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Apr 14, 2011

Doggy Dilemma

**Warning...this post is a long one. If you finish it, you honestly should win some kind of award. I'm only talking about this once, so I'm spilling my guts thoroughly now. If your a dog lover or have a pet of your own, grab a box of tissues...I'm sure you'll understand.**

I've been putting off posting about his for some time now, mainly because it breaks my heart to think, let alone, talk about. I've recently gotten a lot of questions regarding whether or not D and I would be taking our sweet Tucker dog with us to Germany. Sadly, the answer is no. Here is why...

Tuck is a one of a kind pup. He's smart, extremely loving, and a bit stubborn. Ok, alot stubborn. Apparently it's a trait that all Dachshunds seem to exhibit. If there is one aspect of our loving Tucker dog that I could completely do without, it would be his severe anxiety problems. I'm not sure where this anxiety came about, but ever since he was a wee little puppy, we've been battling his anxiousness.

{First day at home with baby Tuck-- November 2006}
On a normal day, Tuck tends to be fine....that is, if we stick to the routine we've been doing since we moved to VA. If we stray from the routine, Tuck gets anxious. It manifests itself in large outburst of energy, shaking, whining, yelping, hiding, barking, and sometimes vomiting. To avoid the anxiousness, D and I try not to leave Tuck alone at home for more than 6 hours at a time, if possible. We also don't mention trips to the vet or the groomers out loud (without spelling them out) because he is so stinkin' smart and understands what those words mean and will immediately get out of control. We've talked to our vet about it and he seems to think medication would do more harm than good. It would take away all his spunk. He doesn't have severe separation anxiety...it seems his anxiety is mostly situational, so we steer clear of those trigger situations as much as possible.

Hence the reason why Tucker isn't coming to Germany with us. I can't imagine putting his little 12 lb. body through the strain of a 10+ hour plane ride. He would be utterly uncontrollable. He cannot tolerate being put into small spaces for long periods of time. The anxiety would be overwhelming for him. For example, we can't board him...anywhere. Tuck is prone to severe allergic reactions (seriously, this is another headache in itself) and has had 3 different episodes in his 4 short years of life. The most recent one was last year and pretty much confirmed our decision to leave him stateside.

{Tuck, just back from the vet after his first allergic reaction episode}
We took him to his vet for his yearly check-up and booster shots. We always have the vet pre-medicate him before the shots because the shots (and de-wormer pills) cause the allergic reactions. This time, the Benadryl didn't kick in quick enough and within 30 minutes of getting him home from the vet, he was covered in hives. I mean COVERED. I've never had him react to his vaccinations that seriously before. The first time his face just ballooned up, the second time he had a large nose and a few hives. This time was scary. We immediately hopped back in the car and took him to the Emergency Vet (our vet had already closed for the day, go figure). They immediately pumped him full of more Benadryl and told us they were going to keep him for at least 6 hours to monitor him. We weren't in the clear yet. Anaphylaxis could still be an issue, so we left him there. It breaks my heart every time something like this happens to him (he also had a scare of a possible liver shunt when he was 6 months old and went through a series of ultrasounds, x-rays and blood panels...all inconclusive). I mean, how much more can one little dog take?

Three hours into the observation time, we get a call from the vet asking us if we would be able to come and pick him up early. I was relieved to be able to come and get him...but when we got there, we found out why he needed to be picked up. He had been violently trying to get out of his cage by squeezing his long nose through the grates in the crate he was being kept in...thus scraping the black off of his nose. Yep, he literally wanted out of that cage so badly that he was inflicting even more pain upon himself to get out. The vet techs had been carrying him around all night because they were afraid he was going to injure himself further. I was shocked...and so sad. We walked out the ER with our Tucker bear...still covered in hives. We were given strict instructions on how to medicate with the Benadryl and how to watch over him for the next 12 hours. He literally slept on my lap (he is the epitome of a lap dog) for the rest of the night and was fine the next morning. Thank the Lord.

I feel like every time this happens, it takes a year off his little doggy life (and mine too!) We can't put him through the stress of a plane ride and adjusting to a new environment to this great of an extent. Also, I fear that if we were to take him, we would have a hard time finding the appropriate veterinarian for him. Back home in NC we had the most perfect vet. She knew every little detail about Tuck and all his issues and was wonderful with him. She was also wonderful with us. Very understanding and sympathetic to our worries about our first "child." I'll admit, it was a bit of a struggle here in VA finding a vet that we trusted and who we felt could take extra special care of our Tuck. I can't imagine having to do that again, in Germany no less. I'm sure on post there is a vet clinic, but we don't trust the one here on our base in VA. Apparently this is common concern at most military installations. I don't want to risk it.

Also, we've considered how hard it would be to travel around Europe (and back to the states for visits) with Tuck in tow. Traveling with him would be miserable, for both him and us. As previously mentioned, we CANNOT  board him. Totally out of the question given his history. We want to be able to get as much out of this experience in Europe as we possibly can and I don't think forcing our anxious dog to stay at a boarding facility while we jet set around is a very safe idea. Option 3 could be having him stay with friends we make in Germany. But who are we kidding? We have no idea how long it could take to make friends when we get there...friends that we could trust to take care of Tuck in a way that to most may seem like doting, but to keep anxiety levels low, it's become our lifestyle. I know the amount of stress Tuck can cause on any given day and I'm not comfortable projecting that on to people who we would barely know.

