Hi All, I’ve been away a couple of months and it’s been a hectic, amazing, rewarding humbling and educational time. My litter of puppies came and I immediately took Dr. Ian Dunbar’s advice to breeders and started them on an intensive conditioning/imprinting/learning program. The results have been beyond my expectations but we’ll talk about that in upcoming posts.
Today I just want to say something about judging people; in particular, people who give up pets for one reason or another. There is a huge outcry of anger and disgust when someone hears that a friend/neighbor/stranger is giving up their pet. The person is subjected to ridicule, berating, name-calling, even threats; of course, most of this is by way of Facebook or various Yahoo groups. Not directly to the person…. Angry people shout that this person should never be able to have a pet again; that they should be “blacklisted”, that they are a horrible person.
I know people who have given up dogs. Some were hoarders, some were naive and all were overwhelmed. None felt that they had an option that was better for them or the dog. In all of these situations, they’re getting it out of a home where it is NOT WANTED. And that’s a very good thing. Why would we pressure people to keep an animal they don’t want, can’t handle, are frustrated with and they make the dog’s quality of life miserable?
Usually, no attention is paid to what is best for the dog. One of my early posts was about trying to fit a round peg into a square hole; why would you want to make a dog live in a place where no one is happy? Lots of rescue puppies have a completely unknown history and grow into something completely unexpected by the adopter and are a horrible match.
A recent experience comes to mind, with a very nice middle aged couple, living in a townhouse with no yard, who were adopted a hound that they were assured was a mix with Lab and wouldn’t get bigger than a Beagle. Well, at 16 weeks he was over 35 lbs!! And a HOUND. Completely unconcerned about making them happy or learning to “obey”. Think about it, Hounds are bred to run off, on their own, find something that they can chase up a tree or into a corner and then stand and bark at it ’til someone comes to help. They are NOT bred to walk nicely on a leash (not saying they can’t be trained to do it, just that it’s usually a little more work than for many dogs) and live in a city with no place to run like that.
So far they’ve kept the youngster. It’s taking a huge emotional and physical toll on them. And the dog gets to play at the dog park but barks a lot which is disturbing to people with other dogs and chases desperately. He has no real outlet for his energy as a hound because we just don’t have many environments like that in this area.
Now! I know some people are thinking Hounds are just like any other dog. Don’t get me started on all dogs are the same, they just need love. BS. Why do retrievers retrieve? Why do herding dogs herd? Why do terriers hunt? Why are companion dogs not driven to do those things?? We’ve bred dogs to be what we want. Putting this hound into this home with this couple was wrong. Putting any hound into this situation was wrong. Hounds are hounds and they are different from Springer Spaniels or Collies. PERIOD. No amount of training after-the-fact will change that. Dr. Dunbar’s plan, had it been instituted at 3 days or even 3 weeks, could have made a difference but wouldn’t change the fact that there is hound instinct in there.
So my point is (you were hoping there was one, I know!) that there are times when it’s entirely appropriate to find a better home for a dog. There are even times that putting a dog to sleep is the best thing for it and it’s family AND COMMUNITY. Farm dogs, hunting dogs, guardian or protection dogs require a very experienced owner and specific outlets for their energy. Dogs that grow up and become biters, despite early training and socializing may need to be in a different home or euthanized. Some people can manage a dog that bites and good for them, but some biting dogs are adopted by families with children or without the means to keep people safe and the dog safe from itself. WHY, oh WHY would we condemn someone like this?
A good person tries to do a good thing by adopting a “rescued” dog and then the dog is something dramatically different than what that person feels like they can handle or the dog was represented as. Whose fault is that?? The right thing to do is to find a home where it can be successful.
In our world of every dog has to be saved, we forget that every dog will have to spend the rest of its life with someone; maybe someone who is overwhelmed by it. In that case, it will likely be relegated to a backyard or a dog run or a crate for most of its life. Why is that better than changing homes?
I’ve seen people write that they would live under a bridge and starve before they would give up their dog if they had to move. Great. And who asked the dog for his preference? What a lot of selfish martyrs we are when we think we are the ONLY ones that can take care of a dog. That no one else can give a dog a good home. That our dog WANTS to live under a bridge. And, even if he does, is that really what’s best for him? I mean, my dogs WANT to eat a chocolate bar but I don’t let them….
I occasionally board dogs and I’ve had foster dogs and “temporary” dogs over the past 35+ years. Initially the dog may be out of sorts because it does miss its home and its routine and its people; but I’ve never seen one pine for more than 12 hours.
Lots of us have great dogs that came from someone WHO GAVE UP THEIR DOG. Who knows why? Lots of those dogs were obviously well cared for in their past. Lots of them are used to being in the house; they may not be GOOD in the house (!) but someone in their previous life had them in the house. Lots of them are “The BEST dog I’ve ever had”. Well, they don’t just come that way, and if yours did you have someone to thank; the person who put the dog’s best interest above their own.
I’m just saying stop, JEEZ, stop with the knee jerk “you suck” when you hear about someone who’s decided they can’t keep their dog for whatever reason. Give it a minute and think about it.
One last thought: yes, millions of dogs are euthanized and it’s horrible to put another one in the system. But if rescues were more careful about making good placements and breeders were more careful about making better puppies, lots of this would never happen. If people stopped “pulling” aggressive dogs and antisocial dogs and dogs from other countries and, instead, focus on a dog that may have been in a poorly matched home, things would be better. Millions of dogs are going to be euthanized, why would we choose the dogs that are least likely to succeed in the world, to “save”?