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Hello, everyone. I am new here and just searching for a place to talk and hopefully get some advice. I have made several posts about this subject on other sites and am just looking to see what others have to say from their own experiences.

So, my story is that I am 22 and have a great opportunity to study abroad for the next 2 years. I am SO thrilled and have absolutely no reservations except for the fact that it will mean leaving my dog. Granted, she will be staying with my family in our home so her life will not change, except for the absence of me. I know she will be very well taken care of and loved by my parents, no doubt about it, so of course that makes it a little easier to decide to leave. But I just feel SO GUILTY about leaving her. I mean, she only has a handful of people in her life so I feel like me leaving would be a big deal for her. I of course will visit but probably cannot come home very often (will have to be gone for at least 7 months) so I am so so sad about leaving her.

Will she think I abandoned her? To be perfectly honest my dog is closer to my dad than me, I think she would be happy if it were just the two of them, since they are best buds. But we are still close. Everyone calls me her "mama." When I do go out of town now, my mom says my dog doesn't act too upset but she will walk around and look for me in my room, etc. So if I leave her, will she feel abandoned? Will it make her sad?

If you have experience with this, how have you coped as a pet owner? Every day when I walk her I feel like crying since I know that our walks are now numbered... I am also so worried something will happen to her when I am gone and I will not be able to say goodbye. She is already 11 years old. I would feel horrible. I know I should take advantage of the opportunity in front of me but I cannot get over this guilt of leaving my pup that I have raised since she was a few months old.
 

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Due to a long set of circumstances I won't get into, my then-fiancee/now-wife had to move back to her home country when our dog was about one. I spent the next two years dealing with the lovely mess that is immigration to move here with her, and she only was able to visit us a couple times. He was probably more bonded to her than he was to me when she left, but I'll be honest - it was way harder on me than it was on him.

He was confused at first, and went to check the front door for the first few days whenever I came home after work and let him out of his crate. But he adjusted quickly, and settled into our new 'normal' easily, even through a move shortly after she left. It was the same every time she visited - he was ecstatic to see her, absolutely knew who she was, and would check for her for a couple days after she had to leave, then settled right back down again. He never seemed depressed, anxious, or sad - even when he was checking for her, he was his usual bouncy self. I think dogs don't really have the same concept of time passing that we do, and they live very much in the moment, so long separations are easier on them than they can be for us. At least in my experience. I can't speak as the person leaving the dog, but we did video chat a lot so she could see him (and me, ofc) and kept her updated on what was going on in his life, which seemed to help.

The age thing is hard, though of course there's no guarantee even with a young dog that something won't happen when you're gone. I'm not sure anything can make that aspect any easier. But it's great that she'll be with people who know her and are bonded with her, because I do think that makes the transition much easier.
 

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Go study abroad. Your dog will be fine. I left "my" dog when I went away to college, but reality is he grew up with my entire family. My absence was noted, but he got over it. His home had not changed and 3 of his 4 family members remained.
 

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We have a rescue that was bonded to the foster parents. It took a couple weeks for her to stop waiting by the door for a while each day. After that she seemed to bond to us. It's likely she will take a small adjustment time but when you do come back, she'll likely flip out when she remembers you.
 

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One of the very best dogs I've ever had went to live with my parents when I married a woman who was hyper-allergic (as in emergency rooms and inpatient services with asthma.)

It took this incredibly loyal dog about ten days to figure out that the new deal was pretty sweet.

Dogs are, above all, opportunistic. Some might even say fickle, but I wouldn't use that term. If they are treated well, they adapt more quickly than we like to imagine.
 

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My husky has forgiven me for going away to college. The only thing that changed is he stopped pretending like he doesn't go in my room. I taught him not to go in there once because he almost strangled himself in my headphones, but based on the footprints he left on my bed I know he was still going in there. But if I invited him in he would stand in the doorway and throw his headback and tease me like "nooooo I'm not ALLOWED in theeeere ;)

Now that it's been a while he comes in and cuddles with me sometimes.

Your dog might be confused but they'll still recognize you and be happy to see you when you get back.
 

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Go amd study abroad. The reality is that we miss our dogs more than they (usually) miss us.

I know of several top IPO 3 dogs that ended up being placed in active pet homes at the end of their IPO careers (age 6-8). Maybe they gave a single backward glance as they were led away. Most settled right in to the new home, new people and new "provider of food and fun" with no issue.

In your case the dog isn't even moving and may not even notice your absence (sorry!!) as long as the food keeps coming!

BTW Guilt is a miserable feeling. Try to stop that. Guilt solves nothing and offers no solutions. It
just leaves you feeling bad. Guilt knows no martyr. ;)
 

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I went to a college 500 miles away from home that required on-campus living and no pets for the first three years. I went home every holiday I could, but my family took care of MY dog. He was a little fatter with them ;) And he definitely did not get the same level of physical and mental stimulation.

But really, he was well trained. He got regular exercise. He was sheltered and well fed... I'm sure he was happy, even without me there. He would 'know' to look for me every time my mom pulled up to an airport and he searched for me in the house the first few days, according to my mom. But absolutely fine.

Enjoy your abroad experience. I did 4 or 5 abroad programs in my college career and never regretted any of them. Life changing stuff.
 
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