Jan 24, 2020 08:00am
The Tough Decision to Give My Dog Away

It was that worst-case scenario: “What if our new-born son is allergic to our beloved dog?” On paper, it’s easy. “Honey, I gave the dog away, and it was easy, because we love our son more than our dog!” Duh. But then it happened, and our son was allergic to our dog. Suddenly, we tried to find any other alternative. But there was none.

Canine birth control?

During our first year in seminary, my wife and I decided to get a dog in order to not have a baby. Well, a year later we had both. You know how that goes.

I played with our dog named Render hourly. I loved him. And he loved me even more.

He lived with us for a few years, moved states with us, and welcomed two babies into the world with us. He was protective, cuddly, and unwaveringly resistant to any sort of training. If you know the Shiba Inu breed, then you know.

This picture is one of four walks we took every day. No leash required. He stood beside me, because he understood. He wouldn’t “sit” or “come” or “stay.” But he’d walk beside me. Again, if you know the Shiba Inu breed, then you know.

I’ve never owned, known, or even heard of a greater dog.

Why, then, would we decide to find him a new owner?

Because Render flared my son’s allergies.

The tough, necessary decision

My wife can confirm: I wept myself (not wet) into a two-week long illness. Total heartbreak. Even now, years later, my nose is burning holding back the gush of tears. I do my best to just not think of Render. I can’t even go there anymore. Maybe you can relate.

But here’s what I’m getting at. Despite the heartbreak, I made the right decision and gave my dog away. The only decision, really. Gut-wrenching, tear-ripping, happiness-lowering – yes. But the right one.

I suppose the question for us, then, is what’s our “Render” for 2020? What do you love, but it’s slowly killing you (or someone you love)? With clenched fists, what do you need to get rid of in order to give Jesus more reign of your heart?

It might be a sin.

It might not be a sin.

But something’s quenching you, like an anchor, and you need to give it up, with tears.

For me, it’s that extra hour of Netflix with the wife-y every night. How glorious it is! How much we love it! And yet, how much more we might enjoy an hour of reading together in the morning, with coffee and slow conversation.

That’s us; not you. And we aren’t there yet. But it’s a goal.

A goal that begins with a really, really tough decision.

What’s yours?

Copyright © 2020 by Justin Talbert @ Used with permission. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from