How Returning a Rescue Dog Made Me Re-Think Who I Am

I was blown away by the incredible, inspiring, and compassionate responses after writing a post about returning our dog, Rocky Blue, to his rescue group. After six months and with a baby on the way, we just knew he wasn’t a good fit for our home, resulting in my heartbreaking decision. (Of course I received some emails and responses from people that were outraged or felt like they didn’t want to be in my community anymore. And I honor that too … I knew it was a risk and am still proud I told the truth about my experience.)

The very day we dropped off Rocky Blue at the rescue group’s adoption fair, he was adopted by a young woman who fell in love with him. YES! That means that he never had one night without a home. And I know in my heart he was meant to be with us as our teacher for 6 months and is now settling into his forever home. I’m eternally grateful when The Universe conspires like this.

Among the dozens of lessons this experience has taught me, one in particular stands out: the idea of who we THINK we are. The story of who our ego tries to convince us we are and when we bump up against a situation or challenge that pushes us outside our perceived identity, it kind of … well … messes us up.

For me, I never thought in a million years I’d be the type of person to return a rescue dog to a rescue group.

The act of doing just that shattered a part of my identity and had me look at myself differently. I had an “Inner Mean Girl attack,” where my Inner Critic raked me over the coals for a day or so. (Thank goodness I have so many tools to help!) When we commit an act that feels contrary to who we think we are we open ourselves up to some very harsh Big Fat Lies. (i.e. “I should be better than this.” “I hate people who do things like this and now that person is ME!” etc.)

But it also showed me what my highest priorities truly are: to honor my husband, to honor my family, and to honor my limits. (Guess I’m not superwoman after all. DARN!) And it allows me to have access to compassion that I didn’t even know existed. I stop the harsh judgments of others who have done such things and realize that I can never know what others are going through.

This “who you think you are” phenomenon can also work when we do things beyond what we perceive our limitations are.

Case in point: I never thought in a million years that I would actually be a published author signing her second book deal. Yet here I am. Now experiences like this also open us up to another type of Inner Mean Girl attack. One that fills our heads with Big Fat Lies like “Who are you to deserve this?” or “They’re going to find out you’re fraud.” or “You’re not worthy.”

The key here is to get curious.

So I’m curious, name, who do THINK you are? Try this exercise:

#1: Fill in the blank:

-I never thought in a million years I’d ever ______________
-If you would have told me 20 years ago that I’d ever _____________, I would have said, “you’re nuts!”
-I promised myself I’d never ____________ and yet here I am.
-I surprised and delighted myself when I _____________.

#2: Next, I want you to close your eyes and ask your Inner Wisdom what you’re learning. What are these experiences showing you about you?

#3: Release the attachment to the STORY of who you think you are and instead step into curiosity. Stop making assumptions and judgements and instead find a place of openness. See where that takes you.

#4: Bring on the compassion! No matter what, it’s time to amp up your compassion. Self-compassion and compassion for others. This is key to breaking free of any story that is holding you back.

“The more tightly we cling to a fixed view of ‘who I am,’ the more we cut ourselves off from the process of becoming, which of course is what’s happening in every moment.” -Nancy Bardacke

I’d love to see your responses. What does this exercise bring to the light for you? Who are YOU becoming?

With unstoppable enthusiasm,



Elizabeth P
Elizabeth P.about a month ago

Hello Amy,
I realize I am very late to the party, but I just wanted to thank you for sharing this article. I adopted a four year old dog in August and it has been very rocky. He has extreme anxiety and is very possessive over me to the point where he has lunged at three people. He's always the sweetest, gentlest dog with me, but he randomly has out burst with people. These past few weeks have been really hard and I've just been down on myself. I, like you, never thought I'd be the person who was considering returning an adopted dog, but I see now that if the fit isn't right for you- it's also not right for the dog. Your article was eyeopening because I see that I'm not the only one who thought those thoughts... never me... I wouldn't dare... I'm a terrible dog owner. I felt alone, but it's relieving seeing others have the same experience. I'm currently working closely with my vet, he's been put on medications, behavior trainers, and the shelter I adopted him from. I hope that it works out, but I have this terrible gut feeling it's not going to simply because we might not be compatible. Neither of us is bad, neither of us is wrong, we just aren't the right fit for each other. I feel as though if my dog is expressing all these anxious signs and recently escalated even more (constant wining even when I'm petting or holding him, peeing inside, barely eating even when I add meat to his bowl, unprovoked sudden aggression, and he's just very s

