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The Wake-Up Call Show: A Heartbreaking Decision

Dearest One,

Over the weekend my family came to a heartbreaking decision. After nearly 6 months of welcoming our rescue Boxer, Rocky Blue, into our hearts and lives, we made the difficult decision to help him find a new home.

I will pause here for a moment to tell you that I have an Inner Mean Girl who is telling me that you will judge me and dislike me immensely for making this decision. I realize that this fear is a reflection of my own self-judgement and yet I feel it. I have shame, embarrassment and self-criticism that I’m still working through. I never thought in a million years that we would come to this decision, but alas here we are.

Rocky 2But my Inner Wisdom knows that we made the right decision for our family. And that any of you that are reading this will likely find a place of compassion for me and my family. And that no matter what, you always appreciate my authenticity and truth above any shiny sheen of perfection.So here I am delivering some truth telling through whatever shame spiral remains.

You see, Rocky Blue, was always a challenging dog. Not just the little things that we could live with (think slobber on all the couches or leaning into our guests’ legs without letting up), but the big things. Namely walking on leash and his intense stubbornness and defiance whenever we ordered him to do anything he simply didn’t want to do like go in his crate, go outside, go to his bed. He would chew up Bella’s dolls, go through the trash in the backyard and make himself at home on the couch when we weren’t looking.

The walks were the worst! It got to the point where I felt uncomfortable walking him with my big ole pregnant belly because he would pull and jump whenever another dog passed and my center of gravity is already off. And the hope that I would ever be able to hike or run in the hills with him off leash was becoming a clear NO. He was never going to be that dog. The most precious part of my days, hiking in the hills, became the most stressful.

rocky and bellaSo we invested in a high end 2 week training boot camp. Our last ditch effort to get him trained for safety before the baby comes in March. Unfortunately, the training ended up being too little, too late. The follow up regimen was all consuming, including the request that no affection be given to him for two weeks (try telling that to a 6 year old!) and that we leash him at all times in the house with a prong collar, showing him that we were in charge and the top dog. My husband, Rob, and I felt trapped and frustrated. Rocky Blue was depressed and becoming more defiant. We were at the end of our rope.

Feeling the clock ticking for the arrival of the new baby, we had a “come to Jesus” moment last week. Rob and I realized that it would be months of additional training to be able to even consider walking Rocky Blue with a stroller or our baby in a sling. And that there was a very good chance that once the baby came all the training and guidelines we needed to enforce would go out the window.

We realized that what Rocky Blue really needed was a family where he could be the center of attention for at least a few more months, if not permanently. A home where he could receive the firm hand he needs to get on track and become the dog he has the potential to become. So after shedding many tears, we called the rescue group and explained the situation. And we dropped Rocky Blue back off with them on Sunday. They compassionately took him back and we know he will be adopted very easily.
Rocky 1We feel relieved that the decision is done. We miss him. We love him. And we know the 6 months we spent with him will serve him and his next home well.

I bow to you and honor you, Rocky Blue. Thank you for showing us our limits. For reminding us of who we are and who we want to be. For being a teacher and ultimately bringing us closer together as a family, reminding us of our priorities, and allowing us to set boundaries.

Sometimes our Inner Wisdom compassionately guides us to make hard, heartbreaking decisions. Often times they are the most important decisions to follow through on. Whether giving the dog back, filing for divorce, or putting the drink down, we can tell in our bodies when the hard truth has been spoken. It feels grounded and right, even when we wish it didn’t. And following that inner knowing and guidance makes all the difference.

When was the last time you followed an Inner Wisdom hard truth? I’d love for you to share it with me here (below).

Thank you, in advance, for witnessing and for your compassion.

With great love,



  1. Lynne says:

    Hi Amy,
    After reading your post, part of my mind was awake all night, feeling your understandable heartache and inner trauma. This morning I sent Rocky the intending energy of connecting with his perfect family, people who have time, compassion and understanding of his needs, and who have the life latitude to integrate him into their family in a way that is peaceful and happy for him and for them. I asked Archangel Ariel, who is simpatico with animals, to surround him with the energy of compassion, belonging and love. And I sent him and you and your family, Reiki energy for soothing this transition.

