The Darcy Chronicles 9: A Reluctant Farewell

Mr. Darcy at 16 weeks

Mr. Darcy at 16 weeks

In his 16th week of life, Mr. Darcy’s life changed irrevocably and, with the intuition of Dog, he knows it.

Tomorrow Deborah leaves for Portland to see her best friend Bonnie through death from ovarian cancer (she’s been fighting it for almost five years), and to help her family afterwards. We don’t know how long Deborah will be gone; that depends both on the progress of Bonnie’s disease and, because she lives in Oregon, her decision on when to let go. We are planning for two months.

I cannot raise Mr. Darcy alone. Even with both of us on him we were losing ground, and Deborah was growing uneasy in her own house after some serious bites. (Serious in puppy terms, and he’s getting bigger rapidly.) The news from Portland was the last straw.

On Tuesday, I’m taking Darcy back to his breeder/trainer, who assures us he can find a good, working home for him. Plus, Darcy will be reunited with his sister for a time.

We’re not asking for any money back, as Darcy is not at fault. In fact, he is my dream dog: a fantastic example of over a century of closely-controlled selective breeding. We both want him to have the chance to reach his full potential, and he can’t with us. I’m afraid we’d end up with a dangerous animal.

Of course, Darcy knows that something is up. Deborah is terribly distracted, and I’m emotionally withdrawing a bit. So he’s a bit clingy and even more demanding. We give him as much attention and training as possible.

That’s all I want to say right now. The Darcy Chronicles won’t stop here. I’ll be talking about the process of grieving for a dog. Right now I’m in the “but…but…but”  stage with Darcy; it wasn’t that way with Oka, my previous GSD, who died of cancer in April. But some of the feelings are very similar.


About Dave Trowbridge

Dave Trowbridge has been writing high-tech marketing copy for almost thirty years. This has made him an expert in what he calls “pulling stuff out of the cave of the flying monkeys,” so science fiction comes naturally. He abandoned corporate life in 2007 — actually, it abandoned him — but not before attaining the rank of Dark Lord of Documentation, a title which still appears on his business card and serves to identify clients he’d rather not work with (the ones who don’t laugh). He much prefers the godlike powers of a science fiction author (hah!) to troglodyte status in dark corporate mills, and the universe is slowly coming around to his point of view. Dave is currently laboring over the second edition of the space-opera series Exordium with his co-author Sherwood Smith, and looking forward to writing more stories in that universe. He lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with his writer wife and fellow BVC member, Deborah J. Ross, and a tri-lingual German Shepherd Dog responsible for three cats. When not writing, Dave may be found wrangling vegetables—both domesticated and feral — in the garden.


The Darcy Chronicles 9: A Reluctant Farewell — 16 Comments

  1. I’m sorry to hear this. Darcy is lucky in that he has people around him who can recognise an unworkable situation long before it becomes critical, and who are willing to make decisions that are hard for them (but good for the dog) rather than muddling through and into dangerous territory. I wish things had worked out for you three 🙁

    (Also, Deborah, wishing you and your friend all the best.)

    • Thanks. It’s very hard, accepting that we don’t have one more puppy in us. But there’s a very active GSD rescue organization up here, and we’re sure to find a more mature dog that we can work with. But first the grieving, both for what might have been with Darcy, and, somewhat truncated by the sudden availability of a litter only a month after he died, for Oka.

  2. I hope the owner can find a young, energetic, and loving home for Darcy!

    And given that it is often tougher to place older dogs, as everybody wants pups, this might very well be a win/win. I hope so!

    • I have a feeling that you were there for Darcy and he was there for you to teach various lessons as well as to help you grieve for Oka. You gave him a strong start. Now he’s done his job, as you’ve done yours, and will move on to a successful working life.

      And the dog you were really meant for will be able to step forward.

      Still doesn’t make the short term easy, at all. But I have a good feeling.

  3. We had a similar situation. The young lab, Reba, wistful for more vigorour play, went back to her rescue/foster home, and soon from them to a permanent home with children and other dogs to play with. We planned carefully for our next dog: smaller, adult, etc. Found a 3 year old, 24 pound schnauzer at the local pound. He is very very happy with us. When we remember Reba, we quickly think of two happy dogs (and the happy other labs she is now playing with).

  4. Such a hard decision, but it sounds like it’s the right one for all affected.

    But the fact it’s right doesn’t make it any less difficult. May it one day rest more lightly in your heart.

  5. I’m so sorry. Your entries have conveyed Darcy’s lovable nature, and how much you guys loved him, and the pleasure you derived in working from him. But sometimes the best, most loving thing you can do is realize early when to look for another way.

    Hugs all round.

  6. I’m sorry to hear this…on all fronts. You’ve got Darcy set up for success…I hope you’ll be able to take pleasure in it if you’re able to keep track of him along the way.

  7. A hard decision, but a good one, and like any reputable breeder they are taking him back with open arms. I’ve had to rehome a too-demanding pup, years ago when my kids were little. I simply couldn’t cope with a super energetic labrador who needed tons of attention. It was heartbreaking, but we did research and realized that for our young kids, Springers were just the perfect dog. Later, when my son was older, still had the Springers, my son wanted a Siberian Husky and the time WAS right for more energetic dogs. Got two! Tons of fun and now they are 6 and 8 and I am alone and they are great companions.

    Have enjoyed your dog series and no matter what, you’ve given Darcy a great start. He will find the right family (and they him). And perhaps another time, later, you’ll be ready for another dog.

  8. Thanks, all.

    I got a good video today of him attacking the deadly watersnake in his kiddie pool, and tomorrow will try to get one of him singing along with Deborah’s piano scales. He also sings along with recorded piano music, but no other kind.

  9. Thanks for sharing this whole story. It helps people like me to see that even with skill, dedication, and love, sometimes things don’t work out–sometimes the demands and circumstances are just too much. I hope you will hear in the future that Darcy has found the right family.

  10. Dave,
    I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your Darcy series. I learned so much from it – having never owned a dog, but always wanting one. I admire your difficult decision to let Darcy go to a new home. Now I just hope that you can find the perfect dog for you after life has settled down again.
    Thank you for all your insight and wonderful teaching and sharing.
    – Hannah

  11. Thank you for sharing this journey, Deborah and Dave. Darcy has had a great start, and I now the breeder will be able to find him the right family for his adult life. You didn’t plan to be a foster family, but it turned out that way.

    I trust that the universe will send you the right dog to join your family. In the meantime, thank you for sharing your journey with Darcy, and teaching us so much about what living with a smart working dog can be.

  12. My heart goes out to Bonnie and all who love her, to Deborah who will be with her, and to you and Mr Darcy who are parting but not forgetting.