and they really like having him around. My husband had a tough day yesterday missing him (I had my emotional issues before he left), and I have to keep reminding him that the dog is next door, not on Mars. He took a walk with the neighors and all four dogs this morning, and he said Scamp looked really happy and was very energetic, so he felt a little better I think we did the right thing...even if it wasn't how we wanted/planned it to work out, I have a feeling that both animals will be happier with this arrangement.

Assumpta got up on my lap today for a 3-hour nap while I was reading. After the dog left yesterday, she yakked up a three-inch-long hairball (which my husband saved for me to see...are we total utter catgeeks or what?), and hasn't coughed/hacked since. I'm still trying to get her shedding under control, but I don't expect to see a big change for a few days, so right now it's mostly just lots of brushing to keep the fur out of her digestive system. She's slept like a log yesterday and today, the poor thing was exhausted from being on full dog alert. Here's hoping she's back to normal soon (I miss being bossed around).

And, tomorrow morning, I start scooping litterboxes at the animal shelter Happy endings....
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-05-2004, 11:21 PM
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Whoops! You forgot, "And they all lived happily ever after."

It sounds like a great outcome to me!




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