Friday, December 02, 2005
Stepping UpPeople fascinate me. The choices that are made intrigue and amaze me. Sometimes, that's a good thing. Other times, not so much.
Since I've started working here, we've had a number of dogs returned for reasons I haven't agreed with. "Moving" is one of the most common ones, although I personally believe that's more an excuse than an explanation. Those dogs that can't come along for the move often happen to be big, pushy, or poorly trained. I think that "moving" gives people a tangible reason to give up a dog they weren't happy with anyhow. That frustrates me, but I get it.
Then we get the older dogs who have given years of their lives to a family only to find themselve back in the shelter as seniors. One dog, who had lived with his owners for eight years, came back for marking furniture. The behavior began after the arrival of a baby and could have had more to do with stress than with poor housebreaking. Had the owners tried any crating or management to work with the problem? No. They decided it would be easier to simply not have their dog any longer. Easier for them, anyhow.
Occasionally we get a real heartbreaker. An animal who is clearly on his last legs, but belonging to a family who cannot bring themselves to make that final decision. Instead, the geriatric and incontinent dog finds herself back in a kennel, with the family hoping that some other household will be willing to take on the dog. The truth is, the poor pooch's quality of life is so diminished that he is no longer adoptable. But, some people would rather leave that final choice to somebody else. These dogs particularly sadden me, because their final moments ought to be with the family they love. Not with a stranger in an unfamiliar room.
I suppose what it comes down to is that as much as people want that adorable face in the window, they're not always prepared for the level of commitment it really takes. Dogs are work. Hard work. And, what is a person to do when their older dog isn't adjusting to the new baby? How does a parent explain to their little girl that her dog is dying? What choice should you make when the pet you brought home is far more challenging that you'd realized? These are all tough questions.
I just wish more people would ask them BEFORE they get a dog.