I said “No.” to taking in and training a rescue dog yesterday.
It was a terrified 10 month old puppy who has so much potential.
The thing about her is, she’s unadoptable right now. She can’t even walk on a leash, and is so afraid of people, she completely shuts down…unless she’s in a familiar environment. And then, there’s a chance she might snap.
I KNEW I could help this dog. During my evaluation, she made big time progress, FAST. And she’s at an age where (the right) training will be able to solve these problems entirely.
And I knew if I just made a little space, and a little time, I could impact her life in a major way, and potentially save it.
And I’ll be honest.
I sat with this decision for a LONG time.
Because saying “NO” was like shoving a giant knife into my heart…and then pouring a gallon of lemon juice into the wound, and topping it off with a pinch of salt.
Yeah, it was that bad.
I kept thinking to myself…
Will she overcome her fear?
Will she get the help she needs?
Will she ever find a family of her own?
Will she stay in the system forever?
And the truth is, there is a good shot she won’t ever get the training she needs to overcome her issues and find a family of her own.
Without trainer intervention, there’s a good shot she’s going to be a “lifer” or worse, lose her life if she lashes out at a shelter worker.
I weighed all of that, and still turned my back on her.
What kind of dog professional am I?
But here’s the truth of it…
When I said NO to her, I said “yes” to training the rescue dog that I already have in my care, who is highly placeable with a little bit more work.
I said “yes” to my dog Tej, who suffers from a liver shunt and as a result, is overly sensitive to changes in his environment. When new dogs come, his behavior always declines, and he will be just a little more jumpy, and little uncomfortable in his own home.
I said “yes” to myself. To my own health, and well being. Which is important to invest in, since I can’t save ANY dogs if I’m sick, and since I’m pretty ineffective if I’m overwhelmed.
I said “yes” to making sure MY dogs have the life I promised them. Full of hikes, and outside time, rather than getting their exercise in on the treadmill while I multi task.
And I said “yes” to having money in the bank to pay for my dogs to have the best possible care should something come up.
Past life Meagan would have snatched this little pup up in a heartbeat.
She would have taken her in, and forced all of her dogs to take a backseat so she could save a life.
But past life Meagan learned an important lesson after regularly burning out, quitting and then jumping back in only to make the same mistakes over and over again.
The lesson was “you can’t give more than you have and attempting to do so is giving selfishly.”
Wow. Talk about an ouch moment.
But truth is truth…
Making a commitment to this dog would push me over my limits…
I would be giving away more time and resources than I have available.
And check this out…
All of my dogs suffer if I’m overwhelmed…
The dog I have in training would suffer, not getting the time she needs to develop the skills required to find a forever home…
Future dogs would suffer if I got overwhelmed and burned out, and put training and rescue on hiatus…something I’ve done many times before…
My relationship with my family would suffer…as I’d have less time to spend with them.
My bank account would suffer, as I’d inevitably invest in food, bedding, toys and treats for the new dog, which would negatively impact MY dogs who would not get nice things…
My students and current clients would suffer, as I’d have less time to spend helping them, and if I did get overwhelmed, I’d be a less effective teacher for them.
Choosing to help this dog now, because it’s too hard to look her in the eyes and say no, would impact so many lives…and not for the better.
So I did the selfless thing.
I took the pain…welcomed the knife into my heart…and I said no to this little rescue dog who so desperately needs help.
Because the truth is, sometimes saying NO is the most selfless decision you can make.