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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Too Busy for the Dog?

I was having lunch the other day, and a woman at another table, knowing the animal lover that I am, asked me for help with her son's dog.  Her son's family has a small dog, but their kids were older now and were too busy for the dog.  They are trying to find their dog a new home with people that have more time for it since it is not fair to the dog to keep it.  So far, they have had no luck.  Did I have any ideas?

After sitting and brewing for a few moments.  I responded... as gently as I could.

"Unfortunately, getting rid of the dog will only teach the kids that pets are disposable.   They should really think about whether that is the lesson they mean to convey to the kids in the household."  The woman thought about it, nodded her head, and gave an accepting smile.

"I hadn't thought of that." she said in revelation.  Her face revealed an honest moment of enlightenment rather than insult.

I proceeded, "I don't mean to sound rude or blunt with that response, but it's the truth, and it is very difficult to find any dog a new home.  Our shelters are full."

My hope is that this revelation led to a discussion with the family.

The truth is that most families are too busy for their pets.  We are constantly running one direction then the other, from one event to another.  The responsible action is NOT to rehome the pet that you committed to when you brought it home.  The responsible action to take is to set aside specific time for the pet.  Create a family schedule and commit to it.  Reaffirm your commitment to a family member whose choice is to remain with the only family it has ever known.

As a parent, offer the choice of caring for the dog or dropping an event such as basketball practice or favorite TV show to make time for the dog. It may not be the easy choice (for the child or the parent), but it is the responsible choice. If our children can learn loyalty to a team, or dedication to an organization, they should also know that a pet also requires loyalty and dedication. Parents should not be exempt from the pet care schedule, nor should they be solely responsible for it.  Parents are the ones that gave permission for the pet to become part of the family.  There are proven benefits for children to have pets, including teaching them the importance of dedication through difficult times. 

Our younger generation needs to be made aware that an animal is a family member for life.  The commitment was made when you brought that puppy or kitten home.  That pet plans to see you every day for its entire life.  It knows nothing else.  It has made the commitment to you for life.  It expects nothing else.  If you cannot make time to give the animal its care, then something must be dropped from the schedule.  The something that must be dropped should not be something that depends on you for life and that is capable of loving you, and missing you when you abandon it.  The basketball, the television, these items will not miss you, and they will not die without you. 

Rehoming a pet should be reserved for dire circumstance.  It should not be a casual decision made out of convenience. 






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18 comments:

Theresa said...

Years ago my house burnt down, no uniforms no job, no place to stay. we, my dog and I lived in my car until somebody that wasn't n animal lover took us in, she became my Mother in law. No job $36. every 2 weeks unemployment bought dog food and then the rest. There is no good reason to give up your dog or cat.

Jenny Schultz said...

Best blog post ever.

Jenny Schultz said...

Best blog post ever.

Elizabeth said...

I agree with Jenny!! I have shared this everywhere.. I love the way you tell it like it is!!

Tammy Hartwig said...

You handled this PERFECTLY; after stewing for a bit!! Those of us in rescue have heard all the excuses in the book but the bottom line is, there is NO good excuse. They may as well just say, "we just don't want it any more".

I wrote an article about caring for your dog for ITS entire life; making provisions should they outlive us. Taking on an animal should be that kind of commitment. I'd love to share it with you so if interested let me know.

The problem is that way too many things that require commitment are now entered into with a flippant attitude, well we'll give it a try...too many things are too easy to get out of these days and that includes animals.

Thanks for sharing this!!

cacatua said...

Very well said! If this is a problem with dogs and cats, then imagine parrots, aka wild creatures sharing your life. So many are bought when they are sweet little babies, but then the older they get the more demanding and difficult they get. If only people would do their homework before taking one home, only to discard it later because it is noisy, destructive and bites. They are not just pretty birds that will sit and be an attractive addition to your house, but bright emotional creatures who need plenty of attention, love and understanding. I have seen them put off somewhere by themselves because they were noisy or messy and, not able to understand why they are no longer front and center, they pluck all of their feathers and are naked as babies except for the ones on their heads that they can't reach. Some cockatoos will begin mutilating themselves - chewing wounds into their breasts that are never allowed to heal. Consider these decisions to bring animals into your life very carefully and if you can't make a serious, for better or worse commitment, then don't.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this!! I have always told my children that there are no such things as disposables animals and have stuck to that. I had a german shepherd from the time he was born. As he aged he developed heart disease (neither parents had heart problems), when my mother and siblings heard about his conditions, they told me to put him down. I couldn't do that to my dog. I took him to ISU, had him on nine different medications, and missed family gatherings to stay with my dog and make sure that he received his medication as prescribed. He was a joy to have (and didn't let his condition slow him down, even though I tried to slow him down...no running) and last August after a busy morning of checking the fields and drainage tile, he laid down to take a nap and passed away, he was only 9 1/2 years old, but ISU said that I had helped keep him a live for three years that he wouldn't have had if someone else had owned him. There is no reason for anyone to find a new home for a pet, you wanted the pet and you got the pet...now take care of the pet...a pet is part of the family.

Alan Wall said...

and god bless you and all like minded

Sharron V Marshall said...

what an absolutely brilliant post! I'm going to share this & hopefully make people think a bit more.

Arlene Meyers Silva said...

excellent - sharing...

Julie-anne Avenell said...

I wish people could see the world and all its cruelity through the eyes of an animal that is abused , then maybe just maybe there'd be less abuse and more understanding

Elizabeth Andrews said...

Sharing, sharing , sharing! wonderful lesson for our children.

Jane Roberts said...

Very well said!

Dian Hardy said...

Getting 'gratitudes' for having posted your blog on the local e-bulletin board....

Mary Maloney said...

My grand daughter asked why my animals lived so long. Hers always disappeared or died. Told her that I took care of them and they were my resposibility until they passed
Even if I was tired,sick they came first. I hope she listened

Immydog said...

Having just read this post , I would like to ask your permission to use it in my weekly column in our local newspaper, my attempt to change the world for animals in my area.Thank you.Mildred Drost,DVM

Susan said...

As always, I share your words of wisdom on fb. Thinking that this essay deserves to be an article or ad in many local newspapers and certainly worth space in magazines with some more detail and stories.You are the best and Thank You,

Erich said...

I can't tell if people who claim to be giving up their pet truly feel they will find someone who cares for the pet more, who gives it more time, and so on. It seems so unlikely to people who are aware of the basic facts.

Your comemnt to the person seems so normal, natural, and accurate, it surprises me it generates such a strong response here in the comments section.

Most of the people who are willing to give their homes, jobs, etc. to take care of pets are already working hard to help pets. It is time to reach out to the vast majority of Americans who may not understand the issues so well, but have good intent, or the problems will never be solved.