Furry critters and allergies

Two months ago I felt compelled to get a dog. By compelled I mean COMPELLED to get a dog. Not just any dog but a morky. I am really allergic to cats and dogs and pretty much any furry critter. The reason I thought I could have a dog and not die is this. My daughter has a dog. It is a morky. She nearly always brings him with her when she visits. I have always been fine. So has my husband, who is also allergic to dogs and cats and so has my son who is also allergic to cats and dogs…
So when I saw an advertisement on Craigslist for a 19 month old morky I talked with my family and we agreed to get the adorable little dog. We named him Spike. The woman on the phone told me he was 8lbs. He is 14lbs. The woman on the phone told me he was up to date on his shots. He was not. The woman on the phone told me that he was neutered. He was.
We got him home and he was terrified. We walked him around the house to get him accustomed to his new surroundings. We have a two story house. I started to walk him down the steps and he just trembled. I figured he didn’t know how to go down the steps so I sat down and went step by step with him down the stairs. We showed him where his food was going to be and tried to give him some treats. He was having none of it.
I took him for a walk and he seemed ok. We didn’t think he could bark for the first 3 days…he can. Over the next several weeks we realized that he must have been left home alone quite a bit. He had developed some bad habits, like chewing on the baseboards I suppose out of boredom. So I walked him more and got him every kind of chew toy I could think of, he hates them. We got bitter apple spray and sprayed in on all the furniture legs, baseboards, really anything at his mouth level. We rarely ever leave him alone, but when we do we leave him in the master bath with his bed, water and some toys.
Spike has been with us for 8 weeks now. He has stopped chewing on the walls and baseboards, gets regular walks, runs in the yard, he has ZERO problems going up and down the stairs at top speed with a toy in mouth. We realized very quickly that his bad behaviors in his old house were probably met with violence. We had a fly infestation (that is a whole other story) so I bought a fly swatter and as soon as he saw it he cowered. If he does something he knows he shouldn’t have, he slink/crawls away in fear. We have never hit him or even raised a hand to him.
He has since learned to not pull on the leash, sit for treats, walk on his hind legs for treats, stay at cross walks and is working really hard on not jumping up at people when we go on walks…he just loves everyone! He is a happy little dog. The problem? I am so allergic that I am completely drugged up all the time with allergy meds. The bigger problem is I know I have to find him a new home and it is weighing on me terribly.
I feel good about getting him out of an abusive home (although I think it was more out of ignorance about how to train a dog than maliciousness) and I feel terrible about having to find a new forever home for him now that he is happy. I have been beating myself up about the whole situation. At the moment some friends and I are trying out a “shared custody” arrangement. They have two dogs that he loves to play with and I get an allergy break. Meanwhile I continue to look for some other loving home for Spike to have as his forever home.
I’m sharing this because it has been taking all of my time to fester and feel guilty. Feeling guilty and paralyzed on so many levels is not helping Spike or me. I have also realized that many rescue dogs often go into foster homes for two to three months while a forever home is found for them. I have had to try and re-frame this whole adventure as a fostering situation. It is really hard because I love that little dog. He doesn’t understand that he triggers my allergies, nor should he.
I have really been looking at why I felt so compelled to get this dog. What lessons am I to learn, if any. I have learned that I cannot have any furry animals no matter how much I want to. I have also learned the kind of love you can give a pet is so unfettered. Their expectations are so small, they just want to be fed and loved. As I’m writing this I’m realizing that this might all be a lesson in trust. Animals are so trusting. I have been really questioning my abilities to get this temple up and running…perhaps I just need to trust that everything will work out as it is supposed to. Perhaps I felt compelled to get THIS dog because I am the one that can find him a good forever home. I don’t know.
I have stopped the paralysis though. That all by itself is a huge thing.

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