Warning: long, rambling, sad post
I keep coming back to this thread and reading the new replies, and I am actually sitting here reading with tears streaming down my face. You are all so kind. Pardon my getting confused on names, because when I get all sad like this my memory is even less good than usual, but someone said they had lost their dog just about the same time we did, in late 2011--and has had some health problems, as I also have--that really resonated with me. Someone lost their dog only recently, but is generously consoling me--when I've had over a year to learn to cope.
Many of you have mentioned rescue. Rescue appeals to me; Jasper was a rescue, even though he was just a baby puppy, but he was such a Golden and I just want a Golden...he was so sweet, and so loving, and so smart. We support rescue, through donations; also the ASPCA and Humane Society.
But I am just so terrified of adopting another dog and getting attached and losing him or her and going through this again.
What my dream is, is that we would get a pup, and then we would volunteer to foster Goldens. We have fenced in our quite-large back yard, and I would love to have more than one dog. My husband, though, doesn't even want one any more--it may be the trauma of all we've been through with losing Jasper, my extreme grief, the problem with the puppy and the breeder, and my continuing extreme grief...my husband was sad for a few weeks, but then said he was pretty much over it and had only happy memories, whereas those memories were (and still are) making me cry. In this way, we are not in "sync." He has a (grown) child, and I don't have children; I guess that may be some of the difference, as Jasper was my baby; he really was.
I do not differentiate between dogs and people in terms of how much love I can feel for them, I guess. They are both just sentient beings to me, both capable of loving and being loved.
Anyway, I am afraid of getting an older, only dog and losing him or her again so soon; I am not sure I could handle it well at all. But my husband hasn't said no to fostering after getting a puppy, and I think he would do it. He IS a dog person and he also thinks that Goldens are...he says "now that's a REAL dog" when he talks about Goldens. With a pup and a foster, we would have a young dog and an older one, and maybe he would grow attached to both dogs, and...it's a hope, anyway, and I think it's not an unreasonable one--he IS a dog person. Having suddenly no dog, when the dog is a huge part of your daily life, is so very difficult. There is a terrible void.
Can I tell you more about why I'm paralyzed? I greatly fear judgment, but I need to get this off of my chest with people who know something about dogs and breeders.
This is about the puppy we had for less than a week. I thought I would fall in love with the puppy instantly, I was so anxious to get her, it was like I was obsessed with getting her, hiring a trainer to visit during her first few days, and buying everything that a puppy could possibly need for a year. I researched foods, subscribed to the Whole Dog Journal, and just really could not wait to take her home. I thought it would help relieve that terrible void I felt; I genuinely thought I would love her as quickly as I had Jasper.
Then when we did take her home--she was not like any other puppy I ever knew. She was only 8 weeks old, but she was very aggressive and resource-guarding. She was not affectionate; she ran around the back yard eating dirt and all sorts of plants in a kind of wild manner. She tried to chew an electrical cord (normal) and when my husband took it away from her, she freaked out and growled and snapped at him--I don't mean in a little puppy manner, either. She absolutely wouldn't go in her crate, but would shriek if you tried to put her in it, and not let up. You could lure her in (the trainer showed me how) but as soon as you shut the door and took a few steps away, she completely freaked out and shrieked horribly without stopping. I was going to a doctor's appointment and my husband was staying with her, but there was a 20-minute gap between when he needed to leave and when I would get home. He put her in her crate, and as soon as I drove up the driveway--before she could have known I was there--I heard her shrieking continuously and horribly.
The trainer I'd hired made a home visit the day she came home with us, and she was pretty concerned about the puppy. The breeder had warned us that "this litter were pretty full of themselves" and that if the puppy growled at us or bit us, to use alpha rolls; I was horrified at the very thought of doing this. The trainer was very experienced and an advocate of using only positive training methods. There was no way I was going to alpha-roll any dog--that is just not me--much less an 8-week-old puppy. She also refused to eat the kibble the breeders sent her home with. I was afraid she would starve.
Anyway, the trainer was worried when she heard and saw the difficulty we were having. She came back a couple of days later to see how it was going. During this time, my husband took her outside to poop, and (again, normal) she turned around and started eating her feces. He tried to distract her with a toy and that didn't work, so he picked her up gently and--she freaked out, growling, snapping and trying to bite him--NOT bitey puppy bites, which Jasper was the master of (one of his nicknames all of his life was "Biteydog;" how he did love those play bites). The puppy's were serious bite attempts which only her age prevented from being genuinely dangerous.
Anyway, the trainer happened to be there when this happened, and she offered to call our vet and discuss her concerns with him. I was so blown away. I did take her for her scheduled vet appointment and our vet tried to interact with the puppy and she really wouldn't do it; she just wanted to sit in the corner with her ball.
The vet told us in no uncertain terms that "this puppy is going to break your heart" and predicted that she would bite my husband (she was less aggressive with me). He told us she needed an experienced dog person to raise her, someone who could work with her around her problem behaviors so she did not turn out to be aggressive and a biter. He said he could hardly recall any normally-nurtured, 8-week-old puppy aggressively snapping and biting.
With a broken heart, we returned the puppy. The breeders were very hostile. although our vet offered to explain his concerns to them, I don't think they called him. I begged them to tell me when they'd found a good placement for her, and to their credit, they did let me know. They told me that nothing was wrong with her, that it was completely our fault. I was so worried about the puppy I actually wanted them to be right; then I was so confused I didn't know what to think. I think my husband was torn between believing what the professionals said and thinking that maybe I just couldn't bond with her because she wasn't Jasper.
I just pray that that puppy is ok and it will work out with her in this placement. I never in a million years thought I would return a dog--heck, I stop everyone I see walking a dog now, wanting to pet and caress a dog. I think this incident--having to come to terms with the decision we ultimately made--was just as hard on my husband as it has been on me.
Has anyone ever had an experience like this? Maybe I can't get another dog until I work this out, how I could give up a beautiful little Golden puppy (her name was "Lily"). Help, folks.
If you've hung on this long, bless you, and I apologize for rambling. In a way, we've had two losses, and it's hard to forgive myself for the second. The vet said her problems were likely "genetic." But knowing that my husband had the thought that I had problems with her because she wasn't Jasper--I guess I feel unsure of so many things. Thanks for listening.