    Prong collars and denying him love for two weeks is so not a part of your loving, mothering energy. No wonder you felt so awful, being told that this was necessary for his integration. What an outrageous, barbaric idea. One day these collars will be outlawed. We are a world in progress, thank goodness.

    Love and healing to you, your family, and Rocky

  2. jessica b. says:

    Dear Amy,

    This must have been a gut wrenching decision for you and your family. No one will judge you for being loving and responsible. The most important thing is that your family is safe and healthy. You and your husband are assured that Rocky will find the right home. Dogs are as much work as children.

    We’ve always had cats, but it wasn’t until my children were teenagers that we adopted a rescue puppy. It was quite challenging with him at first – and I know we couldn’t have handled him as a family if our children were younger.

    As a believer of you and your work, I would have liked if you had shared your struggles with your readers as they were occuring. I’m walking around thinking – wow this woman has everything – a loving husband, beautiful daughter, baby on the way, rescue pup, six figure book deals. There must be something wrong with me because I don’t have her success. She’s found the answers to life, just by negating the “inner mean girl.” I don’t mean to diminish anything you’ve accomplished. I strongly feel, however, that you’d be more effective, if you let us know what your difficulties are, the steps you take to solve your problems while they are happening, and that even with the challenges in your life, you are still able to thrive – as we can too.

  3. Chris says:

    Your post meant a lot to me. I had to make a heartbreaking decision also, only it wasn’t a dog I had to send back, it was a man. I was crazy about him. I found him after many years, brought him home to live with me and my mom, and loved serving him for a while, but when everyone saw he was taking advantage of us, not contributing in any way, flirting with other women ~ I had to admit he had to go. I knew I could never change him, didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in fear, suspicion and resentment, so I took him back to his lonely home, even though he didn’t want to go.
    After two years I still miss him. Your story really helped me accept my decision. Thank you!

  4. Martha says:

    It sounds like he was too much for you to handle.

    I know it was tough decision for you, and ultimately the right one for him.
    My prayer is that he can find his way to somebody who has the time, patience and skillfulness to make the necessary corrections so that this dog can finally surrender to a strong calm assertive pack leader he can have confidence in.
    No matter how much of the wrong kind of training humans attempt ( and the pronged collar is NOT an answer, nor is perpetual leashing a viable solution…it’s a control bandaid) there is no substitute for the right understanding.
    As a dog person myself who has taught basic obedience, it is ALWAYS the humans who need correction and teaching of skills, not the dogs! Dogs develop these problems because the humans who raised them were not skillful, or perhaps even abusive or negelectful and the dog soon figured out he had to rely upon his own will because the humans were not trustworthy.
    I know you did your best and thatbthis has been tough on you. Ultimately, releasing him will allow him a chance to find the right situation.
    Cesar Milan could rehabilitate this guy. Have you thought to contact him?
    He is the Master of Hard Cases!

    This is why he says,
    ” I rehabilitate dogs; I TRAIN humans….No dog is too much for me too handle. I AM The Dog Whisperer!”

    He is a master at understanding dog from the inside out.

    Lastly: for anyone with a difficult dog I do NOT recommend sending your dog away to Boot Camp! For effective rehabilitation you must work one on one with your dog and a smart kind, loving assertive skillful trainer specializing in behavioural issues AT HOME. Never resort to a pronged collar! If they say they use them, find someone else!
    Obviously, if there is a risk to children in the house, then this needs to be dealt with by finding the dog in need of rehab a better situation..
    You did a good thing for all concerned.
    You did a loving thing.
    Wishing you all the best and hope that you find some gentle puppy companion who will be a welcome joyful addition to your pack!

  5. Anne says:

    I went through a similar situation with a kitten I adopted. He was more work than I bargained for! I ultimately decided to keep him (and we are finally used to each other), but I felt guilt and shame at the thought of returning him. I can totally relate to how you’re feeling. You are not bad, you are not wrong, and you are loved.

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