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Gianna Macias
Gianna Macias3 years ago

No wonder you returned the dog, EVERYTHING IS ABOUT YOU., and it is only one excuse after another. In six months the dog could have been trained to adjust to the coming baby, You knew the baby was coming when you adopted the dog. You are
thankful the dog was immediately adopted, however, what about his feelings of being
abandoned, of betrayal. SHAME ON YOU AND YOUR KIND. And what about if the
dog is adopted by an abuser, of used as bait dog?

But do not worry, eventually that baby of yours will dump you in a old people house, that is what you are teaching her-him. FIRST ME, THEN ME AND LAST ME.

Cheryl Mallon-Bond

Continued With that said, the people that are lambasting you should also understand that if it's not the right match for your family, then ultimately, it is not the right match for the animal either, & if an animal is not truly wanted, they will "know" this; It is better for all involved to part ways. I hope your family finds your fur-baby that will be a perfect fit & that your former pet is now living the life that he/she is meant to as well.

Cheryl Mallon-Bond

The questions are good ones, one's that I will ponder at another moment, not right at this moment. You were brave to write the article, but I think you would have had more understanding from people if you had been more clear about the reasons you felt it necessary to "let go" of the dog & return to the rescue group. As a rescue person myself, it is hard to hear this, but I do know that sometimes there are circumstances warrenting such a decision; however, too many people do not undertake an adoption decision with out enough clarity in the first place of what their families needs are & therefore what type of animals suits them. I sadly have heard every lame excuse on earth that there is, is: "I am returning this kitten because she is too active & chews on paper items", this is a person who CLEARLY did NOT think through what adopting a kitten entails, therefore a totally irresponsible decision. This is also the responsibility of the rescue to make the right match for the family as well, as to help insure a lifetime comittment. Your returned rescue luckliy had a wonderful turn of events with him/her getting adopted out the same time he/she was returned, but that is hardly he case with MOST returned animals, and when one rescue is adopted another is quickly intaked into the rescue, as sadly here is no shortage of animals without homes. Then it becomes very hard to find a foster to intake that returned animal & care for them until a forever home has been found.

mari s.
Mari S3 years ago

I believe that Rocky Blue is in his loving forever home -- if this is the case, then everything turned out well, especially for Rocky Blue. I do not have the facts -- what criteria you used to come to your decision -- but, whatever the reasons, the fact that you returned Rocky Blue to the rescue group (I'm assuming they're a NO-KILL rescue) is highly commendable -- in this instance, you did good! And, what's more, it was at their adoption fair you showed up with Rocky Blue, which is another good thing!

The fact that he was adopted that same day (let's hope by loving people) is still another fantastic thing! All in all, everything turned out really well for Rocky Blue AND because of this, you can definitely sleep at night!

What I want for Rocky Blue is that he remain in a loving family forever! You did the best you could and as of today ALL parties involved are in a good place!

Jac Campbell

Dog is better off without u.. What a puke if crap your jst trying to justify why u gave up your dog. Goodness how long will you keep your children... Nothing in this world would make me give up my dogs. Absolutely nothing.

Helen K.
Helen K3 years ago

And Moron, here is something else!
I knew a very sweet young couple. The young husband loved his dog and I would occasionally dog sit for him. This went on for years. Then one year the young wife had a baby and the next time I saw the husband I asked him how his sweet doggy was. He said that he had had to give up his beloved companion - his family came first. He was a loyal and loving man. A couple of years later this couple was divorced! I hope this happens to YOU moron. You deserve the respect and loyalty you gave YOUR dog. You are a psycho and deserve the future you will get.
This is a true story.

Dana A.
Dana A3 years ago

Take a breath passionate...but a wee bit harsh..

Helen K.
Helen K3 years ago

Hey Moron!
Could you not have expended one more iota of energy for your poor dog?
Stay away from all animals in the future, and yes, Nanette A, you have it dead right, how about your second baby? I hope to God it fits in well with your psychotic image of your family other wise maybe you'll have to send that life back whence it came.
You make me sick!