Today I received an email from a lady asking for her help with her 10yr old lab mix. They were so sad to give this incredibly well behaved dog up, but they had children and had their “hands so full with the children that they just can’t have a dog in the house.” So guess what? The dog who has obviously been with them for many years gets the boot because they don’t care to include her in the family, manage the family and time differently, nor consider anything about her… that she’s been a part of the family for years, that she loves them, that she will be confused when she gets the boot, that she may end up euthanized because they don’t want it anymore, or that it’s flat out cruel to not give a crap about a life that has been devoted to you for so very long and sadly is at this very minute. She’s in the way and needs to go. Sort of like those old keepsakes that are just collecting dust and no longer hold any meaning.
My first reaction was anger. My second was pain for the poor dog who thinks she’s loved but really isn’t.
Let me make it clear that I’m not suggesting children aren’t important nor that they deserve any less time than given. Instead, I’m stating that the dog is a living being with blood flowing, a heartbeat and emotions, also deserving of the love and commitment that you claimed to provide. A lot of families live in harmony with children and pets – it’s not impossible.
To those that want to argue the emotions statement, keep it to yourself. If you think an animal doesn’t have emotions, you’re a blithering idiot.
I was curt in my short response, but if I didn’t keep it short I would have said things I’d regret later. I, with my heart breaking, had to say we couldn’t take her into our program, but I asked them not to post her on CraigsList, for after losing her family the last thing she’d need would to be used as bait. Perhaps not the most professional response, but it really, really gets under my skin when someone tries to claim how much they love a dog but they just don’t want it anymore. This especially includes one that has lived with them for most or all of his/her life, may need a little more assistance at this time (which they always fail to disclose), and gosh, it’s just too much because the individual would rather give assistance to something more important. NOTE: This includes anything in life and is not a bash against children. I’m referring to a person’s time in general – God forbid they have to make a trip to the vet again when they’d rather go out with friends for a beer. Now, occasionally we’ll here a legitimate reason for the need of surrender, and I hold no grudge to those. Most often, however, just like this family, the dog is in the way and they simply do not want it…it has nothing to do with what’s best for the dog, although the same lines are always used to try and convince us otherwise.
They don’t want to take the dog to a kill shelter or to an outdoor only home – another common phrase. However, as they’ve stated, they don’t want her, and due to her age and the lack of families wanting a senior dog or rescues full to the gill, she will not be easily rehomed. As a result, in order to move her she will either be taken to a shelter and most likely euthanized, again due to the lack of people looking for an aged companion, or they will euthanize her themselves because she needs to go.
So much for love.
At this point you might ask, “Why are you so worked up about this? It’s not even your dog.”
Yes, I realize that it’s not my dog. She would be, however, if I had a spot available or a foster home. I don’t have an opening, though, because I’m taking care of other dogs that were also discarded by their “family.”
Despite, the reason it upsets me is because animals realize what’s happening when they are “in the way” or have become an annoyance. Pets realize when they are losing their family, even while they are living with them. They become frightened, they hold on more, they try to please more, become more anxious, and regardless of how much they try to make things better, they still lose. Sound like anything you’ve ever been through?
Think about how you felt.
I’ve seen the devastation in an animal’s eyes when it’s walked or carried away. I’ve seen the fear in an animal not knowing why it’s in a loud, cold, desolate shelter with strangers who with any luck care, and even worse with those who don’t. I’ve seen them fade away from depression. I’ve witnessed trembling, crying, anxiety and mourning. It’s horrible to watch, and after you see it with your own eyes, if you have any kind of heart at all, it haunts you.
The dog in the photo above is not the dog in question. The pictured senior is my 13-14 year old Catahoula, Rocky. He has LS, moves a little slower and stumbles on occasion, takes medication and supplements daily, and to this day barks his head off at dinner. To the right is my Mavis, an 11 year old Pug that has a bulging and basically blind left eye (and might as well be blind in the right eye, too), has seizures, a head tilt, reoccurring and annoying ear infections, walks a little crooked, takes medication twice a day and is almost deaf, too. Then there’s the teeth. Guess what? Both Rocky and Mavis are still with me, and I take care of them daily, despite my other commitments. Am I special or a hero? No. Just someone who gives a damn.
My point to all of this?
1) If you are considering a pet, make sure to weigh out everything, large or small, significant or insignificant, and determine whether or not you are 100% devoted to working with all of this prior to aquiring a pet.
2) If you don’t want make this commitment, DON’T GET A PET.
3) If you have a pet, follow through with your promises, and when it ages don’t give up on it. Remember how much they’ve given to you in their lifetime. Nurture the animal, cuddle, play, take time out for him/her, enjoy the moments and never disregard the being that considers you his or her life mate.
I pray this sweet old gal finds safety in the arms of someone who adores her. The sooner the better. She deserves more.