A New Leash on Life

This weekend the dogs left us for their new home with a wonderful family where they will spend the rest of their days being pampered and loved and showered with attention.  And lots of treats.


The family who adopted them is actually an old neighbor of ours who contacted Matt thru a post he put on Facebook.  We had lived next door to Beth and her two kids, Ryan and Sarah, over five years ago before we moved into the house that we’re currently selling.  Her kids had grown up with the dogs, and as soon as she heard we were looking for a new home for them, she reached out to us immediately and said that she would love to take them.  This just about melted our hearts.  Not only would the dogs stay together, but they would be going to live with a family who knows them, loves them, and will no doubt take great care of them thru the rest of their golden years.

Making the decision to find the girls a new home has been weighing heavily on us for quite some time and obviously wasn’t one that came easy.  We’ve had them for 11 years – the entire time Matt and I have been together – and the thought of not having them in our lives has sent me into a sobbing tailspin on many occasions. Everything we’ve done has been for those dogs, including making the decision to buy a catamaran as opposed to a smaller (and much less expensive) monohull, just to better accommodate them.  We knew they wouldn’t have been able to maneuver the steep stairs leading down into the cabin of a typical sailboat, and wanted a boat with minimal obstacles, anticipating the needs that come with having senior dogs.  Heck, we even retrofitted the catamaran, removing a large center island in the salon area to give them more space to be as comfortable as possible.

When we moved onto the boat a year ago, we had no intention of leaving Annapolis for several years until after they had passed – just like many parents put off their plans to travel until after their kids are finished with school.  However, as the days and weeks and months passed, we saw that they were having a very tough time adjusting to their new home, despite all of the ways we tried to make it work.  It became increasingly difficult for them to get on and off the boat, despite the ramp we had bought for them.  Several times, Corona nearly slipped off it and would have been in the water if it weren’t for Matt’s quick reaction.  All day long they would lay in their small space – about 8′ x 4′ – and just stare off into the distance.  They stopped being playful.  Yingling was almost always in a state of anxiety with the slight motion of the boat and hated the sound of the engines and the clicking of the thermometer on the air conditioner.  We realized that THEY were unhappy, and knew that the WRONG thing to do would be to keep them in a place that clearly caused them so much distress.  Since moving back on land wasn’t an option, we knew we needed to find them a new home, off the boat, where they could enjoy life again.  A place where they could stretch their legs and run on land as much as they wanted.  A place where they could be dogs again and not just two furry lumps laying around waiting to die, which is honestly what I felt like they were doing on the boat.  And so we did, thanks to Beth and her amazing family.  Now they have a huge house and yard to explore, several loving kids to give them all the attention they need, and another dog, Ovie, to pal around with.  Our anxiety the day after they left us was calmed with all of the photos and videos Beth sent of them in their new home.  She sent us one of Ryan playing catch with Corona, which is her favorite thing to do. Like, ever. That game probably went on for a solid 30 minutes, I’m sure.  This was the hardest decision we’ve ever had to make, but seeing them in their element made us smile thru our tears and confirmed to us that this was the right one for them.  To keep them would have been just plain selfish on our part.

We’ve received an incredible amount of support thru our friends and family who know our situation and know how much we love those darn dogs.  However, we also received our fair share of negative feedback, like these gems, left by an anonymous reader to our last post about the dogs:

Wow, those dogs love you and will have a huge adjustment to make to a new home so late in life. Do us all a favor and don’t have any kids, as I’m sure you will give them away when life gets inconvenient!! Shame , Shame on you both

how could you…. leave these dogs just because you want warmer waters. The both of you have a responsibility to these animals, or maybe not. Please don’t have kids, as i’m quite sure you would discard him/her just as easily.

First of all, we didn’t “discard” our dogs because it was “inconvenient” for us or because we want to go cruising.  Our original plan was to stay put for several years until after the girls had passed, but seeing their deteriorating conditions and obvious discomfort on the boat made us realize that this was not the best situation for THEM, not us.  The easy thing would have been to keep them with us and just keep hoping that they would adapt, but that wasn’t the case.  Keeping them with us would have been the most selfish thing we could have done in this situation.

