My Smokey, two days after I adopted him
A few days after Christmas, I ran into a guy I know in the neighborhood who also has a dog. When I saw him this time, he had another dog with him: a beautiful black and white mutt who looked like a mix of Boston Terrier and Pit Bull. He had adopted her on a whim somewhere out-of-state over the holiday and now had two dogs. When we met on the sidewalk, she was sweet, playful and eager to make friends with me and Smokey. She looked to be about nine or ten months old and seemed a little underfed at about forty pounds. Like a true puppy, she was all love.

Now walking with two leashes, he was visibly flustered. He admitted that she was sweet and had come from a sketchy history, but he said he couldn’t handle two dogs. Though she was only in his life and in his home for a few days, he said it was too much. She wasn’t attacking his original dog (or any other dogs), eating furniture or exhibiting any forms of demonic possession. She didn’t have anything else wrong with her either, like Dog Skin Allergies, she was basically perfect. But as quickly as he decided to take in another dog, he decided he couldn’t handle it. He planned to “drop her off at shelter” in a couple of days.

Mind you… this guy has a well-paying job that enables him to work from his spacious one-bedroom apartment. There is no shortage of money, space or time. He was being inconvenienced. My blood started to boil.

When you adopt or rescue a dog, you sign an unwritten contract. The contract implicitly states that you invite the dog to be part of your life, that your home is now also her home, that you will take care of the dog, and that you will give the dog the sense of safety and security that all dogs require. The contract implicitly (but specifically) states that you are responsible.

When he suggested dropping the dog off at a shelter, I suggested that he keep her – abiding the unwritten contract he signed when he initially took her – and use Facebook or Craigslist to find her a forever home on his own. After I pleaded my case, he said that it made sense and that he would keep her until he found her a permanent situation.

I ran into my neighbor again last night. He only had his original dog with him.

“Where’s the puppy girl? Did you find her a home?” I asked.

“Oh, I dropped her off at a shelter yesterday. She’ll get adopted. It’ll be fine.” he replied.

I couldn’t really speak. I think I just mumbled a lame “Okay” before he continued his walk with his dog.

It’ll be fine???? She’s better off in a cage in some over-crowded city shelter eating cheap kibble with her fingers crossed than she is in a real home? What?!?! That is simply not what someone who claims to love dogs does. I wanted to scream.

If I took a dog home and decided that it wasn’t working out, I believe that the onus is on me to find her a real home instead of dumping her in an underfunded kennel, turning my back and hoping for the best.

A dog is not a garment that you return when it doesn’t fit. It is not a chair that you take back because it doesn’t go with your living room as you hoped it would. A dog is an animal that is completely dependent on his human caretaker, and you agree to unconditionally accommodate that dependence. If I had a dog I would treat it like my child. I’d be constantly reading what websites like DogProductPIcker.com says and buying it the best toys and food. I guess some people don’t do this which is pretty upsetting.

Any moron understands that a new dog, especially a puppy, is a lot of work. It takes discipline, patience, a very special brand of pathos and a lot of love as you integrate a dog into your life. Someone who already has a dog should understand this even more clearly. Reading articles, like those on Stop That Dog, can help owners old and new become more knowledgable and understanding of their dog’s needs.

Normally, a lot of new dog owners find that they underestimated the sort of attention and supplies that a puppy needs, forcing them to send them away due to responsibilities. A lot of people seem to misjudge how big their puppies will grow too. As they grow, some people try to just throw their dogs into the garden. If this is the case, it’s always better to try and find them their own house outside. By reading the Central Park Paws guide to dog houses, you can be confident that your dog will be able to live outside happily. It’s understandable if your puppy gets too big for your house, however, you can’t just dump them at a shelter. There has to be some effort to make it work.

Maybe I’m wrong, but this is how I see it.

7 Comments

  1. This guy is not dog-owning material. What possessed him to
    take in another in the first place?! As an adoptee myself, the
    callousness is really disturbing. Is there any way we can help get
    that puppy to a safe home? Do you know what shelter she was dropped
    off at?

  2. David Skovron

    How sad you had to write this piece George. Do you have any idea what shelter the puppy is in?

    • George

      I have a friend with connections in the shelters, and she has the puppy’s description. She’s asking around.

  3. You are so right, George. Too many folks enter into the contract you speak of without having “read” it at all. Sometimes it’s because their childhood memories don’t include the actual care of the pet (because someone else did that part) and so they are surprised by the responsibility. But folks need to know that most dogs who go to shelters never come out. Same is true for cats. Whether you live in the city or in the country, bringing an animal into your life is a commitment.
    Blessings to you –
    Laurel

  4. Linvoln Kerney

    Having read New Your Social Diary this morning, I am just catching up o your blogs, tweets etc. Love them. I so agree about this subject. I was on the board of the local animal shelter in Princeton, NJ for several years and they do everything they can to make sure the home is right for the animal and the adopter has to sign a written contract. So worthwhile.

  5. Pingback: Benefits Of Pets And Tips For Picking The Right One - Parenting Tips and Advice

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