A better life

There are some members of our family I don’t think I have talked much about. I don’t really have a great reason, either. Their names are Sampson and Emma, our two English Mastiffs. My husband first got Sampson over seven years ago as a little pup.


And a year later, got Emma. Emma wasn’t expected to live past a year, but she continues to amaze and surprise us every day. Emma was born with a severe heart murmur but she has proven to be the most active, playful and loving mastiff we have ever seen.


Mastiffs are known to be protectors, guard dogs and appear to be quite the threat due to their size.




But in reality, they are gentle giants. Sweet, loyal, gentle giants. And when we lived in Reno several years ago The Hubby and I had a great life with these two. We took them on walks. We took them to the dog park. We took them on vacation. We took them to doggy picture day on Valentine’s Day.



When we moved to Washington and started adding to our family, things changed a little bit. Our number one priority changed, actually. With two babies and the years continuing, our free-time dwindled and these two got older. Along with that came some (not immediately life threatening, but time-consuming and worrisome) medical issues.

We still tried our best to give them a good life. We created a yard that catered to them. Installed astro-turf for easy cleaning and to keep them mud-free. Installed insulation into a shed just for them. Installed a giant dog door into that shed. Put a heater in the shed for the cold nights they couldn’t be indoors . Gave them numerous dog beds. And it semi-worked, for a while.

Now we are in Spokane. And things have changed yet again. We have been given even more restrictions, but have yet again tried to make it work. But, it just wasn’t.

And the guilt I feel is tremendous.

We can no longer provide the life that those two pups need. We don’t have the space for them to roam. We don’t have the time to give them the attention that they need. But I feel like we are the ones responsible for these two and should just suck it up and make it work. So that is what we have been doing for the past few months. But recently another obstacle has come forth and we are yet again faced with the decision I cry over every time it is brought up. This time has been different though. Because for the first time I had to finally accept what my husband has been seeing for a while now.

That they need a better home.

They need space, and time, and attention. All of which we can’t give 100% right now. And to them, it’s not fair. As much as I selfishly want to keep them, I know we can’t. So when I came across an ad for a couple looking for just what we had, I knew it must be a sign. I sobbed through the entire message I left for The Martins. I’m not even sure they could make out what I was trying to say. But, they did call back and they were very interested in our pups. So over the last few weeks as we planned our meeting, I cried every time I saw another dog. I cried when I went  out back to check on the pups. I cried when I was scooping up poop. I cried when we went to the park and discovered it was “dog day” while tons of dogs wagged past us, including two mastiffs. I cried while driving to the grocery store. I cried while picking Gwyn up from preschool. And I debated and debated, wondering if we were making the right decision.

Before I knew it, the day had come. The day The Martins were driving three hours from their home to meet our pups. And I cried several times that day.

We took the pups to the park, trying to squeeze in more time with them.

It was great.

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And I cried. I was looking for any sort of sign that we were making the wrong decision.

The Martins came. And we learned that they have a farm. With acreage. And other pups to play with. And several grandchildren that come to play often.

They’re perfect. Which sucks. But also doesn’t suck. It’s great.

While there I held it together in front of The Martins. But it’s been a little over two hours now since they’ve gone and I can’t keep the tears from rollin’. These pups are family. But that’s what I need to keep in mind. I want the best for all of our family. And I am trying to look down from above at this situation, take the emotion out. I know in my head what is right. But it still doesn’t make the heart feel any better. The Martins are coming back in the morning to take the pups home.


I have taken some time away from this since it still hurts.

The next morning was rough. I woke up and went on a jog. And of course, cried through most of it as memories of those pups played through my mind. I quickly showered so that we could have more time with them. We fed them a few treats and gave them snuggles before the Martins arrived all too early.

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They were understanding of our situation as I asked for a few more moments.

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And then we said goodbye.

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That was hard. Probably one of the hardest things we’ve ever done. And the only thing that has helped is the fact that I just know what a good place those pups are now at. The freedom they have to do as they please. The space they have to roam all they want. Two retired folks with all the time in the world to love on them.

In fact, later that day I got these.

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They look happy.



  1. Vanessa Serratore says:

    Sorry about your situation. I know first hand how hard giving up your pets can be. I had a mini macaw for 15 yrs before he developed separation anxiety during vet school and started biting me and plucking his feathers. As much as I wanted to keep him, he was no longer happy and deserved a better home/environment. I had to give him up and walk away. Hardest thing ever and I cried my eyes out multiple times. Trust me, the pain does go away with time. You may keep tabs on them for awhile, but it is also ok to stop checking in if it brings up too many memories. It sounds like you did right by them. That is the hardest part about owning a pet and taking responsibility for someone who cannot speak or make their own choices in that sense. It sounds like they are in a good place. Dogs are special – they live for the moment, love in the moment, and have an innate ability to bounce back from situations and move onward. They don’t carry around the emotional baggage and lingering feelings that we do…they don’t feel sorry for themselves (ie. this is a much harder transition for you that it will ever be for them, and keep in mind that people without pets will not understand why this is so hard for you). Yes, I’m sure they will miss you, but take comfort in the fact that they will be ok. I hope you will cherish the past memories and create new ones with your family when the time is right in the future. Praying for you.
    Vanessa Serratore

    • Vanessa,
      Thank you so much for your kind words and wisdom. They truly do bring comfort when I am full of sadness and doubt. Another friend also reminded me that dogs don’t have the emotional connections that we do and that if in another loving environment they will be just as happy, and that too brings be relief and comfort. I appreciate you writing to share your thoughts and feelings. I know how close you are to animals and how you truly understand what we are going through. Again, thank you. :)

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