Dixieland, foster dogs, foster fail, fosterdogs, fostering, Frankie, heartworms, puppies, training, Uncategorized

He Deserves Better

So, I’ve made a decision. And the puppies have been very helpful in my decision-making process.

All kinds of people have been visiting, trooping into our house, sitting on a couch or floor with a puppy in their lap. For me, a solitary writer, this is a welcome break. The puppies also love it and need the socialization.

But the dogs in this house find visitors stressful. I had hoped that Oreo’s calm happy state would rub off on Frankie and Gracie, but it seems to be the reverse. As more people come to visit, Oreo is more stressed. He’s been a perfect gentleman, but it’s clear he would prefer a quieter home.

photo credit: Ian Achterberg

I think if the other two didn’t react to a new car in the driveway as a potential terrorist attack, he wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. Unlike my other two, I’m pretty sure Oreo would adjust to this if I asked him too, but I don’t want to ask him to.

It’s not fair to Oreo. Which has led me to this conclusion: It would be selfish to keep him. While we all love Oreo unequivocally, Oreo would be happier in a different sort of house.

He doesn’t need us.

Sure, we could make him happy, but so could a lot of other families. Other families where his mama’s attention isn’t divvied up between two other dogs and a changing cast of foster friends.

Oreo deserves to be the star of the show, not a supporting player. He deserves a home where he can be Oreo, and not the emotional support dog for Frankie and Gracie (and me!).

He’s a big dog who has been through a lot and deserves the best possible life with the years he has left. I could see him being an amazing Therapy dog or an absolute best friend for just about anyone. He has a ton of love to give. I want him to have a family where he doesn’t have to stand in line for attention.


So, while it will decidedly break my heart to let him go, I’m gonna let him go.

If I wasn’t completely decided, this morning’s hike with Frankie confirmed it. As Frankie dragged me off the trail or yanked my arm at every squirrel, falling leaf, sudden noise, or imagined monster, and refused to sit or even look at me when asked (instead of jumping towards a passing dog), I realized that he is far from finished his training. And then to confirm my suspicions, he took off for the woods when I opened the car door at home, ignoring my yells for a good five minutes.

He may be 16 months old, but he’s still a puppy. He needs my attention. Just because he passed three levels of obedience and got his CGC, doesn’t mean he’s all done. Raising a puppy is a big job (are you listening potential puppy adopters?). It takes A LOT of time and a constant, vigilant effort.

When we adopted Gracie, I was busy with three kids, a part-time job, a fledgling writing career, and a small farm.

Two hounds sitting
I love this picture of Addie attempting to ‘train’ the dogs

I had no business adopting a puppy and I wish the rescue that gave her to me had an adoption coordinator who was brave enough to tell me that. But they didn’t and here Gracie is – a dog we love but a dog we have to ‘manage’ and who turns a deaf ear at every request. And it’s not her fault; it’s ours.


Frankie needs my undivided attention right now. He is a good dog, but will be a better dog, only if I put in the time and effort.

Nick likes to say, “You make your mistakes on the first kid,” every time we encounter a familiar experience with Ian and remember the first time we parented through it with Brady. Almost always it goes better. Which doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with Brady, just that we’re lucky he was bright and survived our mistakes.

Dogs, at least Gracie, don’t have as much mental bandwidth or other adults investing in them. Brady turned out great, despite us. Gracie, well, let’s just say Gracie still needs a personal aid to navigate the world. I don’t want that for Frankie.

(please don’t tell my kids I was comparing them to the dogs!)

So, very long story short—we are not adopting Oreo.

If you know of a family deserving of his amazingness who can give him a happy, happy life, direct them to the OPH web page.

Oreo could also use your prayers this week. He, along with OPH Bernadine, will be undergoing heartworm treatment on Wednesday and Thursday and then will have two-weeks of crate rest while the treatment takes affect and hopefully rids them of the worms that would otherwise consume their heart and lungs. It’s a painful and scary experience and both of these precious pups could use your good energy directed their way.


