I have failed. (aka – “The Significant Post”)

I have failed.


I try my hardest to be witty, light-hearted, and / or even funny at times on this blog.  I hope I have been able to bring a smile or a chuckle to (at least) some of the people who have been faithful and regular readers, as well as the numerous "once-and-done" visitors.


Today you will not find that witty, light-hearted, and/or even funny Father of Five.  No, today you find a broken man, a saddened father, a father who has failed his children, his family, and himself.  This was not a fun post to write, nor will it be a fun post to read.  Please consider yourself warned.  It is long, and it is intended for my children to read someday when they are old enough to understand.


A little over two years ago, the subject came up about the possibility of obtaining a dog.


Growing up, I never had a dog.  I had always wanted one, and (at one point) my sister and I thought we had our parents "just about" talked into getting a Cockapoo, but it never happened. 


My wife grew up with a dog in her home.  There was Heidi (a Samoyed) that was around in her younger years, and Buddy (part Springer, part "who knows what") who came along in the later years.  Buddy was still around when I met my wife, and lived until just a few years ago.  She talks of Heidi from time to time, and I spent time with Buddy.  I have never really heard her speak negatively about the experiences of growing up with a dog.


When we were first married, we did try a short stint with a "rescue" Pomeranian.  This dog was a Jekyll and Hyde.  By day he was a nice enough dog.  Although not house broken, he was paper trained.  But, and night this dog became the most vicious and wicked creature imaginable.  This dog would curl up on Benjamin's bed, and if you even walked by the open bedroom door he would growl.  If you walked into the room, he would snarl, and lash out at you.  Heaven forbid you try to remove him from the bed, because if you did, he would bite, scratch, and gnash at your arms and fingers.  Many times, both Michele and I would walk away with injuries from dealing with this dog after dark.  We would have to go in with a blanket, cover the dog, and scoop him up inside the blanket to keep from getting bitten.  Then, in the morning, the dog would again be your best friend.  And so it went – for about two months.  We could not keep a dog like that in our home with a baby.  I felt bad, but knew that the dog would have to go.


Fast forward a number of years, and I found out that Ed had gotten a dog.  Jake (Ed's dog) is a dream.  From day one Jake has been a faithful, loyal, and unbelievably well behaved dog.  Watching #3 of 5 (Zachary) with Jake was one of the key reasons I started  looking into getting a dog.


When the thought of getting a dog first came up, I did a lot of research on dog breeds.  I had some specific criteria that needed to be fulfilled.  I wanted a small dog.  I wanted a non-shedding dog.  I wanted a dog that would be good with children of all ages.  Right away the Cairn Terriers came to the forefront of the search.  I started doing a lot of reading on the cairn breed, I got books, and CD's and even talked to people. 


Looking back now, I can see that I was so excited about the possibility of getting a dog that I focused too much on the "pros", and failed to really give credence to the "cons" of cairn ownership.  Oh, the messages and warnings are all out there, but (at the time) the pros outshone the cons.


Michele and I talked, and we decided to give it a try.  Michele did warn me about the aspects of dog ownership, but again, I did not listen as well as I should have.


So, on 11-09-2005 we added Molly (a cairn Terrier) to the family.  My first attempt at a web page was based on my Aquarium Project.  (Ironically, I have not posted anything about my "aquatic interests" here – perhaps another time).  Just after Molly arrived, I added a couple of pages about her on my Aquarium pages.  You can find these pages HERE.  (Keep in mind that Geocities limits a person's bandwidth, and this site will frequently exceed its hourly bandwidth allotment (4.5MB/hr)).


Overall, Molly is a good girl.  She is WONDERFUL with children.  You could not ask for a better dog that way.  She is loyal.  She will (unless she is napping) follow you around the house like she was attached to your leg.  She can be enjoyable, and has provided our family with a lot of fun over the past two years. 


Yes, you are right.  You do hear a "but…."


But…  Molly is (as everything I read, and was told, and was warned about) unbelievably stubborn.  She is iron willed, independent, and "all Cairn". 


She did potty train… sort of.  She will (for the most part) "hold it" until we take her out, but when she cannot "hold it" any longer she will not tell us that she has to go out.  She simply sneaks off to some remote corner and poos and/or pees in the house.  We have tried many different methods to get her past this, but nothing works.  I take her out (on leash) to "go" in the morning (which she does) and within a few minutes of letting her loose inside, she will poo (again) in the house.  If you tie her up in the backyard, she will sometimes poo, but often times she will not.  Then, when you let her in, she will (after a short period of time) poo in the house instead.  If it is raining, or the snow is too deep, or it is too cold she WILL NOT poo outside. 


