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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
About a week ago I acquired a new puppy. I've owned many dogs before and have had puppy's before so it wasn't a new experience. I'm an older gentleman with a great career that lets me work part day from home and I live alone and am a bit of a recluse. I was well travelled in my younger days and don't really take vacations so I decided I was ready to find a new companion. I found a reputable breeder who hooked me up with a breeder out East who had a dog. She flew out here with the dog and delivered it to me this week.

The dog has been a pure joy, he's loving and playful and smart and everything I like. The problem is me. What I first wrote off to the puppy blues I now recognize is a long time major depression reappearing with a vengeance. For years I've dealt with my emotions well and felt I was stable enough to finally find a new companion and make the commitment.

It started with the usual "what have I done" anxiety which wasn't unexpected. I cried a little, at what I don't know, then played with him and was filled with joy. Then filled with self-doubt and anxiety. Eventually over four days I've moved to a point where I decided I needed to return the puppy to the breeder as I feel I am in a dangerous emotional state for myself. If you've ever known or suffered yourself from major depression you know how it can take over your life and isn't cured quickly. I've taken my medication for anxiety and have tried relaxing but this goes way beyond the puppy blues.

I've been trying to figure out why this is happening. I have a job where the dog won't be alone more than 4 hrs at a stretch and I am a bit of a homebody recluse so spending time at home isn't a problem. Maybe it's just the thought of commitment. When my last dog finally passed I was devastated more than when my Mom died two years ago. I also worry obsessively about the dog having the life he deserves. If he's bored I feel I'm failing. This insecurity and self-doubt I think stems from my last dog. When I got him I left him alone too long to work and didn't do a good job socializing him. I still feel guilty today to the point that I swore this dog would be different. To be honest I've already broken down a couple times and it wasn't a little cry.

I emailed the breeder and was honest with her. She called back later and was so supportive and everything I felt even worse (and apologized for being upset). I'm sure they hear all kinds of stories like "I'm terminally ill" or "my house burned down" or something and I just decided to be honest. It's all my fault. She is working with a local breeder to see about placing him in the area or she will fly out and get him. To be honest the dedication to the breed by these breeders is what attracted me to the breed in the first place and now makes me feel even worse. She was nice and even said maybe at a later date although returning a dog doesn't make you a great future adoption prospect I know. She also suggested maybe an older dog would be better.

I'm saddened that my own weakness led to this. I really thought I was ready. Even now I'm bouncing between maybe I could keep him and try and I've made the right decision. I know when I hand him over I will be a crying wreck (men do cry). This is going to devastate me but its for the best. I want to get this adorable 13 week old someplace good for him before he's bonded with me. As for him I'm fully bonded which is why this hurts so much.

I would appreciate any words of wisdom to help me deal with the upcoming aftermath of this decision. I'm going to really crash to the point I've asked a friend to be with me so I don't do something stupid. To be successful in life, in business, to "have it all" as one friend described me yet be unable to emotionally handle a small puppy's presence just hurts like nothing else.

Thank you.

AnxietySufferer
 

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Do you see a psychiatrist? You should talk to a professional about this, it doesn't sound normal.

I hope you're able to get past this and be well again.
 

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@AnxietySufferer I have to tell you, what you're feeling is absolutely normal with a new puppy. I was an emotional wreck when I brought Merlin home. He was 7 weeks old, just a baby. I got no sleep, and compounding that with the sudden realization of just how much responsibility a dog is, I was ready to take him back to the breeder. My advice to everyone going through the puppy blues is to take a deep breath and give yourself and your new puppy two weeks to adjust. If, after two weeks, you still feel this way, then go ahead and find a new home for your pup. It's only been four days, and it will be difficult, but I promise it gets better.

That being said, if you truly think that rehoming now is a good idea and is what's best for both of you, then go ahead. There is nothing wrong with admiting that your home isn't the best fit for the pup.

My advice: Ask a friend to puppy sit while you get a good, long nap in and approach this after you've slept some.
 

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I also wanted to add: I'm not trying to minimize what you're going through, but if you haven't slept well sonce your pup arrived, that lack of sleep could be wreaking havoc on your emotions and mental state.
 