Please, please, please don’t forget your dog’s monthly preventatives. No dog should have to go through what Oreo and Bernadine will go through this week, but it’s necessary to save their lives. I’ll post updates on Oreo’s treatment on Another Good Dog facebook group

Puppy report coming up next! Hopefully, Thursday!

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to know more about my blogs and books, visit CaraWrites.com or subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter (which is rarely monthly, but I’m working at it…everybody needs a goal).

If you’d like to know more about the book, Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs, check AnotherGoodDog.org, where you can find more pictures of the dogs from the book (and some of their happily-ever-after stories), information on fostering, the schedule of signings, and what you can do right now to help shelter animals!

If you’d like to know how you can volunteer, foster, adopt or donate with OPH, click here. And if you’d like more pictures and videos of my foster dogs past and present, be sure to join the Another Good Dog facebook group.

I love hearing from readers, so please feel free to comment here on the blog, email carasueachterberg@gmail.com or connect with me on Facebooktwitter, or Instagram.



Released August 2018 from Pegasus Books and available for preorder now:

Another Good Dog cover


24 thoughts on “He Deserves Better”

  1. A very brave decision – In my 40+ foster dogs, I’ve foster failed once, sorta regretted letting another one go, but all of them – ALL of my foster dogs received their perfect match families. My heart remains full.

    Thank you, too for your honesty about raising puppies. I appreciate your words.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I understand your decision completely. When I took in my friend’s golden retriever, Bailey, I was so happy to have a golden around. He did everything he could to fit in. He was a good buddy to Bear, he tried to make friends with Dusty, but Dusty wasn’t happy. I had to give Bailey back after 6 weeks. I owe Dusty a stress free life — as much as possible considering Dusty is intrinsically stressed.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My experience with Bailey alerted me to the fact that Dusty is 13 years old with aches, pains and a cataract in one eye all in addition to his neurosis. I’m pretty sure a younger Dusty would have been happy to have Bailey around.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I know how difficult it is to have multiple pets. When I sit down, they all want attention and I don’t have enough hands to pet them all at the same time, which makes me sad! I’m not sure I’d ever do more than two again. It’s amazing you handle your own and all your fosters so well!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have had to make that decision with a cherished foster dog too. He was epileptic and needed to be an only dog. It hurt so much to let him go but it was the right decision. He flourished and excelled at obedience with his new mum and dad. I just knew deep down that he deserved more than I could offer, but it hurts so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You are a fantastic foster momma and a top notch human. That had to be one of the toughest decisions knowing how hard you fought to save him from the shelter. Plus, he’s one amazing dog! Good call…prayers for your foster heart at goodbye. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a wonderful heartfelt sharing! Kudos to you for making the hard brave decision. It’s so hard to do what’s in the best interest of the dog sometimes and I give you a lot of credit for seeing your way clear through that. We rehomed one of my daughter’s dogs and although it was difficult for us, she has absolutely thrived in her only dog household with undivided attention. We wish the same for a little Oreo.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Morning, Cara. And you are a very strong woman. But anybody involved with you on any level already knows that. The fact that you were able to think about every single Oreo dynamic, and come to the conclusions of why letting him go would ultimately be best for him with whatever time he’s got left, which hopefully will be much more, than less (fingers crossed re: his treatments)….putting his future needs before your present feelings for him, well, it just says it all in describing what you are all about. Once again, you are so much my hero! Wish you lived closer to Long Island. Sending all things positive to Oreo and his road ahead. And of course to everybody involved in his care, from the beginning. More virtual hugs,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Bev! Your words are so wonderful to hear – I really appreciate it. And thanks for sending the positive vibes for Oreo. As it turns out, his pre-treatment heartworm test was negative! Still trying to sort out if there was a mistake or typo or what landed him positive in the first place, but SUPER grateful that he is negative!


  8. Great news that Oreo doesn’t need the treatment! As circumstances have changed and so altered the canine household emotional state I think you are wise and brave to have re-evaluated what is best for Oreo. He doesn’t need the other dogs causing him stress. I hope his new home will be near yours so you can keep in touch with him.

    Liked by 1 person

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