She has learned a few commands.  She will sit and she will come… Sometimes.  If she is inside, Molly will sit, and will come (to me).  She will sometimes sit for my wife, and the kids, but does not easily come (when called) for the wife and kids.  If she sees a squirrel, a cat, another dog, a flying bug, or ANYTHING through the window – she can (and has) pushed herself out past the (latched) screen door and takes off. 


If we are outside though, all bets are off.  Molly will not listen whatsoever to us.  She will not come, she will not sit.  She will turn her head to acknowledge you have called her, but then ignores you and does whatever she wants.  I have even taken the bag of doggie cookies or treats outside and crumpled the bag. (The same cookies she will dash upstairs if she even hears us "touch" the bag.)  Once she is loose outside, all bets are off.  There is no getting her back.  She runs away, and does not stop to look back.  We have had people drop her off, call us to come and get her, I have had to change my answering machine to say that I know she got away, but had to leave, and to please tie her up on the leash in the back yard.  Several times we have had to just give up looking for her (when she has gotten away), and just hope for the best – only to hear her scratching at the back door at 3 in the morning.  You cannot open a door in our house without making sure she is nowhere close, and with all the kids we have at home, and all their friends going in and out all the time – it is a loosing battle.


Molly is a chewer.  She chews and destroys more than I can even keep track of.  Easily, I can count four pairs of shoes, three sets of flip-flops, too many toys and  stuffed animals to even count, and important papers.  We buy her dog toys, but honestly, the dog toys, and the kids stuffed animals, and miscellaneous toys do not look all that different.  I can't blame her for not being able to tell… Sometimes I can't even tell the difference.


Molly is a digger.  She has dug so many holes in our yard I have given up trying.  Not only does she dig holes, but she digs DEEP holes.  Easily – over a foot deep.  She has dug up at least four of our sprinkler heads, and cannot even be trusted outside (on leash)  without direct and constant supervision.


Molly is a scavenger.  She will have food in her bowl, but will not eat it.  She will instead eat the cat food, or scraps on the floor (always present with five children).  She digs in the garbage and will take half the contents of the garbage can (wrappers, empty boxes, popsicle sticks, freezee wrappers, etc – run off, hide it under (one of our) beds, couches, loveseats, chairs, or anywhere else we cant see / hear / or detect her presence – and lick, chew, rip and tear whatever her "treasure" is/was.  Then, she leaves (and leaves the mess there.)  When you get around to cleaning these spaces the mounds of garbage are "significant".  If anyone leaves a plate on the table for whatever reason (answer the telephone, answer the doorbell, run to the aid of a crying child), she will take any tiny moment of opportunity to jump up on the table and scamper away with whatever is on the table.  She will (literally) watch and wait for you to step away – and then strike.  If she cannot get real food or scraps, she will move on, and try to gain access to the litter boxes to eat the cat poo.  Only then (after the kitchen has been cleaned, and she has been denied access to the cat boxes) she will (reluctantly) eat her own food. 


Along those same lines, and because she will not stay out of the cat boxes, we have had to keep our laundry room (the location of the cat boxes) door closed, and add a "doggy door" for the cats to be able to get to their own littler boxes.  That has worked well for allowing them to get OUT of the laundry room, but for some reason, they do not know how to use it to get IN.  Subsequently, not only does the dog poo in the house, but because of the restricted access to their litter boxes, the cats do too. 


Herein lies the (depressing) realization that not only did I fail my family and myself, but I have also failed Molly.  Most of the issues listed above can be linked back to things we have not done, not been able to do, never followed up on, or have done completely wrong. 


Michele has (three times now) expressed her displeasure with Molly's behavior, and tried to let me know it was time that Molly finds a new home.  The first time, I really just ignored the whole problem, thinking that it was because Molly was just a puppy.  I checked into the possibility of training classes (where they were held, and how much they cost), but frankly, I did not have the time or the money for training classes.  I did do some reading on dog obedience though, and it worked… A tiny bit... 


The second time my wife brought it up, I got pretty upset (disguised as being about the cost of the dog, and vet bills, etc, etc,etc.)  I again looked into training, but (as my palm pilot can confirm) I have had a total of 4 days off this summer.  Every other day has been pretty much booked, or I had all the kids while my wife worked.  Yes, I suppose if I tried hard enough I could have worked it out, but our summer schedule was busier than I have EVER see it be before.  It was at this point that I started to detach emotionally from Molly.  I knew it would only be time before the whole "we have to get rid of Molly" speech would crop up again.


