So, our dog trainer fired us.  Apparently she gave up on our dog and us?  Honestly, I was about to politely part ways with her anyways, so I shouldn’t be mad.  But, I am absolutely pissed!  I’m pissed that we’ve literally given our trainer thousands of dollars to help our dog and she just walked away from us.  For context, here’s what happened – she told me we need to do more training sessions with Doodle MPB, and I said no, not yet, maybe in a few months when we have Doodle MPB in a place where she can actually use her brain through a combination of medication and TTouch.  I told her once we have her more able to think, hopefully in a few months, we will absolutely start training sessions with her again.  Her response was to tell me via text a few days later that she will not spend any more time walking Doodle MPB if we wont start weekly training sessions.  Of course, she said this AFTER she charged us $600 for 5 days of boarding (which we were LIVID about as her rates online are $50 per night for boarding).  Anyways, it sure feels like now that I wont throw money her way for additional training without addressing the underlying issues, she cut and run.

Unfortunately, this effectively means that we no longer have a dog walker to help us out one day a week – these walks gave us a day-off from trying to fit walks into our busy life and also gave Doodle MPB the opportunity to socialize with other dogs. So, now, in my non-existent free time, I need to find another dog-walker or find a doggy daycare, something to help burn some of Doodle MPB’s energy.

But in good news, we really like the other trainer we called a few weeks ago, who is working with Doodle MPB for free on TTouch.  So, we have a different trainer to help us, which agrees with my approach that we need to help Doodle MPB think before we can work on basic obedience training. In fact, she maintains once we can get Doodle MPB thinking, we probably wont need to do anymore training because Doodle MPB knows all of the basic training, she just cannot hold a down or a sit for more then 2-3 seconds, because she cannot think long enough to sit still.  So the actual training side of things doesn’t worry me at all.

And then, by random chance the day after we were fired, we had an appointment with our vet to review the Clomicalm dose. The current dose is not working, and in fact has not done anything to help Doodle MPB.  So, next up we are upping her dose of Clomicalm and our Vet will be speaking with a Veterinarian Behaviorist located on the other side of the country.  We suspect the Veterinarian Behaviorist will likely try a different combination of medications then our vet is comfortable with on her own, as she’s never experienced a dog quite like Doodle MPB.  More $$$ down the drain, but we all agreed this as an appropriate next step.  The other thing our vet told us, is that it may be time to start trying to find Doodle MPB a farm with another dog around to call her forever home.

So, we are back to the idea that Doodle MPB may need a different home that allows her to run all day long to burn some energy.  But the reality is, a farm wont solve her problems, as she is high energy and is absolutely, completely desperate to be with her people all the time and she her lack of confidence means she’s also very anxious.  Sending her to live outside, won’t help her anxious tendencies, in fact, it may only make things worse for her.

And so, I’ve reach out to a friend mentioned a few weeks ago that they know someone who is looking for a second Doodle to join their family.  We will be meeting with them to discuss the possibility of re-homing her with them as being with another dog may be all the therapy Doodle MPB needs, and is not something we can do.  Unless it’s a near perfect fit, we will not re-home her as I will not set her up to be moved again in the future.  And truthfully, even though I fully acknowledge she is causing an insane amount of stress in our lives, I’m really not sure that I will be able to give up on her.  And if we go through with it, I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to forgive myself for giving up on her.

I have tears streaming down my cheeks as I write this.  This is simply not the outcome I had ever envisioned.

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Valuable Lessons

It turns out, visiting Little MPB’s birth mom and sibling while Little MPB was too young to really understand the visit, was a very good thing for Mr. MPB and I.  As I mentioned yesterday, this visit gave us, the adults, some very important insight into what to expect for future visits.  (And yes, we do plan to visit again in the future, probably in a few years, which means Little MPB will be at an age where he will understand adoption much better).

Our lessons are pretty straight forward:

  1. Do not have a plan.  And, even when you make basic plans for the next day, don’t expect them to happen.  After two really good days of visiting, we didn’t expect our third day to completely fall apart.  Honestly, it’s a good thing for us to really understand just how quickly things can change.
  2. Give gifts at the very first visit.  I was disorganized and decided to bring a special gift Little MPB made for his birth-mom to the last visit.  Needless to say, I now brought that gift back home and will have to mail it.  Next time I will be more organized.
  3. Be prepared to explain hard things to a child.  And be prepared to explain the hard things to a child who is probably too young to really understand everything.  I suspect in a few years, should plans fall through, Mr. MPB and I will have to answer much harder questions, while being honest and age appropriate.  And even if things don’t fall through, I also suspect there will still be a lot of emotional discussions as Little MPB processes everything.
  4. Plan a day or two of just MPB family time at the end of the visit.  While we didn’t plan for this on this visit, it actually happened when they didn’t join us, and it was really valuable.  It gave Mr. MPB and I the chance to talk through our feelings.  And, I think in a few years time, it will be very important for Little MPB to have a few days to talk about his feelings with the safety of just his parents to listen.  Realistically, even if a future trip goes perfectly, I am sure he will have some pretty big emotions and questions about everything and giving him a few days to process and talk seems like a really important thing to do.
  5. We think a 4 days visit was too much.  Next time we will keep it shorter and only do 2 days.  Given the distance we had to travel, we thought 4 days made the most sense.  But, his birth mother chose to take take time off work for our visit, which we suspected caused them a lot of stress.  I don’t know if there is a perfect amount of time for a future visit, but I think next time we will try a shorter visit.
  6. Probably our most important lesson is that we only know partial stories as there appeared to be a lot of half stories.  Not lies, per say, but a lot of omissions and avoidance of certain topics.  When only some things are shared, and a lot of things are not, there are a lot of blanks in the communication, even when we are face to face.  Just as I wouldn’t push a sibling to talk about something more then they want to, I wont push our son’s Birth Mother to talk about something she is clearly trying to avoid – we respect their privacy.  We can only guess at what is missing from the script, but we also must remember we are just guessing.  We really don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.  But more importantly, what this means to us is that we must respect what we are told and back off if we unknowingly ask a question that is dogged.
  7. Financial / economic differences are a very real part of life, that I have taken for-granted my entire life.  (More on this one tomorrow).

But here’s the thing, as much as I currently feel more prepared for a future visit, the reality is we are not.  Adoption does not have a guidebook, as every adoption is different and no two are identical.  And adoption visits also definitely do not have a guidebook! Even though all the players are the same in an adoption visit, the fact is every single adoption related visit is bound to be different.  In our circumstance, the only one I actually have some understanding of, the reality is that two very different families are coming together and trying to put the needs of one child first.  I firmly believe we are all doing our best, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy or predictable.

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