So, with all that being thought of, contemplated, and cried over many, many times...we decided the best thing to do for Tuck and for us would be to leave him in the care of my Mom and Dad back home in NC. Truth be told, I know Tuck is going LOVE living with Grandma and Grandpa. Over the 6 month period that D was deployed last year, Tuck spent 4 of those months (broken up, 4 months total) at my parents house due to me moving houses and traveling all over the place. Their home is his play land. As soon as he hears that we're going for weekend visits, he's excited and jumping with joy at the front door ready to go! Tuck and my Father are two peas in a pod. I bet my Dad never would have though he would be in love with such a tiny little weiner dog. Tucker normally sleeps right in between D and I in the bed, but when we go home to NC...we become null and void. He sleeps with Grandma and Grandpa every night! My dad takes him on long walks and indulges him in his avid nagging to play soccer ball at all hours of the day. I really couldn't think of two more loving and wonderful people to take care of one of the most precious pieces of my heart than my own parents. Heck, they raised me! I think I turned out pretty darn great! I know our pride and joy with be just fine in their hands. And bonus! He will go back to seeing our most favorite vet back home! HUGE sigh of relief there.

This decision was definitely one of the hardest ones we've ever had to make. We knew that if an overseas assignment came along, we were going to have to make this kind of decision. It has definitely come with a price. He's our first child...fur or not. As corny as this sounds, I sat him down one day and told him the plan. I'm pretty positive he understood everything I was saying because as the tears rolled down my face, he just licked them away. And he's been my little shadow ever since (which doesn't make this transition any easier!) I feel an incredible amount of guilt for leaving part of our little family behind. To some it may seem a bit selfish. Believe me, we've thought of all of the possibles of how we could make it work, but it just doesn't seem feasible. Not for him to be completely healthy and happy as he should be. As he deserves to be.

{My parents, Tuck's Grandma & Grandpa!}
It makes me cry all the time. I look at him with those little beady eyes and I melt. I am so attached to him in every way. I feel as though I birthed him myself some days...as crazy as it sounds. Although he drives me crazy with the incessant barking and ever-changing medical issues, he is the sweetest dog in the entire world. Dog loyalty is such a true and present thing in this world...and we've been so lucky to find it in Tuck. He brings so much joy (and hilarity...he's too funny) to our lives that I can't imagine my life without him. I know he won't be with me everyday in Germany, but I will look forward to every visit home and the time we will get to spend with him. When Germany is done and over with, Tuck will be back home with us...pending he still wants to live with us. He might love Grandma and Grandpa's so much he won't want us back! I kid, I kid...I hope. I guess we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

{Easter 2007...one of our first family photos.}
As for now, we are spending every second we can with him. Playing with him, spoiling him, and showing him how much we love him. I'm really, really going to miss him. My heart breaks whenever I think about how much I'm going to miss him. I know I will still feel the guilt. I know I will still feel the worry. But then I think of how happy he's going to be with my parents, those feelings start to melt away. I am SO not looking forward to kissing his sweet doggy face goodbye...but then again, it won't be goodbye...it will be "See ya later, Tucker Bear."


  1. I don't think you're being selfish at all! If anything you are doing the right thing for Tuck and for yourselves! I, like you, swear that I birthed our dog, he's our first born and I cannot imagine the pain you must be going through and how hard the decision must have been. I have a feeling he will be very well loved and cared for with your parents and he will still be part of your life :)

  2. Gah! This is so heartbreaking. I definitely think you are making the right choice leaving him with two people he clearly loves and you know you can rely on them. I can't imagine making the decision you had to but it was obviously one made out of love and concern for your dog. He will be much happier in a familiar place and you and your husband will probably have an easier time adapting to life in Germany. That's not selfish to admit, in fact it is the opposite of selfish. You are being honest about the situation and what is best for everyone (and dog) involved.

  3. I'm so sorry. That must have been a heart wrenching decision, but it seems you all have made the best decision. Your parents are amazing to take and love your dog while you are in Germany!

  4. I totally understand how hard this decision was for you guys to make and I can't say that I blame you for leaving him behind. It really sounds like its the best option for him and his health and comfort is really the most important thing in this situation.

  5. Im so sorry you are going to have to leave him, but after reading this, I think youre making the right decision. You guys are going to want to travel and while Europe is dog friendly, there are a lot of places they just cant go. It's wonderful that you have such loving parents to leave him with. It sounds like they will take great care of him!

  6. I just cried, in the middle of class
    dont forget that he'll have an amazing auntie watching after him too!
    He might not like me a whole lot but i'll give as much as I possibly can

  7. So I found your blog in Monday Meet Up and although it made me cry, I completely loved it.

    I have to "fur" children myself, and they are my world, so saying I know the feeling would be an understatement! Love your Blog, and of course Tuck!

    count me in as a follower!


  8. Awe!!! I totally and completely feel for you! I had 2 pups, Watson & Hula, and my husband and I had to move recently from California to Iowa. We were just taking our cars and our stuff in the cars. Not only was there no room, but we stayed @ my aunts for several months and she can't have pets, and neither can our now-apartment. It was the worst thing ever to have to give them to a rescue, but it was for the best. It absolutely broke my heart, so I totally know how you feel.

    Tucker is adorable!!!

  9. This popped up in a "you might like" link, so I had to read it. I have the same feelings about our Zora, so I can only imagine! Similar to your situation she LOVES my parents and they love her, so i am so glad she always has a place to stay in which is she is 100% comfortable. You definitely made the right decision, and I am so glad you have Tucker back again now! xo


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