It did come up again.  Just recently.  Only this time, I have given up.  I cannot do it anymore.  I cannot keep playing this emotional yo-yo.  Think she is leaving / Think we are keeping her / Think she is leaving / Think we are keeping her.  It has ripped me apart.


So, now, I have to consider what is best for our family, and (quite honestly), what is best for Molly.  As much as I do like her, I am afraid that my failure (of choosing a cairn for our household) is not what is best for her. 


The WORST part of all of this is how my failure will break the children's hearts.  They do enjoy playing with Molly, but I fear (especially as they get older) they will start having their own agendas that will not include her, and as they get older they will have  less attention available to give to her.  As they get busier,  so will Michele and I.  I fear that Molly will end up spending a lot of time alone (or kenneled) as the kids activity level increases.


I truly breaks my hart on so many different levels, and truly bothers me… deeply, but I do have to consider what is best for everyone. Although the "how" has not been fully decided, it is with somber heart, significant shame, and unimaginable dishonor that the decision to find Molly a new home has been made.


What I can do for her (at this point) is to try and find her the best possible loving and caring family to adopt her.  Perhaps one that is not quite as "busy" as ours.  A family that can dedicate the time needed to train her properly, and appreciate her for all the wonderful qualities that she does have.  (And, believe it or not – she does have some very good qualities!)


Any help or direction that ANYONE can give me in doing this will be appreciated more than you can imagine, or will ever realize. 


  1. Can't really offer anything constructive as you've already answered your own question, the dog needs more attention than you can give and you're right, she deserves a different sort of home if you can find it.

    We have had three dogs oevr the last 20 years, a German Shepherd that was a fantastic family dog, another German Shepherd that was homicidal and we had to have put to sleep as it was uncontrollable, and now Jake our Golden Retriever - if you were making the decision now I'd tell you to ignore the shedding hair and go for a retriever, the most docile dog in the world, but its probably too late now.

    Dogs mean hard decisions and hard as it may seem you have already made the correct one.

  2. I do not believe you are really at your wits end with this dog, but that's strictly my opinion. I do not live in your household and do not know the day to day struggles you have with Molly but I do know this...
    I trained dogs for 8 years. Every dog has the opportunity to be a great dog, given the right enviornment and "masters" who love and care for them properly. Molly is still a puppy at two years old, and while you may not believe me, she will grow out of some of her bad habits. I do agree with you, your household (again from what I know) seems to be too busy for a dog like Molly. Terriers are extremely active dogs, and with 5 kids running around, you would think she would have plenty to do. Just one of many questions I would have for you, do you walk her and if so, how often? A dog like Molly NEEDS to be walked at LEAST once a day. She has a ton of energy and this is a structured and positive way to lessen some of it. If you cannot dedicate at least 30 mins to her a day, for a walk, then I agree, your household is not the right place for her.

    I know you will do your best to find her a new home. I know in your heart you don't WANT to do this but I understand. I have seen it many times with my own eyes. We tend to forget, dogs and cats for that matter, are like our children. You need just as much patience and understanding with them. You also need to be able to give them just as much attention. We tend to forget the latter....

  3. While it may be true that I am not at my witts end, my wife is. I do have to respect her wishes as well..

    But (and even more importiantly) I need to keep what is best for Molly in mind, and regardless of what I wish could or would happen, she deserves to be in the best place she can be in, and I am not sure that is our house.

    This is very difficult, but I know that sometimes the "right thing" is the most difficult to do - I know this from prior experience(s).

  4. Thank you for the kind words, and affirmation Gary.

  5. To the father of five:

    Dad Stuff and I have just read your post together. I feel bad for you. That is a tough decision to make. I would get rid of Dad Stuff before Liberty (our 12 year old poodle) - I had to type that because he is watching over my shoulder as I type.
    Seriously, in my opinion, if you place an ad in the paper, list all of the good qualities of Molly. Just like you did in your post. I would make certain she goes to the best family. As far as your children, they will be ok. Yes, they will be sad but they will move on and do fine.
    We had to get rid of our family dog when I was 11. He was a problem from the get go. I remember missing him, but realized he was better off with another family who had the time and patience for him.
    You have not failed. You tried, it didn't work out. Don't beat yourself up.
    Extra prayers going your way.
    Good luck with your decision.

    Wife of Dad Stuff

  6. I do belive in the power of prayers, so in times of difficulty (like this) I do appreciate them.

    Thank you Dadd Stuff and Wife of Dad Stuff - I appreciate the thoughts and prayers.


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