We don’t speak of them much on the blog but Tate and I have two dogs, a hundred pound German Shepherd “Justice” and an eight pound Maltese “Snuggles”. We both brought one into the relationship when we started dating over 4 years ago. These are our kids so to speak and we love them deeply, but it was never the plan to bring them along. No we are leaving our dogs behind. How does one make such a difficult choice?

It is so cliche’ but life, especially an adventurous one that pushes the boundaries of normal, is often wrought with tough decisions. Do we take a break from our careers? Do we move away from our family and friends? Do we put ourselves in knowingly dangerous situations? The greater the risk, the greater the reward they say. I believe that to be true although when talking about children and pets, something you willingly took responsibility on, the reasoning is different.

“How could you raise these dogs from puppies, make them your family for ten and six years (respectively) then up and leave them behind as you go about, chasing this wild and somewhat selfish dream of yours”. I know from the surface it might seem a cold, immature and self centered thing to do. I’m sure there are lot of different opinions on this topic and this is mine.

When I got Snuggles 6 years ago I hadn’t met Tate yet. I had never dreamed and didn’t think it was even possible to sail around the world, with just 2 people no less. Tate got Justice 8 years ago and had given up hope of finding a woman willing to go on such a long journey. We were both already graduated from college and in our jobs with the whole “normal” world ahead of us when we added the dogs to our family.
Snuggles our dog as a puppy

Maltese can live past 16 years and I thought for sure I would have Snuggles that long. There wasn’t any situation I could see myself in that he couldn’t come along. Then entered Tate and my whole life changed. I still remember the very car ride where he revealed his life long dream to me. “I’ve always wanted to sail around the world” he said. It took me a few minutes to ask specific questions and fully understand his conviction and wherewithal in proposing such an outlandish idea.

I felt my own ambition and sense of adventure, somewhat frozen and stifled during college in order to “graduate at all costs and start working”, start to warm, awaken, then catch on fire with the realization that someone I’m falling in love with might be just as crazy as me and willing to go the distance for greater things. I was on cloud nine basking in the light of unlimited possibilities for the future.

But soon, like the feeling of barely making it to the airport and realizing you left the ticket at home, a sense of dread over-swept me. “What about the dogs?” I asked with eyes as wide as saucers. “How can we leave them behind!?!” I can’t quite remember what Tate said that day but it was something to the effect of well, let’s just see how it goes. The issues wasn’t resolved for me for another two years.

I fought internal battles with what to do. How could we leave, and how could we stay? Snuggles could live another 10 years or more, so do we wait that long? The longer we wait the more difficult it will be to leave. Our families continue to age and grow bigger with nieces and nephews, Tate and I don’t want kids on this trip but haven’t made the final decision on whether or not to have any and since I’m 30 now we have to make that decision relatively soon.

As I’ve read over and over again, the hardest part of the whole trip, the whole entire trip, isn’t pirates, lack of water, amenities, or sailing, it’s leaving. There are always reasons people delay leaving, most often resulting in the demise of the dream as life takes over with unforeseen situations. I love our dogs with all of our hearts but on the most primitive level they are just dogs, not humans. If I have to pick leaving my dog behind now, or leaving later when our parents are older, I pick leaving now.
Snuggles our dog as an adult

“Why don’t you just bring your dogs with you? Lot’s of people cruise with dogs.” There are a couple of reasons for this. Justice is full of hair, a hundred pounds and arthritic, while Snuggles is terrified of mostly everything. Neither of these dogs would enjoy living on our small, dog unfriendly laid out boat. Not to mention many places we will visit either don’t allow dogs or have strict quarantine rules. Sounds fun doesn’t it? Trust me they would much rather be in a loving home here on land where they can lay around on plush couch cushions, be spoiled, and bask in the sun on green grass.

Regardless how much it pains us it is the best thing for them, the only choice for us.

With the decision made that the dogs won’t go with us a plan was initiated to find them good homes. While Justice is lined up to go with Tate’s sister Carley (thank you sooooo much!!-a million <3's) in a large fenced in yard with another playmate, Snuggles was left out in the cold so to speak. Maltese are special little dogs that are somewhat high maintenance. They need grooming, spoiling, to be inside, and can live a very long time so I needed someone dedicated to providing this. Yeah keep dreaming Dani, that's a needle in a haystack you are searching for, one in a million for a 6 year old dog. This thought terrified me. One thing is for sure, I could never leave Snuggles in an unfit environment, if we couldn't find him a good home it would definitely delay the trip, so I knew I had to start early. A few months ago I reached out to a rescue program here in New Orleans called Zeus’ Place on a recommendation from my vet. Since Snuggles isn’t really a “rescue dog” I didn’t know how the reception would be for finding him a home when there are so many other seriously needy dogs and cats out there looking for the same.

I sent them a write up on Snuggles with the how’s and why’s and hoped for the best. I had no idea how long it would take but the very next day I got an email from a seemingly perfect candidate who wanted to add a third dog to her family of white fuzzy dogs. Amazing! It’s moments like these throughout my life that make me question ideas of a higher nature. And so the ball was set in motion with an initial visit 2 months ago to us dropping Snuggles off to his new home this past Friday.

He gets along great with the other dogs, has a big, nice house and yard to roam with grass, cushy pillows inside, a pile of toys and he even gets to sleep in the bed again (something he hasn’t been able to do since Tate and I moved in together). I am so grateful and feel unbelievably lucky to have found such a wonderful home for my little dog. So while I’m still today somewhat somber about his departure, I am also incredibly relieved that this conundrum has been resolved. It is a real step in making our dream a reality.

These are some photos she sent me over the weekend with the reassurance that he is doing great and adjusting nicely.
Snuggles with new family and other dogs

I will always have a very special place in my heart for my little Snuggles. He has moved with me 5 times, through 3 different cities over 6 years all the while bringing so much joy to my life. I hope he understands on some level that I made the choice in his best interest, because I love him so much.

I know this is a rather long winded post but hopefully it gives some solace to others who find themselves faced with a similar difficult life choice.