All of my life I’ve wanted 2 dogs. A Mastiff and a German Shepherd. No one in my family wants a Mastiff besides me and since I live with my Aunt I knew that big, drooly behemoth wasn’t an option. Much to my surprise however when it came time for us to get a new dog, my Aunt said she too had always wanted a German Shepherd.

For years we have done older rescue but have had problems with the dogs. All were supposedly housebroken, two were not, all supposedly healthy, again they were not. We spent a fortune on vet visits for everything from food allergies, to chronic ear problems. One of the rescues was supposed to be good with cats, that wasn’t true and he made our cat unhappy. Not one to be defeated she launched spectacular sneak attacks on her live in irritant that would have made a Special Operative proud.

So after the passing of the last rescue we decided to get a well bred German Shepherd puppy. I did my research, found an excellent breeder and we sent our deposit and made the commitment.

I found a trainer, brought all the supplies, did my research and after months of waiting brought home my new puppy.

At first everything was great. The puppy responded and was content. We fell in love immediately. He was as happy with me as I was with him. I was prepared for the usual puppy antics and he was full of them, running, hopping, playing and mischief. Quiet time was spent with ear and feet rubs that he relished and happily being together.

It soon became obvious that even though my beloved puppy loved me, he had no respect for me as pack leader and alpha. I worked every day on training and everyday our situation became worse. He had little interest in engaging in play, fetch, tug, chew bones or toys. The only thing he was happy doing was biting me and not just the usual puppy chewing. He as challenging me at every turn to be leader.

For those who don’t have dogs, pack leader is in charge. Pack leader eats first, determines the length and type of play, where they are walking, in short they make the pack decisions and the other dogs follow. Every day my boy’s challenges for pack leader became more and more aggressive and determined. When I would take him out he would push me out of the way to go through the door first, another no-no.

I talked with the trainer and breeder repeatedly. And despite my not wanting to admit it, it was becoming obvious I had made the wrong decision. I spent days trying to come up with ways to make my relationship with my dream dog work, from more days at doggie daycare to burn off steam, to investing in a treadmill and more trainers, and combing training methods. When I stepped back and looked at all I was willing to do, I knew that at the end of it there was no way to be sure my dog would ever respect me as pack leader and he might very well still continue to bully and challenge me. It was tolerable when he was 17 pounds, what would I do when he was 90 pounds?

After many days of thinking, crying, trying to find a way to make it work, talking to trainers, my family, I returned my beloved dream dog to the breeder.

I’m logical in my thinking, but my emotions have always been stronger. Logically, I know I made the right decision. If I had kept him and done everything I had planned on doing, it would have been a bad decision physically, emotionally and financially, and I could have been in a dangerous situation with a 90 pound dog controlling me and the house. I know the puppy has since found a home with experienced German Shepherd owners who will be what he needs.

Do I feel in my heart I made the right choice? NO. I will spend the rest of my days, regretting my decision and believing I gave up too soon and should have done more. If I had tried another trainer, if I had tried more training methods, if I had done this differently, if I had done that differently…

If I had has quickly become my new unwanted mantra. I have been crying for a week. The grief I feel at my decision is a chronic burning pain that doesn’t let up. I am angry at myself for not being able to be all that my puppy needed me to be. Family members questioned my decision to get a German Shepherd, but I knew better, I had no doubt it was going to work. And I was wrong. It doesn’t bother me to be wrong; it bothers me to have failed at my dream so badly. I love that dog and will to my last breath.

I did what was best for him, and the bitter truth is, what was best for him wasn’t me.