Second, the comment about the kids just hurts a part of my heart for reasons that I really don’t like to talk about.  I’ve always been a pretty private person, and choose to keep many intricacies of our day to day life hidden, which is sort of ironic because we have a blog that puts us out there for everyone to see.  Truth is, we’ve struggled with infertility for years.  That was the driving force behind our sudden change in lifestyle.  After years and years of trying to start a family, we decided we needed a change.  A drastic one.  We needed to shed the layers of frustration, disappointment, sadness and resentment that had created an emptiness within us and built a wall between us. Somewhere on that neatly outlined path of the “American Dream” – go to college, get married, get a good job, buy a house, have some kids, then retire – we had gotten stuck.  We maneuvered the first few milestones with relative ease, but when it came time to start a family, we hit a wall.  After years of trying it the old fashioned way, we caved in and saw specialists.  We had uncomfortable tests and biopsies done.  I has put on countless rounds of hormones and medicines that put me on an emotional roller coaster and – Matt won’t ever admit it, but I will – made me a total bitch.  We lived our life in 28 day cycles and were constantly disappointed when day 30 rolled around and we had to start all over again.  But worst of all, we lived in shame.  Shame that despite all of our achievements, we couldn’t seem to do the one thing humans were put on this earth to do – procreate.  Heck, even crack heads and 12 year olds were able to do what we couldn’t.   To add insult to injury, everyone we knew were having babies!  I went to shower after shower, buying things that I prayed every day that I would be buying for our baby someday if I could only get my body to cooperate.  I was ashamed that I resented my friends and their happiness and constantly felt like I was disappointing Matt and our families.  And with that shame came silence.  We didn’t want to talk about our inadequacies.  For anyone who has ever experienced infertility, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  So, we came to terms with our situation and accept the fact that we may never have kids, and we were OK with that. In order to move on, we needed to leave behind the shell of the life that we had built in hopes of a family and do something completely different.  And so the idea of living on a boat was born.  Hey, at least we gave birth to something great, right?  Haha, I kid.  Just keepin’ it light, you know 🙂

So no, Anonymous Haters, you DONT have to worry about us abandoning our kids when they get inconvenient because we can’t have any.  Hopefully knowing this will give you comfort and allow you to sleep better at night.  Probably with the 8 dogs and 13 cats that are all living in your small, cramped apartment.  The fact that you think it’s wrong that we chose to give our dogs a better life versus keeping them in a situation that clearly cases them anxiety is just idiotic.  And a big shame, shame on you for that.  If we’re all doing each other favors here, do us a solid and unsubscribe from our blog.

Whew – that was like, some serious therapy there.  Thanks for sticking with me during that rant.

We’re happy that we were able to find the dogs a great family for them so spend the rest of their days, and we can live with ourselves knowing that they are loved.  I’m sure that we’ll Facetime them quite a few times just to see their furry faces and know that they have a new leash on life.  Ha. Until then…

7 Replies to “A New Leash on Life”

  1. Hey there, I must tell you – your post has brought me to tears. Your dogs were very lucky to have you as their parents. They look quite content in the pic and I imagine Ryan and Sarah will love them to pieces! It must feel incredible knowing that they are getting the love you would have given them.

    I am glad I found your blog today, if you don’t mind – I’m going to hang around!!

  2. Fuck em. You know who you are and I know who are. Love, god
    Go have a great time and know they are with a fabulous living family
    Love you both.

  3. I was sad to read the initial post about your pups and even more so reading this post. I’m glad you were able to find them a good “retirement home”. We have two dogs, one over 10, that have yet to be introduced to the boat. One of my bigger fears is that she (and our younger…well call him the more timid dog) will adapt well.

    Sounds to me like you did the best you could for your pups. I can only imagine how tough it is to part ways and not be able to share your adventure with them. Ignore the haters…some people just have to try and drag down those trying to live less ordinary lives.


  4. Love your blog!! Love your story!! Love you guys!!

    Cheering you on from the shore. Don’t let the critics get into your head. Everyone’s path in life is different.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts & heart with the world. Vulnerability is not weakness; it is courage.

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

    Brene Brown’s has some great Ted Talks on You Tube and she has some good books out, such as The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly.

    Love the motto in the book The Gift of Imperfection–“Let go of who you think you are supposed to be and embrace who you are.”

    Happy trails…ur… um…I mean happy sails. 🙂

  5. People are very good at pointing fingers when they are not involved in the situation and do not have all of the information! It is obvious that you loved your dogs to pieces and only wanted what was best for them! The selfish thing to do would be to hold onto them and try to force them into a lifestyle that was not only uncomfortable, but increasingly dangerous for them as they grew older. It sounds like they are loving their new home and the “terrible adjustment” is not that at all! I know how hard it is to have to say goodbye to a fur-baby when life changes – don’t listen to the haters! 😉

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