As a huge animal lover and someone who works at (and volunteers at) a rescue I’m going to judge you for rehoming your dog because you had a baby, don’t spend enough time with it or just plain don’t want it anymore. That’s not how it works. You take in an animal, you are promising to care for it for the rest of it’s life. And now I’m a total hypocrite because while I was in Vegas I rehomed my two sugar gliders Suge & Biggie.
To make a long story short, back in 2012 a woman was giving away a sugar glider. I’ve had small animals like rats in the past, but sugar gliders are illegal in California. A part of me was taking them in because most small animals aren’t taken care of properly and because they were being given away I didn’t want them to end up in the wrong hands. So many small animals end up in cages that are too small, they aren’t being fed the right food for their nutritional needs, etc. Things that are so easy to do with a little research.
So I took in one of her sugar gliders and named him Suge Knight. So original, I know. I later found out that you’re supposed to have two or they’re extremely lonely so when, almost a year later, she offered me his brother I happily accepted. I named him Biggie Smalls. I felt so much better knowing they had each other to snuggle in their pouches with.
The entire time I had them I knew their basic needs were being met. They were being taken care of properly in the sense that they were being fed the right food, their cage was huge and I made sure they had healthy lives. The problem was that I was terrible at interacting with them outside of the cage. They are the sweetest little things that love to climb all over you, but with all the animals running around my house it was so hard because they will jump off you at a moments notice and scurry away. They are impossible to catch and the last thing I wanted was for one of the dogs or cats to get a hold of them.
I ended up getting a pop up tent for us to hang out in by recommendation of fellow sugar glider parents so that we could bond and they would learn not to hop off me and run away. It did not work out. Something about the nibbling Biggie did and the timidness of Suge freaked me out. I am an animal lover through and through, but I had a full on anxiety attack one day and left the tent crying because Biggie kept climbing all over me and giving me “love bites” as other suggie owners call it. They don’t hurt, they aren’t malicious, they’re tasting you like they would taste things they climb on in the wild. But something about it just made me freak out.
After months and months of trying to get over it, promising myself I’d do it for them, I eventually decided it was time to find them a more suitable home despite the sinking feeling in my stomach I got every time I thought about it. I knew they were being fed and taken care of properly, so I was in no rush. I wanted to make sure they went to someone who would spoil them rotten. Finally after a couple of months of searching I found a man who’s family has several sugar gliders, breeds them as well as rescues them. He was patient with me for weeks and weeks until I could make the 4 hour drive out to Vegas to hand them over.
When it finally happened, I felt relief that they’d get the attention they deserved, but I also broke down knowing I had failed them. I felt absolutely terrible for putting them through the confusion of rehoming them and hoping that they would adjust well. I think about them looking around for me and my heart just breaks. I knew I would miss their big eyes blinking at me sleepily when they woke up right before I went to bed (they’re nocturnal) or the way Biggie always wanted to be near me and would lean on my hand while he eat a treat. I silently cried in the car as we drove to our hotel in Vegas and gave myself a moment in a grocery store bathroom to just let it out.
In my 27 years I have cared for, loved and “owned” dozens and dozens of pets. But this is the first time I have rehomed an animal I had intended to keep and I have never felt so much guilt. But at the same time, I’m glad they’re getting the love and attention they deserve. People think small animals are worth less love, less caring, less saddness when you say goodbye. I disagree.