and then I unadopted

I adopted a dog with my partner, and then I returned her to her adoption agency four days later.

Remember that time (on Day 2 of owning a dog) that I wrote about the 9 unsurprisingly surprising things I (re)learned after bringing home a puppy? Those still hold true.

What I didn’t include in that list, though, is that there are some fundamental prerequisites that one needs to be sure of before committing to an adoption.

Like the meaning of commitment.

Like the weight of commitment.

I had carved an illusion that my lifestyle was simple and flexible enough to permit owning a dog. I have a job that allows a fair amount of work from home, and have a pretty stable routine (or so I thought.)

Maybe it’s a first time dog owner pitfall, or maybe it’s my inept sense of judgement, but I underestimated the time and stability it takes to care for a dog, especially a ten month old puppy. And the time and resources I could give her wasn’t optimal for her, my partner, or me. Aki was (and is) an absolutely trainable pup, but I wasn’t able to imagine a schedule that in which I could give her the continued training she needed to thrive. It felt more selfish and stubborn to keep her than to give her the chance to be in a home that could provide a more optimal lifestyle. My lifestyle, like my INFJ-T personality, is too turbulent to fully support a dependent creature.

Un-attachment is not easy. Nor is admitting that I hit the “undo” button on a huge decision with repercussions for other beings. Despite that some may openly criticize me as a negligent and irresponsible dog owner, I find it’s important to share my take on this big life lesson, and our course of action.

We arranged to return her to her adoption agency on Valentine’s Day. As the hour of our appointment approached, I could feel the anxiety emanating. Our pup was knocked out on the couch in a most carefree, trusting pose. She seemed to have been dreaming in and out of the day, whimpering in her sleep. We were all developing a cadence and mutual pacing, and the frenzy of adjustment was winding down.

But there was no turning back. It wasn’t fair to her, or to my partner, to waffle on huge future-facing decisions.

Fortunately, the car ride back to the agency was smooth sailing — Aki was a car ride champ. The agency folks cheerfully took her in, and a few days later, I was delighted to see that she’d been adopted by a big family in the suburbs with plenty of yard space. I felt confident that she’d found her people.

Of all the lessons I learned and emotions I felt in those four days, I am most of all grateful to Aki for being my teacher. She taught me what it means to be patient with another creature. She taught me to critically examine my own needs and lifestyle.

Letting her go means that I need to live the life I had said I couldn’t fulfill because of a dog. Letting her go was the acceptance of immaturity and the understanding that I have so much growth to do. At the same time, it was a lesson in decision-making — hard as it may be, we need to make choices in the best interests of the parties involved. Luckily, for us, I believe that we were able to make the choice that would allow all three of us to best thrive.

It was a hell of a way to arrive to this understanding, and I am forever grateful to her for helping me see this.

結局なんとかなったよ。Though differently than imagined, it did work out after all.

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