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I suffer from severe anxiety which of course borders on depression when it gets bad. I got my first dog the day after our house had been broken into, it was our neighbour who robbed us and sadly he still lives nextdoor. I was an absolute mess, my house was no longer safe, the world outside became this big scary place and I went through this stage of being able to trust no one but my Dad (who I live with). He decided to finally let me get a dog, he thought it would help me cope and feel a little more secure.
I will admit, the first few months were pretty close to hell. I was now responsible for this young puppy. I can become somewhat irrational when my anxiety really flares up, every time I had to go to town, I would have panic attacks on the way home thinking I would come home to a dead puppy. I worried about so many things, it was ridiculous.
Callie being the type of dog she is, she is a sensitive dog, a clingy dog so wherever I went, she was there. If I cried or was mid panic, she was there. She was now a stable thing in my life and taking her out to socialise her helped me realise the world wasn't such a bad place.

In saying all that, I'm still incredibly antisocial. I'm more than happy to spent time by myself than with friends so eh.

I understand completely your decision to give the puppy back to the breeder. I understand that once depression kicks in, it can be incredibly hard to break free.
In some ways I agree that giving the puppy back is the right thing and in others I disagree because in many cases, dogs can help with so many mental illnesses.
If you did decide to keep your puppy, try set up a schedule. If you have a friend who is willing, get them involved in that schedule.
You mention that playing with him brings you joy so use that to your advantage. Work and then dog time. Everything dog.
If you are 100% sure that giving him back to the breeder is what you need to do then I suggest you find someone to talk to, even if its just an email here and there to talk about how you are feeling so you don't bottle it up.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you for the replies. I have been sleeping well so it wasn't fatigue setting this off I think it was all just my lack ability to deal with a change like this.

The breeder arranged to have a local breeder pick up the dog last night. I must admit I was a wreck until the dog was gone then went out to dinner to try and relax. When I got home I was completely relieved. I just woke up (this is normal time for me) and my first thought was relief.

While my current life on the surface seems ok I do have some stressors and maybe this was the one that just put me over the edge. I know how therapeutic dogs can be which was part of my desire to have a new companion as I felt like the verse in "Lying Eyes" by the Eagles that says "Late at night a big old house gets lonely". I really am a dog person but apparently this wasn't the right time.

I'm definitely going to talk to someone about this as obviously this was more than the puppy blues. About two days ago I even noticed the puppy being a bit nervous around me and I know they're empathic so I have to believe he was picking up on my distress. I think my best plan is to talk to someone, figure out what happened and maybe in a few years look at an older dog for adoption when I'm doing better. I feel I did the right thing for both myself and the puppy here though as forcing the dog to live with my issues wasn't fair either. When I work through the obvious insecurity and anxiety issues I have maybe then I will get another dog. I do love the breed so I'm hopeful I haven't totally screwed myself by turning the dog back over.

AnxietySufferer
 

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@AnxietySufferer I'm glad to hear that you're feeling a little bit better. Ultimately, your health has to come first because if you aren't healthy, you won't be able to take care of anyone else (including a dog). Maybe in the future you can try again! I think the breeder's suggestion of an older dog might be a good one. If you aren't interested in getting a dog for yourself, maybe you can volunteer at a local shleter or something so you still get dog interaction, but you don't have to take any of them home. Good luck with everything! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Maybe down the road the "dog volunteer" thing is a good idea. I could get my dog fix that way for the time being.

This morning so far I've had two spontaneous "cries" that lasted about a minute then I felt OK again. I've been analyzing what could've caused this (the problem with being an INTP analytical personality type) and believe part of it guilt I feel about my old dog. I bought him in 1998 and made many mistakes with him the worst of which was leaving him alone 10-12 hours home alone while I worked. I had set up a bedroom and bathroom for him and sometimes when I'd get home I just slept and he had little interaction at all. He was a puppy and now I know he needed so much more. Looking back at it while he ended up after a couple years with me a great dog with plenty of interaction I didn't start off with him right.

Now 17 years later I feel incredibly guilty about it and when I was looking at the current puppy seeing him laying on the floor while I was working at my desk I felt I wasn't giving him attention he needed. Self-doubt and anxiety set in, fear of screwing up, worry about the future, the works. The reality is I had a good plan but guilt and self-doubt are killers. I think before I get to the point where I can get another dog I need to talk to someone about this and more importantly convince myself that a dog doesn't have to be 24/7 at your side but can be alone a bit (not 10 hours though). I think I was projecting that guilt and angst from my old dogs early life onto the new one and the fear that next week when I return to work (I'd taken a week off) he'd be "alone and sad". I think that is what was driving what I was feeling.

While part of me regrets turning the dog back in I can see now that this isn't something that is going to happen in a short time and it was the right decision for both the puppy and me. While I wish it wasn't such an expensive mistake I'd rather have discovered it early than tried to hang on while not addressing underlying issues and have it develop into even more issues.

The breeders involved were so kind I feel horrible. They've told me not to feel bad and that this happens. I still feel horrible but knowing the puppy is going to a family with a couple of other dogs and will have daily company with other dogs and people makes me feel better.

AnxietySufferer
 

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I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this wasn't really about the puppy. I seriously hope you're seeing a professional and are on some kind of medication to help you. If you're not, please do so.

A lot of times with anxiety and depression, things can trigger simply because they are somewhat stressful and a change, especially with something you become responsible for. Things that trigger painful memories too (your old dog for instance) can also make it worse. I really do think that it was just that this puppy itself but the idea of the pup. (You can correct me if I'm wrong of course).

I really would recommend you get some serious mental health help and like someone else said, volunteer at a shelter. It might even be nice if you look into fostering. That way you can have a dog (or cat!) for a few weeks and then you're expected to give them back. That way the pressure of keeping the animal forever is gone. Rescues are always looking for people who stay at home to help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I tend to agree Traciek that your probably correct. I've actually been on medication for depression for years and have been doing well that's why this was so unexpected. I've had events in the last couple of years including the death of my Mother, job stressors and various other things that I handled well. This was not what I expected. I have made an appointment to talk with someone obviously I have some things to work thru. This maybe just been the straw that broke the camels back so to speak. I appreciate all the good feedback from everyone.

AnxietySufferer
 

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I read this thread with interest. Back in 2013, I decided to get a puppy. I'd had dogs before, including 2 from puppyhood, and thought everything in my life was under control and that a puppy would be this great companion/snuggle-bug enriching part of my life. It was horrible. My father had died not even a year earlier, I'd moved into a new house that I didn't like at all, the puppy made the term "land shark" seem like a major understatement, and I felt *more* isolated than ever instead of enriched in any way. What I didn't realize until much later was how depressed I was and how mistaken I was to think that I could buy a "fix" for the huge hole in my life. Not saying our situations are the same, but the depression and losing your mom caught my eye while I read your posts.

In my case, while I think giving my puppy back would have also resulted in a huge sense of relief (and I probably would've volunteered at a shelter and fostered an older dog, like my therapist had actually recommended -- I ignored her and got the puppy instead), I ended up not being able to give back the puppy because the cross-country flight required to get it back to the breeder was unavailable during the hot summer months.

Two things happened that changed things for me -- the first was the breeder (wonderful, like the ones you worked with) said she'd take the pup back ANY time. As soon as I realized I was "stuck" with it only for a few months till summer was over, I could breathe again. The second was doggy daycare. Those wonderful folks basically took the puppy off my hands all day M-F, and again, I felt I could breathe. Weekends were hard, and holiday weekends really sucked, but we got through :)

Anyway, the upshot was I still have that dog because by the time Sept/Oct rolled around so that I could ship the pup back, he and I had finally worked things out with each other. But I have no doubt in my mind at all that if I could have sent him back to the breeder the week after I'd gotten him, I would've absolutely done so (and probably should have).

All I'm trying to say here is that I believe I understand some of what you were going through and how it has worked out for the best. It doesn't mean never having a dog :) And regarding the guilt -- there are things with past dogs that I truly regret (training methods I'd never use now that I thought were the right way to do things back in the day, for example). I feel terrible when I think back, so I just promise to make it up to Dogdom as a whole by being the best human to my dogs now that I can. We're all a work in progress. You'll be a great dog owner when the right time and dog comes along!
 
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